It’s 1940 in a small village of Spain, and Ana Torrent plays Anna, a six year old with a huge imagination. After watching a screening of Universal’s Frankenstein, Anna is told by her older sister, Isabel, that the monster is alive in spirit form in an old abandoned house. After being shown the house, Anna takes different pilgrimages towards the place to see the creature, until one day she sees the blood of a soldier she had recently befriended. In a state of shock, she runs away.
This is one of the best movies I’ve seen in my life, taking the wonder of being a child with a very serious adult story. Ana Torrent gives one of the best, and most realistic, child performances ever given in a film. She doesn’t express much, but her eyes say it all. Everybody else in the film is great as well. But what drives the story is not just Ana herself, but the cinematography. Luis Cuadrado, who was going blind at the time, didn’t let his disease stop him, and made a beautiful mix of browns and golden colors, giving a feeling of a beehive, and honey, something that is part of the father’s income.
A lot of psychological turmoil is presented in the film. First off, there is the growing distance between Ana and her sister, who is growing up and making new friends, and not interested in spending time with her little sister. A lot of this is illustrated in the sequence where Ana sees Isabel and her friends play in the fire, and looks on in sadness. I also liked the soldier’s subplot, as it reveals a real ‘fuck you’ to the regime of General Franco. He was still alive at the time so I’m surprised they were able to get away with it. And of course, being the monster fan that I am, I got a kick of watching the Frankenstein clips and audio, recognizing the scenes, and seeing the father in the Frankenstein makeup. This movie is a masterpiece and should not be missed.