Two of the screen's most impressive performances by a child are given by Ana Torrent in allegories of fear, bad faith and patriarchal suppression in fascist Spain, made during the last years of Franco's regime in the mid-70s. In Victor Erice's subtle masterpiece, The Spirit of the Beehive (1973), this wonderful actress plays a seven-year-old observing a numbed Castilian village just after the civil war, through her enormous, deep, searching brown eyes.
In Cría Cuervos (aka Raise Ravens, 1975), which is being rereleased to coincide with a BFI season on "Spanish Cinema Since Franco", she's a sensitive eight-year-old orphan, also called Ana, but the time and place are Madrid as the caudillo is on his last legs.
Ana merges the real and the imaginary as she scrutinises her bourgeois family after the death of her father, a philandering army officer, and her mother (the director's then partner, Geraldine Chaplin), whom he has destroyed.
Ana believes she has poisoned her detestable father and the title refers to the old saying: "Raise ravens and they'll peck your eyes out." Both Cría Cuervos and Spirit of the Beehive are quiet, haunting movies, eloquent in their hints and silences, liberal in thrust but not easy to read in a literal way.