In a tiny 1940s Spanish village, as the Spanish Civil War winds to a close far away, young toddler Ana (Torrent) and her sister Isabel (Telleria) attend a screening of James Whale's "Frankenstein" at a makeshift theater. Awestruck and terrified, Ana cannot differentiate cinema from reality, and begins to believe — with her sister's coaxing — that the creature exists as a spirit, and is living somewhere in the countryside near their family home.
Long considered a masterpiece of world cinema, this hauntingly gorgeous film by Victor Erice does not immediately yield all its secrets — it simply asks us to surrender ourselves to young Ana's fertile imagination. Her family, for instance, is slightly enigmatic and off-kilter: while her father (Gomez) broods in his study and obsesses over a backyard beehive, her mother (Teresa Gimpera) pens tearstained letters to a soldier who might not exist. Ana, meanwhile, finds her imaginative world transformed by the vision of Whale's tragic creature, and eventually makes a fantastic discovery in an abandoned barn. Bathed in an ethereal honey light, exquisite to watch and ponder, "Beehive" epitomizes the magic of cinema itself.