The Devil's Backbone Blu-ray/DVD | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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The Devil’s Backbone Blu-ray/DVD

Studio: Criterion

Sep 23, 2013 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Set in a boys’ orphanage during the Spanish Civil War, Guillermo Del Toro’s third feature focuses on 12-year-old Carlos, whose father was killed on the front line. A bomb protrudes from the yard, unexploded; one of the boys disappeared on the night it fell from the sky. The children whisper of a ghost that haunts the grounds, whose sad sighs can be heard echoing in the halls. Outside these walls, the Nationalist army closes in, threatening to force the orphans from their home.

Although spooky, The Devil’s Backbone becomes weighed down by perhaps one too man subplots; too much time is spent fleshing out peripheral characters’ histories and motives while the ghost story is pushed from the foreground. The film’s strong special effects and atmosphere of supernatural dread were taken to even greater heights in the filmmaker’s now-classic Pan’s Labyrinth (which was set against a similar Civil War backdrop.) The extras included on Criterion’s edition here are superb. Del Toro himself provides introductions, interviews, deleted scenes, an audio commentary, and page after page of browsable notes and sketches from his own archives. Two additional documentaries provide background on the production and some helpful historical context for the film’s wartime setting, for viewers not versed in the conflict’s chain of events. (

Author rating: 7/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10


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