Ghost: A Retrospective

November 9, 2007

As I mentioned before, 1990 is somehow the only year of BP/BD reviews not to have been recapped since I started this blog. However, several of the films for this year were very prominently featured in other posts: Goodfellas was the essence of YS Salutes: Ray Liota, and both The Grifters and The Godfather Part III featured in my post on imitation and defamiliarization. So, given the fortuitousness of this bizarre coincidence, I have decided to encomiate this otherwise undistinguished year with individual posts on the contenders, or to review them in the context of elaborate, yet poorly conceived (mis)readings and Freudian speculations.

Today’s retrospective of Ghost will better resemble the former than the latter. Like the new Philip Roth novel, Exit Ghost, Ghost is based on that famous stage direction in Hamlet, “Exit Ghost,” and is structured around the struggle between Thanatos and Eros. Still, lest someone accuse our country’s greatest living novelist of either plagiarism or suffering under the anxiety of Ghost‘s influence, there are many differences between the two New York-based stories: Roth’s novel depicts an elderly, no-longer virile Nathan Zuckerman out to score one last chick before death fells him; Ghost, on the other hand, is the story of a young, handsome, murdered (!) banker seeking a way to communicate and be intimate with his wife, Demi Moore.
There is, however, one other major similarity between the two: both are of questionable merit and not the best work of anyone involved (with the notable exception of Whoopi Goldberg). As the Washington Post put it in their ringing endorsement of Ghost, “strangely enough, it’s not that bad.” Read the rest of this entry »