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Look out for more coverage of
The Orphanage (El Orfanato) in our magazines

THE MOVIE: The Orphanage (El Orfanato)

Belén Rueda • Fernando Cayo • Geraldine Chaplin

The Orphanage THE CONCEPT:
Laura (Rueda) and her husband Carlos (Cayo) move into an abandoned orphanage Laura had lived in 30 years ago. Her dream is to re-open it as a center for sick and disabled children. Her young son, Simon, is initially frightened of the old house, but makes a new friend Tomas, whom he can only see. When Simon disappears on the center’s opening day, Laura sets out to learn what happened at the orphanage after she left.

U.S. RELEASE: December 28 2007, Limited • Rated: R


SERGIO G SANCHEZ (screenwriter):
“I loved reading gothic horror stories growing up. I was a huge fan of Edgar Allen Poe and Henry James. I think the seed of this picture is really The Turn of the Screw, and I wanted to write something like that, that was open to interpretation, because I think you can see this movie either as a ghost story, but also you can see it as something that has nothing to do with the supernatural. It’s also the tale of a woman who loese her mind because she’s unable to cope with the loss of her son. There’s nothing that proves the existence of the paranormal in this film. That was the biggest challenge in writing this script”

JA BAYONA on the movie being compared to Pan’s Labyrinth:
“We were working on this movie at the same time Guillermo Del Toro was editing Pan’s Labyrinth, and we didn’t know anything about it. But when we finally saw the movie we understood why Guillermo was so touched by this movie, the idea of needing fantasy to deal with a very cruel reality.”

“When I first started showing this script around it got picked up by the Sundance Script Laboratory, and all these production companies did their coverage and basically they were saying that this was a movie that could not be made, because it’s an impossible mixture of horror and melodrama, and those two are like oil and water.”

BAYONA on casting Geraldine Chaplin as the psychic:
“Geraldine was an icon for my generation. I remember watching her in a lot of Spanish movies from the ‘70s. I visualized her for this from the first time I read the script. I remember that day we shot the whole séance sequence in a morning, working really fast. Geraldine was playing the whole scene in total darkness, so she was having so much fun.”

“The house where we shot the movie was really eerie because no one’s lived in it for the last 34 years. The woman who lived there, her son got run over by a car right in front of the house and she just said there were too many memories there and she wanted to leave. When the sound guy was trying to get the room sound, he was like, ‘Quiet everyone, quiet, what’s that?’ And there was always something there. Actually most of the stuff you hear in the séance sequence, all those strange noises, are what they recorded.”

Written by Judy Sloane. Back to top

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Feature © 2007 Visual Imagination.
Not for reproduction.

Film Review, #691, January 2008 cover

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