A Ghost Story, or…When Enough Would Be Too Much (2023)

A Ghost Story, or…When Enough Would Be Too Much (2)
(Video) Scientists Finally Explain Why We See Ghosts

For those of you who haven’t, but think you might want to see this film, beware, spoilers ahead; if you’re the type who’ll like this film, the spoilers won’t matter, but if you’re the type who won’t like this film the spoilers are likely to put you off, and in the end you won’t think you’ve missed anything, a shame really, because like it or not, you should see A Ghost Story. It’s an emotional exercise in creative viewing.

Those of you who’ve already seen the film probably felt for a while as did the naive ghost, bewildered, untethered from what you imagined to be your world — and his, wondering about your reality.

And in making you feel adrift, the director accomplished his goal.

By saying almost nothing and showing us little more, less than enough to understand what’s going on inside our ghost’s mind, David Lowery sucks us into the world we see on the screen, but instead of leaving us to wonder what it all means and wait for him to give us answers, by giving us less than enough, he forces us to write our own story and our own answers.

As living Rooney Mara is about to leave him, she pauses and asks still living Casey Affleck why he insists on staying in their modest house. Affleck replies “We have history here,” and he means it. He is emotionally rooted to the place. If he’s lost his creativity, his drive, if he’s lost his everything else, including her presence, as long as he’s in that house, he’ll have something, he’ll have their “history”.

And so, not much later, soon after he dies, she silently identifies his body, then leaves him in the morgue. He lies motionless for a time, then rises, clad in the sheet that covered him, and leaves the cold, impersonal sterility of the morgue, and returns to the place to which he’s emotionally tethered, their house, the house he shared with her.

A Ghost Story, or…When Enough Would Be Too Much (3)

He watches for unknown days or weeks or months as she grieves and deals first mechanically, then methodically, boxing up their past, and her present. We try to read her nearly inscrutable face for hints of emotion as she cleans and paints over their old house, and old lives. Does she miss him or hate him, does she feel anything? Lowery and Mara conspire carefully to give us nothing, not a hint. Finally, she packs and sends what remains of that life away in a U-Haul; something that in most films coincides with the start of something exciting, a new individual part of our great collective adventure.

But not this time. Because this isn’t the U-Haul’s or Mara’s story.

This is the ghost’s story.

In fact, as the U-Haul turns real and literary corners, Mara turns an emotional one. She leaves the house and the past — and us. We wonder, for a beat where she’s going and what will become of her? But only for a beat.

Because we’re not wondering alone.

Standing in the window with us, the ghost watches her leave, and since his ghostly costume leaves nothing of Affleck to be seen, Lowery doesn’t just allow us to supply the ghost with our emotion of choice, confusion, love, fear, regret, he forces us to supply the ghost with an emotion, with an expression, to fill the blank sheet.

Lowery forces us to write the ghost.

Most films attempt to make us identify with the protagonist, to feel what he feels. Not this one. By leaving so much unsaid and unexpressed he leaves us unsettled. What are we to be feeling? What are we to be thinking? By leaving us untethered, Lowery doesn’t just allow us to impute our emotions to the ghost, he forces us to do it, or remain adrift in a story he refuses to tell in a world he refuses to explain.

(Video) Carrie Underwood - Ghost Story (Official Music Video)

He doesn’t turn us into the ghost, he tricks us into turning the ghost into us. At the end of a few beats, with Mara gone, we’re no longer wondering what will happen to her; we’re wondering what will happen to the ghost, to us.

And from then on, scene by scene, whatever happens, the ghost feels what we feel, so when he sees another sheet clad ghost in the house next door, he looks at it curiously and wonders what it’s doing — because we do.

A Ghost Story, or…When Enough Would Be Too Much (4)

The ghosts share a few cryptic subtitles, nothing more. Lowery could have allowed them to commune and commiserate and interact, but had he done so he’d have defined at least something of his ghostly universe, and at least something of our ghosts. He doesn’t, and he won’t.

He reserves the role of Creator for us.

So, when a new family moves into his house, the ghost watches with our curiosity, and when things go too swimmingly, he acts, at our compulsion. We force him to move the story along. He frightens the children, and the young boy fires a toy ray gun at him. Did he intend to frighten them, or just to interact with living souls? We know adults can’t see him, at least these adults, but do children? Can these two see him? Lowery leaves it up to us.

Later, when we push the ghost to go further, to frighten the children’s mother, we know she sees only the breaking crockery, but the boy stares straight at besheeted Affleck. Can he see our ghost? Why this boy? What is their bond? Lowery lets us decide whether this child or all children can see the ghosts we adults can’t, or don’t, or won’t.

Lowery doesn’t just force us to write his characters, he forces us to write the rules of his ghostly universe too.

And so we do, we write our rules, we decide whether the children can see the ghost, decide how much of the ghost is corporeal and how much is not. We toss out our own anchors rather than remain adrift in the story he refuses to tell and the world he refuses to define.

When the house next door is demolished and the neighboring ghost disappears we each confer on his disappearance whatever meanings fit the universes we’ve constructed, and when our house is demolished and we don’t disappear, we explain it and adjust our universes to fit the facts as Lowery has presented them.

What adjustment are we to make when our ghost jumps from an upper floor of the skyscraper that’s replaced the demolished house? For the living, suicide is a capitulation to death. To what can the dead capitulate? They’re dead…

In Lowery’s universe the dead are tethered to places that hold their emotional roots. They cannot die and cannot leave, so when our ghost capitulates, the only thing he can alter is time.

Our ghost watches, a century or more earlier, as a settler stakes the corners of what will someday become the house we’ve already seen demolished, then enjoys dinner by the campfire with his young family. Are these our ghost’s ancestors?

No, they aren’t, they can’t be his ancestors, because they die, all of them, and in each of our film universes death is still final.

(Video) Carrie Underwood - Ghost Story (lyrics)

When the Indians kill the pioneer family, we’re forced to rewrite our ghostly universe, and we realize he’s returned to the place to which he’s tethered, but in an earlier time.

Was this his intention? Time passes and our ghost remains tethered to the place until, one day an agent opens the door and we see them, younger and happier Rooney Mara and and Casey Affleck, as they enter what’s to become their home, and the scene of our ghost’s story.

And after watching for more than a century, in what must seem to him to be the blink of a ghostly eye, a familiar scene confronts our specter, one familiar to us too, the one in which we both watched his sad widow redecorate and pack up and leave the house forever.

But the scene is different this time. This time we’re no longer the naive ghost, this time we’re the ghost that has capitulated and moved back in time, and this time we hang back in the room and watch our old selves, the not yet capitulated ghost, as he watches Rooney Mara again.

And this time he pays careful attention to something we both noticed before, but to which we gave too little attention. He watches her plant a small fragment of paper in a door frame, and entomb it with the paint she carefully brushes on. She’s as expressionless as can be, as we can imagine her being. What is the paper fragment, and why did she leave it? Because she knows, or suspects?

A Ghost Story, or…When Enough Would Be Too Much (5)

Is it a hopeful or hopeless message, as in a bottle, but this time in the house?

The ghost redoubles his efforts, and we realize we willed ourselves back in time to have this second chance, to find out what she left for us.

And we adjust our universes to make his presence just corporeal enough to scratch away the paint and pull the slip of paper from the door frame, and open it, and read it—

— and disappear.

As do we, again adjusting our individual movie universes to explain what the mysterious message said and why it allowed us, or induced us, or forced us into the ultimate capitulation, into heaven or hell, or rebirth, or wherever ghosts go in our custom universes — or to nothing.

Lowery’s film isn’t for those who want canned answers. He makes us supply our answers. What message did Rooney Mara leave for Casey Affleck? Did it release him from his tether and allow him to wander the earth in or out of his sheet, searching until he found her, or did it release him from his tether into another world, an afterlife, whatever afterlife there may be?

The film gives us no answers. We supply the answers. That’s the point.

It’s work, and some won’t like it, but if you accept the burden of writing your own story you’re left with the same feeling of being afloat in the wonderful unknown with which “Lost in Translation” left us.

As long as we didn’t know what Bill Murray said in that wonderful final scene, the story ended in any way we wished; he and Scarlett connected and completed each other in a way their mates didn’t; or they parted ways and never saw each other again, but his fatherly advice helped her find her way in life; or they both spent their lives wondering what if, or — he simply told her the punchline of his favorite joke.

Coppola left it up to us to supply the ending.

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And so has Lowery. He hasn’t given us enough to know how his story ends.

And that’s good, because if he had, it would have been too much.

FAQs

What is the meaning of the ending of a ghost story? ›

We are kept alive in the memories of those who knew us and cared for us. The note keeps C alive beyond the passing of M, the memory of them embedded in the frame of the house. He is tied to this exact location in a physical way as well as a meta-physical way through the memories he created there.

What is the point of a ghost story? ›

A Ghost Story helps viewers process grief

In a very literal sense, C is still around, but he's become a ghost. By making C's presence actually literal, "A Ghost Story" reflects how a person's life reverberates out to become one small piece in a larger universe, regardless of who they were while they were alive.

Who said every love story is a Ghost Story? ›

Quote by David Foster Wallace: “Every love story is a ghost story.”

What makes a ghost story scary? ›

At their heart, scary stories share the qualities of any other story, including a main character with a goal and obstacles standing in that person's way. But they have several additional factors: a scary setting, creepy character(s), and a twist or “uh-oh” moment.

What is the significance of the ending scene? ›

The ending is the most important part of a dramatic narrative: The ending is the part of a drama in which the conflict between the story's protagonist and whatever antagonistic force is standing in the way of the protagonist achieving his primary motivating goal comes to a head and is finally resolved.

Is Casey Affleck under the sheet in a ghost story? ›

Casey Affleck goes under the sheet in David Lowery's haunting, melancholy 'A Ghost Story' - Los Angeles Times.

What is the main idea of ghost? ›

A major theme of the book is facing one's fears. Coach confides to Castle how he also had to overcome tremendous obstacles. Ghost has to learn to reconcile with his traumatic past, face bullies, own up to his mistakes and his fear of failure on the track.

How can you tell a good ghost story? ›

Tell a Really Good Ghost Story Around Your Next Campfire
  1. Do your homework. ...
  2. Set the right (spooky) tone. ...
  3. Construct a narrative based on more than a one-off event. ...
  4. Never underestimate the power of silence. ...
  5. Use the setting to your advantage. ...
  6. Make the story stick with them.
30 May 2021

What is the true identity of ghost? ›

Lieutenant Simon "Ghost" Riley is a British special forces operator, and a prominent member of Task Force 141, known for his iconic skull-patterned balaclava, headset, and dark red sunglasses.

What is the greatest love story of all time? ›

Arguably the greatest romance novel of all time, Austen's Pride and Prejudice follows the opinionated heroine, Elizabeth Bennet, as she frequently finds herself at odds with her beau, the uptight Mr. Darcy.

What is history's most tragic love story? ›

Romeo & Juliet is the quintessential tragic love story, as evidenced by its countless stagings and numerous film adaptations.

What is the famous quote from Love Story? ›

Oliver Barrett IV : Love means never having to say you're sorry.

What are the 5 elements of a horror story? ›

The 5 elements of horror are suspense, fear, violence, gore, and the supernatural. These elements are used to create an atmosphere of horror and terror. Suspense is used to build tension and keep the reader on the edge of their seat.

What are the 3 elements of horror? ›

According to the acclaimed author, there are three levels of horror: The Gross-Out, Horror, and Terror. It is these elements that allow the genre to be diversely shocking and hypnotizing in not only literature but in cinema as well.

What is the main purpose of a scene? ›

Scenes are used to: create an emotional connection between character/s and reader. dramatize events. move action/plot forward.

What is it called when they tell you the ending of a movie? ›

The denouement is the ending of the movie.

Is Kevin Bacon in Ghost? ›

Kevin Bacon had his chance to do pottery with Demi Moore in Ghost, but passed it up. He then took a part acting alongside Moore in 1992's A Few Good Men.

Was Bruce Willis supposed to be in Ghost? ›

Bruce Willis turned down the opportunity to play opposite his wife. Calling himself a “knucklehead” for saying no, Willis told New York Times reporter David Sheff in 1996 that he didn't think Ghost would work. “I just didn't get it. I said, 'Hey, the guy's dead.

What did the note in the wall say in A Ghost Story? ›

The short version is that it says “This is where ['C' / name of Casey Affleck's character] and I [did something that symbolized their love for one another].” I take it that you want an argument that the movie did not need to reveal the contents of the note, to use against someone who felt that it should have done so.

What is the moral message of Ghosts play? ›

The main theme of Ghosts is the extent to which society invades personal lives. Mrs. Alving, obsessed with keeping up appearances, tries to protect her late husband's reputation.

What are two main themes in Ghosts? ›

Duty and Self-Sacrifice.

What is a good quote from the book Ghost? ›

Inspirational Quotes

You can't run away from who you are, but what you can do is run toward who you want to be. Trouble is, you can't run away from yourself." Coach snatched the towel from his shoulder, folded into a perfect square, and set it in the space between us. "Unfortunately," he said, "ain't nobody that fast.”

How do you know if a story is impactful? ›

How to Tell a Story Effectively
  1. Choose a clear central message. A great story usually progresses towards a central moral or message. ...
  2. Embrace conflict. ...
  3. Have a clear structure. ...
  4. Mine your personal experiences. ...
  5. Engage your audience. ...
  6. Observe good storytellers. ...
  7. Narrow the scope of your story.
7 Sept 2021

How do you tell a story without being boring? ›

So if you need some help, here are three simple steps to how to tell a more compelling story:
  1. Use a hook. A “hook” is your opener. ...
  2. Tell the story. A story has natural momentum to it. ...
  3. Reflect. Many people seem to tell stories just to tell them. ...
  4. Your story is waiting… I've helped lots of people tell their stories.

How do you know someone is a good story? ›

Simply tell them why it's important and how it affects them. Make it relatable and relevant to them. Remember, everyone wants to hear about how something affects their favorite person: themselves. Your storytelling skills can't level up without practice.

Is Ghost a hero or villain? ›

Created by David Michelinie and Bob Layton, the character first appeared in Iron Man #219 (June 1987). Originally a supervillain to Iron Man, Ghost has since become an anti-hero figure after becoming a member of the Thunderbolts during the events of "Dark Reign" and "Heroic Age".

What are the character traits of Ghost? ›

His trauma manifests in constant anger, frequent fights at school, and an inability to back down from anyone who is aggressive with him. He is protective of his mother and sleeps on a pallet near her bedroom so that he can help her instantly if anything happens.

What is true love in a relationship? ›

True love is a unique and passionate bond that connects you as a couple that wants the best for the other person regardless of what that means for them. It is the foundation for a healthy, loving relationship. True love is authentic and genuine.

Does true love exist? ›

Yes, true love exists, but it's not nearly as common as people like to think it is. Love doesn't always equal compatibility, nor does it mean that people are meant to stay together for a lifetime.

Who is the first love in the world? ›

There is no clear mention in history about the first love marriage in the world. However, from the religious texts, we can conclude that the marriage ceremony of Lord Shiva and mother Parvati was the first love marriage in this world, in fact, it was the first love marriage in this universe.

What is a sad love story called? ›

A tragic romance should end in suffering, often as a result of death, illness, or some other circumstance that tears the lovers apart.

What is the most famous tragedy? ›

Hamlet remains to this day the most popular and the most produced of all of Shakespeare's plays. It is considered to be one of the most influential tragedies in English literature as well as the most powerful.

What is the most powerful love quote? ›

"Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage." "We are most alive when we are in love." "The only thing we never get enough of is love; and the only thing we never give enough of is love." "There is only one happiness in this life, to love and be loved."

What is the most iconic line ever? ›

Famous Movie Quotes
  • “ May the Force be with you.” - Star Wars, 1977.
  • “ There's no place like home.” - The Wizard of Oz, 1939.
  • “ I'm the king of the world!” - ...
  • “ Carpe diem. ...
  • “ Elementary, my dear Watson.” - ...
  • “ It's alive! ...
  • “ My mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. ...
  • “ I'll be back.” -
21 Sept 2018

What is the core of horror? ›

Victim at the Mercy of the Monster

The CLIMAX of the Horror genre is when the victim summons their courage and slays the monster or sacrifices themselves to preserve the lives of others. This scene, which is both the global climax and the climax of the ENDING PAYOFF, integrates the other three core essentials.

How do you start a scary story? ›

To start the best first chapter in your horror history, you need to:
  1. Use the surroundings. Scary televisions show and movies tend to use jump scare to scare an audience. ...
  2. Use your fears. ...
  3. Write long sentences. ...
  4. Make your audience breathe. ...
  5. Use the fear of the unknown. ...
  6. Avoid clichés. ...
  7. Set the tone. ...
  8. Introduce the antagonist.
5 Oct 2021

What is the most important element of horror? ›

The key focus of a horror novel, horror film, or horror TV show is to elicit a sense of dread in the reader through frightening images, themes, and situations. In the horror genre, story and characters are just as important as mood and atmosphere.

What are the horror moods? ›

A horror movie, for example, has to evoke specific moods (suspense, anxiety, dread) in order for the intended forms of affective and emotional responsiveness (involving shock and surprise, or fear and terror) to be solicited and sustained.

What are the codes of horror? ›

10 typical codes and conventions of horror films
  • Jump scares.
  • Low key lighting.
  • Flashbacks.
  • Quick, flashing shots.
  • Large, family houses.
  • Dark colour palettes.
  • Pathetic fallacy.
  • Young children.

What's the difference between horror and terror? ›

“Terror is the feeling of dread and apprehension at the possibility of something frightening, while horror is the shock and repulsion of seeing the frightening thing.

What are the three 3 most important story elements? ›

You can use endlessly different story structures and styles, but each story or novel is going to boil down to three fundamental elements: character, setting, and plot.

What makes a story scary? ›

At their heart, scary stories share the qualities of any other story, including a main character with a goal and obstacles standing in that person's way. But they have several additional factors: a scary setting, creepy character(s), and a twist or “uh-oh” moment.

What are the four types of horror styles? ›

Here's what you really need to know. There are four main horror areas: Killers, Monsters, Paranormal, and Psychological Horror.

What is the message of the book Ghosts? ›

A major theme of the book is facing one's fears. Coach confides to Castle how he also had to overcome tremendous obstacles. Ghost has to learn to reconcile with his traumatic past, face bullies, own up to his mistakes and his fear of failure on the track.

What happens at the end of Ghost Stories anime? ›

At the end of the film, the ghost finally does retrieve his wife's note, and upon reading it, he is free of the time loop and immediately disappears. However, what's written down is never revealed to the audience.

What is the very end of the story called? ›

The word epilogue comes from the Greek epilogos, which means “conclusion word.” It always comes at the end of a literary work and is therefore the opposite of a prologue, which always comes at the beginning. As with the prologue, the epilogue originated with Greek playwrights and poets.

What is the main message of the book? ›

The main idea is what the book is mostly about. The theme is the message, lesson, or moral of a book. By asking crucial questions at before you read, while you read, and after you read a book, you can determine the main idea and theme of any book you are reading!

What is the message behind the book? ›

The term theme can be defined as the underlying meaning of a story. It is the message the writer is trying to convey through the story. Often the theme of a story is a broad message about life. The theme of a story is important because a story's theme is part of the reason why the author wrote the story.

What is the central idea of ghost? ›

The main theme of Ghosts is the extent to which society invades personal lives. Mrs. Alving, obsessed with keeping up appearances, tries to protect her late husband's reputation.

How long is the pie scene in a ghost story? ›

This scene is a total of nearly five minutes long and is a simple one shot, with no editing or camera movement. There's very little action, and no dialogue. Played out in real time, it focuses solely on Mara's grieving character eating a pie which has been left for her by a caring friend.

Does Satsuki like Hajime? ›

The creator of the series says that Satsuki's wish in this episode was that Hajime loves her.

What happens in 2 22 A ghost story? ›

Plot. Jenny and her husband Sam have recently bought a large house that they are renovating. For several nights, at exactly 2:22 am, she hears the sound of someone moving around the house, often via the baby monitor in her daughter's bedroom, and becomes convinced the house is haunted.

What is a good way to end a story? ›

How to End a Story
  • 6 Ideas to Consider for How to End a Story.
  • Conclude your story in a neat and tidy way.
  • Leave your reader hanging from a cliff.
  • Provide a twist in the tale.
  • Play around with ambiguity and unreliability.
  • End on an epilogue.
  • Choose a cyclical ending.
30 Nov 2021

What is it called when a story has a sad ending? ›

Tragic ending definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary. LANGUAGE.

What is usually at the end of a story? ›

An epilogue is the final chapter at the end of a story that often serves to reveal the fates of the characters. Some epilogues may feature scenes only tangentially related to the subject of the story. They can be used to hint at a sequel or wrap up all the loose ends.

What is the plot of the story? ›

The plot of a story is the sequence of events that shape a broader narrative, with every event causing or affecting each other. In other words, plot is a series of causes-and-effects which shape the story as a whole. Plot definition: A series of causes-and-effects which shape the story as a whole.

Why is the beginning of the story so important? ›

Story beginnings are important, and in terms of getting published, they're the most important part of a story. Your beginning is where the reader (or editor) decides whether to keep reading. Your beginning also sets the reader's expectations for the story's middle and ending.

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