The Spirit of the Beehive, the beloved debut 1973 film by Victor Erice, stars Ana Torrent and Isabel Telleria as two unspeakably adorable doe eyed young sisters in a remote Castillian village. It is a highly praised film, though it's fame and recognition is not as widespread as other comparable masterpieces. It was released on Criterion a few years ago, so hopefully new audiences will emerge.
The story is simple and secondary to the imagery and emotions conjured. It is, in fact a nearly silent film with the scenes of the adults being particularly quiet and elusive. The world the sisters, their mother, and grandfather inhabit is a remote and bleak one, but through the imaginative eyes of the children, it becomes fantastic; through the eyes of the (going blind) cinematographer, Luis Cuadrado it is magical, exquisite, gorgeous! – likely one of the most stunning films you are likely to ever see.
Before you are mislead that this is a cutesy coming of age story of two little girls in a picturesque town, though, it is important to note this film is as painful as it is beautiful. Ana and Isabel's making sense of a brutal and unfair world, particularly their understanding of death, is not sentimental or movie like. It is at once ethereal and full of dread.
It is largely considered the best Spanish film ever made and I would go so far as to say it is also one of the best films made from a child's point of view. It is slow moving, but never boring, and worth the effort. This movie will amaze you.