194 - Spirit of the Beehive (1973)
Oh my god, I do this as a journey of discovery. i know that i'm unlikely to have jaw dropping moments at the weekly releases at the local cinema. But here it seems to happen with amazing frequency. I guess that if you set out to see the greatest films of all time you should expect to encounter a few goodies.
I knew nothing of this movie except that it might feature bees and that it is considered on the greatest 200 movies ever made. let's just think about that this means. We are not talking about the top ten from the US last year but the whole world from the last 90 years. A list where only 400 American films even get a look in. I'm a climber and in these term we're in the Himalayas and it's freakin' high!
Let me simply say that this is a great film and that anyone seriously into movies should check out. There are many reasons to see it.
We are in a tiny village in Spain in 1940 and the mobile cinema arrives to show Boris Karloff's Frankenstein. the village congregates and we see two kids, eyes wide open, absorbing the horrors of James Whale's masterpiece.
The film has a profound effect on one of them and it increasingly effects her life. Meanwhile dad plays with his bees. I'm trying to be oblique about the story and the characters because, as always it's best experienced with little knowledge.
The tone of the film is best described as Ingmar Bergman meets Terence Malick. there is a slow thoughtful progression from Frankenstein and the characters motivations and behavior deservedly receives a thorough examination (Bergman). This translates into an almost dream like reality that is filmed in amazing "honey" like hues and composition that evoke Malick.
There is another reason to see this movie. I strongly think that the film contains the greatest performance by a child actor in any film I have ever seen. the hardest acting of all is not when there's dialog or action a plenty but when there's nothing for you to hang on to. When your mere presence has to communicate to the viewer. Ana Torent has almost nothing to play with but generates a performance that will draw you in and instantly identify with her plight.
Anyone who thinks Haley Joel Osment is the best needs to see this to get a serious reappraisal.
I've already mentioned the cinematography. Scene after scene appear like prize winning still shots perfectly lit and composed.
Now add in a political allegory where the bee hive represents Spain. I'm not going there apart from to say that this film has serious depth beyond artistic beauty.
I know nothing of the director, cinematographer or actors. But I do know that you will see a great film. A dead cert 9 and a potential 10. i need to ruminate.