Sunday, February 28, 2010

39. Ghost World

Ghost World. Directed by Terry Zwigoff. 111 min. DVD MGM. 2002, ASIN: B00005T30L.

Plot Summary
Enid and Rebecca couldn't be more thrilled that high school is finally over, except for the fact that Enid has to take a remedial summer art class in order to graduate. Rebecca is ready to get an apartment and a job but Enid is stuck in a funk that is holding Rebecca back. From the time they were little kids, they dreamed of getting an apartment together and now it seems like it might not happen. This reality causes their friendship to drift, and because of it, Enid starts to spend more time with her new friend Seymour. Seymour is an eccentric old man, whose life revolves around old jazz records. When Seymour finally gets a girlfriend, Enid feels like a ghost in her own life, and has to make a decision about what to do, and who to become.

Critical Evaluation

The world is changing. Corporate America and modern retro fast food diners litter the skyline in Terry Zwigoff's film Ghost World. His characters Enid and Rebecca wander through this landscape of adulthood and try to find entertainment in the irony. They are a pessimistic breed of teenager who find joy in the lost and eccentric people that inhabit the world around them. Exploring the theme of being lost is something that rings true throughout the film. Enid never quite knows her place, and when she is finally given an opportunity to explore something she's interested in, she ruins it through her own careless decisions.

Enid feels like a ghost in her own life, wandering aimlessly, making the wrong decisions, and losing the people she holds closest. Throughout all the upset and tragedy the film remains darkly humorous because of the witty dialogue and comedic situations the characters are placed in. This coming of age film about a young girl trying to find her place in the world, is something that both adults and teenagers can relate to. This dark look at growing up is a classic representation of the changing American landscape.

Reader's Annotation

While the rest of the world goes through the motions, high school graduates Enid and Rebecca follow satanists, torture their friend Josh, and drift apart when Enid befriends an old jazz enthusiast named Seymour.

Director Information

Film director Terry Zwigoff got his start in the film business after discovering a recording of an obscure blues artist named Howard Armstrong. After extensive research Zwigoff shot a documentary about the musician called Louie Bluie that premiered at Telluride and Sundance before receiving a theatrical run. It wasn't until his work on the documentary about eccentric comic book artist Robert Crumb that Zwigoff would receive the acclaim that he deserved. Throughout his career as a filmmaker, Zwigoff has only worked on smaller films that he has felt passionately about. His film Ghost World was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay in 2001, and remains today an art house favorite.

dark comedy

Curriculum Ties
adaptation Screenwriting

Reading Level
Grades 10+

Challenge Issues

depression, language, sex, racism

Challenge defense ideas:
1. Make sure you are familiar with your library collection and the book in question.
2. Be familiar with your library collection policy.
3. If possible, speak with the person challenging the material and make sure they feel comfortable. Ask the customer what they disliked or disapproved of in the resource. If they still insist on challenging the material give them instructions on how to file a formal complaint.
4. Research professional reviews that speak to the material's merit, and get input from teen readers on why they found the book important.

Reason For Selection

Ghost World is a groundbreaking piece of cinema adapted directly from the pages of underground comic book writer Daniel Clowes. The quirky and pessimistic teen characters in this film are relatable to teens today, and for that reason I feel that this title is important for review.

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