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The Devil's Backbone (2001)

El espinazo del diablo (original title)
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2:10 | Trailer
After Carlos - a 12-year-old whose father has died in the Spanish Civil War - arrives at an ominous boys' orphanage, he discovers the school is haunted and has many dark secrets which he must uncover.

Director:

Guillermo del Toro
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Popularity
3,225 ( 726)
6 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Marisa Paredes ... Carmen
Eduardo Noriega ... Jacinto
Federico Luppi ... Dr. Casares
Fernando Tielve ... Carlos
Íñigo Garcés ... Jaime
Irene Visedo ... Conchita
José Manuel Lorenzo José Manuel Lorenzo ... Marcelo
Francisco Maestre ... El Puerco (as Paco Maestre)
Junio Valverde ... Santi
Berta Ojea Berta Ojea ... Alma
Adrián Lamana Adrián Lamana ... Gálvez
Daniel Esparza Daniel Esparza ... Marcos
Miguel Ortiz
Juan Carlos Vellido
Javier Bódalo Javier Bódalo ... Búho (as Javier González Madrigal)
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Storyline

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, 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 and a kindly Professor Casares, both of whom are sympathetic to the doomed Republican cause. Despite their concern for him, and his gradual triumph over the usual schoolhouse bully, Carlos never feels completely comfortable in his new environment. First of all, there was that initial encounter with the orphanage's nasty caretaker, Jacinto, who reacts even more violently when anyone is caught looking around a particular storage room the one with the deep well. Second, and more inexplicable, is the presence of a ghost, one of the former occupants of the orphanage named Santi. Not long after Carlos' arrival, Santi ... Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The living will always be more dangerous than the dead. See more »

Genres:

Drama | Horror

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violence, language and some sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Mexico | Spain

Language:

Spanish

Release Date:

20 April 2001 (Spain) See more »

Also Known As:

The Devil's Backbone See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$4,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$34,963, 25 November 2001

Gross USA:

$755,249

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$6,582,065
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This labor of love for director Guillermo del Toro was sixteen years in development. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
[voice over narration]
Casares: What is a ghost? A tragedy condemned to repeat itself time and again? An instant of pain, perhaps. Something dead which still seems to be alive. An emotion suspended in time. Like a blurred photograph. Like an insect trapped in amber.
See more »

Crazy Credits

During the opening credits sequence, the letters of the film's title can be seen floating around the preserved fetuses. Eventually, the letters come together to form the title. See more »

Connections

Version of Even the Wind Is afraid (1968) See more »

Soundtracks

Recordar
Written by Charles Borel-Clerc and José Luis Salado
Performed by Imperio Argentina and Manolo Russell
Courtesy Producciones El Delirio
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
among the best work I've seen
2 May 2005 | by aktaylorSee all my reviews

Great care has been taken with the art direction. You are immediately transported to 1939, with Franco's army about to descend on the Spanish countryside. Even the crumbling buildings of the boys' school the characters inhabit play a role. The actors are superb, and the child actors give award-worthy performances.

This story is only incidentally a ghost story. It's a story about love and betrayal and the miseries of war visited on a people. It has a lot to teach about the depths of human cruelty, and the grace of sacrifice. It left me weeping. I don't want to label it Del Toro's masterpiece so early in his career, but it will stand through the years with his best work.


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