Life after death in the cinema.
Life after Death is a significant theme in cinema but one which has not been
scrutinised to any great- extent. This research focuses on depictions on, film of, in F. W. H. Myers's phrase, "Human Personality and its Survival of Bodily Death". It includes such topics as apparitions, hauntings, mediumship, representations of Heaven, angels Near Death Experiences, possession and poltergeist phenomena: in
short, the multifarious ways in which the dead interact with the living.
The research begins with a historical perspective, outlining the development of pre-cinematic
technology for `projecting' phantoms, and also literary antecedents,
particularly the Gothic. The ways in which these approaches fed into early ghost
cinema are discussed and English-language sound films are examined thematically.
Finally, six of-the most significant have been selected for more detailed analysis.
Excluded from consideration are vampires (who have not achieved a
state), reanimation films (by definition the body is not dead and often only
rudimentary, if any, personality can be said to have survived), and what can loosely be
described as It Came From Hell' films in which a generalised diabolic force is at
work. Films dealing with reincarnation, in which in any case the personality is often
lost in the transition to a new body, have been left out on grounds of space.