Based on a 1943 book of the same title by Camilo José Cela, Colmena features the comings and goings of a wide variety of characters, all trying to survive in a poverty-stricken Madrid during World War II.
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Downbeat vignettes, sprinkled with gallows humor, following desperate characters through WWII Madrid. Adroitly keeps its huge cast and dozens of scenes from running into chaos - usually this sort of film has me annoyed at being unable to figure out who's who, what's going on - even if it necessarily whittles much of the sprawl from Cela's novel. The novelist himself appears in a cameo as "the man who invents words."