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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 (152 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: 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 (152 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000274TLW
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #16,030 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 (Hellboy, Blade 2) 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. Carlos gradually 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 Pedro and Agustin Almodovar (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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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars AMAZINGLY TALENTED February 24, 2007
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
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 9 days ago by Jason J. Chao
5.0 out of 5 stars Unique and thoughtful
This movie escapes the traditional genres. It's a movie about war, death, spirits, murder, love, childhood, respect, and survival. Read more
Published 1 month ago by USERBOSCO
2.0 out of 5 stars Snooze
After seeing so many high reviews, I found this pretty disappointing. While there are some interesting shots and decent acting, t's very slow, not scary, and somewhat cheesy.
Published 1 month ago by Alyssa DeGraff
5.0 out of 5 stars Must see!
Great cast. Excellent movie. I wouldn't expect anything less from Guillermo Del Toro. Great director! And If you enjoy this - be sure to watch Pans Labyrinth!
Published 1 month ago by Amy Guerriero
3.0 out of 5 stars Not impressed
I love Pans Labyrinth and Orphanage but this movie did not live up to the hype for me. I should have Netflixed it before buying.
Published 2 months ago by Alina Hernandez
5.0 out of 5 stars Great movie!
Loved it!I thought the story moved well and that the characters were likable and believable.It was suspenseful and I would recommend it to anyone.
Published 2 months ago by downdawgy
5.0 out of 5 stars stylish beautifully executed and scary
Great DVD with lots of extras that add to enjoyment of fine film. This is a must see for del Toro fans and any others who admire storytelling with good character development. Read more
Published 2 months ago by bonita cee
2.0 out of 5 stars What Was so Great About this Average Film?,
I have to certainly ask myself what the other people saw in this film. To me, this film suffers from a lack of interesting plot, laughable interaction amongst the characters and a... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Bartok Kinski
5.0 out of 5 stars Del Toro is king
What can i say about Guilllermo Del Toro that hasn't been said before.
This movie came after his debut Cronos andI believe after Mimic. Read more
Published 3 months ago by C. Flemish
5.0 out of 5 stars You would love every minute if you like mystery with history combined
I simply love this movie, I saw it many years ago and it moved me, the Spanish civil war, the history, setting, story and wonderful actors, this is a keeper.
Published 4 months ago by Michael Retsina
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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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