28/12/2017

A Ghost Story - (Sur)Realist Impressionism: Surrendering To Time

Quick Thoughts: A Ghost Story (2017)

A couple are pulled apart by tragedy and held together by fine threads.


A Ghost Story is an incredible film, maybe even a masterpiece - time will have to tell. Questioning what it means to lose and be lost just as much through form as it does through its content, this film sits in a unique place somewhere between Tarkovsky's Mirror and Akerman's Jeanne Dielman. There is little that binds these films together, and so it is difficult to find a worthwhile way to compare them. That is, beyond considering their approach to, and representation of, time.

In expanding and contracting time, Lowery forces us to step inside of his imagery and not just question its purpose, but surrender to the bottomless subtext of seemingly never ending shots. Lowery thus captures something close to ethereal and poetic Tarkovsky time, whilst simultaneously projecting the realist impressionism that Akerman does by also expanding time - seemingly into inertia. By straddling these two approaches, Lowery, as implied, formulates his own style which is both poetic, realist, surrealist and impressionistic.

Let it then be emphasised that, like the mentioned Akerman and Tarkovsky films, this is not an easy watch. However, if you split this up into multiple sittings and/or entirely invest yourself in what is essentially an hour and a half of image-assisted meditation, you may find this film incredibly rewarding. But, as much as this film impressed me, I do not feel inclined to dive deep into it.

Boiling this film down to a few conclusive thoughts, it seems that A Ghost Story questions how we are supposed to cope with the entropic vacuum of time, an entity to which we owe and lose everything to. Its answer is surrender via acceptance. The only way to confront time and the fact that everything we do has simultaneous meaning and futility of infinite intensity embedded into it is to realise that time itself, when bound to the conscious mind, is not linear. With memory - the building, preservation and loss of it - comes the looping and bending of time, and in turn the crossing of paths of all conscious beings. So, whilst we are lost in time, we are not alone. And if one cannot find solace in recognising this, then you will forever wander in search of impossible reconciliation, a ghost scratching at the textures of time.

This captures the essence of what I saw in A Ghost Story, but I firmly believe that this film has to be experienced to be understood more broadly. So, if you haven't yet, and if you are interested in a difficult art film, I wholehearted recommend A Ghost Story. If you have seen this film, however, what are your thoughts?






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