A House DVD'd

Criterion and Rooster Teeth give you something worth wishing for

A House DVD'd

The Devil's Backbone

Criterion Collection; $39.95 (Blu-ray), $29.95 (DVD)

Guillermo del Toro is fascinated with the Gothic, and his 2001 supernatural melodrama about ghosts and gold in 1930s Spain may be the most perfect expression of that fascination. War orphan Carlos (Fernando Tielve) is the innocent abandoned at an isolated Spanish school, where a dark secret must be unraveled. Del Toro's third film, but the first he felt happy about, The Devil's Backbone is a companion piece to the more famous Pan's Labyrinth. The director even suggests they could become two-thirds of a trilogy of thematically interlinked fables set against the Spanish Civil War. In the plethora of bonus features, Oberlin College professor Sebastiaan Faber and del Toro himself argue that Backbone is a metaphor for that bloody conflict. The orphans and their guardians are the flawed but well-intended leftist Republicans, and the brooding and narcissistic handyman Jacinto (The Last Stand's Eduardo Noriega) stands in for the preening Fascist Nationalist. But its power is in its relationships, especially how deeply and accurately it re-creates the complex web of allegiances, feuds, and unexpected solidarity between young boys. That one of them is already dead makes the tale all the more eerie.

More by Richard Whittaker
Drafthouse <i>Wonder Woman</i> Screenings Bring Out the Trolls
Drafthouse Wonder Woman Screenings Bring Out the Trolls
All-female screenings to expand nationwide

May 25, 2017

Numbers Don't Lie, Film Rebates Work
Numbers Don't Lie, Film Rebates Work
Which films and TV shows quit Austin over lack of rebates?

May 25, 2017

AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

Updates for SXSW 2017

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)