The Devil's Backbone

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The Devil's Backbone
Espinazo del diablo.jpg
Original Spanish-language poster
Directed byGuillermo del Toro
Produced byGuillermo del Toro
Pedro Almodóvar
Written byGuillermo del Toro
Antonio Trashorras
David Muñoz
Narrated byFederico Luppi
StarringMarisa Paredes
Eduardo Noriega
Federico Luppi
Fernando Tielve
Íñigo Garcés
Music byJavier Navarrete
CinematographyGuillermo Navarro
Editing byLuis De La Madrid
StudioCanal+ España
Good Machine
Distributed byWarner Sogefilms A.I.E. (Spain)
Sony Pictures Classics (United States)
Release dates
  • April 20, 2001 (2001-04-20) (Spain)
  • November 21, 2001 (2001-11-21) (United States)
Running time107 minutes
CountrySpain
Mexico
LanguageSpanish
BudgetUS$4.5 million
Box officeUS$6,459,020
 
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The Devil's Backbone
Espinazo del diablo.jpg
Original Spanish-language poster
Directed byGuillermo del Toro
Produced byGuillermo del Toro
Pedro Almodóvar
Written byGuillermo del Toro
Antonio Trashorras
David Muñoz
Narrated byFederico Luppi
StarringMarisa Paredes
Eduardo Noriega
Federico Luppi
Fernando Tielve
Íñigo Garcés
Music byJavier Navarrete
CinematographyGuillermo Navarro
Editing byLuis De La Madrid
StudioCanal+ España
Good Machine
Distributed byWarner Sogefilms A.I.E. (Spain)
Sony Pictures Classics (United States)
Release dates
  • April 20, 2001 (2001-04-20) (Spain)
  • November 21, 2001 (2001-11-21) (United States)
Running time107 minutes
CountrySpain
Mexico
LanguageSpanish
BudgetUS$4.5 million
Box officeUS$6,459,020

The Devil's Backbone (Spanish: El espinazo del diablo) is a 2001 Spanish-Mexican gothic horror film directed by Guillermo del Toro, and written by del Toro, Antonio Trashorras and David Muñoz. It was independently produced by Pedro Almodóvar, and filmed in Madrid.

The film is set in Spain, 1939, during the final year of the Spanish Civil War. Del Toro considers it his most personal film.

Plot[edit]

Casares (Federico Luppi) and Carmen (Marisa Paredes) operate a small home for orphans in a remote part of Spain during the Spanish Civil War. Helping the couple mind the orphanage are Jacinto (Eduardo Noriega), the groundskeeper, and Conchita (Irene Visedo), a teacher who is also involved with Jacinto. Casares and Carmen are aligned with the Republican loyalists, and are hiding a large cache of gold that's used to back the Republican treasury; perhaps not coincidentally, the orphanage has also been subject to attacks from Franco's troops, and a defused bomb sits in the home's courtyard. One day, a boy named Carlos (Fernando Tielve) arrives at the home, looking for a place to stay after being left behind by his parents. Casares and Carmen take him in, and the boy soon strikes up an unlikely friendship with Jaime (Íñigo Garcés), a boy with a reputation for tormenting other kids. But Carlos soon begins having visions of a mysterious apparition he can't identify, and hears strange stories about a child named Santi who went missing the day the bomb appeared near the orphanage.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Del Toro wrote the first draft before writing his debut film Cronos. This "very different" version was set in the Mexican Revolution and focused not on a child's ghost but a "Christ with three arms".[1]

Reception[edit]

The response was overwhelmingly positive, though it did not receive the critical success that Pan's Labyrinth would in 2006. Roger Ebert compared it favorably to The Others, another ghost story released in the same year.[2] Christopher Varney, of Film Threat, claimed: "That 'The Devil's Backbone' makes any sense at all — with its many, swirling plotlines — seems like a little wonder." A.O. Scott, of The New York Times gave the film a positive review, and claimed that "The director, Guillermo del Toro, balances dread with tenderness, and refracts the terror and sadness of the time through the eyes of a young boy, who only half-understands what he is witnessing."[3]

The film was #61 on Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments for its various scenes in which the ghost is seen. It currently holds a 91% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.[4] Bloody Disgusting ranked the film at number eighteen in their list of the 'Top 20 Horror Films of the Decade', with the article calling the film "elegant and deeply-felt... it’s alternately a gut-wrenching portrait of childhood in a time of war and a skin-crawling, evocative nightmare."[5] The film has been described as a humanist ghost story.[6]

References[edit]

External links[edit]