As many of you know, us here at The Movies are big fans of Guillermo Del Toro. My Del Toro box has a very special place on my movie shelf, and I’m very sure the rest of the gang can say the same. Today I’m featuring The Devil’s Backbone, one of the most masterfully crafted ghost stories ever made.
Why is it that we love Mr. Guillermo that much? Of all the great directors today, he’s always been a one of my favourites and looking at his filmography it is quite easy to see why. He’s a geek. Not only is he a geek, but he’s a talented geek. He’s a master storyteller that puts his heart and soul into his projects and it translates into fantastic cinema every single time.
For most of you, the first film you would think of when I mention Del Toro would be Pan’s Labyrinth, or Hellboy, but in 2001 he released El Espinazo Del Diablo, also known as The Devil’s Backbone, a spanish gothic horror film that tells the tale of a young boy in 1939 that gets placed into the care of an orphanage during the Spanish civic war. Building on the horrors of the Spanish civic war, as he did with Pan’s Labyrinth, Guillermo crafts a masterful tale of hidden gold, ghosts and human greed that manages to chill audiences to the bone.
As with Pan’s Labyrinth, The Devil’s Backbone is a beautiful film as well – in more ways than one. Besides scare the hell out of us, he also manages to tug at the heart strings with the plight of the orphans during the war and also elicits wonder with his trademark visual flair. Actually, that is worth mentioning a second time. The Devil’s Backbone is breathtaking to look at. The sight of the huge unexploded bomb in the middle of the orphanage courtyard sends chills down my spine, and the threat it posed from the very beginning of the film only emphasises the sense of gloom that surrounds the entire film.
While I can’t wait for Pacific Rim, once it’s done Del Toro is going to be focusing on horror again with Crimson Peak, and I can’t wait for him to return to create lighning in a bottle again. Your homework for this week is quite fantastic – get your hands on The Devil’s Backbone and watch the hell out of it. You’ll thank me later. Oh, and as a bonus, here are two more beautiful posters for it: