At the start of this year, I made an overall goal to beat last year's total post count. I was rather disappointed in last year's total count, after a fairly strong first year. I'm happy to say that, with this post, I have now matched the total count from last year. With over a month to go, and with this week off from classes, I think it is safe to say that I will achieve my goal. I don't think I will match, or beat, my first year total, but maybe I will save that for next year. The Devil's Backbone (2001) is the last of my Netflix stuff until Tuesday, hopefully. I mailed a movie back Thursday, but for whatever reason, the mailman didn't take it. So Friday I had to mail it out again, this time I arrived just as he was sorting mail to put in mailboxes. So I quickly ran over, and exchanged mail with him. As long as the next film is mailed from somewhere near by, I should get it on Tuesday. In the mean time, it will give me a chance to watch some of the movies I have around here.
The Devil's Backbone takes place at some point during the Spanish Civil War. Which means it takes place somewhere between the years 1936 and 1939. From the hints offered in the film, it takes place in 1939. In truth, this isn't really all that important, since it is more of a backdrop to the story, rather than a significant point. The film opens with planes flying overhead and dropping bombs. My first thought was that it was placed sometime during the Second World War possibly. After reading other reviews though, I discovered otherwise. I did a little research just to see for myself. It does make more sense, plot wise, if it was set during the Civil War. I'm getting sidetracked here, but I know very little about the history of Spain, so I just wanted to pick up on the story taking place in the outer reaches of this one. We pick up on the story days, or maybe weeks, after the bombs fell. Carlos (Fernando Tielve) is a twelve year old boy being dropped off at an orphanage. He doesn't know it, but his father, who is fighting for the losing side, has died. Carmen (Marisa Paredes) is running the orphanage, and helps the losing cause by giving gold once in a while. Some friends of Carlos's father is dropping Carlos off, so that Carlos will be away from all the fighting. The first thing Carlos notices is a bomb in the courtyard. Carmen assures them that the bomb has been defused, but it is too heavy for anyone to take away. The other kids start to test Carlos, who becomes popular with some of them, because of the comic books he has. Their test is to see if he will be a snitch, or stand with the other kids. There also seems to be a ghost, "the one who sighs," lurking around, warning others of many deaths.
Outside of The Devil's Backbone making me look up Spanish history, I also discovered that this was written, and directed, by Guillermo del Toro. If you don't know the name, which I am still picking up on myself, then let me fill you in. He is behind Mimic, The Orphanage, Hellboy, Hellboy 2, Pan's Labyrinth, Blade 2, and the upcoming The Hobbit, and The Hobbit 2. As far as The Devil's Backbone goes, I was actually surprised at how many good reviews it was getting. I did check before watching the film, mainly what overall rating it was getting, not actual reviews. I didn't know this was a film by Guillermo when I put it in, it was just a film that I knew next to nothing about.
One thing I noticed with some reviews, is that some people said they felt let down by The Devil's Backbone after having watched Pan's Labyrinth already. I didn't have this problem, since I have yet to see Pan's Labyrinth. One thing I found interesting was the ghost in this story. It has an interesting look to it. I kept flipping back and forth as to how much I liked how the ghost looked. Sometimes I thought it was very cool looking, other times I didn't like it at all. One thing I was slightly disappointed in was that they give us a full view of the ghost very early in the film. I thought it was more interesting with them just hinting at the ghost, instead of showing it. The ghost is an actual actor with a lot of CGI elements added. Blood was always floating out of a head wound of the ghost. There were water effects around the ghost at times. The thing I liked, and hated, the most though, was that you could barely make out the bones. This effect looked very neat with the face, but I didn't like how it looked with the clothes. I know ghosts are translucent, at least some appear that way, but I didn't care for the way you could see the bones through the clothes. At times, it looked like the bones were something on the clothes, instead of something that you could see through the clothes.
The Devil's Backbone is actually a drama with the supernatural thrown in. The ghost is an added story element that really didn't need to be there in order to tell the story. It does help move the story along at times, but I really felt they could have gotten around the ghost if they had wanted to do so. It wasn't something that was needed in order to tell the story. The main story is of course the people at the orphanage. The relationships found there is something that I found more interesting, and it kept me watching. The supernatural part of the film was a nice touch, but it felt more like a thriller instead of a horror movie. It wasn't trying to scare at all. The only scary thing about this film is the warning that the ghost gives. It keeps you wondering what will happen and when.
If you are a fan of the director, you can't go wrong here. Even if you haven't watched one of his films, this would be a good film to watch first I think. There are a lot of child actors, but none of them come across as annoying, like some in past films sometimes do. As a horror movie, it isn't that good of a film. Still, I liked this one a lot, and highly recommend it to all of you.
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