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In this reflection I wanted to take the opportunity to discuss one of my favorite films. Produced in 1973, The Spirit of the Beehive beautifully captures the imaginative mystical experiences of childhood. Set during the 1940s in a rural and remote Spanish village, viewers are introduced to the inquisitive restless child, Ana. As all the children and elder villagers gather around in the town hall to watch the disturbing horror film Frankenstein, the camera pans and reveals the expressions of wonderment in the faces of the children. Ana does not look away or close her eyes as some of the other children do. Instead this little girl in complete wonderment is determined to understand who Frankenstein is. Her older sister tells her that he is a spirit and that she has been able to talk with him because they know each other. The two sisters embark on a journey to an old abandoned farmhouse where supposedly the “spirit” of Frankenstein resides. Alone, Ana returns several times in order to get a glimpse or an encounter with this spirit. Although she does not find what she is looking for, she does come upon a young man who sought refuge in the farmhouse. Wearing a ragged coat and tattered shoes, Ana brings him her father’s coat and shoes. That night the man is shot and killed by the local authorities and her father’s possessions are returned to him. In bewilderment, Ana’s father who had no idea the items were missing, visits the farmhouse where the drifter was murdered. In astonishment and fear that her father may find out that she was the one that gave the items to the young man, she runs away from him. As the family searches for Ana, this curious sensitive little girl plunges into an imaginative world where reality and fantasy becomes obscured. As she travels further away from the village Ana enters into a dense forest. This is where she finally encounters the spirit of Frankenstein. For a brief moment viewers see this interaction, but like a mystical dream or vision, the scene ends too quickly for us to grasp. Ana is found the next morning and is taken back to the village. The doctor assures Ana’s mother that she is going to be fine. He explains to her that the child has suffered from a traumatic shock. In the final scene we see Ana awake from a deep sleep. In restless determination, she walks to her bedroom window and quietly calls out to her “friend.” In response, she hears a distant train whistle.

 This film is hauntingly beautiful. The scenes of the expansive desolate countryside of Castile are breathtaking while the music is whimsical and evocative. These two features and Ana’s childlike wonderment leave a lingering sense of spiritualness. One of the reasons why I enjoy this film so much is because it provokes one to recollect one’s own childhood experiences and memories. Childhood is a wonderful time of innocence and wonder. Please feel free to comment on any films that have provoked the act of recollecting your personal memories and experiences of childhood. A guilty pleasure of mine would probably be The Goonies! Also, does The Spirit of the Beehive sound like a film that you would like to see or is it a film that you would probably never want to view?

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