The Devil's Backbone  -
As Guillermo Del Toro films go The Devil's Backbone is a defining moment in his career, breaching the gap between International Art House and mainstream Hollywood success, it being his last film before Blade 2. Based within an orphanage during the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s, the film is driven by its characters and, just like his previous films (Cronos and Mimic), it draws on the supernatural to outline and re-define exactly what it is that drives them.
Although Del Toro insists that this is not a film about the Civil War, by trapping and threatening its inhabitants the orphanage inevitably becomes a mirror for the events outside. These four walls become a place of protection for boys who have been orphaned during the war, a place for them to lead a relatively normal existence full of school life, bullying and adventure. Their main source of the latter being Santi, a young ghost who haunts the halls looking for revenge for his recent murder. Yet the pivotal character who evokes real fear in the children is not the spirit, but the greedy, selfish Jacinto (Eduardo Noriega), a former orphan, whose experiences have left him with deep emotional scars. With a strong cast and even stronger imagery (created by cinematographer Guillermo Navarro) Del Toro whips up a hauntingly effective film about love, life and the afterlife.
On the DVD: entering the extras literally through the keyhole, there are several opportunities to obtain a deeper understanding of this disturbing film. A "Behind the Scenes" featurette includes the cast's own character profiles and interpretation of the story, as well as Del Toro explaining his thoughts about the film and how he achieved some shots. Two of the sequences"Aerial Bombardment" and "The Ghost"--can be seen in further technical detail, with film footage and computer animation combined to make a whole scene. A selection of storyboards can also be viewed which run alongside the soundtrack to the scene, with the option to intercut between storyboard and finished film. A theatrical trailer, a picture gallery and written biographies are standard. The film and additional features are in Spanish with English subtitles and menu. With Dolby 5:1 sound and a widescreen picture, the film not only looks and sounds, but also feels fantastically chilling. --Nikki Disney
Customer reviews (av rating: 4.5):
Very good film : I bought this recently from Amazon mainly because of the del Toro factor and i really enjoyed it.Some very good acting all-round and a great story line,certainly not original but still very good.If you enjoyed pan's Labyrinth then you will like this other Del Toro film.Recommended.
must see! : This was possibly the most beautiful (although slightly predictable) 'horror' film I have ever seen. It was a very well directed film which relied more heavily on the atmosphere than on extravagant effects. It conjured every emotion imaginable from sadness to revulsion. Even if you are not a fan of horror in the true sense of the word, this actually only accounted for around 5% of the film, the rest was made up of a very GOOD story - something which is often in short supply in today's horror films. - watch it! Even my husband enjoyed it and he usually moans like hell at sub-titled films!
fantastic film - available in del Toro collection : Better value to buy this along with Pan's Labyrinth and Cronos in the del Toro collection on Amazon. For me this was the best of the three films, but they are all evocative and explore their themes with originality and style.
a good old fashioned ghost story, and so much more besides : Sometimes it is a genuine joy to see a good old fashioned genre done so well that it takes your breath away, and so I am proud to present for your consideration The Devils Backbone, as effective and full blooded a ghost story as you are ever likely to see.
Written and directed by Guillermo Del Toro, the mastermind behind such fantastic pieces of cinema as Cronos and Pans Labyrinth, as well as the slightly disappointing super-hero movies Blade 2 and Hellboy (hey, even the best of us can make a mistake), the film centres around Carlos (Fernando Tielve). The year is 1939 and the Spanish Civil War is coming to its bloody end. Carlos is brought to an isolated orphanage by his tutor and guardian where he is left, unaware that his father, a Republican, has been slain in the war. Carlos accepts his fate, but life is anything but simple for him, in spite of the presence of the kindly Dr Casares (Federico Luppi), as young Carlos must contend with bullying from some of the other boys and the attentions of the sadistic caretaker Jacinto (Eduardo Noriega). But these tribulations are as nothing when Carlos becomes the focus of attention for a ghost that haunts the orphanage, the ghost of a fellow orphan Santi, who disappeared (or died) in mysterious circumstances, and appears to Carlos to warn him that "many will die". As the war closes in on the orphanage and much of Santi's warning comes to pass, the orphans must band together to fight the real evil that threatens them.
This is both a superb ghost story, a riveting drama and a coming of age tale all rolled into one, and the isolated location of the orphanage coupled with the impending threat of violence, from the war, from the bullies, from Jacinto or from the ghostly warnings of Santi, give the film an almost unbearable sense of tension and dread. And when true horror is visited upon the orphanage and the boys must band together, the film becomes a morality tale as well as a study of what people are capable of in the most dire of circumstances (shades of Lord of the Flies methinks).
The film is never less than beautiful to look at, and Del Toro uses an economy of direction, avoiding showy special effects and letting the story do all the work for him, pulling a series of superb performances from his cast, in particular Federico Luppi as Dr Casares, a kind and dignified man who promises never to abandon the boys, and remains true to his word throughout the film, and Eduardo Noriega as Jacinto, a terrific study of sadistic bullying and greed, as well as abandonment and loss. This film is easily the equal of anything Del Toro has done previously, and something of a companion piece to his following movie, the justly celebrated Pans Labyrinth. By turns beautiful, atmospheric and when it wants to be, scary as hell.
wow what a kick ass film : ive just finished watching the film and i can honestly say ive not seen a better film ever!! it rocks. the whole thing screams cult, the ghost/victim is portraid in a way ive not seen before and it makes it sooo realistic. I didnt find it scary I loved follwing the twists of the plot. If you want to watch a film and come out feeling youve seen a proper well made film with a great storyline this is the one for you.
Buy "The Devil's Backbone " now!