Foreign film series continues with “The Spirit of the Beehive”

Victor Erice film, The Spirit of the Beehive, follows in the surrealist footsteps of director Luis Bunuel. The plot was straightforward enough, but many elements in the movie were left to individual interpretation. Last week, the audience of the film series discussed everything from the main character’s father to the possibility she was sexually assaulted.

The Spirit of the Beehive is set in a rural, Spanish town during the Spanish Civil war. It is an interesting war movie because it is completely removed from the battlefield. Ana, the protagonist, is hardly aware a war is going on, but the audience is informed by love letters from soldiers and the occasional deserter that drops in by train.

The story follows Ana after she and her sister watch the new movie in town, Frankenstein. Ana’s mother is seen writing letters to a soldier and suffering through an estranged marriage. To escape from her homelife, Ana often hides near an abandoned house on a pasture.

One day, Ana comes across a wounded deserter, presumably from the Spanish Republicans. She tends to his wounds the best she can and offers him food and clothing during their relationship.

After the soldier is killed, Ana runs away and encounters what she thinks is the Frankenstein monster. She is eventually found and returned home, traumatized from her experiences. The film concludes with Ana praying to the night sky, repeating, “It’s me. . . Ana.”

Erice’s direction is intentionally drawn out and might be considered slow-paced to modern viewers. The director often framed a scene and followed its progression over time. One of the most powerful examples of this framed scene was Ana and her sister’s staggered progression down a hill and toward the abandoned house. In another, the camera focuses on the house as the sky turns to dusk and eventually pitch black. Before long, the crackle and flashing of gunfire cut through the darkness, and subside.

Another interesting aspect of The Spirit of the Beehive was its ambiguity. The director doesn’t spell everything out for the audience. When the movie ends, questions regarding the monster’s existence or if the girl was abused are left unanswered. The lack of resolution makes the movie that much more memorable and worth talking about long after it’s over.

Tonight at 3:30 and 7 p.m., Dr. Pease will be showing the film, The 400 Blows, directed by Francois Truffaut. This 1959 French movie is a great way to conclude the eleven days of French week. As always, many professors are offering extra credit for attendance, and there are just four more weeks in the series.

The film series is continuing every Tuesday at 3:30 and 7 p.m. in the Evans Complex room 105. All students and faculty are invited to attend. This weekly event a vital part of our university and those who attend are better educated when they leave.

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