Blu-ray, DVD Release: The Devil’s Backbone

Blu-ray & DVD Release Date: July 30, 2013
Price: DVD $29.95, Blu-ray $39.95
Studio: Criterion

The Devil's Backbone movie scene

Ghostly apparitions haunt a rural orphanage in The Devil's Backbone.

The 2001 horror film The Devil’s Backbone is probably the most personal film ever made by Guillermo del Toro (Cronos, Mimic), along with being one of his most frightening and emotionally layered.

Set during the final week of the Spanish Civil War, The Devil’s Backbone tells the tale of a ten-year-old boy (Fernando Tielve) who, after his freedom-fighting father is killed, is sent to a haunted rural orphanage full of terrible secrets.

The ever-adept Del Toro effectively combines gothic ghost story, murder mystery, and historical melodrama in a stylish concoction that reminds us—as would his later Pan’s Labyrinth—that the scariest monsters are often the human ones.

Presented in Spanish with English subtitles, the DVD and Blu-ray editions of the film contain the following features:

• New 2K digital film restoration, approved by director Guillermo del Toro and cinematographer Guillermo Navarro, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
• Audio commentary featuring Del Toro
• Video introduction by Del Toro from 2010
• New interviews with Del Toro about the process of creating the ghost Santi and the drawings and designs made in preparation for the film
¿Que es un fantasma?, a 2004 making-of documentary
Spanish Gothic, a 2010 interview with Del Toro about the genre and its influence on his work
• Interactive director’s notebook, with Del Toro’s drawings and handwritten notes, along with interviews with the filmmaker
• Four deleted scenes, with optional commentary
• New featurette about the Spanish Civil War as evoked in the film
• Program comparing Del Toro’s thumbnail sketches and Carlos Giménez’s storyboards with the final film
• Selected on-screen presentation of Del Toro’s thumbnail sketches alongside the sections of the final film they represent (Blu-ray edition only)
• Trailer
• New English subtitle translation
• A booklet featuring an essay by critic Mark Kermode

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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.