The Devil's Backbone
|The Devil's Backbone|
Original Spanish-language poster
|Directed by||Guillermo del Toro|
|Produced by||Guillermo del Toro
|Written by||Guillermo del Toro
|Narrated by||Federico Luppi|
|Music by||Javier Navarrete|
|Editing by||Luis De La Madrid|
|Distributed by||Warner Sogefilms A.I.E. (Spain)
Sony Pictures Classics (United States)
|Running time||107 minutes|
The Devil's Backbone (Spanish: El espinazo del diablo, literally The Backbone of the Devil) is a 2001 Spanish-Mexican gothic horror film directed by Guillermo del Toro, and written by del Toro, Antonio Trashorras and David Muñoz. It was independently produced by Pedro Almodóvar, and filmed in Madrid.
The film is set in Spain, 1939, during the final year of the Spanish Civil War. In the DVD commentary, del Toro stated that, along with Hellboy, this was his most personal project, and described it as his favorite along with Pan's Labyrinth and Hellboy II.
Casares (Federico Luppi) and Carmen (Marisa Paredes) operate a small home for orphans in a remote part of Spain during the Spanish Civil War. Helping the couple mind the orphanage are Jacinto (Eduardo Noriega), the groundskeeper, and Conchita (Irene Visedo), a teacher who is also involved with Jacinto. Casares and Carmen are aligned with the Republican loyalists, and are hiding a large cache of gold that's used to back the Republican treasury; perhaps not coincidentally, the orphanage has also been subject to attacks from Franco's troops, and an unexploded bomb waits to be defused in the home's courtyard. One day, a boy named Carlos (Fernando Tielve) arrives at the home, looking for a place to stay after being left behind by his parents. Casares and Carmen take him in, and the boy soon strikes up an unlikely friendship with Jaime (Inigo Garces), a boy with a reputation for tormenting other kids. But Carlos soon begins having visions of a mysterious apparition he can't identify, and hears strange stories about a child named Santi who went missing the day the bomb appeared near the orphanage.
- Fernando Tielve as Carlos, the protagonist. He is described by del Toro in the DVD commentary as a force of innocence. Tielve had originally auditioned as an extra before del Toro decided to cast him as the lead. This was his film debut. Both Tielve and his co-star Iñigo Garcés had cameos as guerrilla soldiers in Pan's Labyrinth.
- Íñigo Garcés as Jaime, the orphanage bully that later befriends Carlos.
- Eduardo Noriega as Jacinto, the caretaker.
- Marisa Paredes as Carmen, the administrator of the orphanage.
- Federico Luppi as Dr. Casares, the orphanage doctor.
- Junio Valverde as Santi, an orphan who becomes a ghost.
- Irene Visedo as Conchita, Jacinto's fiancée.
The response was overwhelmingly positive, though it did not receive the critical success that Pan's Labyrinth would in 2006. Roger Ebert compared it favorably to The Others, another ghost story released in the same year. Christopher Varney, of Film Threat, claimed: "That 'The Devil's Backbone' makes any sense at all — with its many, swirling plotlines — seems like a little wonder." A.O. Scott, of The New York Times gave the film a positive review, and claimed that "The director, Guillermo del Toro, balances dread with tenderness, and refracts the terror and sadness of the time through the eyes of a young boy, who only half-understands what he is witnessing."
The film was #61 on Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments for its various scenes in which the ghost is seen. It currently holds a 91% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Bloody Disgusting ranked the film at number eighteen in their list of the 'Top 20 Horror Films of the Decade', with the article calling the film "elegant and deeply-felt... it’s alternately a gut-wrenching portrait of childhood in a time of war and a skin-crawling, evocative nightmare." The film has been described as a humanist ghost story.
- Ebert, Roger (December 21, 2001). The Devil's Backbone (review). Chicago Sun-Times
- The Devil's Backbone at Rotten Tomatoes
- "00's Retrospect: Bloody Disgusting's Top 20 Films of the Decade...Part 4". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved 2010-01-03.
- Krake, Kate. "Guillermo del Toro’s The Devil’s Backbone – A Humanist Ghost Story". Vivid Scribe. Retrieved 28 October 2012.
- Official website
- The Devil's Backbone at the Internet Movie Database
- The Devil's Backbone at AllRovi
- The Devil's Backbone at Box Office Mojo
- The Devil's Backbone at Rotten Tomatoes
- The Devil's Backbone at Metacritic
- Review at Cinefantastique Online