After Ana's mother dies, her childhood is one horrible experience after another. Constantly thwarted in her attempts at self-determination, she escapes her misery by fantasizing about her deceased mother, imagining conversations with her future self, and attempting to poison her father.
Most films mythologize childhood as a period of perfect innocence, fixing it as an idyllic time before the worries of adulthood make life more difficult and shallow. Carlos Saura's film sees childhood as a time of frustration and impotence, when you cannot decide anything for yourself.
It's refreshing to see a movie dealing with childhood unsentimentally and rebelling against all too familiar tropes.