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The Devil's Backbone (Special Edition) (2001)

Marisa Paredes , Eduardo Noriega , Guillermo del Toro  |  R |  DVD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (161 customer reviews)

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The Devil's Backbone (Special Edition) + Pan's Labyrinth + The Orphanage
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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: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Anamorphic, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Special Edition, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: July 27, 2004
  • Run Time: 106 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (161 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000274TLW
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,946 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Devil's Backbone (Special Edition)" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Brand-new director-supervised HD transfer
  • Deleted scenes with optional director commentary
  • Making-of documentary
  • Director's thumbnail track
  • Excerpts from director's notebook
  • Conceptual art galleries
  • Storyboard thumbnail comparisons

Editorial Reviews

THE DEVIL'S BACKBONE is a stylish and unpredictable supernatural chiller from director Guillermo del Toro (Blade 2, Cronos, Mimic) which deftly mixes horror, suspense and dark humor. Twelve-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. Carlosgradually uncovers the dark ties that bind the inhabitants of the school: hidden riches, sexual intrigue and the restless ghost of a murdered student. Presented by Agustín and Pedro Almodóvar (All About My Mother) and starring Marisa Paredes (The Flower of My Secret), Federico Luppi (Men with Guns)and Eduardo Noriega (Open Your Eyes), THE DEVIL'S BACKBONE is a richly atmospheric, genuinely thrilling ride in the tradition of The Others and The Sixth Sense.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
70 of 74 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ghost story that is scary, stylish and intelligent April 14, 2003
"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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43 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rich in metaphor, hard to categorize March 17, 2007
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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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Del Toro's masterpiece October 2, 2004
Nowadays Guillermo Del Toro is best known for high-profile actioners such as "Hellboy" and "Blade 2" and while both of those films are excellent in my opinion they can't hold a candle to this 2001 Spanish film. "The Devil's backbone" is a sophisticated and stylish piece that effectively transposes elements of the classic ghost story, Victorian fairy tale, symbolic metaphors, and human tragedy into a bleak Spanish Civil War setting. It is, simply put, Del Toro's masterpiece.

The action takes place in 1939 towards the end of the Spanish civil war. Carlos, a young boy whose father was killed in the line of duty, is brought to a secluded orphanage in the middle of the desert. The orphanage is nothing fancy but it does the trick; every child has their own bed, there is enough food to go around and quality teachers to educate the children. The backyard of the orphanage however holds quite the ominous sight, a giant bomb stuck in the sand that somehow never exploded upon falling. On the day the bomb fell a child named "Santi" disappeared from the orphanage. Speculation ran rampant as to what exactly happened to Santi and it was speculated that the boy ran away and is now either safe with the sheppards or died at the hand of cutthroats. But Carlos and the other boys keep hearing strange noises at night that make them think that dead or alive, "Santi" is still lurking on the grounds of the orphanage...

The success of this film lies in the immaculous amount of detail and meaning Del Toro injects in almost every individual scene. The director's commentary track is a virtual lesson in the history of Spanish art, architecture and folklore. Every scene in the film is deliberate and full of meaning. The performances are phenomenal, especially the young kid who plays "Carlos".
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 4 days ago by Noell K Emerson
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Could have been better.
Published 10 days ago by acamus
5.0 out of 5 stars Delicious spirits!
This movie is very good. Guillermo Del Toro creates his own universe, repeating themes throughout his films. Read more
Published 12 days ago by leadcoffin
3.0 out of 5 stars good not great
does NOT live up to the hype around it. "Pan's Labyrinth" was much a much better movie.
Published 1 month ago by Jean M. Pfaffinger
5.0 out of 5 stars A Pleasant Surprise
A very unexpected story unfolded and will not disappoint those who are looking for a movie with a very creepy atmosphere. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Amara
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Film
Definitely a great foreign film to watch. The director has always made it different when watching his films. Great to watch
Published 2 months ago by rl0822
5.0 out of 5 stars Roxanne here...
A must for one's library. Add Pan's Labyrinth and Ingmar Bergman...Santa Sangre, Clockwork Orange and Ma Vie En Rose. Oh, and how about some excellent horror? Asian is the best. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Robert S. Haddock
3.0 out of 5 stars Pan's Older Brother
This is a movie that Guillermo del Toro made in 2001, that probably not enough people saw. He took the formula, altered a few things, and then remade the film 5 years later but... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Andrew Clemons
5.0 out of 5 stars Del Toro's Ghost story
This is a great movie! Guillermo Del Toro did a fantastic job with telling this Ghost Story, the effects are fantastic and the way the whole thing is laid out is brilliant. Read more
Published 3 months ago by morbiddanx
5.0 out of 5 stars Great example of Guillermo Del Toro's amazing early work
Along with Chronos and Pan's Labyrinth, the Devil's Backbone is a fine piece of work by an amazing director. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Jason J. Chao
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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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