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The Devil's Backbone (Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]

4.6 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

The most personal film by Guillermo del Toro (Cronos) is also among his most frightening and emotionally layered. Set during the final week of the Spanish Civil War, THE DEVIL'S BACKBONE tells the tale of a ten-year-old boy who, after his freedom-fighting father is killed, is sent to a haunted rural orphanage full of terrible secrets. Del Toro effectively combines gothic ghost story, murder mystery, and historical melodrama in a stylish concoction that reminds us—as would his later Pan’s Labyrinth—that the scariest monsters are often the human ones.

Special Features

  • New 2K digital film restoration, approved by director Guillermo del Toro
  • Audio commentary featuring Del Toro
  • Video introduction by Del Toro from 2010
  • New interviews with Del Toro
  • Que es un fantasma, a 2004 making-of documentary
  • Spanish Gothic, a 2010 interview with Del Toro about the genre
  • Interactive director's notebook, with Del Toro?s drawings
  • Four deleted scenes, with optional commentary
  • New featurette about the Spanish Civil War as evoked in the film
  • Program comparing Del Toro?s thumbnail sketches
  • Selected on-screen presentation of Del Toro's thumbnail sketches
  • Trailer
  • New English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Mark Kermode

  • Product Details

    • Actors: Marisa Paredes, Eduardo Noriega, Federico Luppi, Fernando Tielve, Irene Visedo
    • Directors: Guillermo del Toro
    • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
    • Language: Spanish
    • Subtitles: English
    • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
    • Number of discs: 1
    • Rated:
      R
      Restricted
    • Studio: Criterion Collection
    • DVD Release Date: July 30, 2013
    • Run Time: 108 minutes
    • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
    • ASIN: B00CEIOH3M
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,408 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
    • Learn more about "The Devil's Backbone (Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]" on IMDb

    Customer Reviews

    Top Customer Reviews

    By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 18, 2013
    Format: Blu-ray
    Guillermo del Toro is currently known as the guy who made the Oscar-winning "Pan's Labyrinth," the "Hellboy" movies, and came close to directing "The Hobbit."

    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 ›
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    Format: Blu-ray
    A mysterious ghost haunts a Spanish orphange and 10 year old Carlos is determined to find out who and why it is haunting the facility in Guillermo del Toro's exceptinal ghost story set during the Spanish Civil War. This exceptional film receives a deluxe Blu-ray treatment from Criterion. Unfortunately for those who want this edition, it is Region A locked. If you're in Europe, you'll need a region free player.

    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.
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    Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
    Before he got really big he was doing great "smaller" flicks like this that show his style and story-telling. Without giving up the story the movie is about a boy left at an orphanage during the Spanish civil war. While there he uncovers a mystery that remains unsolved but through his ability to communicate with the deceased victim the truth unfolds. More of a story-telling than a gotcha or boo thriller type movie. And, reading an essay on the movie to understand the symbolism regarding del Toro's position on the war and socialism makes it all the more interesting.
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    Format: DVD Verified Purchase
    ***SPOILER ALERT***
    THE DEVIL'S BACKBONE. With Eduardo Noriega, Federico Luppi, Fernando Tielve. Co-written and directed by Guillermo Del Toro. 106 mins. Rated R: Sexuality, violence, children in peril. In Spanish with English subtitles. 3 Stars. Guillermo Del Toro's "The Devil's Backbone" is a really cool ghost story with an extraordinary human and political dimension. Set in an isolated, garrisoned school for orphans of the Spanish Civil War, this spooky film's atmospheric set design includes a large unexploded bomb whose nose is buried in the center of the courtyard, a looming metaphor for the war being waged elsewhere and for the ticking time bomb of current events. Carlos (Fernando Tielve) is the newest arrival at the Santa Lucia school. The place is run by the elderly Casares (Federico Luppi) and by a stern headmistress with a prosthetic leg. Bad portents abound. Carlos isn't there a few minutes before getting the evil eye from a bullying student and from Jacinto (Eduardo Noriega), a beefcake ex-student who's now the school's secretive, begrudging caretaker. Worse, there appears to be the ghost of a murdered little boy - "the one who sigh" - haunting the grounds, which include an indoor swimming pool filled with the nastiest water this side of "Diabolique.
    " The politics within the walls of the school serve as a microcosm for the politics raging outside: Fascists, Communists and Republicans all vie for supremacy. Director Del Toro who co-wrote the script, makes you care for each character, particularly the ghostly boy whose head wound still gushes blood eerily into the ether. "The Devil's Backbone" represents a welcome diversion from loud, senseless Hollywood extravaganzas.
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