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Saturday, June 15, 2024
The Observer

Ghost' DVD remains timeless tale of true love

In the canon of so-called "chick flicks," Jerry Zucker's "Ghost" is always ranked near the top. Although it first appeared onscreen 17 years ago, it still remains as romantic and endearing as a movie could be. A special collector's edition of "Ghost" was recently released, and it includes a number of additional extras that make it a very worthy purchase.

The film tells the story of a young couple, Sam Wheat (Patrick Swayze) and Molly Jensen (Demi Moore), whose love is shattered when Sam is slain in a seemingly senseless event. Although he's dead, Sam's spirit still lingers on earth. He realizes he is stuck as a ghost so he can solve his murder. In his quest to find his killer, he teams up with Oda Mae Brown (Whoopi Goldberg), a psychic and the only person who is able to talk to him. Through Oda Mae, Sam and Molly are able to once more reconnect their love, and along the way they hunt for his killer, discovering a deeper and more vengeful act than what his murder first appeared to be.

"Ghost" won two Academy Awards: one for the screenplay, and the other for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Whoopi Goldberg. Goldberg's performance as a fake psychic who actually sees the ghost of Sam is definitely top-notch, and that alone is worth a watch. The late Vincent Schiavelli also puts in a surprisingly memorable performance, albeit a short one, as the subway ghost who helps Sam deal with his (literally) spiritual condition. Following suit are performances by both Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze who shine as the film's focus.

Interestingly enough, as the documentary "The Making of a Classic" points out, the producers and director had no desire for Patrick Swayze to play the lead. He had just finished the movie "Road House," which was not received well by audiences or critics. Although they did not contact him for the part, Swayze read the script and asked if he could audition. It was only after his reading that the producers and director decided to cast Swayze in the role. Similarly, Goldberg got involved only after friends showed her the script and urged her to try out.

This documentary, as well as the other features, makes the special edition a great purchase, even for fans who already have the original DVD edition. The documentary also intersperses footage of the actors on the set - which is unique and interesting to watch in relation to the characters the actors and actresses play - as well as new interviews from both Goldberg and Swayze. Scene dissection analyzes the making of the well known "pottery scene" between Moore and Swayze and an "Inside the Paranormal" featurette showcases interviews from real psychics and mediums who talk about their experiences. The commentary track features Zucker and screenwriter Bruce Joel Rubin, who focus on elements of the script as well as the special effects work that was done for the film.

"Ghost" is easily one of the best films that deal with paranormal elements in the real world. It manages to be romantic without being sappy and humorous without losing its important and weighty message. While it is nearly two decades old, "Ghost" tells the kind of timeless story that will always have a place in people's hearts.