Ghost Stories

by Hamlyn, Nicky

Film: 16mm 1983

Arts Council of England/Great Britain

Ghost stories opens with a sequence of polemical shots: a mysterious shadow, an ambiguous advertisement which has deeper ambiguities unknown even to itself, and a lengthy quotation from Roland Barthes on the nature of autobiography. These opening shots outline the context in which I hope the bulk of the film will be seen: as a critique on so-called visual literacy, which is frequently based on a complacent mis-reading of images, and also as a rejection of film-biography, whose efficacy depends on such visual complacency. The body of the film consists of fragmentary views of the interior of a house, in which desultory activity occasionally takes place, sometimes in front of the camera, sometimes not. A ghost story is told, firewood is sorted. There is a continual insistence on the limits of what can and cannot be shown in film, and the (metaphorical) presence of cats serves to emphasise these limits, we can only 'know' as much about them as we can about people. The film has three coloured sections - red, yellow and blue - which have a mildly didactic purpose apart from providing a contrast to the black and white.


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