Ghost World (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Terry Zwigoff|
by Daniel Clowes
|Music by||David Kitay|
|Box office||$8.8 million|
Ghost World is a 2001 black comedy film directed by Terry Zwigoff and starring Thora Birch, Scarlett Johansson and Steve Buscemi. Based on the comic book of the same name by Daniel Clowes, with a screenplay co-written by Clowes and Zwigoff, the story focuses on the lives of Enid (Birch) and Rebecca (Johansson), two teenage outsiders in an unnamed American city. They face a rift in their relationship as Enid takes interest in an older man named Seymour (Buscemi), and becomes determined to help his romantic life.
Best friends Enid and Rebecca face the summer after their high school graduation, with no plans for their future other than to find jobs and live together. The girls are cynical social outcasts, but Rebecca is more popular with boys than Enid. Enid's diploma is withheld on the condition that she attend a remedial art class. Even though she is a talented artist, her art teacher, Roberta, believes that art must be socially meaningful and dismisses Enid's sketches as nothing more than "light entertainment".
The girls see a personal ad in which a lonely, middle-aged man named Seymour asks a woman he met recently to contact him. Enid makes a prank phone call to Seymour, pretending to be the woman and inviting him to meet her at a diner. The two girls and their friend, Josh, secretly watch Seymour at the diner and make fun of him. Enid soon begins to feel sympathy for Seymour, and they follow him to his apartment building. Later they find him selling vintage records in a garage sale. Enid buys an old blues album from him, and they become friends. She decides to try to find women for him to date.
Enid has meanwhile been attending her remedial art class, and she persuades Seymour to lend her an old poster depicting a grotesquely caricatured black man, which was once used as a promotional tool by Coon Chicken Inn, the fried chicken franchise now known as Cook's Chicken, where Seymour works as a manager. Enid presents the poster in class as a social comment about racism, and Roberta is so impressed with the concept that she offers Enid a scholarship to an art college.
Seymour receives a phone call from Dana, the intended recipient of his personal ad. Enid encourages him to pursue a relationship with Dana, but she becomes unexpectedly jealous when he does so.
Enid and Rebecca's lives start to diverge. While Enid has been spending time with Seymour, Rebecca has found a job at a coffee shop, has made new friends and has become more interested in clothing and boys. Enid also finds a job so she can afford to rent an apartment with Rebecca, but her attitude gets her fired after only one day. The girls argue, and Rebecca abandons the idea of living with Enid.
At the end of the summer, Enid and Seymour's lives fall apart. When Enid's poster is displayed in an art show, school officials find it so offensive they force Roberta to give her a failing grade and revoke the scholarship. Enid turns to Seymour for solace, resulting in a drunken one-night stand. Seymour breaks up with Dana, and is called to account at work when the Coon Chicken poster is publicized in a local newspaper. He unsuccessfully tries to contact Enid, only for Rebecca to tell him about Enid's prank phone call, describing the way they mocked him at the diner. Seymour is upset and ends up in a violent confrontation with Josh, resulting in his being injured and hospitalized. Enid visits him in an effort to apologize, causing him to realize that he has no chance of any kind of future with her.
Some months after, Rebecca and Enid have ceased to be friends, and Rebecca and Josh have become a couple. Enid gives in to her childhood fantasy of running away from home and disappearing. She has seen an old man, Norman, continually waiting at an out-of-service bus stop for a bus that will never come. Finally, as Enid watches from across the street, Norman boards an out-of-service bus. The next day, while Seymour discusses the summer's events with his therapist, Enid returns to the bus stop and boards the out-of-service bus when it arrives.
- Thora Birch as Enid
- Scarlett Johansson as Rebecca
- Steve Buscemi as Seymour
- Brad Renfro as Josh
- Pat Healy as John Ellis
- Illeana Douglas as Roberta Allsworth
- Bob Balaban as Enid's father
- Stacey Travis as Dana
- Teri Garr as Maxine
- Dave Sheridan as Doug
- Tom McGowan as Joe
- David Cross as Gerrold
- Brian George as the convenience store owner
- Debra Azar as Melorra
- Rini Bell as the graduation speaker
- Ezra Buzzington as Weird Al
- Ashley Peldon as Margaret
- Patrick Fischler as the video store cashier
Production and technique
The film was directed by Terry Zwigoff with cinematography by Affonso Beato. Zwigoff and Ghost World comic creator Daniel Clowes wrote the screenplay together. Years later, Clowes admitted that learning how to write the screenplay came with a significant learning curve. He recalled, "I started by trying to transcribe the comic into Final Draft. I figured that’s how you do an adaptation. Then I tried throwing everything away and writing an entirely new story that was very different from the book. And I synthesized those two things into a final screenplay. The actual film itself is very different from the script we wrote. We ended up jettisoning the last twenty pages and rethought the whole thing as we were filming. It was really held together by hair and spit."
Zwigoff and Clowes presented Beato with the task of making a comic book look to the movie. They asked for a fresh technique: earlier examples of the form such as X-Men and Dick Tracy were dismissed as literal-minded and "insulting" to the art form. According to Clowes, cameraman Beato "really took it to heart," carefully studying the style and color of the original comics. The final cut is just slightly oversaturated, purposefully redolent of "the way the modern world looks where everything is trying to get your attention at once."
Zwigoff also added his individual vision to the adaptation, particularly in his capture and editing of languid, lingering shots, a technique derived from his experience as a documentarian. Another notable touch is his minimal use of extras in the film, making the city and its streets intentionally empty – Clowes notes approvingly, "It captures this weird feeling of alienation in the endless modern consumer culture."
|Ghost World: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack|
|Soundtrack album by various artists|
|Released||June 20, 2005|
|Genre||Bollywood, string band, blues, jazz|
Music in the film includes "Jaan Pehechan Ho" by Mohammed Rafi, a dance number choreographed by Herman Benjamin from the 1965 Bollywood musical Gumnaam which Enid watches and dances to early in the film, and "Devil Got My Woman" by Skip James (1931), as well as "Pickin' Cotton Blues" by the bar band, Blueshammer.
There are songs by other artists mentioned in the film, including Lionel Belasco, which are reflective of the character Seymour, and of director Terry Zwigoff. Zwigoff is a collector of 78 RPM records, as portrayed by Seymour. Other tracks are by Vince Giordano, a musician who specializes in meticulous recreations of songs from old 78 RPM records.
Referenced in the film is R. Crumb & His Cheap Suit Serenaders, a band that Zwigoff played in. Enid asks Seymour about the band's second album, Chasin' Rainbows, and Seymour replies, "Nah, that one's not so great."
|Ghost World: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack|
|1.||"Jaan Pehechan Ho" (1965)||Shankar Jaikishan (music);|
|2.||"Graduation Rap"||Nicole Sill, Guy Thomas (music);|
Daniel Clowes (lyrics)
|Vanilla, Jade and Ebony||0:32|
|3.||"Devil Got My Woman" (1931)||James||Skip James||3:00|
|4.||"I Must Have It" (cover of King Oliver, 1930)||Davidson Nelson, Joe "King" Oliver||Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks||2:59|
|5.||"Miranda" (1933)||Thomas Pasatleri, Louis Phillips||Lionel Belasco||3:02|
|6.||"Pickin' Cotton Blues"||Terry Zwigoff, Steve Pierson, Guy Thomas||Blueshammer||3:35|
|7.||"Let's Go Riding" (1935)||Freddie Spruell||Mr. Freddie||2:55|
|8.||"Georgia on My Mind"||Hoagy Carmichael (music)|
Stuart Gorrell (lyrics)
|Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks||3:11|
|9.||"Las Palmas de Maracaibo" (1930)||Belasco||Lionel Belasco||3:15|
|10.||"Clarice" (cover of Tiny Parham, 1928)||Tiny Parham||Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks||3:29|
|11.||"Scalding Hot Coffee Rag"||Ventresco||Craig Ventresco||3:02|
|12.||"You're Just My Type" (cover of King Oliver, 1930)||Nelson, Oliver||Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks||2:33|
|13.||"Venezuela" (1931)||Victor Colon||Lionel Belasco||3:15|
|14.||"Fare Thee Well Blues" (1930)||Calicott||Joe Calicott||3:12|
|15.||"C. C. & O. Blues" (1928)||Anderson, Brownie McGhee||Pink Anderson and Simmie Dooley||3:08|
|16.||"C-h-i-c-k-e-n Spells Chicken" (1927)||Sidney L. Perrin, Bob Slater||McGee Brothers||2:59|
|17.||"That's No Way to Get Along" (1929)||Wilkins||Robert Wilkins||2:55|
|18.||"So Tired" (1928)||Lonnie Johnson||Dallas String Band||3:20|
|19.||"Bye Bye Baby Blues" (1930)||Jones||Little Hat Jones||3:10|
|20.||"Theme from Ghost World"||Kitay||David Kitay||3:58|
Ghost World premiered on June 16, 2001 at the Seattle International Film Festival, to lower than average recognition by audiences, but admiration from critics. It was also screened at several film festivals worldwide including the Fantasia Festival in Montreal.
Following the film's theatrical exhibition in the United States, Ghost World was released on DVD format via MGM Home Entertainment in early 2002. Additional features include deleted and alternative scenes, "Making of Ghost World" featurette, Gumnaam music video "Jaan Pehechaan Ho", and the original theatrical trailer.
With a limited commercial theatrical run in the United States, Ghost World's commercial success was minimal. The film was released on July 20, 2001 in five theaters grossing $98,791 on its opening weekend; it slowly expanded to more theaters, reaching a maximum of 128 by the end of the year. It went on to make $6.2 million in North America and $2.5 million in the rest of the world for a worldwide total of $8.7 million, just above its $7 million budget.
Ghost World received a 92% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 153 reviews, with an average rating of 7.8/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "With acerbic wit, Terry Zwigoff fashions Daniel Clowes' graphic novel into an intelligent, comedic trip through deadpan teen angst." The film also holds a score of 88 out of 100 on Metacritic, based on 31 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim."
Roger Ebert gave the film four out of four stars and wrote, "I wanted to hug this movie. It takes such a risky journey and never steps wrong. It creates specific, original, believable, lovable characters, and meanders with them through their inconsolable days, never losing its sense of humor." In his review for The New York Times, A. O. Scott praised Thora Birch's performance as Enid: "Thora Birch, whose performance as Lester Burnham's alienated daughter was the best thing about American Beauty, plays a similar character here, with even more intelligence and restraint." In his Chicago Reader review, Jonathan Rosenbaum wrote, "Birch makes the character an uncanny encapsulation of adolescent agonies without ever romanticizing or sentimentalizing her attitudes, and Clowes and Zwigoff never allow us to patronize her." However, Andrew Sarris of The New York Observer disliked the character of Enid: "I found Enid smug, complacent, cruel, deceitful, thoughtless, malicious and disloyal...Enid's favorite targets are people who are older, poorer or dumber than she is." Kevin Thomas, in his review for the Los Angeles Times, praised Steve Buscemi's portrayal of Seymour saying, "Buscemi rarely has had so full and challenging a role, that of a mature, reflective man, unhandsome yet not unattractive, thanks to a witty sensitivity and clear intelligence." Time magazine's Andrew D. Arnold wrote, "Unlike those shrill, hard-sell teen comedies on the other screens, Ghost World never becomes the kind of empty, defensive snark-fest that it targets. Clowes and Zwigoff keep the organic pace of the original, and its empathic exploration of painfully changing relationships."
Michael Dean of The Comics Journal addressed the concerns of comics fans head-on: "Those with higher expectations – and, certainly, Ghost World purists – are likely to experience at least a degree of disappointment. Some of the comic's air of aimless mystery has been paved over with the semblance of a Hollywood plot, and to that extent, the movie is a lesser work than the comic. But it's still a far better movie than we had a right to expect." According to Dean: "The injection of a relatively trite plot situation into Ghost World's more enigmatic stream of events is perhaps forgivable, since the film might otherwise never have been produced. Its greatest sin, the misappropriation of Enid's longing, is not so forgivable, though the overlap between Zwigoff's distaste for modernity and Enid's distrust of social acceptability makes it almost palatable. In any case, we want to forgive it, because so much is right about the movie."
Entertainment Weekly gave the film an "A-" rating and Owen Gleiberman wrote, "Ghost World is a movie for anyone who ever felt imprisoned by life, but crazy about it anyway." In her review for the LA Weekly, Manohla Dargis wrote, "If Zwigoff doesn't always make his movie move (he's overly faithful to the concept of the cartoon panel), he has a gift for connecting us to people who aren't obviously likable, then making us see the urgency of that connection." In Sight & Sound, Leslie Felperin wrote, "Cannily, the main performers deliver most of their lines in slack monotones, all the better to set off the script's wit and balance the glistering cluster of varyingly deranged lesser characters." In his review for The Guardian, Peter Bradshaw wrote, "It is an engaging account of the raw pain of adolescence: the fear of being trapped in a grown-up future and choosing the wrong grown-up identity, and of course the pain of love, which we all learn to anaesthetise with jobs and mundane worries." Several critics referred to the film as an art film.
Ghost World topped MSN Movies' list of the "Top 10 Comic Book Movies", it was ranked number 3 out of 94 in Rotten Tomatoes' "Comix Worst to Best" countdown (where #1 was the best and #94 the worst), ranked 5th "Best" on IGN's "Best & Worst Comic-Book Movies", and Empire magazine ranked the film 19th in their "The 20 Greatest Comic Book Movies" list. It is considered a cult film. It was added to the Criterion Collection in 2017.
- "Ghost World (15)". British Board of Film Classification. June 20, 2001. Retrieved October 2, 2016.
- "Ghost World (2001)". American Film Institute. Retrieved October 14, 2018.
- McKittrick, Christopher (March 23, 2017). "Wilson: A Walking Id". Creative Screenwriting. Retrieved March 23, 2017.
- Hall, Emily (July 19, 2001). "The Humanity of Failure". The Stranger. Retrieved February 23, 2016.
- Griffith, JT. "Ghost World – Original Soundtrack". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved February 23, 2016.
- Emerson, Jim (June 14, 2006). "FROM 'GUMNAAM' TO 'GHOST WORLD' TO... 'LOST'?". Rogerebert.com. Retrieved July 24, 2017.
- Garwood, I (2016). "Vinyl Noise and Narrative in CD-Era Indiewood". The Palgrave Handbook of Sound Design and Music in Screen Media: Integrated Soundtracks. Springer. p. 246. ISBN 1137516801.
- Marcus, Greil (2007). "Death Letters". Listen Again: A Momentary History of Pop Music. Duke University Press. p. 304. ISBN 0822340410.
- Gabbard, Krin (2004). Black Magic: White Hollywood and African American Culture. Rutgers University Press. pp. 229–230. ISBN 0813533848.
- "Freddie Spruell discography". wirz.de. Retrieved February 23, 2016.
rec. April 12, 1935 in Chicago; Freddie Spruell, voc, g; Carl Martin, g; Bluebird B6261
- Truitt, Eliza (July 2001). "A Ghost World Preview". Slant Magazine. Retrieved July 23, 2017.
- Head, Steve (July 26, 2001). "GHOST WORLD COMETH". IGN. Retrieved July 23, 2017.
- "Ghost World". DVD Talk. January 31, 2002. Retrieved July 23, 2017.
- Thompson, Luke Y. (May 26, 2017). "Blu-ray Review: The Ground-Breaking, Post-Ironic 'Ghost World' Comes To Criterion, As It Deserves". Forbes. Retrieved July 23, 2017.
- "Ghost World". The Criterion Collection. Retrieved July 23, 2017.
- Ghost World at Box Office Mojo
- Ghost World at Rotten Tomatoes
- Ghost World at Metacritic
- Ebert, Roger (August 3, 2001). "Ghost World". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved February 23, 2016.
- Rosenbaum, Jonathan (August 10, 2001). "Women of Substance". Chicago Reader. Retrieved February 23, 2016.
- Sarris, Andrew (August 5, 2001). "So You Wanna Be a Country-and-Western Star: More Like 'Ghastly World'". The New York Observer. Retrieved February 23, 2016.
- Scott, A. O. (July 20, 2001). "Teenagers' Sad World In a Comic Dimension". The New York Times. Retrieved February 23, 2016.
- Thomas, Kevin (July 20, 2001). "Lives Stifled by Mediocrity in 'Ghost World'". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on December 10, 2008. Retrieved February 23, 2016.
- Arnold, Andrew D (July 20, 2001). "Anticipating a Ghost World". Time. Retrieved February 23, 2016.
- Dean, Michael (2001). "Ghost Story". The Comics Journal. Archived from the original on April 14, 2010. Retrieved February 23, 2016.
- Gleiberman, Owen (July 27, 2001). "Devoutcast". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved February 23, 2016.
- Dargis, Manohla (July 26, 2001). "Everyone's Too Stupid!". L.A. Weekly. Retrieved February 23, 2016.
- Felperin, Leslie (December 2001). "Ghost World". Sight & Sound. Retrieved February 23, 2016.
- Bradshaw, Peter (August 13, 2001). "Ghost World". The Guardian. Retrieved February 23, 2016.
- Carney, Ray (2006). "Selected Masterworks of Film Art: Viewing Recommendations Submitted By Site Readers (Under Construction—Please Send Suggestions/Corrections to the Mailbag)". About Ray Carney. Retrieved 29 July 2017.
- Ian Gordon, Mark Jancovich, and, Matthew P. McAllister, "Introduction," and, Martin Flanagan, "Teen Trajectories in Spider-Man and Ghost World." In Gordon, Ian; Jancovich, Mark; McAllister, Matthew P., eds. (2007). Film and Comic Books. Jackson, Mississippi: University Press of Mississippi, pp. xiii, 141, and, 150. ISBN 9781604738094. Retrieved 29 July 2017.
Ghost World['s] [...] economics of production [...] [is] art-house [...] [T]he idiom of the text [Ghost World] is strictly that of the postmodern arthouse movie familiar since at least the early 1980s [...] [I]nhibiting an arthouse idiom similar to Ghost World.
- Stephen Weiner, "The Development of the American Graphic Novel: From Will Eisner to the Present". In Tabachnick, Stephen, ed. (2017). The Cambridge Companion to the Graphic Novel. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Cambridge Companions to Literature, p. 50. ISBN 9781107108790. Retrieved 29 July 2017.
Ghost World [...] was reimagined as an art film in 2001.
- Henry Giroux, "The Ghost World of Neoliberalism: Abandoning the Abandoned Generation." In Pomerance, Murray, ed. (2012). Bad: Infamy, Darkness, Evil, and Slime on Screen. Albany, New York: SUNY Press, SUNY Series, Cultural Studies in Cinema/Video, p. 120. ISBN 9780791485811. Retrieved 29 July 2017.
Ghost World [...] [presents] teenage resistance within the narrow confines of an art film.
- Beaty, Bart (2008). David Cronenberg's A History of Violence. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, Volume 1 of Canadian Cinema, p. 29. ISBN 9780802099327. Retrieved 29 July 2017.
Ghost World [...] positioned the art comic as akin to the contemporary art film.
- Price, Matthew (14 September 2001). "Ghost World Creator Finds Success in Film, Graphic Novel". The Oklahoman. The Oklahoman Media Company. Retrieved 29 July 2017.
Ghost World the movie, starring Thora Birch, Scarlett Johannson and Steve Buscemi, is one of the summer's biggest art-house hits and opens today in Oklahoma City.
- Chocano, Carina (6 December 2000). "Daniel Clowes". Salon. Salon Media Group Inc. Retrieved 29 July 2017.
They treated Ghost World like it was this outrageous art film that nobody would get.
- Savlov, Marc (17 August 2001). "Teen Angst Turns a Page". The Austin Chronicle. Austin Chronicle Corp. Retrieved 29 July 2017.
Apparently, the critics, who have sanctified Zwigoff's dark gem with a four-star geek-chic seal of approval since its New York/Los Angeles opening a month ago, not to mention the audience members who have -- to the shock of MGM -- created some serious (for an "art" film, anyway) box-office numbers.
- Currie, Dawn; Kelly, Deirdre M.; Pomerantz, Shauna (2009). 'Girl Power': Girls Reinventing Girlhood. New York, New York: Peter Lang, Mediated Youth, p. 46. ISBN 9780820488776. Retrieved 29 July 2017.
[A]cclaimed art-house film Ghost World.
- Morton, Drew (2016). Panel to the Screen: Style, American Film, and Comic Books During the Blockbuster Era. Jackson, Mississippi: University Press of Mississippi, p. 101. ISBN 9781496809810. Retrieved 29 July 2017.
[Cinema is] defined by two modes of filmmaking, the art house indie and the blockbuster [...] Ghost World [belongs to the former].
- "The 74th Academy Awards - 2002". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved July 23, 2017.
- "AFI Announces Nominations for AFI Awards 2001" (PDF). American Film Institute. Retrieved July 23, 2017.
- King, Loren (December 17, 2001). "BOSTON CRITICS GIVE THUMBS UP TO 'MULHOLLAND DRIVE'". The Boston Globe. Retrieved July 23, 2017.
- "Chicago Film Critics Association Announce Their Nominees!". PR Newswire. January 16, 2002. Retrieved July 19, 2017.
- Elder, Rob (February 26, 2002). "Chicago critics pick 'Mulholland Drive'". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved July 23, 2017.
- "Empire Awards: Nominations Announced". Empire. January 25, 2002. Retrieved July 19, 2017.
- "Ghost World". Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Retrieved July 23, 2017.
- Hernandez, Eugene; Kaufman, Anthony (June 18, 2001). "DAILY NEWS: Moretti at Miramax; Atlanta Fest Wrap; Seattle Winners; NY Film/Video Fest". IndieWire. Retrieved July 23, 2017.
- Munoz, Lorenza (January 9, 2002). "Spirit Awards tilt toward true independence". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved July 23, 2017.
- Gumbel, Andrew (March 25, 2002). "Oscar alternative gives better idea of lasting success". The Independent. Retrieved July 23, 2017.
- King, Susan (December 16, 2001). "'Bedroom' Is Top Pick of L.A. Film Critics". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 23, 2017.
- "Past Awards". National Society of Film Critics. Retrieved July 23, 2017.
- Taylor, Charles (January 7, 2002). "'Mulholland Drive' takes best picture in critics' awards". Salon.com. Retrieved July 23, 2017.
- Lyons, Charles. "Nat'l Crix shift into 'Drive'". Variety. Retrieved July 23, 2017.
- "Critics Group Names 'Mulholland' Best Film". The New York Times. December 14, 2001. Retrieved July 23, 2017.
- Editors (December 19, 2001). "Hedwig and the Angry Inch scores six Golden Satellite nominations". Advocate. Retrieved July 25, 2017.
- "PAST AWARD WINNERS". Toronto Film Critics Association. Retrieved July 23, 2017.
- "Writers Guild nominations tip A Beautiful Mind". The Guardian. February 8, 2002. Retrieved July 23, 2017.
- "Twenty-Third Annual Young Artist Awards 2002". Young Artist Awards. Archived from the original on April 4, 2016.
- Morgan, Kim. "Top 10 Comic Book Movies". MSN. Retrieved March 19, 2009.
- Giles, Jeff. "Comix Worst to Best". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on October 14, 2008. Retrieved September 30, 2008.
- Goldstein, Hilar. "Best & Worst Comic-Book Movies". IGN. Retrieved February 23, 2016.
- "The 20th Greatest Comic Book Movies". Empire. Retrieved February 23, 2016.
- "Scarlett Johansson again named 'sexiest woman alive' by Esquire". Reuters. October 8, 2013. Retrieved July 23, 2017.
- Curtis, Tony (2011). "Cult". Historical Dictionary of American Cinema. Scarecrow Press. p. 88. ISBN 0810874598.
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Ghost World (film)|