The Ancines Woods

(Redirected from El bosque del lobo)

The Ancines Woods (Spanish: El Bosque del Lobo, lit.'The Forest of the Wolf' also known as The Wolf's Forest) is a 1970 Spanish drama/horror film co-written, produced, and directed by Pedro Olea.[1] It is based on the novel by Carlos Martínez-Barbeito, and is partially based on the life of Manuel Blanco Romasanta and his alleged lycanthropy.[2]

The Ancines Woods
El bosque del lobo.jpg
Original Spanish release poster
SpanishEl bosque del lobo
Directed byPedro Olea
Written byPedro Olea
Juan Antonio Porto
Based onEl bosque de Ancines
by Carlos Martínez-Barbeito
Produced byPedro Olea (uncredited)
StarringJosé Luis López Vázquez
Amparo Soler Leal
Antonio Casas

John Steiner
Nuria Torray
CinematographyAurelio G. Larraya
Edited byJosé Antonio Rojo
Music byAntonio Pérez Olea
Amboto Producciones Cinematográficas
Distributed byUniversal Films Española
Release date
  • 19 April 1970 (1970-04-19)
Running time
87 minutes


The film focuses on Benito Freire, a lonely and miserable peddler whose world is dominated by ignorance and superstition. Wandering through various Galicia towns, he regularly suffers from severe attacks of epilepsy. Rumors about him begin to spread throughout the region, rumors that claim that Benito is both a werewolf and possessed by a demonic spirit. As the rumors about him continue to spread, Benito slowly descends into madness.



El Bosque del Lobo is based on Carlos Martínez-Barbeito's 1947 novella El bosque de Ancines.[3] The novella itself was partially based upon the life of Spanish serial killer Manuel Blanco Romasanta,[4] who claimed to have suffered from lycanthropy.[5] Development for the film began in 1969 when producer/director Pedro Olea was searching for his next project after directing his first film Días de viejo color (1968). Dissatisfied with the potential projects he was offered, Olea decided to produce and direct an adaption of Martínez-Barbeito's novella. Actor José Luis López Vázquez was cast to portray the film's main protagonist Benito. López Vázquez, who had previously mainly acted in low-brow comedy films before being cast in the film,[3] would later star in non comedic roles in films such as horror thriller La Cabina (1972).[6]


While writing the screenplay for El Bosque del Lobo, writer/director Olea was forced to tone down the novel's more explicit violence and negative portrayal of religion in order to avoid possible censorship, stating in an interview with Nuestro cine that, criticism had to be 'more indirect, subterranean, more through the tone of the films than the concrete situations they reflect'.[7] In spite of this, the film was subject to censorship and was denounced by Spanish critics for its perceived anti-religious message and its denouncement of Spanish society of the time.[8] It also received minor controversy when Admiral Carrero Blanco tried to prohibit the film from being released, after viewing the film in a private screening.[3][9]

Film historian Román Gubern stated that "while the censors allowed the screening of graphic 'bloodsheds performed by British and Spanish Draculas', El Bosque del Lobo was made more palatable by severely softening the depiction of violence and brutality, therefore neutralizing the critique contained in the novel's 'study of criminal anthropology'".[10]


Theatrical releaseEdit

El Bosque del Lobo premiered at the Valladolid International Film Festival in April 1970.[11] The film was later screened in the United States at the Chicago International Film Festival on November 1971.[12] It was later released theatrically in Spain on April 22, 1971. It was a critical and commercial success upon its initial release.[13][14] The film was later screened on August 10, 2012; as a part of a tribute to writer/director Olea organized by the Concello de A Bola and the Vicente Risco Foundation.[8]

Critical response and legacyEdit

Modern reassessment of El bosque del lobo has been mostly positive, with critics now praising López Vázquez's performance and Olea's direction. In their book Performance and Spanish Film; authors Dean Allbritton, Alejandro Flórez Melero, and Tom Whittaker praised Vázquez's performance, writing, "In dramatically reshaping his usual intonation and diction for the role, López Vázquez's voice becomes snarling and inarticulate. His ramshackle appearance was as much of a radical departure as his vocal performance".[15]

The film was not without its detractors. Antonio Méndez from AlohaCriticó gave the film a negative review, writing, "It could be interesting, but the plot is poor, it lacks strength, it has a love subframe and it sins of a scarce psychological treatment that focuses more on superfluous facts than on the sickly and interior emphasis of its characters."[16]

The critical and commercial success of El bosque del lobo, brought widespread attention to director Olea,[17] who would later go on to direct a series of films which included the 1992 adaption El maestro de esgrima (The Fencing Master) which received and Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Film.[18]


Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) and nominee(s) Result Ref.
Chicago International Film Festival November 25, 1971 Best Actor José Luis López Vázquez Won [19][12]
Valladolid International Film Festival April 19, 1970 San Gregorio Prize El Bosque del Lobo Won [3][11]




  1. ^ Dyer 2015, pp. 223.
  2. ^ Perez 2017, pp. 183.
  3. ^ a b c d Galán, Diego (16 April 1983). "'El bosque del lobo', crónica de la represión". (in Spanish). Diego Galán. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  4. ^ Senn 2017, pp. 24.
  5. ^ Vronsky 2018, pp. 116.
  6. ^ Bergan, Ronald. "José Luis López Vázquez obituary". The Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  7. ^ Hopewell 1986, pp. 252.
  8. ^ a b Mja (July 27, 2012). "Pedro Olea returns to the Concello de A Bola, where he filmed, in 1970, "El bosque del lobo" - Faro de Vigo". (in Spanish). Spain: Faro de Vigo. Retrieved 6 February 2019.
  9. ^ "El hombre lobo que horrorizó a Carrero Blanco — Agente Provocador". (in Spanish). Agante Provacador. 24 April 2018. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  10. ^ Lazaro-Reboll 2012, pp. 278.
  11. ^ a b "15th Valladolid International Film Festival". (in Spanish). Valladolid: Seminci. 26 April 1970. Retrieved 6 February 2019.
  12. ^ a b "50 Years of Memories: Highlights from the History of the Chicago International Film Festival" (PDF). Chicago Film Festival. 2014. p. 2. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  13. ^ Bentley 2008, pp. 218.
  14. ^ Schlegel 2015, pp. 18.
  15. ^ Allbritton, Melero & Whittaker 2016, pp. 102.
  16. ^ Méndez, Antonio. "El Bosque Del Lobo: Críticas de películas - AlohaCriticón". AlohaCriticó (in Spanish). Antonio Méndez. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  17. ^ D'Lugo 1997, pp. 88.
  18. ^ Marx, Andy. "Foreign Oscar entries submitted – Variety". Andy Marx. Retrieved 6 February 2019.
  19. ^ Hammer 1991, pp. 429.

External linksEdit