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The Devil's Backbone


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Product Details

  • Actors: Marisa Paredes, Eduardo Noriega, Federico Luppi, Fernando Tielve, Íñigo Garcés
  • Directors: Guillermo del Toro
  • Writers: Guillermo del Toro, Antonio Trashorras, David Muñoz
  • Producers: Guillermo del Toro, Agustín Almodóvar, Bertha Navarro, Michel Ruben
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
    PLEASE NOTE:
    Some Region 1 DVDs may contain Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE). Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called "region-free" DVD players. For more information on RCE, click .
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures
  • DVD Release Date: June 25, 2002
  • Run Time: 106 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (177 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000066C6I
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #182,392 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Devil's Backbone" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Making-of featurette
  • Storyboard comparisons

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

NEW FOREIGN LANGUAGE DVD - Back in Stock with special features. Language: SPANISH with ENGLISH subtitles. 12 year old Carlos is the latest arrival to Santa Lucia School, an imposing stone building that shelters the orphans of the Republican militia and politicians during the last days of the Spanish Civil War. It gets DEEP from there. 110 minutes. Starring Eduardo NORIEGA, Marisa PARADES, and Berta OJEA. NEW DVD! (R)•

Amazon.com

Seething passions, wandering ghosts, and an unexploded bomb fill this beautifully filmed tale of war and suspense. Though The Devil's Backbone was advertised as a horror movie in the States, it's really more of a drama that happens to have ghosts in it. During the Spanish Civil War, young Carlos is abandoned at a completely isolated orphanage. The tensions therein have been building for years, exacerbated by the unexploded bomb resting menacingly in the courtyard. Bullies scheme, tempers flare, and a ghost that visits Carlos's bed seems to be the key to it all. The movie is full of excellent performances, especially by Marisa Paredes as the gruff-but-kind headmistress, Eduardo Noriega as the handyman with secrets to keep, and Federico Luppi as the benevolent professor who likes to keep deformed fetuses in jars. A rich, satisfying drama with some good, spooky fun thrown in. --Ali Davis

Customer Reviews

I could easily watch this movie again and I think I would enjoy it just as much the second time.
Michael Fishman
Directed by Guillermo del Toro, "The Devil's Backbone," is a film which incorporates mystery with a blend of horror.
Ernest Jagger
It is a great movie, beautifully acted, directed and filmed with a very believable and original story line.
Gwen Paddington

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

73 of 78 people found the following review helpful By BD Ashley on April 14, 2003
Format: DVD
"What is a ghost? A tragedy condemned to repeat itself time and again? An instant of pain perhaps. Somthing dead which still seems to be alive. An emotion suspended in time. Like a blurred photograph. Like an insect taped in amber".
It is this rumination which opens THE DEVIL'S BACKBONE, a ghost story set during the Spanish Civil War directed by Guillermero Del Toro (Mimic, Blade 2) and presented by Pedro Almodovar.
Carlitos is an orphaned 12 year old who is sent to a boarding school that shelters orphans during the last days of the war.
One unwelcome occupant is the ghost of a murdered boy, called "The One Who Sighs" by the other pupils. Carlitos is unlucky enough to come face to face with the hideously disfigured apparition one night where as a dare, the other boys send him downstairs to get some water; but for some reason he ends up in the slug infested basement; where "The One Who Sighs" dwells in a pool conveniently located there.
The movie gets its title from the name given to the deformed spine of dead foetuses, which is preserved in alcohol by an ecentric teacher. The alcohol is then sold in town and touted as a "cure all" remedy...BR>THE DEVIL'S BACKBONE is a horror thriller that takes its time getting started, but once it does it makes Hollywood's regular crop of horrors look anemic. Scary, stylish and twisty (in addition to twisted) THE DEVIL'S BACKBONE doesn't undermine the viewer's intelligence either. This is a must see for horror fans and film buffs.
Extra features on the DVD include a doco about the making of the movie, trailers, storyboard comparisons and commentaries by Del Toro and the cinematographer.
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44 of 49 people found the following review helpful By John Bonavia VINE VOICE on March 17, 2007
Format: DVD
Like del Toro's "Pan's Labyrinth" which has made huge waves in the non-Hollywood world, "The Devil's Backbone" is not easily categorised. Ghost story? yes, but much more. Picture of the scary tensions in Spain in the early days of the Civil War? yes, but more. Wonderful tale of how a group of children mature amid disaster and tragedy and come to be almost their own family, to replace the ones they never had or are separated from? Yes, but more. Rich in symbols and allegory...yes, but...

The richness of what T.S.Eliot called the "objective correlative" gives one that sense of underlying depth. For instance, there's the huge unexploded bomb stuck in the middle of the school courtyard. What is it but a metaphor for the hidden ghastly secret that waits to explode and reveal the reason for the mysterious ghost of the boy Santi? We only find out Santi's story near the end. Then there's the Devil's Backbone itself - in reality a congenital deformity where the spine is exposed, but spooky-looking in the sample floating in a jar of preservative - doesn't Jacinto exactly match that name? An irredeemable core of evil, like a Shakespeare villain or the Captain in Pan's Labyrinth. del Toro doesn't want to claim that there's something good in everyone: he says no, some characters are just irreversibly turned to the dark side, the very backbone of evil.

Then there's the subtle end-to end connections that add more richness. In the early scene of the school classroom, the children are shown the picture of a mammoth and the teacher makes the point that in these days the creatures were so big and strong that the hunters could only succeed by working closely together as a group.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Anton Ilinski on February 24, 2007
Format: DVD
12 year old Carlos (Tielve) arrives to an isolated boarding school for boys closer to the end of the Spanish Civil War. New friends and bullies, a director of the school (Luppi) - old, wise doctor, who likes citing poems to his deputy (Paredes) and is clearly in love with her. Deputy director shares his love for poetry and secret sympathy for republicans (whom they're hiding some gold for) although prefers to seek sexual pleasure in the hands of a young caretaker (Noriega). There's only a blue sky above the orphanage and burnt out, lifeless Spanish prairie for miles around. Oh, I nearly forgot - children are telling stories about "the one who sighs" - a local ghost roaming vaults of the boarding school, and as we're to find out willing to tell some secret to Carlos.

War is in the air. There's no actual war in The Devil's Backbone, but Guillermo Del Toro's "Spanish trilogy" is about war so it's the main theme here. It's obvious the war is coming even to this remote corner of Spain. It's hanging over this place as Damocles' sword and reminds of itself even by way of a huge unexploded bomb sticking out of the schoolyard pavement. It serves both as a reminder and as a menace - no one knows if it's going to explode finally. As in later Del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth the war is shown here through the eyes of children and is seen as troublous times when you don't know whom to trust, when a neighbor can turn out to be your enemy, when everyone is against everyone else. Children can only trust other children and try to survive relying only on themselves albeit their attempts can seem naive and helpless. The line "They're grown-ups but we're numerous" will stick in your mind for a long time after you're finished watching.
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Special Edition
I do not know the answer, sorry,
What I would like to know is if this film has subtitles in Spanish - yes, Spanish. I teach advanced courses in Spanish and for this type of films the students need a support for understanding the film in its entirety.
Sep 28, 2009 by M.A. |  See all 2 posts
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