THE DEVIL’S BACKBONE: The Films of Guillermo del Toro

January 14, 2018 @ 4:30 pm

Our monthlong tribute to the works of visionary Mexican auteur Guillermo del Toro continues with 2001’s The Devil’s Backbone (El espinazo del diablo).

Masterfully blending horror and historical fiction, del Toro examines the scars of the Spanish Civil War by way of a powerful ghost story.   In 1939, three years after the end of the war, a 10-year-old boy named Carlos is left behind at an orphanage in the middle of nowhere. General Franco’s right-wing Nationalists are poised to defeat the left-wing Republican forces, as as many of the orphanage’s residents are children and politicians from this party, they live in constant terror of being destroyed by the opposing Nationalists. Young Carlos finds comfort and safety in curt but considerate headmistress Carmen (Marisa Paredes) and kindly Professor Casares (Federico Luppi), both of whom are sympathetic to the doomed Republican cause, as he deals with bullying children, cruel caretaker Jacinto, and his disturbing visits by the ghost of a boy named Santi.  As Carlos finds out, Santi was brutally murdered the day a bomb was dropped on the school’s grounds – and whereas the bomb didn’t detonate, the ghost of Santi nevertheless latches on to Carlos with an ominous message, warning the terrified boy, “Many of you will die…”

A powerful film filled with mystery, fantasy, and heartbreaking tragedy, The Devil’s Backbone is signature del Toro, a visually breathtaking and narratively compelling drama that deconstructs the true nature of horror as it has existed in real life – a world at war, plagued by tremendous pain and loss, when men were at their worst in the name of nationalism, self-interest, and greed.

Presented in Spanish, with English subtitles.

Wednesday, January 10 – 5pm, 7:30pm, 9:45pm
Thursday, January 11 – 5pm, 7:30pm, 9:45pm
Saturday, January 13 – 1pm, 3:30pm
Sunday, January 14 – 1:30pm, 4:30pm

“Guillermo Del Toro’s The Devil’s Backbone is a really cool ghost story with an extraordinary human and political dimension.” – Jami Bernard, New York Daily News 

“The chills and suspense and graphic violence are leavened with the horror that comes from knowing the victims — and knowing they are undeserving of their fate.”Roger Moore, Orlando Sentinel 

“Mr. del Toro provokes your screams and shudders, but he also earns your tears.” – A.O. Scott, New York Times

“It’s a horror flick – and a creepily good one – that also functions as an allegory of the war that still haunts Spain seven decades later.” – Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal