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The Devil's Backbone

It is 1939, the end of three years of bloody civil war in Spain, and General Franco's right-wing Nationalists are poised to defeat the left-wing Republican forces. A ten-year-old boy named Carlos (Fernando Tielve), the son of a fallen Republican war hero, is left by his tutor in an orphanage in the middle of nowhere. The orphanage is run by a curt but considerate headmistress named Carmen (Marisa Paredes) and a kindly Professor Casares, ... [+]
Author Review
United StatesUnited States M
Roger Ebert
"Mournful and beautiful (...) Del Toro is a master of dark atmosphere, and the places in his films seem as frightening as the plots (…) Rating: ★★★ (out of 4)"  POS
United StatesUnited States M
A. O. Scott
The New York Times
"Del Toro takes an almost sensuous delight in weaving aural and visual textures of fear (...) Del Toro provokes your screams and shudders, but he also earns your tears."  POS
United StatesUnited States M
Nathan Rabin
AV Club
"The film is distinguished most by its ability to tie its local tragedy to the course of history, and to capture a nation's loss in the melancholy of a single wandering ghost."  POS
United KingdomUnited Kingdom M
Geoff Andrew
Time Out
"With polished but subtle special effects (...) What lifts it, however, is an adept use of generic elements as a poetic/metaphorical gloss on political and historical realities."  POS
United StatesUnited States M
Martin Rubin
Chicago Reader
"The specificity of the political-historical content diminishes the suggestiveness of the horror elements (...) An entertaining and atmospheric revenge tale"  NEU
United KingdomUnited Kingdom M
Colin Kennedy
"So much better than Del Toro's studio efforts, with a masterful command of sound and colour that is breathtaking (…) Rating: ★★★★ (out of 5)"  POS
United KingdomUnited Kingdom M
Andrew Collins
Radio Times
"The Spanish Civil War background adds powerful narrative and symbolic weight, while the striking imagery (...) is simply poetic (…) Rating: ★★★★ (out of 5)"  POS
United KingdomUnited Kingdom M
Philip French
The Guardian
"It's a striking film"  POS
United StatesUnited States M
Ed Gonzalez
"'The Devil’s Backbone' works both as art-house spooker and political allegory (…) Rating: ★★★½ (out of 4)"  POS
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