Sunday, 10 February 2013

Ghost Dance — A film by Ken McMullen


"Cinema plus Psychoanalysis equals the Science of Ghosts" — Jacques Derrida



Written, Directed and Produced by Ken McMullen.

Channel Four Films, Channel Four Television, Looseyard Productions, Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (ZDF). West Germany: 15 December 1983 (TV premiere), Canada: 11 September 1984 (Toronto Film Festival), USA: October 1984.

Cast, crew etc: Pascale Ogier (Pascale), Leonie Mellinger (Marianne), Robbie Coltrane (George), Dominique Pinon (Salesman/Guide), Stuart Brisley (Action on Water), Jacques Derrida (Himself), Iain Robertson (Naked Sleep Performer), Georges Levantis (Naked Sleep Performer), Archie Pool (Voice of Myths), Barbara Coles (Voice of Woman), Ken McMullen (Voice of Man), Michael Mellinger (Voice of Marianne's Daydream), Robert Llewellyn (Leader of Americans). Produced by Alan Fountain (executive producer), Eckart Stein (executive producer). Original Music by David Cunningham, Michael Giles, Jamie Muir. Cinematography by Peter Harvey. Cinematography by Peter Harvey. Film Editing by Robert Hargreaves.


Through the experiences of two women in Paris and London, Ghost Dance offers an analysis of the complexity of our conceptions of ghosts, memory and the past. It is an adventure film strongly influenced by the work of Rivette and Godard but with a unique intellectual and artistic discourse of its own. The film is permeated with phantoms, and also focuses on philosopher Jacques Derrida who considers ghosts to be the memory of something which has never been present. This theory is explored in the film.

Ken McMullen (b. 31 August 1948, Manchester) is an award-winning film director and artist living currently in London. His feature films are distributed worldwide, his documentaries broadcast extensively and his art works exhibited in leading contemporary art galleries in Europe, The United States and the Far East. McMullen’s films are grounded in philosophy, history, psychoanalysis and literature. McMullen’s exhibition Signatures of the Invisible brought together artists and scientists working at CERN, the European particle physics facility near Geneva. His other work includes filming conversations with leading physicists at Stanford Linear Accelerator Centre, which he describes as “making a diary of the transition in human culture” because he believes physics is arriving at another shifting point. His latest work Arrows of Time is a radical new form of cinema consisting of 40 interchangeable elements that deal with literature, philosophy, and contemporary physics. These elements are combined in a different order for each showing. This work premiered at the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco in April 2007.

Ghost Dance is an experimental film by the British director Ken McMullen, is notable for its very leisurely pace, its occasional bizarre humor, its near-perfect opacity and the presence of two striking individuals: Jacques Derrida, the French linguistic philosopher, and Pascale Ogier, the late young actress whose doleful, mature face and mischievous manner held forth such great promise of a remarkable screen career. … Ogier and Leonie Mellinger, as the film’s two wandering heroines, appear in various bleak settings in London and Paris, while various quotations are delivered in voice-over and titles like “Myth: The Voice of Destruction, the Voice of Deliverance” divide the film into subsections — NY Times.

Jacques Derrida plays 'himself' in the film and comments upon ghosts as they pertain to cinema and representation itself ... cinema, for Derrida, 'is the art of ghosts' and he regards himself - as portrayed in the film - as yet another ghost in whom he 'believes' ... modern technology (specifically, telecommunications), he says, instead of vanquishing ghosts, actually multiplies them ... however this is not necessarily negative - its quite the opposite - 'long live the ghosts!' he exclaims near the end of the clip. Jacques Derrida describes an 'unnatural' ghostly haunting whereby the dead are taken into us, but they are not internalized as they would be under more 'normal' circumstances (a psychoanalytic view of mourning) - he labels this as 'terrifying'.


Further information here, here & here. Video content here, here & here.

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