The Fantastic Manifesto: Monstrosity of Memory and Epiphany of Selfhood in The Spirit of the Beehive (1973)
Date of Degree
Edward D. Miller
Child Psychology | Children's and Young Adult Literature | Developmental Psychology | European History | Film and Media Studies | Folklore | Other Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Visual Studies
storytelling, censorship, spanish cinema, frankenstein's monster, cinema of resistance, childhood memories, cinephile, true self
The Spanish culture of storytelling suffered under the nearly forty-year dictatorship of Francisco Franco. The government-regulated cinema welcomed propaganda and melodrama, and denied the fantastic, the legendary, and the magical. These carefully manipulated histories, which served to romanticize the ideologies of the regime, also served to eulogize the delinquent and the depraved. In the early 1970s, at the heels of the collapse of Franco’s reign, the people of Spain bore witness to a new national cinema. The Spirit of the Beehive (1973), the feature debut from Victor Erice, exists at the threshold between a storied history of Spanish dictatorship and an impending democratic new history. This thesis contemplates the ways in which The Spirit of the Beehive celebrates difference through examining a child’s relationship with the magical and the monstrous in two dichotomous landscapes: popular culture and endemic Spanish traditions. Erice’s film uses myth and fantasy to inquire what it means to be human, specifically a child, during this social transition. For Erice’s young protagonist, James Whale’s Frankenstein (1931) conjures more than a simple celluloid terror. Ana’s emotional kinship with the wretch remodels the framework of her perception of selfhood; the bond awakens an awareness, of both self and other, and independence, as an individual and as a nation. My writing is inspired by the notion of rhizome developed by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari in A Thousand Plateaus, the second half of their seminal project Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Appropriated itself from the botanical term for a subterranean system of roots, the rhizome is a philosophical theory pertaining to multiplicities. Turning to Spanish Civil War history, D.W. Winnicott’s studies of true self and false self, Lois Parkinson Zamora’s work on Magical Realism, and Marsha Kinder’s Blood Cinema: the reconstruction of national identity in Spain, this thesis employs a rhizomatic exploration of oral folklore, Spanish Catholic rituals, and cinema of resistance as represented by the nation, the auteur, the child, and the monster — rooted here at the tree that is Victor Erice’s The Spirit of the Beehive.
Blodgett Carrillo, Layla, "The Fantastic Manifesto: Monstrosity of Memory and Epiphany of Selfhood in The Spirit of the Beehive (1973)" (2017). CUNY Academic Works.
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