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4th Reelviews Movie Club Meeting: The Devil's Backbone 
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Post 4th Reelviews Movie Club Meeting: The Devil's Backbone
[size=85]Welcome to the fourth 'meeting' of the club. Come gather around, all movie-lovers are welcome, and let's talk film. The next one will be on the 17th of May when we discuss Blood Simple. But for now, let's discuss Guillermo Del Toro's El Espinazo Del Diablo
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The Devil's Backbone (2001) ***

The Devils Backbone cannot be discussed outside of its Spanish Civil War context, so I’m going to begin with a short introduction on the conflict. It’s one of my favorite areas of history, but one that rarely gets discussed in American outside of being a “dress rehearsal” for World War II. In any event: Spain had been a monarchy until 1931 when the King fled Spain upon receiveing a minority of votes in the Parliament. The victorious Republicans formed a constitution with various liberal reforms (freedom of speech, voting rights for women, etc.) and formed the Second Spanish Republic. It lasted for five years until Fascist-leaning General Franco took his army from Morocco, invaded the mainland, and started the Civil War.
Franco had the advantage of having most of the army on his side, while the Republicans consisted largely of everyone who was opposed to the Fascists: socialists, communists, anarchists, volunteers from the West (including, notably, George Orwell) and everyone else. The lack of unity proved their Achilles' heel. And while the fascists received military aid from Nazi Germany and Mussolini’s Italy, the Republicans only had support from Stalin’s Russia, which was often more trouble than help. Ultimately the side of democracy and freedom lost, with Franco prevailing in 1939 and ruling in Fascist splendor a full 30 years after Hitler shot himself

Now, on to the movie itself. This was my second viewing and my opinion hasn’t changed much since my first time 3 years ago. It's clear that the movie does a lot of things very well. For starters, the setting is very effective. The film takes place in the last days of the war when it’s clear the Republic is doomed. It’s set in a school/orphanage in the middle of nowhere run by two aging leftists, still fighting the good fight. Everything about the nearly desolate school feels desperate, from the lack of food to the absence of teachers. Clearly their race is nearly run. The period detail is also impeccable. But it’s on a less literal level that the film truly shines.

Taken as an allegory, the Devils Backbone is really quite clever. The old Dr. Casares and Carmen are the stand-ins for the Republicans. They’re both kind, intelligent, and devoted. But they’re also weak: he’s impotent and she’s crippled. Despite their obvious feelings for each other, their pride prevents them from forming a relationship (much like the disparate leftists whose squabbles cost them Spain). Meanwhile the young and vigorous Jacinto is the Fascist surrogate, who is uncultured, cruel, blunt and borderline sociopathic but immensely attractive. So much so, in fact, that Carmen is sleeping with him. Del Toro makes a wonderful point about how tempting extreme ideologies can be simply by using Eduardo Noriega in all his muscular, handsome splendor.

So it has a great setting, impeccable period detail, and clever allegory. Additionally, the direction is assured and the acting very fine. So why my relatively low three-star rating? Well as it so happens, The Devils Backbone has a common failing among allegories: its central story isn’t actually that interesting. While trying to divine what Del Toro is implying with the metaphor of a bomb in the courtyard is engaging, wondering who Santi might be and what happened to him is less so. Carlos is also a fairly dull protagonist, with none of the pluck and resolve that Ofelia showed in Pan’s Labyrinth. In neither viewing of the film did I find myself drawn into the central mystery at all. I loved anything with the adults, and was bored by anything involving the kids.

So in conclusion, The Devils Backbone has a lot going for it, but I liked it a lot better when it wasn’t being supernatural. It could have been quite a noteworthy film, but instead it’s a mere dress rehearsal to Pan’s Labyrinth in the same way that the Spanish Civil War has been overshadowed by World War II.

Questions to answer if you so desire:
1. Do you see any more point to the ghosts in the story than I do?
2. Do you feel that the movie was engaging from start to finish, or poorly-paced?
3. What was your favorite scene or image from the film?

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Tue May 11, 2010 4:17 pm
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Post Re: 4th Reelviews Movie Club Meeting: The Devil's Backbone
The Devil's Backbone (2001, Guillermo Del Toro) *** ½ out of ****

I thought that The Devils Backbone was an excellent film; certainly it was the film that showed just how far Guillermo del Toro would be going in his career.

The screenplay was very well-written. The backdrop of the Spanish Civil War was intriguingly used to service the plot without overshadowing it. I loved how much attention was paid to the films time and setting. One of the director’s strengths is how he is able to keep his distinct visual style without copying himself from film to film.

The film is one of the few effective ghost story films to come out in recent years, successfully intermixing the real world and fantastical elements, although I can’t say that the former doesn’t overtake the latter. Much more time is spent developing the characters, their setting and their political/financial situation as opposed to the ghost elements of the film. While this ultimately works in the films favor, it also makes Backbone feel slightly uneven.

I found The Devils Backbone to be a completely engaging, atmospheric and entertaining film. It was smart enough to keep its characters more prominent than the jump quota without properly developing that aspect of the film. I didn’t at any point find it uninteresting and felt the ghosts served the film nicely.
[Reveal] Spoiler:
Although Dr. Casares ghost unlocking the childrens door was a little easy, even if his becoming a ghost did add to the mythology the film set up around the ghosts.


Wed May 12, 2010 11:12 pm
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Post Re: 4th Reelviews Movie Club Meeting: The Devil's Backbone
JJoshay wrote:
The film is one of the few effective ghost story films to come out in recent years, successfully intermixing the real world and fantastical elements, although I can’t say that the former doesn’t overtake the latter. Much more time is spent developing the characters, their setting and their political/financial situation as opposed to the ghost elements of the film. While this ultimately works in the films favor, it also makes Backbone feel slightly uneven.


It sounds like we're generally agreeing, but it bothered me more than it did you. Pan's Labyrinth merged the natural and supernatural much better in my opinion

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Thu May 13, 2010 12:16 pm
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Post Re: 4th Reelviews Movie Club Meeting: The Devil's Backbone
Dammit! I had my allegory point all set and then Kunzy had to go and post it first. What am I left with? Just this...

What type of movie were you all expecting? I thought it was going to be more of a "horror". Sure, there's a ghost story, but apart from a few creepy moments this one isn't scary at all. It's also clear from pretty early that the ghost is benevolent rather than malevolent.

Not sure I like the whole inevitability of their fates too. When the ghost tells him that "many will die", why does that need to happen. This is not really a criticism of this particular movie, since many other films are guilty of this (Terminator films et al).

You know, normally I'd say it would be unfair to compare it Pan's. A movie should be judged on its own merit. Had we seen this long before Pan's we wouldn't say "yeah it was good, but Pan's is better". That said, I have seen Pan's first and the setting is too similar to not compare the two movies. And you know what? Pan's is a great movie while The Devil's Backbone is "merely" a very good one.

James, I think Franco's regime eventually ended peacefully, but was there any organised opposition that acted as the catalyst? I'd like to take your allegory further and say that only when the children organised themselves (the spears and manner they took him down is similar to the lesson about the mammoth, no?) against Noreiga they where able to take him down. Not sure if there is a historical basis for such a group though.

Finally, imdb lists this as a "version of" a Mexican film called Hasta el viento tiene miedo. Would that make The Devil's Backbone a loose remake?

Overall I liked it quite a bit. A weakish 8/10.


Thu May 13, 2010 1:18 pm
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Post Re: 4th Reelviews Movie Club Meeting: The Devil's Backbone
ed_metal_head wrote:
Dammit! I had my allegory point all set and then Kunzy had to go and post it first. What am I left with? Just this...


God I just ruin everything! :D Sorry about that. As for the ending referring in some way to Franco's death, I don't think it quite holds. Franco dies of very natural causes (unlike, say, Stalin, there aren't even conspiracy theories suggesting he was murdered) and the only real intrigue was in the fighting over who would be his successor as King. Ultimately, and a tad surprisingly, Spain transitioned back into democracy. Hard to draw a parallel between that and the brutal death of Jacinto in the film. My take on the ending is that it's Del Toro's fantasy of what had happened: instead of the Republican opposition withering and dying in 1939, they band together against their stronger opponent and emerge victorious. Then the bleeding, limping, but altogether triumphant leftists walk out into an uncertain future. "If only", Del Toro seems to be saying...

ed_metal_head wrote:
You know, normally I'd say it would be unfair to compare it Pan's. A movie should be judged on its own merit. Had we seen this long before Pan's we wouldn't say "yeah it was good, but Pan's is better". That said, I have seen Pan's first and the setting is too similar to not compare the two movies. And you know what? Pan's is a great movie while The Devil's Backbone is "merely" a very good one.


Well-said, Ed. While comparing Jack to The Godfather might be a bit unfair, when a director makes two similar films on related subject ("companion pieces" as the critics say) it's natural and not a bit unfair to compare them.

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Thu May 13, 2010 2:00 pm
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Post Re: 4th Reelviews Movie Club Meeting: The Devil's Backbone
JamesKunz wrote:
As for the ending referring in some way to Franco's death, I don't think it quite holds. Franco dies of very natural causes (unlike, say, Stalin, there aren't even conspiracy theories suggesting he was murdered) and the only real intrigue was in the fighting over who would be his successor as King. Ultimately, and a tad surprisingly, Spain transitioned back into democracy. Hard to draw a parallel between that and the brutal death of Jacinto in the film. My take on the ending is that it's Del Toro's fantasy of what had happened: instead of the Republican opposition withering and dying in 1939, they band together against their stronger opponent and emerge victorious. Then the bleeding, limping, but altogether triumphant leftists walk out into an uncertain future. "If only", Del Toro seems to be saying...


I wasn't really insinuating that they represented a group responsible for Franco's death. I was thinking that they might have represented groups who weakened the regime through protests, skirmishes or even "terrorist" actions. Suppose it's a bit of a stretch. At least I got to draw a parallel with my mammoth comment :)

JamesKunz wrote:
Questions to answer if you so desire:
1. Do you see any more point to the ghosts in the story than I do?
2. Do you feel that the movie was engaging from start to finish, or poorly-paced?
3. What was your favorite scene or image from the film?


1. Not really. The movie gives enough early hints that we can divine that the ghost means well. I did appreciate the doctor's narration on "what a ghost is" though.

2. Relatively engaging from start to finish. I don't think that the movie suffers that much when it cuts to the children. There aren't too many lows, it's just that the highs aren't all that high.

3. http://reelviews.net/reelviewsforum/viewtopic.php?p=52725#p52725


Fri May 14, 2010 11:28 am
Post Re: 4th Reelviews Movie Club Meeting: The Devil's Backbone
I finished watching this movie on Tuesday and have been reading your everyone posts and have to say, you guys really go in depth with these movies. I think I see my movies on the surface, get a reaction and then read into the film I saw (whether it's posts here, reviews, wikipedia entries...) and get a whole nother layer to the film, The Devil's Backbone being one such movie.

This movies seems to be categorized as a horror movie, but honestly, I did not see it as solely horror, but more as a hybrid of of maybe horror/drama/war. There are those horror moments which I though were crafted really beautifully, like the early scene when Carlos goes downstairs when he is getting water or even the ghost following Carlos into the closet (the keyhole!), but I also saw the dramas of war (?)...specifically with kids.

I like Del Toro, I like him a lot. He is a very imaginative director, as well, as writer. This film, as well as the-needs-to-be-mentioned Pan's Labyrinth mix the fantastical with realities of brutal times...with young children. It's a tough thing to balance, but I think he does it gracefully. You can see in this movie that Del Toro was destined for bigger, better movies. The camera movements are fluid, almost "ghostly", if you want to say. The framing of shots is beautiful. Take a look at the shot Ed-the-man posted or the distant shot where Jacinto stabs his girlfriend. The CG is seemless, specifically with the ghost of Santi.

The story...I think I'm still trying to take it all in. At first I thought one thing (well, a few things), but now this whole allegory thing was thrown out there and has got me thinking about other things in the movie. All in all, I can say that I liked it...I liked this movie. I got a taste of a ghost revenge story along with dose of Lord of the Flies.

I gotta go right now...but there's more I'd like to add.


Fri May 14, 2010 12:31 pm
Post Re: 4th Reelviews Movie Club Meeting: The Devil's Backbone
ram1312 wrote:
I finished watching this movie on Tuesday and have been reading your everyone posts and have to say, you guys really go in depth with these movies. I think I see my movies on the surface, get a reaction and then read into the film I saw (whether it's posts here, reviews, wikipedia entries...) and get a whole nother layer to the film, The Devil's Backbone being one such movie.


Actually it's the same for me. Ties in well with Ken's "Questions you ask yourself". I just look at the movie how it is and rarely pick up things like that during a viewing (unless it's a repeat viewing). It's only afterwards that I think about it. And even then I don't sit on the couch and just think about the movie. It's the few moments in the hours (sometimes days) after where I pick up things. That, and I do the same things you do. If the movie is a good one I like to spend some time reading about it online. You usually find something and go: "huh, hadn't thought of that".

Either way, your self doubt is misplaced. I, for one, loved your analysis. Lord of the Flies is a good comparison. The spear stabbing is not dissimilar to the way the pig was stabbed in the book.

And...the girlfriend! I forgot to say anything about her. Nice performance, no? Her whole setting out alone and then getting killed segment is one of my favourite pieces in the movie.


Sat May 15, 2010 1:58 pm
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Post Re: 4th Reelviews Movie Club Meeting: The Devil's Backbone
ed_metal_head wrote:
And...the girlfriend! I forgot to say anything about her. Nice performance, no? Her whole setting out alone and then getting killed segment is one of my favourite pieces in the movie.


Agreed. You know her quest--marching through that baking desert--is futile, but she bravely does it anyway because someone has to try. A very nice moment

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Sat May 15, 2010 3:35 pm
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Post Re: 4th Reelviews Movie Club Meeting: The Devil's Backbone
Guys what is the significance of the unexploded bomb stuck in the courtyard, upright? Is it a metaphor for something? I know that Carlos asks it to help it find Santi...so there has to be a connection to the ghost. Is it part of this bookended question of the film, "What is a ghost?" Just throwing stuff out there.


Mon May 17, 2010 12:30 pm
Post Re: 4th Reelviews Movie Club Meeting: The Devil's Backbone
I finally got a chance to check this out over the weekend. I liked it. I agree that it isn't as good as Pan's, but it's still a fine film.

First things first - props to JamesKunz for his initial post. That's some really, really good stuff. Thanks, especially, for the historical context. I picked up on the film as an allegory for war, but wasn't aware of the specifics it has to the Spanish Civil War. A lot of war elements are pretty universal, as I picked up on Jacinto being the stand-in for the oppressor and the doctor and Carmen being more like pacifists. Your post really helped give the film more context with the info about how it specifically pertained to the Spanish conflict. So, thanks pal.

A few points/quiestions before I get to the questions already posed:

Did anyone else notice the water motif they were using for Santi? Not only was he killed in the water by Jacinto, but when he initially appears he's stealing the water from the dorm room where the boys sleep. When Carlos first hears him, it's when he's refilling that water. There were a few others as well. It seemed like everytime Santi popped up, there was water involved in some way. Del Toro could just be foreshadowing the story of Santi's death, but there could be more to it. Anyone have any ideas?

The bomb. It was an obvious metaphor, but what do you think it meant?

JamesKunz wrote:
Questions to answer if you so desire:
1. Do you see any more point to the ghosts in the story than I do?
2. Do you feel that the movie was engaging from start to finish, or poorly-paced?
3. What was your favorite scene or image from the film?


1. I do. I think they serve as the framework for the story, but they also serve a purpose for what Del Toro was trying to accomplish. This'll be longwinded, so I apologize.

I saw the movie not only as an allegory for war, but also as a comment on how to survive in such an environment. There are a slew of references to basic needs for survival (food, water, shelter). The inhabitants of the orphanage, or schoolhouse, or whatever you want to call it, all seem to be governed by merely trying to survive. That's their life - survival (I think the slugs serve as a symbol for this, since it's damned near impossible for slugs to survive any length of time). Jacinto hates this way of life and will do anything in his power to not live like this. Carlos, when he comes to the schoolhouse, has never had to worry about merely surviving. There's the exchange when he first arrives with the other children when they ask him if he has food and he replies that he has comics and toys instead. This goes to show that Carlos gets joy out of life, not just survival. It also shows how different he is from the other children, since he's never had to experience life as survival. That's why Carlos is the central character and becomes the leader of the boys by the end of the film. To me, Del Toro seems to be saying that just surviving isn't enough, that isn't living, you have to find something to believe in.

Finding something to believe in is where the ghosts tie in. There are quite a few supernatural elements at play in the film. Each one leads to another. Santi's ghost, the bomb, the doctor becoming a ghost - they're all connected. Santi died and the bomb dropped, but didn't go off. The bomb, and it's ribbons, led Carlos to Santi when asked. These supernatural occurances all lead Carlos, and by extension the kids, to the truth of what happened to Santi. With this knowledge, and with Jacinto becoming outwardly violent towards them, they're galvanized into action. Their faith in the supernatural is rewarded by the doctor's ghost coming to their aid in a time of need. By trusting/believing in the supernatural, it takes on an almost religious significance.

2. I thought it was very well-paced. I never found it slow or boring or lagging. It wasn't always edge-of-your-seat exciting, but I thought it moved forward very well.

3. ed stole mine, that fucker. Beautiful shot both in the way it is composed and the symbolism within.


Mon May 17, 2010 1:10 pm
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Post Re: 4th Reelviews Movie Club Meeting: The Devil's Backbone
Interesting observation about the water Pete. I honestly can't think of what it's supposed to represent, aside from just being a recurring motif connecting the physical world with the supernatural (much like how the color red shows up in The Sixth Sense whenever a ghost is present).

As for the bomb, I actually don't like its inclusion in the film because it's the one aspect that screams "Look at me! I SYMBOLIZE something" while the other allegorical aspects are more nuanced. To me the bomb in the middle of the courtyard (an unexploded bomb no less) represents the danger that lurks inside peaceful grounds, be they a schoolyard or the nation of Spain.

I also think your point about survival (books and games vs. food and water) is a very astute one. You haven't convinced me the ghosts are necessary or that they suit the story, but you've made me look deeper into the film. These are the conversations I was hoping for when I got the idea for this movie club, so Pete (as well as Ed, Ram, and Josh) thank you.

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Mon May 17, 2010 1:46 pm
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Post Re: 4th Reelviews Movie Club Meeting: The Devil's Backbone
JamesKunz wrote:
Interesting observation about the water Pete. I honestly can't think of what it's supposed to represent, aside from just being a recurring motif connecting the physical world with the supernatural (much like how the color red shows up in The Sixth Sense whenever a ghost is present).


Yeah, that sounds likely. I don't think there's much more to it than that, either. Still, it's a nice small touch.

JamesKunz wrote:
As for the bomb, I actually don't like its inclusion in the film because it's the one aspect that screams "Look at me! I SYMBOLIZE something" while the other allegorical aspects are more nuanced. To me the bomb in the middle of the courtyard (an unexploded bomb no less) represents the danger that lurks inside peaceful grounds, be they a schoolyard or the nation of Spain.


Good point. It's definitely heavy-handed while the rest of the film is intelligently subtle. I like these kinds of allegorical, metaphorical fairy-tale sort of movies/stories because just about everything begs for analysis. You're absolutely right, such an obvious symbol isn't needed in this sort of story when most folks are already looking to analyze everything.

JamesKunz wrote:
I also think your point about survival (books and games vs. food and water) is a very astute one. You haven't convinced me the ghosts are necessary or that they suit the story, but you've made me look deeper into the film. These are the conversations I was hoping for when I got the idea for this movie club, so Pete (as well as Ed, Ram, and Josh) thank you.


Let me be a bit more clear. I think that's what the movie was going for. It wasn't as fleshed out as I would have liked, but I could see the rough connection. I don't think it was pulled off as well as it could have been, but that was my take on what the filmmakers were trying to do. Similar points probably could have been made without the ghosts, though. At the end of the day the ghosts are ultimately a plot device, even if it is a clever one.

How do you guys feel about Del Toro in general? I'll be rewatching Pan's tonight in honor of this movie. That's easily his best. I think I'd put this at #2 right now (maybe I'm suffering from a little recency effect). I enjoyed both Hellboy films, but I don't think either one holds up to the depth and artistry of either Pan's or this. Blade 2 was the best Blade movie, but is ultimately an action movie. I like it for what it was, but, again, not this or Pan's. I don't really remember Mimic, and I;m not even entirely sure I've seen it all the way through. Anyone seen Cronos? I hear it's really good.

I also want to get this out there before I forget - Federico Luppi is absolutely terrific in this film. I just loved his performance.


Mon May 17, 2010 3:20 pm
Post Re: 4th Reelviews Movie Club Meeting: The Devil's Backbone
PeachyPete wrote:
3. ed stole mine, that fucker. Beautiful shot both in the way it is composed and the symbolism within.


Yeah, well Kunzy stole my point so I had to get something original in. Incidentally, I read your post and thought I'd commend you on the water analysis and then provide my explanation for the bomb metaphor. I see that's been done already, but what the hell...

JamesKunz wrote:
As for the bomb, I actually don't like its inclusion in the film because it's the one aspect that screams "Look at me! I SYMBOLIZE something" while the other allegorical aspects are more nuanced. To me the bomb in the middle of the courtyard (an unexploded bomb no less) represents the danger that lurks inside peaceful grounds, be they a schoolyard or the nation of Spain.


Fully agree that the bomb is obvious, but I liked it. It looks so pretty sitting there! Unfortunately my insight is the same as yours. I feel it represents the situation at the school: the volatile relationship between Noriega and the teachers that is ready to "blow" at any time.

JamesKunz wrote:
These are the conversations I was hoping for when I got the idea for this movie club, so Pete (as well as Ed, Ram, and Josh) thank you.


It's just so much more rewarding to discover movies together and be able to talk to people about them. Just surprised more people more people don't feel the same way. I don't want to start another rant about participation, so yeah, thanks guys. This is fun.


Mon May 17, 2010 3:29 pm
Post Re: 4th Reelviews Movie Club Meeting: The Devil's Backbone
PeachyPete wrote:
How do you guys feel about Del Toro in general? I'll be rewatching Pan's tonight in honor of this movie. That's easily his best. I think I'd put this at #2 right now (maybe I'm suffering from a little recency effect). I enjoyed both Hellboy films, but I don't think either one holds up to the depth and artistry of either Pan's or this. Blade 2 was the best Blade movie, but is ultimately an action movie. I like it for what it was, but, again, not this or Pan's. I don't really remember Mimic, and I;m not even entirely sure I've seen it all the way through. Anyone seen Cronos? I hear it's really good.

I also want to get this out there before I forget - Federico Luppi is absolutely terrific in this film. I just loved his performance.


Del Toro is great. I talked about him in my first post. I love his fascination with monsters...or in this case ghosts. Those monsters in Pan's Labyrinth are hardcore, specifically the Pale Monster. The characters in Hellboy are sweet, also. And they are all from his imagination. They are crafted with great care and, mostly, serve the story that is being told. Also, he's Mexican...I am Mexican. You know...kind of like rooting for the home team. Got to back up the brotha...

Frederico Luppi was great...but the stand out for me was Eduardo Noriega as Jacinto. Did anyone else recognize him from Abre Los Ojos?


Mon May 17, 2010 4:17 pm
Post Re: 4th Reelviews Movie Club Meeting: The Devil's Backbone
ed_metal_head wrote:
Either way, your self doubt is misplaced. I, for one, loved your analysis. Lord of the Flies is a good comparison. The spear stabbing is not dissimilar to the way the pig was stabbed in the book.


You know...now that I'm thinking about it. You guys remember the part in the movie where Carmen is showing the boys the picture of the mammoth. She tells them about how prehistoric men would kill these huge animals. The boys pretty much do the same thing at the end there...don't they?


Mon May 17, 2010 4:24 pm
Post Re: 4th Reelviews Movie Club Meeting: The Devil's Backbone
ram1312 wrote:
PeachyPete wrote:
How do you guys feel about Del Toro in general? I'll be rewatching Pan's tonight in honor of this movie. That's easily his best. I think I'd put this at #2 right now (maybe I'm suffering from a little recency effect). I enjoyed both Hellboy films, but I don't think either one holds up to the depth and artistry of either Pan's or this. Blade 2 was the best Blade movie, but is ultimately an action movie. I like it for what it was, but, again, not this or Pan's. I don't really remember Mimic, and I;m not even entirely sure I've seen it all the way through. Anyone seen Cronos? I hear it's really good.

I also want to get this out there before I forget - Federico Luppi is absolutely terrific in this film. I just loved his performance.


Del Toro is great. I talked about him in my first post. I love his fascination with monsters...or in this case ghosts. Those monsters in Pan's Labyrinth are hardcore, specifically the Pale Monster. The characters in Hellboy are sweet, also. And they are all from his imagination. They are crafted with great care and, mostly, serve the story that is being told. Also, he's Mexican...I am Mexican. You know...kind of like rooting for the home team. Got to back up the brotha...

Frederico Luppi was great...but the stand out for me was Eduardo Noriega as Jacinto. Did anyone else recognize him from Abre Los Ojos?


The Mexicans are kicking serious ass lately. I'm a big Del Toro fan, but I think that I might like Alfonso Cuaron a little more. Actually there's no reason to compare the two except for the fact that they're both Mexican. From Del Toro, I've only seen the two Hellboy movies. I might be the only person who thinks the first is better than the sequel, but I love both. Actually, I find Hellboy to be one of the top something (probably 5) comic adaptations.

You know I mention Abre Los Ojos every chance I get and somehow I didn't recognise him until I looked him up on imdb. Guess it's been too long since I've seen the movie.

ram1312 wrote:
ed_metal_head wrote:
Either way, your self doubt is misplaced. I, for one, loved your analysis. Lord of the Flies is a good comparison. The spear stabbing is not dissimilar to the way the pig was stabbed in the book.


You know...now that I'm thinking about it. You guys remember the part in the movie where Carmen is showing the boys the picture of the mammoth. She tells them about how prehistoric men would kill these huge animals. The boys pretty much do the same thing at the end there...don't they?


I adore this point. That's why I made it in my first post :D


Mon May 17, 2010 4:30 pm
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Post Re: 4th Reelviews Movie Club Meeting: The Devil's Backbone
Yeah I liked your mammoth point Ed: that's clearly what Del Toro was going for but I'll be honest and admit I didn't make the connection until you pointed it out.

As for Del Toro, I obviously love Pan's Labyrinth (judging by my icon). In my eyes it's an unequivocally great film, and one of astounding originality and vision. And I liked The Devil's Backbone. But after that...meh. Hellboy went on far too long and didn't offer much (to me at least) beyond Ron Perlman's entertaining performance. Mimic has flashes of originality and some nice shots but doesn't come together. Cronos, which was hard to find, turned out to be not worth the trouble. So while he's clearly a director of vision, he is not yet anywhere close to a great director.

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Mon May 17, 2010 5:03 pm
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Post Re: 4th Reelviews Movie Club Meeting: The Devil's Backbone
ed_metal_head wrote:
ram1312 wrote:
ed_metal_head wrote:
Either way, your self doubt is misplaced. I, for one, loved your analysis. Lord of the Flies is a good comparison. The spear stabbing is not dissimilar to the way the pig was stabbed in the book.


You know...now that I'm thinking about it. You guys remember the part in the movie where Carmen is showing the boys the picture of the mammoth. She tells them about how prehistoric men would kill these huge animals. The boys pretty much do the same thing at the end there...don't they?


I adore this point. That's why I made it in my first post :D

:oops:

Shit man...sorry. I did read that the first time, but forgot about the scene at the time.


Mon May 17, 2010 5:27 pm
Post Re: 4th Reelviews Movie Club Meeting: The Devil's Backbone
1. Do you see any more point to the ghosts in the story than I do?
[Reveal] Spoiler:
Putting aside any allegorical contexts, half the movie revolves around the idea of the ghost, with the introduction and ending more or less dedicated to wrapping the film in those terms.

So yeah, I guess I did.

2. Do you feel that the movie was engaging from start to finish, or poorly-paced?
Start to finish, no question about it. From Carlos' interactions with Jaime to his stints with Santi, I was pretty grounded. I love this kind of stuff, though. Del Toro's a master at showing two points of the view: the child's and the adult's. Pan's Labyrinth executes this similarly well, and I told myself I wasn't going to bring up that movie. There were weak moments, like when Alma felt the need to try and kill the fire. Who didn't mutter to themselves "dumb bitch" when she did that? Also, I didn't like Jaime's flashback. Although I believe strongly in show don't tell, this whole scene reeked of "we're not sure how to tell this part of the story". I wonder how different it would have been if they went down the Bergman route and they just focused on Jaime's face during the explanation.
[Reveal] Spoiler:
Lastly, although I bought Dr. Cesares' ghost opening the door, it begs the question: "What happened to the ghosts of the other children? And Carmen? And Conchita?"


3. What was your favorite scene or image from the film?
The one Ed posted in that guessing thread is easily the most memorable, but there are others worth mentioning. There are a few good ones in the beginning that are used to set up atmosphere.
[Reveal] Spoiler:
When Jacinto kills Conchita, that's a good one, too.


I really liked The Devil's Backbone. It's my kind of horror film: one that doesn't revel in scaring you, but instead setting up an atmosphere that's palpable and real. I say amen to the political allegories and historical context, but to be honest, the film works without acknowledging them. It's the icing on the cake, sure, but for me, the icing's cream cheese. I don't necessarily dig cream cheese.


Tue May 18, 2010 5:02 am
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