The Devil's Backbone

The Devil's Backbone

Guillermo del Toro (2001)

15 Certificate


Our Score
Set near the end of the Spanish Civil War, this bone-chilling allegorical ghost story sees ten-year-old Carlos (Fernando Tielve) sent to a remote orphanage that is reputedly haunted by the ghost of a dead boy - "he who sighs". There he uncovers a secret involving the sadistic young caretaker (Eduardo Noriega), who surely represents fascism in the film's vivid metaphor for the war. Mexican director Guillermo del Toro makes less overt use of his background in make-up effects - unlike his previous creepshows Cronos and Mimic - and instead relies on the power of suggestion and sound for the chilling, ever-present horror, as the fates of the orphans and their guardians become tragically inter-linked. Though the whodunnit takes a fairly predictable course, the Spanish Civil War background adds powerful narrative and symbolic weight, while the striking imagery - most notably, the presence of an unexploded bomb in the yard - is simply poetic. It's produced by Pedro Almodóvar's company, El Deseois


A couple run an orphanage during the Spanish Civil War and are secretly supplying funds to the hard-pressed Republican forces. A boy who has become separated from his parents is taken into the orphanage, but is soon having disturbing visions of a ghostly child. Guillermo del Toro's psychological thriller, starring Marisa Paredes and Eduardo Noriega. In Spanish.

Cast & Crew

Carmen Marisa Paredes
Jacinto Eduardo Noriega (2)
Casares Federico Luppi
Carlos Fernando Tielve
Jaime Iñigo Garcés
Conchita Irene Visedo
Alma Berta Ojea
Director Guillermo del Toro
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Other Information

Language: Spanish +subtitlesColourTheatrical distributor: Optimum ReleasingGuidance: Violence, swearing, sex scenes.Available on: video, DVD and Blu-rayReleased on: 30 Nov 2001