Ghost Images

Cinema of the Afterlife


In stock

SKU: 9780786420056 Categories: , , ,

About the Book

The possibility of life after death is a significant theme in cinema, in which ghosts return to the world of the living to wrap up unfinished business, console their survivors, visit lovers or just enjoy a well-wreaked scaring. This work focuses on film depictions of survival after death, from meetings with the ghost of Elvis to AIDS–related ghosts: apparitions, hauntings, mediumship, representations of heaven, angels, near-death experiences, possession, poltergeists and all the other ways in which the living interact with the dead on screen.
The work opens with a historical perspective, which outlines the development of pre-cinematic technology for “projecting” phantoms, and discusses the use of these skills in early ghost cinema. English-language sound films are then examined thematically with topics ranging from the expiation of sins to “hungry” ghosts. Six of the most significant films, Dead of Night, A Matter of Life and Death, The Innocents, The Haunting, The Shining, and Jacob’s Ladder, are given a detailed analysis. A conclusion, filmography, and bibliography follow.

About the Author(s)

Tom Ruffles is a long-time member of the Society for Psychical Research. He teaches communication skills and film studies. He lives in Cambridge.

Bibliographic Details

Tom Ruffles
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 279
Bibliographic Info: photos, notes, filmography, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2004
pISBN: 978-0-7864-2005-6
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8421-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vii

Introduction      1

1. Visual Precursors to Cinematic Ghosts      11

2. Silent Ghosts      34

3. A Thematic Approach to Cinematic Ghosts      55

Anatomy of Film Ghosts      55

Representations of Ghosts      61

Interactions with Matter      67

Psychokinesis Versus Ghosts      70

Ghosts of Those Who Cannot Rest      70

The Expiation of Sins      75

Consolation for the Living      77

Ghosts Who Dispense Sage Advice      78

Ghosts Who Return Because of Unfinished Business      82

Ghosts of and for Children      87

Ghost Lovers      89

Ghost Lovers Who Return to Break the Bond      93

AIDS-Related Ghosts      94

“Hungry Ghosts”      95

Ghosts Who Use the Living to Play Out a Drama from Their Own Lives      96

Possession      97

Meetings with the Ghost of Elvis      101

The Ghost in the Machine      101

Continuation Without Awareness of Death      103

The Haunted House      104

Ghosts of the Living      110

Ghosts That Appear to Be Phony but Are Real      111

The Parapsychologist      112

Mediumship      117

Near-Death Experiences      124

The Figure of Death      131

Depictions of Heaven and Purgatory      133

Angels      136

Summary      141

4. Ghost Films: Selected Case Studies      142

Dead of Night (1945)      142

A Matter of Life and Death (1946)      151

The Innocents (1961)      159

The Haunting (1963)      168

The Shining (1980)      180

Jacob’s Ladder (1990)      191

5. Conclusion      199

Filmography      207

Chapter Notes      217

Bibliography      241

Index      257

Book Reviews & Awards

“intriguing”—C&RL News; “welcome addition…fills an important need in the general library of fantasy film…strongly recommended”—Scarlet.