The Child’s Point of View in The Spirit of the Beehive

Inside Criterion / On the Channel — Mar 30, 2017

Released in 1973, near the end of General Franco’s military dictatorship, Víctor Erice’s strikingly poetic first film, The Spirit of the Beehive, reflects on the earliest days of the regime, depicting the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War in an isolated Castilian village through the wide eyes of a taciturn six-year-old named Ana. In the latest installment of Observations on Film Art, a Criterion Channel original program that focuses on great auteurs’ mastery of the formal elements of cinema, film-studies scholar Kristin Thompson examines Erice’s adoption of a child’s point of view in telling his elliptical fable about the traumas of war. The below excerpt from the episode finds Thompson contrasting other art films’ use of children as sympathetic focal points with Erice’s less common choice of employing the technique to emphasize the horrors and mysteries of the adult world.