A youthful curiosity

Buffalo Film Seminars shows ÒThe Spirit of the BeehiveÓ at latest screening


Everyone can remember the feeling of bewilderment as a child – the sense of awe that surrounds a new discovery coupled with the curiosity of a young mind.

The Buffalo Film Seminar brought viewers back to this feeling with the screening of Victor Erice’s 1976 film, The Spirit of the Beehive.

The film follows the story of Ana (Ana Torrent, La Ropavejera), a 7-year-old girl living in an isolated post-Civil War Spanish village.

The movie opens with a traveling moviemaker stopping at Ana’s school to screen James Whale’s Frankenstein. Shortly after, Ana develops a fascination with the film’s title character and the idea that one can summon a “spirit” if they believe hard enough.

When Ana is watching Frankenstein, her sister tells Ana how she can talk to Frankenstein if Ana calls for him. What ensues is an effectively illustrated depiction of the world through a curious, young child’s eyes.

“I don’t like films about children. I like sex and violence [in films],” said Bruce Jackson, one of the program’s founders, as the audience chuckled. “But this film really captures a child-like quality and what it’s like to look through a child’s eyes. I don’t know how [the director] did it so well.”

Torrent’s performance adds to the charm of the film, and as her curiosity progressively heightens surrounding the existence of Frankenstein. The film resolves this in a dream-like manner – but is still residual in its commentary on the power of a child’s imagination.

Eric DeGrechie, a 39-year-old Buffalo resident was moved by the themes of the film. DeGrechie read ‘1,000 Films to See Before You Die,’ and The Spirit of the Beehive was on the list. He and his wife are self-proclaimed “film buffs.”

“The storyline through a child’s eyes [and] the Frankenstein theme made it all really neat, it was really moving,” DeGrechie said.

Before the film began, the Buffalo Film Seminar teachers SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor of English, Diane Christian and SUNY Distinguished Professor Bruce Jackson gave an informative background presentation to the audience that was still trickling into the theater.

There were also handouts presented at the theater including details on the production of the film, anecdotes, cast and crew interviews and critical comments to keep in mind during the viewing.

This semester marks the first time the seminar’s screening has been hosted so close to UB. Students can take the Stampede to UB South Campus and walk a short distance to the theater on 3500 Main St.

Every Tuesday night, students enrolled in the Buffalo Film Seminar class are able to see the films for free. Students who aren’t enrolled can pay $7.50 with their student ID. Tickets are also available to the general public for $9.

James Werwick, a sophomore media study major, has been to The Buffalo Film Seminar screening once before.

“I like the seminar because it always shows old classics,” he said. “I’m looking forward to seeing Fargo in November.”

After the film, the moderators conducted an in-depth discussion about it which everyone was encouraged to take participate in.

The film was well received – audience members were walking out the theater, still discussing their interpretations of the film.

The next film screening will be Roman Polanksi’s famous film, Tess, Nov. 4.

The Buffalo Film Seminar continues to provide effective movie classics to students at UB. If you are looking for something to see, and learn about, then come out to Amherst Dipson on Tuesdays. It might just fill you with some youthful curiosity.

email: arts@ubspectrum.com