Mind Blowing Movies: Ghost World (2001), by Amy Crehore


31 Responses to “Mind Blowing Movies: Ghost World (2001), by Amy Crehore”

  1. AV3000 says:

    I loved Ghost World with a  passion, but I don’t think I could watch again. It hits too close too home and for me is a sad film.
    There is a prevalent interpretation that Enid getting on the bus at the end, is a metaphor for suicide. Zwigoff denies it though. However I think that this interpretation is prevalent says a lot.

    There is something profoundly sad about Enid, not being able to find her place in the world, and having to move on.

    • ocker3 says:

      I saw it as her making a complete break with her old life, no going back, choosing a route that almost noone could see or follow her on. A lonely path, but it was the only one she could take and be true to herself

    • YourMessageHere says:

      Completely disagree.  Ghost World is indeed a mind-blowing movie, and that ending scene is something that has inspired me and given me hope more times than I can recall.

      I see it as Enid letting go of all the things that tie her to a dependent lifestyle she doesn’t fit into, and taking a chance on the unknown for the first time.  It’s the only way she can escape the things that hold her back.  The bus is an escape from adolescence, heading for an independent future; the destination is unknown, but far more important is the journey itself, and making the decision to start it.

      I’ve never heard the suicide interpretation before, but that seems like a complete misunderstanding of the whole film to me.

    • princeminski says:

      SUICIDE!? Moving out of your parents’ house or your home town isn’t suicide. Jumping Jesus.

    • Gyrofrog says:

       I can understand the suicide (or at least death) symbolism, but it may be from the comic rather than the movie.  Near the end of the comic, Becky sees Enid for the first time in a while and says she’s having trouble seeing Enid, that she’s all blurry (like a ghost, perhaps).


    I’m glad someone covered Ghost World.  I haven’t read the comics but I loved everything about the film.  I’m nearly that old record collector dude.  The turntable’s spinning as I write this.  It’s one of those rare small movies that seems not to suffer from its limited scale.  Speaking of which, and no pun intended, I hope someone covers The Stationmaster.  It’s fairly recent but shockingly good in ways you don’t expect.

  3. Alex says:

    Loved the comic and flick to pieces.
    Sweet, mellow, existential little gem. The relationship between Seymour and Enid is quite a wonderful thing. 

  4. dr says:

    We just watched this last week.  Thora Birch was great, and I think her talent has been wasted in her subsequent career in bad horror movies.

  5. Stefan Jones says:

    Like AV3000, I loved Ghost World, but found the film too  uncomfortable to see again. I’m more like Seymore than one of the girls; his rant about alienation, not having anything in common with his coworkers or the dating pool, struck home.

    Actually, I did see it again. I’d bought the film on discount VHS — probably still have it — and showed it to my parents. My father taught film appreciation and I like to show the folks that non-blockbusters films actually being made today. They were pretty impressed, as I recall.

    I actually liked the film better than the comic. Turning Seymore into a full blown character, rather than a one-scene anonymous shlub, was a brilliant move.

    I’d forgotten the art-class angle. Zwigoff went on to work on Art School Confidential, which was all about that scene.

  6. Tzunun says:

    “…obsessive collector of 78 records named Seymour…”

    78 is a pretty small collection, but then there probably aren’t too many records named Seymour.

  7. teufelsdrochk says:

    Those of you who love this movie should see ‘Crumb’, like Amy mentions. It’s on Amazon Instant. If you understand Crumb’s outlook on the world it will open a whole different interpretation of this film: especially that final scene, where the camera pans down from the power lines and across the urban sprawl.

    Seriously, watch that ending again, it’s all drawn from Crumb sketches. A fat guy slurping a big gulp wanders behind. Enid strolls across a suburban wasteland. Pan down from the power lines. I always interpreted it as Enid getting out of suburban hell, out of adolescence, and into the wider world.

    I disagree that you shouldn’t watch this movie more than once. The first time, you’ll think it’s about two snarky adolescent girls. The second time, you’ll see it’s about two misanthropic old men.


      Agreed on the movie Crumb.  It’s a fascinating look at a brilliant weirdo.  It made me wish there were more like Robert Crumb.

    • Stefan Jones says:

       Crumb is just wonderful.

      As messed up as R. Crumb is, he’s the son who got off easy in that family. 

      • BarBarSeven says:

        I don’t know if I would say he “got off easy in that family” as much as say he figured out how to cope with the world he was given to deal with.  His brother’s clearly barely understand the world at large; Robert Curmb at least had self-awareness & that is the key to how he’s far more mentally stable than his siblings ever were.

  8. Mister44 says:

    Both R. Crumb and Ghost World were great. Steve Buscemi is his creepiest since Trees Lounge.

  9. Mitchell Glaser says:

    Crumb, the movie, is as dry as toast without butter. But Crumb, the man it reveals, melts my brain. The staggering, unapologetic offensiveness of some of his creations contrasts shatteringly with the meek and harmless man that made them, in much the same way as the straight forward presentation of the film contrasts with the twisted and bizarre family it chronicles. Talk about your cognitive dissonance! I wish I could sum up my feelings for Ghost World as succinctly, but words fail me. Zwigoff is geniosity.

  10. BarBarSeven says:

    “Ghost World,” is a brilliant film that really encompasses the world of ironic detachment more than any other piece of art I can think of.  I didn’t like Zwigoff’s additions but tolerated them as a natural addition that happens when a book goes “Hollywood.”

    Don’t know about anyone else, but the most profound moment for me in the film is when Enid is intruded to Seymour’s world of ephemera and the following exchange happens:

    Enid: Look at this room. This is like my dream room! Look at all this stuff… You are, like, the luckiest guy in the world. I would kill to have stuff like this. 
    Seymour: Please, go ahead and kill me.

    Nothing made me question my own collection of knick-knacks & ephemera more than that line.  The idea that Seymour has surrounded himself with shadows of the past, but can’t relate to others horrified me past belief.  And made me truly question the kitsch and tchotkes I have collected over the years and literally decide to sell them off on eBay or donate them to a thrift shop. I still have kitsch & odd stuff, but it’s really been pared down to things that echo what my life is and the stuff I find cool. There is some connection there.But in general, “Ghost World” really should be pared with “Blade Runner” in terms of both films dealing with identity & reality & how folks deal with the world.  Both really touch on the same topics.

    • occula says:

       Reminds me of when Enid tells Seymour he should meet people who share his interests, and he says something like “My interests are crap! I hate my interests!”

      • BarBarSeven says:

        Not to mention have you ever had friends come over & see your “wacky stuff” and then go out and buy whatever “wacky stuff” they think you would like & literally give it to you & say: “Here you like this!”

        Kitsch consumerism. A world that should be explored more & more.

  11. Ghost World is, and always will be my favourite  movie. Not only it shows the talent and beauty of Thora Birch at her peak, but it is still relevant on so many levels about the world we live in.

    Oh, and it makes for a great test movie for knowing if you can share a little more than good times with your new girlfriend.

  12. penguinchris says:

    I think I saw this a year or two after it came out. I was in high school and on a very Seymore-esque path in life. Perfect time to see this film.

    I’m typing this now in the bedroom in my parents’ house where I grew up. I’m 25. There is useless (yet neat) stuff all around me including hundreds of vinyl records. I’ve already begun the process of getting rid of everything in here I don’t need or which isn’t truly meaningful to me, but being reminded of this film at this moment in my life really hits home for me. I was reminded of it recently when Daniel Clowes was featured here when Mark interviewed him at Meltdown Comics, and I’ve seen some gifs from the film pop up on tumblr recently, but hadn’t really thought about it that much until now.

    I’m both Seymore and Enid. I went to college and grad school but now can’t find a job and I don’t really want to because I don’t know what I want to do with my life. I have trouble building meaningful relationships. I still have the urge to collect things (though usually I resist – and @BarBarSeven:disqus has it right about the most powerful line in the film, for me too). 

    So what am I going to do? I think I’ll watch Ghost World again, for one. I too had resisted watching it again because I relate to it too much. It’s depressing.

    Then maybe I’ll get rid of all my junk and get on the metaphorical bus that Enid does. If anyone in California (my destination – was there for grad school) has a job opening soon, feel free to help to prevent me becoming Seymore :)

    This is a powerful film, to certain people anyway.

  13. Heather C says:

    One of those brilliant movies I will probably never see again. I was so Enid in high school (but without as much fashion sense) that I found the movie quite painful to watch. The film left me with an intense sadness I couldn’t shake for days.

  14. beaker says:

    Thanks for posting this.  Ghost World is one of my favorites.  I recall randomly discovering  this film on a plane trip.  I had never heard of the comic or any of the actors except for Buscemi (of Coen Bros fame).   The film is masterful on many levels, and the ending is the essence of bittersweet.  I turned in my window seat,  looked out over the clouds, and  tried to hide my tears as the credits rolled.

  15. maclean says:

    Having been born in the ’80s, I idolized these girls when I first saw Ghost World.  They seemed so insightful, yet world-weary.  Re-watching it as an adult, I saw Enid in a new light.  She is a very selfish person, from her domineering control of her friendships, to her immature view of her dad’s emotional needs.  She sees something she wants and she takes it.

    Eventually, she does show remorse after realizing how much she hurt the people around her. When she gets on the bus at the end, I do not think it is an inspiring and brave move towards a brighter future that accepts her.  No world accepts people that are hurtful and only out for themselves. She is leaving behind a trail of damage, but next time she’ll get it right. The bus and the escapism is showing that she’s finally growing up (or committing suicide, either way).

    In the beginning she thought it was the world keeping her down, but then she realizes that she is the one who needs to change.  I love this movie, but it does hurt to relive all the pains of adolescence along with Enid.

  16. MarkV says:

    I’ve seen this movie. Can someone describe it what way or respect it’s “mind-blowing”? Isn’t a movie where ” The characters are so…familiar that they could have been based on my friends and me” the opposite of mind-blowing? Perhaps I am using a different definition of the term. Or was it mind-blowing that people exist who are similar to you in some ways?

    • James Kimbell says:

       It’s “mind blowing” because it shows you these characters and at first you think they’re sooo cool. Then the movie shows why you are wrong and why the characters are wrong – at least they start out that way – and then things proceed from there.

  17. sdmikev says:

    I particularly like Bob Balaban as Enid’s dad in this movie.  And a great small role by Teri Garr as his girlfriend, too.

  18. James Kimbell says:

    A similar but simpler example is the movie Juno. In that movie, Juno is full of bluster and sarcasm, and some people think that the movie is therefore about bluster and sarcasm. But really it’s about her growing out of those things and learning how to be better. Ghost World is the same, but with more characters and more angles.

  19. ashypete says:

    I was quite taken aback by Ghost World when I saw it.  I liked it a lot… but what blew my mind? The fact that they included the first dance number of one of my favourite 60′s Bollywood films, Gumnaam.  It was a “I am not alone” moment for me that if I didn’t have better control of myself, I would have leapt for joy in that cinema tears streaming down my face. Seriously, it was a remarkable moment. 

    Gumnaam, despite the jauntiness of that opening number, is a murder mystery a la (no pun intended here) “Ten Little Indians.” But with  dance numbers, a funny fat guy and more importantly, Helen. Yes, Helen (no last name needed…) Who, in my mind & heart (with Sridevi & Zeenat Aman being a distant second & third), is the greatest of all Bollywood actresses. Hyperbole? Maybe but seriously check out this or this. Ne plus ultra.

Leave a Reply