I freely admit that Spirit of the Beehive is a top-shelf film, where the pleasures aren't easy to grasp. I was made that way on purpose, because it is a Spanish film about fascism, made in the waning years of Franco's fascist government. I would put this film next to Stalker and A Moment of Innocence as great films about the nature of oppressive governments made under those very same governments. Subtle, insightful and genius criticism that passes under the radar of censors.
One of the great things I love about this film is the humanizing effect of films. Frankenstein is shown, which is one of the great humanizing classics, showing the monster as a whole sympathetic character, whose humanity is displayed under anger. But this film inspires a young girl to see a rebellious soldier as human and in need of pity and care. But the humanitarian impulse isn't without cost. This simple, innocent act has terrible consequences. To enact compassion makes one more human, but that same compassion can cause horrors to occur as well. Silence and cowardice create safety, but at the cost of our souls.
The Spirit of the Beehive is slow, but also beautiful. It is minimalist, but if we allow ourselves to dig deeper it has important things to say about our lives, about how we respond to the person we run across who is in deep need, no matter what they've done or who they are.