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The Devil's Backbone (Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
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But way back in in 2001, del Toro made a movie that serves as a sport of ghost-story prequel to "Pan's Labyrinth." With its mysterious specter, innocent hero and a story set during a bloody civil war, "The Devil's Backbone" is a unique kind of horror movie -- it deftly sidesteps the cheap tricks and scares that most ghost stories employ.
Unaware that his father has been killed, Carlos (Fernando Tielve) thinks that he's being left at a remote orphanage only temporarily. Kindly Dr. Casares (Federico Luppi) sympathizes with the lonely new boy, but Carlos soon is distracted from his troubles. He keeps seeing shadows, footprints and falling pitchers -- and when he wanders down into the vaulted cellar, he catches a glimpse of a silent ghost with a bleeding head wound. Even worse, the ghost -- which was a boy named Santi -- informs him that many people there will die.
But the most dangerous one at the orphanage is the brutal former-orphan Jacinto (Eduardo Noriega), who is searching for a cache of hidden gold. As Carlos tries to figure out how Santi died -- and what angry, miserable Jaime (Íñigo Garcés) has to do with it -- the orphanage is suddenly turned into an explosive war zone. As Dr. Casares tries to protect the remaining boys, Carlos discovers the reason Santi died -- and what he wants now.
"The Devil's Backbone" is a movie filled with death: the orphanage is a dying institution in a time of war, filled with orphans and surrounded by sun-burnt grass. It even has a defused torpedo stuck right in the middle of the courtyard.Read more ›
The transfer for "The Devil's Backbone" tooks absolutely stunning for this 2001 film. Detail is exceptional and there is no overuse of digital noise reduction. The film looks quite nice in its high def debute.
The lossless 5.1 audio also sounds terrific. This doesn't feature an English dubbed version but does feature English subtitles.
The special feaatures are a highlight on this set. We get an introduction by del Toro (in English), del Toro's 2004 commentary from the Sony release, deleted scenes, sketches, a 30 minute behind-the-scenes documentary (that is excellent)as well as a 15 minute interview with del Toro discussing the creation of one of the most memorable characters in the film. We also get an excellent featurette on the designs for the film featuring del Toro.
We also get "Director's Notebook" an interactive feature that allows us to dig in to the director's notes on the film. "Spanish Gothic" is an interview with del Toro, deleted scenes, a series of side-by-side comparisons of del Toro's thumbnail illustrations and the finished film. We also get a brief featurette with Spanish Civil War historian Sebastian Faber and the trailer for the film. As with all Criterion editions, this features a booklet with an essay on the making of the film.
An exceptional film from director del Toro, this edition of "The Devil's Backbone" is an improved on Sony's 2004 release and is recommended.
The story goes that a giant unexploded bomb (supposedly defused) sits in the center of an all boy's orphanage. Each child seems to be there based on the fact that their parents have died in the Spanish Civil War. In the opening a young boy dies and the rumor persists that the boy's ghost haunts the orphanage.
Mix in some greed and you have a tale that will leave you thinking.
Region A locked Blu Ray.
The best this film has ever looked. The darkness is properly exposed and there are no compression issues to be spotted, especially in the darkness shrouded areas. In the age of Blu Ray, thankfully improperly mastered video is a true rarity.
Criterion have gone back and cleaned up 1000s of instances of dust, dirt and scratches, so there really isn't any place where any of that appears in the video.
MPEG-4 AVC encoded with high bit rates.
DTS-HD 5.1 Spanish language with optional English subtitles. Given this is the original language track, it's no surprise this is the only option on this release given Criterion's love of authenticity. Had someone else already created an English overdub, it would likely have been included, so I assume no such dub exists.
The Devil's Backbone is not an action heavy scare fest with lots of explosions. There are some scenes of explosive violence, but it's not the focus. Dialog is crisp and clean. Sound envelops you nicely with the surround options.
10 featurettes are included, along with a commentary and trailers.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great story and expertly directed. Cover by Mike Mignola helps to accentuate the unnerving aspects of this tale.Published 9 days ago by Paulina Przystupa
It's a wonderful movie and the extras are amazing! The documentary with Guillermo was so informative.Published 14 days ago by V. Ventura
One of the spookiest movies I have ever seen - and so beautiful at the same time. Very touching movie.Published 1 month ago by Lisa M. Compton
THE DEVIL'S BACKBONE. With Eduardo Noriega, Federico Luppi, Fernando Tielve. Co-written and directed by Guillermo Del Toro. 106 mins. Read more
The blueray edition of one of my favorite movies ,surpassed my expectation,I enjoyed just like the first time,the details are amazing.great movie.Published 9 months ago by victor luna
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