Ghost Story” (2017): the infinite structure of life

The American director Daniel Lowery invites us to question ourselves and open our minds about an infinite experiential journey through his film A Ghost Story , which had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in 2017. This poetic film tells the story of a recently deceased man (Casey Affleck) who returns home as a ghost to comfort and be with his wife (Rooney Mara). After discovering that in his “new spectral state” he does not belong to any exact time or to a predetermined place, the ghost remains stuck in that physical space in which he lived, where he witnesses the different stages and people that take place throughout the weather. It is there that he faces the questions of life, thememories and history, testing the immensity of existence.

The structure of this film is made up of three almost dreamlike acts, in which we believe we are seeing a linear story, but just like the ghost itself, the entire work escapes the importance of time-space to give way to the supernatural and not so recurring The film starts with a small spatial introduction: black background, lights, stars and meteorites. Then the close-up begins, where we see the couple lying on the bed, out of focus. In this way, the “introduction” sequence begins and we enter into conjugal coexistence. We know the space that surrounds the couple and a slight glimpse of their routine. Thus, the first ghostly manifestation is implanted in front of the couple and in the same way, for the spectator.

Immediately afterwards, the camera announces an accident. Without time to question what happened, we went to the hospital to accompany and understand the death of the character played by Affleck. The deceased body is covered by a white sheet, a narrative element that also constitutes a ghost and through which the entire film revolves. Daniel Lowery , the director of the film, mentions the original idea as “a ghost story” that, through the passage of time, transcends any such experience, to reach the complex world of death and thereby observe the delicate instances of a loss, which is developed throughout the film.

The play progresses and we return to the couple’s house. We are direct spectators of the difficult duel of the widow, who tries every day to rebuild her life. The ghost, absent and present at the same time, occupies a space of continuous observation. Without being able to detach or move from the home, she remains in an extremely static plane, present in the different stages of the people who pass through her old house. The days pass and the one who was his wife arrives with another man. The spectrum, who perceives everything, makes the first intervention of him.

From my point of view, Ghost Story is narrated by infinite metaphors; both textual and visual. It begins precisely with the ghost’s first emotional conflict: seeing his wife with another person. The story continues and the woman decides to move to be able to forget and close this stage, but before she leaves a small note inside a crack in the wall. This element holds the spirit inside the house. It is part of what the entity cannot resolve in order to move, too, to another plane, and then who knows, to another life.

In this way the second act begins, where the spirit remains in the home living with the new tenants. The family lives with this soul without knowing it, and when it is affected, it manifests itself in a violent way, which is why one more move is generated in that house. The arrival of a third tenant and a party in between are the closing of this second instance of the film. The dialogue turns into an existentialist discourse, which occupies a place of “messaging and reflection”, leaving aside the metaphors previously used to delve into what has been worked on as a subtext within the film.

As a result of the third and last act, the ghost leaves the physical space, the home that referred him to the past. This is how this sensitive entity ends up closing its cycle, which is also the great closure of the feature film metaphor. Finally, the work culminates in a “circular” way, that is, it returns to the same starting point, thereby strengthening the idea of an infinite life cycle. Knowing what there is after death is one of the most enigmatic questions for the individual and what this film seeks to represent. In Ghost Storythe human being would be composed of different planes: matter and spirit. We are present in the physical world, but also in the world of ideas and emotions, which gives the characters a severe duality, which is represented in the ghostly wife and husband.

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