Thursday, January 23, 2020

Overheard at Booth 2: The Devil's Backbone (2004)

There must have been something about the Spanish Civil War in that it has woven its way into the Spanish consciousness so inextricably that every Spanish director must set at least one of their movies during those years.   Same is true for novelists, I suppose, but this war is the backdrop for so many pieces.   Perhaps it is during the times of such conflict, wherein various factions are vying for power and the people are caught up in multi-directional winds that chaos simply becomes the fabric of life, and the need to find some comfort, some rationale, beyond the chaos is all that, in the end, keeps one with some semblance of sanity.

The Spanish Civil War is not the centerpiece of this movie, but it is the background.  The set, as you will, as much as the mission wherein all the action takes place.  It's an orphanage, a home for boys displaced by the war, and this movie is also a mystery and a ghost story. 

On top of that, it is also the standard European "child on the cusp of adolescence" story.  Europeans love those "coming-of-age" stories.  I don't know why.  There is something they must love about the impending loss of innocence, the struggle to maintain childhood in the face of forces that demand the child to grow up, immediately rather than later.  That should be (and probably has already been) the subject for a scholarly study on the psychology of Europe.   (hint hint to all you sociologists out there!)

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