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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 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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The transfer on the Criterion blu ray is awesome. All I can say.Published 5 months ago by Michael Paul
Great story and expertly directed. Cover by Mike Mignola helps to accentuate the unnerving aspects of this tale.Published 5 months ago by Paulina Przystupa
It's a wonderful movie and the extras are amazing! The documentary with Guillermo was so informative.Published 6 months ago by V. Ventura
One of the spookiest movies I have ever seen - and so beautiful at the same time. Very touching movie.Published 6 months ago by Lisa M. Compton
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 15 months ago by victor luna
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