This is our second film in the Villages Film Festival and we are showing it jointly with Wivenhoe Film Club at their venue, the Nottage Film Club. The film will be introduced by Sydney Bayley and there will be an opportunity for discussion afterwards.
The film was directed by Victor Erice, who only made three feature films over a period of twenty years, the last of which, The Quince Tree, won the Jury Prize at Cannes in 1992. He is still alive and it seems a tragedy for cinema that he made so few films. Those of you who have seen Pan’s Labyrinth will see that this was the original film to explore the emotional consequences of Spain’s plummet to dictatorship, the power of childhood imagination and the allure of the fantastic in his cinema. It was a dangerous film to make, however, because Franco was still in power. It is the story of eight-year-old Ana, who lives in a close-knit Castillian village with her daydreamer mother Teresa, older sister Isabel and father Fernando, who tends beehives for a living. After watching James Whale’s 1931 version of Frankenstein with Boris Karloff, little Ana becomes convinced that the monster is living in one of the nearby, rundown houses. When an escaped convict seeks refuge in one house, Ana believes she has finally met the monster of her nightmares
In 2010, the Guardian named it one of the top 25 arthouse films of all time and both Roger Ebert and David Thomson, two of the major film critics of recent years, regard it as an exceptional film. They emphasise the film’s poetic and spiritual qualities rather than the hidden political messages.
The film won major awards within Spain but, inexplicably, nothing outside it.
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