The Crypt, the Haunted House, of Cinema

Alan Cholodenko


As we know, it is a cliché that what we see on the screen is ghosts, phantoms, spectres. What I propose in this essay is that that cliché be taken seriously—do I dare say it, ‘deadly’ seriously—be given rigorous analytic attention for its relevance to the thinking of cinema and its senses, while at the same time acknowledging that even the finest account must come face to face with the ‘fact’ that there is no ghostbuster, not even the analyst/theorist of cinema, not even the Marxist analyst/theorist of cinema, so powerful as to master, defeat and eradicate the spectre of cinema. It is a key premise of this essay that not only is the spectre a privileged subject of film but that it would be the ur figure of cinema, if cinema could have an ur figure, if the spectre could be an ur figure, a figure not only operating at every second at every level in every aspect of every film but also at the level of the cinematic, or rather animatic, apparatus of film, hence at the level of film ‘as such’.


Spectre; cinema; ur figure; film; ghosts; phantoms; analyst; theorist

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