Eheh... J'apporte ma petite contribution, en anglais malheureusement
J'ai fait un dossier de cinéma sur le film Ghosts, donc je pensais le faire partager ici, ça peut peut être intéresser certaines personnes, voire éventuellement donner d'autres éléments que ceux présents dans l'excellente analyse proposée
(bon, j'ai pas eu le courage de traduire les 30 pages en français ! ... et les illustrations ont disparu)
Désolé pour la longueur du post...
Part I – A gothic-fantasy film................................................................................................4
I – A fantasy story (description of the scenes)................................................................................4
II – The gothic-fantasy elements........................................................................................................7
III – The use of special effects.............................................................................................................9
Part II – A metaphorical film.............................................................................................15
I – Analysis of the first three scenes................................................................................................15
II – Analysis of the characters..........................................................................................................17
III – Analysis of the music.................................................................................................................21
Michael Jackson's Ghosts is a 38-minute movie which is a kind a hybrid. It is both a music video and a short movie.
Ghosts was filmed in 1996 and released on VHS in 1997. It was screened out of competition at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival.
The film was directed by Stan Winston (photo). He was an American visual effects supervisor, film director and make-up artist. He worked on films such as Edward Scissorshands or Jurassic Park, for instance, and won 4 Oscars during his career.
Another famous creator of the film is Stephen King. He co-wrote the story of the movie with Michael Jackson. Stephen King is probably one of the most talented American writers of science fiction and horror fiction (one of my favorite writers). He wrote Everything's eventual, Carrie, The Dark Tower or The Shining, for example.
Michael Jackson is – obviously – the last famous creator of the movie. He co-wrote the story, produced the film, wrote the music and performed 5 roles. He was one of the greatest entertainers of all time. Singer, dancer, choreographer, songwriter, composer, record producer, beat-boxer, actor and even poet; his talent had no limit. Michael Jackson was best-known for having created a strong link between music and video: the music video Thriller was a real revolution.
Some people compared Ghosts to Thriller. But can we really say that Ghosts is a kind of «Thriller number 2»?
Although there is a fantastic and horror dimension in Ghosts (like in Thriller), it cannot be «Thriller number 2» because there is a metaphorical dimension which does not exist in Thriller.
Part I – A gothic-fantasy film.
I – A fantasy story (Description of the scenes)
The Maestro lives alone in an old mansion. He loves entertaining the children with scary magic tricks. One of the children told his mother about it; she alerted the town Mayor, who convinced the townspeople 'to lead a crusade' against the Maestro.
1st scene: An angry crowd
On a stormy night, «Normal Valley's townspeople» go to the Maestro's mansion ("Someplace Else"). The children assure the parents that the Maestro has done nothing wrong, but the Mayor insists on the fact that the Maestro should go «out of town» because he's a «weirdo».
2nd scene: A strange mansion
The townspeople arrive in front of the mansion. The front door opens by itself. The mansion is really old and dark; it seems to be a «haunted mansion». Once they are inside, the front door shuts and locks itself.
3rd scene: The Maestro
The townspeople enter a dance hall. The Maestro appears for the first time, disguised in Skeleton, and frightens the townspeople. Then, the Mayor tells him that he's not welcome in their town. The Maestro begins to play with the townspeople: he will try to scare them.
He stretches his face and reveals his skull. The frightened townspeople try to escape the room, but the doors are locked. The Maestro wants to keep them inside the house, because they are «his guests».
4th scene: The Maestro's family
Then, the Maestro introduces his family of ghosts. They begin to dance with the Maestro (singing «2bad»), frightening but also impressing the townspeople.
5th scene: A possessed Mayor
After the «show», the Maestro reveals his skeletal body, sings «Is it Scary» and possesses the Mayor, making him dance and sing «Ghosts». Then, the Mayor is transformed into a horrific demon and begins to talk to himself, using a mirror: "Who's the freak now? Freaky Boy!»
6th scene: The Maestro's death
Once the Mayor dispossessed, the Maestro asks the townspeople if they still want him to go. They answer «no», except the Mayor. Thus, the Maestro falls and turns into dust. The townspeople are saddened, but the Mayor is proud of himself. 'Thanks to him', the Maestro is dead.
7thscene: The Maestro's resurrection
But when he opens the door to go outside the mansion, a monstrous Maestro head screaming "HELLO" terrifies him. The Mayor runs away and leaves a comical Mayor-shaped hole in the glass door.
8th scene: Normality?
Then the Maestro speaks with the townspeople, asking them if they had a good time. They all enjoyed Maestro's show, and make peace with him. The movie ends with a reversal of the situation: one of the children grips his face, telling «is that scary?». They all scream, and the movie ends.
II – The gothic- fantasy elements
Different aspects of the Gothic and the Fantastic are present in the film: there is a fight between good and evil in a kind of «gothic parallel world».
A – A Gothic «Parallel World»
The atmosphere of the film is quite frightening because the scene takes place in a gothic parallel world.
1 – A Gothic setting
The Gothic atmosphere is present from the beginning of the film. The landscape is a deserted land with crosses and tombs: this morbidity first dissuades the townspeople from entering the Maestro's house. It is emphasized by the stormy weather and the fog that may hide strange things.
Then, the townspeople enter an old mansion. It looks like a haunted place where doors open by themselves. In fact, the doors symbolize the frontier between two worlds: the real one and the fantastic one. They are emblematic elements of the mansion. Once the townspeople went through a door, it is impossible for them to go back to the «normal world». The doors and the hallway of the mansion are the link between the two worlds.
2 – A «parallel world»
When the townspeople arrive in the Maestro's dance-hall, they are really in a parallel world where everything is possible. The most terrifying creatures (ghosts and ghouls) are resurrected by the Maestro, using strange powers symbolized by a «blue fluid». The Maestro himself transforms into strange monsters (skeletons, Super Ghoul...) to scary the townspeople but also to entertain them.
In fact, in this parallel world, nothing is impossible. There is no rule anymore (the ghosts can walk against the force of gravity, for instance). Everything can be frightening and marvelous at the same time.
2 – The Fight between Good and Evil
This duality between the marvelous and the frightening is one the elements of the fight between good and evil. This fight happens during the film between the townspeople and the Maestro. But in fact, the duality is really ambiguous.
1 – The «crusade» against the Maestro
First, the townspeople lead a real «crusade» against the Maestro, trying to make him leave the town. The Maestro is a symbol of strangeness, madness, abnormality and cruelty (he loves scaring children); whereas the Mayor embodies common sense, good behavior and courage. The Mayor wants to purify the town and to protect the children.
The spectator first believes to this duality. Indeed, the spectator can be scared by the Maestro and can totally agree with the Mayor: the Maestro must leave the town because he is dangerous for the children.
2 – The ambiguity of good and evil
But in fact, the spectator soon understands that the Maestro may not be evil. The spectator becomes attached to him because he is a sensitive person: scaring people is just a game, not an act of cruelty.
The real evil character in the film is the Mayor who invades the Maestro's privacy, who abuses and threatens him. This is emphasized when the Maestro possesses the Mayor. A mirror goes out from the Mayor's stomach and the Mayor sees himself in it and says «who's the freak now?». Thanks to this possession, the Mayor takes the place of the Maestro: he becomes the real victim. Indeed, the Maestro is just a victim of society because he does not behave «normally».
III – The Use of special effects
The fantastic aspect of the film would not have been possible without special effects.
In Ghosts, the best technologies of the time were used in order to create splendid illusions for the movie. Special effects are typical cinematographic elements; that is why it is important to insist on them.
Special effects (such as «trompe-l'oeil») were first experimented by George Méliès in the film A trip to the moon. Since 1902, they have evolved a lot, creating great illusions.
Nowadays, there are two types of special effects: the practical effects (produced on-set) and the visual effects (created in post-production).
A – Practical effects
Different practical effects are used in the movie (lights, confetti, CO2 effects...), but the use of prosthetic make-up is probably the most spectacular one.
1 – Creators of prosthetic make-up
Make-up effects designed and created at: Stan Winston Studio
Mayor make-up designer and key artist: Richie Alonzo
Mayor make-up artist: Nick Marra
Michael Jackson ghoul make-up: Mike Smithson
Ghoul make-up artist and designer: Bruce Spaulding Fuller
Stan Winston and his team of artists and technicians have created lots of monsters and characters for movies. Stan Winston had already worked with Michael Jackson in 1978 (1st photo) for the musical movie The Wiz (with Diana Ross).
Winston's team also worked for The Terminator (2nd photo), Predator, Batman Returns, Jurassic Park and The Sixth sense, for example.
2 – What is prosthetic make-up?
Prosthetic make-up can give an alien form to a familiar thing: it enables the creation of extra-teeth, pointed ears, big fingers...
The application of the prosthesis can take several hours because the final result must create the illusion that the prosthesis is a part of the actor's body. The materials used are often composed of latex, gelatin and silicon rubber.
The use of prosthetic make-up is quite a difficult process because the edges must be kept as thin as possible so that they cannot be seen.
In the movie, prosthetic make-up was used to create the ghosts, to deform the Maestro's face (when he becomes a ghoul for instance [1st photo]) and also to create characters such as the possessed Mayor (2nd photo)...
A mask with ugly wrinkles and terrifying face expression was put on Michael Jackson's face.
This mask was completed with an enormous wig and yellow contact lens (like in Thriller)
The possessed Mayor:
The mask is in fact a caricature of the Mayor (rings under the eyes, enormous double-chin...) to accentuate the devilish aspect of the character.
4 – The Mayor
One of the most surprising make-ups in the movie was not used to create a horror effect. Indeed, the Mayor's face is not real: prosthetic make-up was used. If the spectator does not wait until the closing credits (where the make-up effects are shown), he/she cannot imagine that the mayor is played by Michael Jackson. That explains why the Mayor danced this way when he was possessed by the Maestro.
The difficulty was to create a new character, with a new physical appearance, using Michael's body. Michael is very skinny but the Mayor is plump: prosthetic make-up was used to make a double chin and big cheeks. Moreover, the Mayor is quite old: wrinkles appear on the mask and a grey wig took the place of Michael's hair.
In addition to this make-up, Michael had to change his voice and his modulation. The result is quite realistic: the Mayor really seems to be played by another actor.
A wig cap is put on Michael Jackson's hair. His face is painted (same color as the mask).
The mask is stuck to Michael Jackson's face (using special glue).
The grey wig is added.
B - Visual effects
In addition to these practical effects, special visual effects and digital animations were used for the movie to distort the Maestro's face or to make a skeleton dance (for example).
1 – Creators of visual effects
Special visual effects and digital animation by : Digital Domain – Venice, CA
Additional digital effect by: Pacific Data Images – Palo Alto, CA
Digital Domain was founded by James Cameron for special visual effects. The company worked on special effects of famous movies: Titanic, The Fifth Element, The Lord of the rings, The Day after tomorrow, Star Trek, Gran Torino, Daredevil, Armageddon, Charlie and the Chocolate factory and 2012, for instance. Digital Domain often collaborates with Stan Winston Studio.
For the movie, Digital Domain created the main special visual effects, whereas additional digital effects were made by Pacific Data images. PDI was a computer animation production company that was bought by DreamWorks. Michael Jackson had already worked with the company for the morphing in Black or White.
2 – The Maestro's face distortion
Visual effects were used to distort the Maestro's face (4 photos).
The process of creation of these special effects is quite secret (it is often the case concerning special effects). However, as a big Michael Jackson's fan, I know some useful anecdotes about the movie.
First, there were three busts used for the movie among the different objects supposed to be sold in Julien's auctions (1st photo).
Three busts of Michael Jackson, including forearms and hands, making faces. The busts were created for the special-effects sequences in Ghosts.
Then, a 3D data scan of Michael Jackson's head (2nd photo) from 1996 is for sale. This 3D data scan was made for the movie.
The two elements (3D data scan and the busts) were probably used for 3D computer graphics. A 3D scanner (that analyses a real-world object) collected data about Michael Jackson's face and busts. These elements were mixed together and were modified (thanks to a computer), in order to create the sequence.
3 – The dancing skeleton
Another example of visual effects is the dancing skeleton. In the movie, the Maestro's skeleton dances (and even moonwalks) singing «Is it scary?» (photo).
To create this sequence, detectors were put on Michael Jackson's body. He was filmed dancing. The different detectors gave the position of Michael's main body joints, used to create a computer animation.
Part II – A metaphorical film.
I – Analysis of the first three scenes
The first three scenes are crucial in the understanding of the metaphorical meaning of the movie because they are full of symbols.
The movie begins with an extreme long shot where we can see an old mansion, kind of link between the white fog (at the bottom) and the dark clouds (at the top). The contrast is emphasized by the fact that the film is in black and white. This first shot shows the frightening atmosphere of the film. This atmosphere is accentuated by the screeching music and the thunder.
Then, there is a close-up on the torch that brings light to darkness. The torch is a symbol of revolt: the townspeople want to get rid of the Maestro. There is a kind of witch hunt; there is a crusade against the Maestro.
The third shot is a close-up on a crow. The darkness of this crow contrasts with the light of the torch. Then, a medium shot shows the crow's back. The animal is sitting on a sign on which «Welcome to Normal Valley» is written. The name of the valley shows the fundamental difference between the townspeople and the Maestro. The Maestro (like Michael Jackson) is not considered to be «normal», because he does not follow the social criteria. Indeed, Michael was nicknamed «Wacko Jacko» because of rumors or «strange» behaviors. Michael was ambiguous: he was neither man nor woman; he was neither child nor adult; he was neither black nor white. He was a kind of «elusive shadow» (as he used to say).
The crow is watching the crowd coming from Normal Valley: he is a kind of guardian. Then the movie camera moves. The shadows of the screaming townspeople appear. The music is high-pitched and the melody goes crescendo: there is excitation. The townspeople are determined to put the Maestro out of town.
Later, there is a close-up on a sign next to the mansion's gate: «Someplace else». The name of the mansion is very similar to the name of Michael Jackson's ranch («Neverland»). Michael really adored this place until it was «desecrated» by the police, during the investigation for the Chandler affair (the very first allegation of child abuse).
The next shot is a long one. The camera is placed inside the garden, and films the crowd with a high angle. As a result, the crowd is decreased in size: the townspeople are defenseless compared to the big mansion.
The crowd, although frightened, enters the mansion following the Mayor.
Later on, the townspeople arrive in front of a door. This door opens and the colors appear for the first time in the film. There is a real contrast between «Normal Valley» (in black and white) where everything is dreary and ordinary; and the Maestro's dance-hall (in colors) where everything is possible, extraordinary and splendid. This splendor is emphasized by the music going crescendo. Now, the townspeople are fascinated by the mansion (anguish disappears for a few moments). In fact, the dance-hall seems to be like a stage; the blue lights coming from high windows are like spotlights. This «stage» is a crucial element in the movie. The stage was also a crucial element in Michael's career: he was known to be an incredible showman.
After the visualization of the «stage», a long shot with a high angle shows the crows walking through the door. Then (thanks to a medium shot on the crow), we realize that all high angles were the crow's angle of view. Later on, the crows flights in direction of another door (scaring the crowd again). The crow arrives behind the door and a long black cape appears: the crow transformed into a humanoid. Then, there is a long shot, showing the door: the cape belongs to a skeleton (the Maestro is disguised to scare the townspeople).
The crow and the Maestro are the same character. This dark bird symbolizes loneliness, voluntary exile. Michael Jackson escaped from the «real world» to live in Neverland. He could not live in the «real world» which was not made for him. There is a paradox: Michael Jackson was the most famous person in the world but he was probably the loneliest one (he was totally abandoned during the Chandler affair).
As a conclusion, the first three scenes are totally metaphorical. They represent the gap between Michael Jackson and the «normal» people, and the desecration of his ranch Neverland (which was searched during the Chandler affair).
II – Analysis of the characters
A – The Maestro, representation of Michael Jackson
The Maestro is a strange character who loves scaring people and telling ghost stories. For this reason, the townspeople want him out of town.
Strong similarities exist between Michael Jackson and The Maestro (played by Jackson, himself): they are artists, eternal children, and misunderstood men.
1 – An artist, a magician and an entertainer
Like Michael Jackson, the Maestro is a brilliant artist. First, his name «the Maestro» could qualify Michael Jackson. «The Maestro» is a specialist, one of the best in a specific «science» (but the word is specifically used for music) whereas Michael was one of the best and most famous musicians in the world.
The Maestro is also an excellent dancer («2bad» choreography is a very difficult and sportive one), who loves entertaining. The entire movie is based on this point: the Maestro wants his guests to be entertained; he is a showman who uses magic and music together. Michael Jackson too, was an excellent showman, who loved mixing music and magic (he used to disappear on stage when he sang «Thriller», for instance).
2 – An eternal child
Artistically speaking, the Maestro is the exact representation of Michael Jackson. But the Maestro can also be related with Michael Jackson thanks to psychological elements. First, the Maestro is an eternal child.
Indeed, he loves scaring people for fun: frightening the others is just a game («Game Time!»). It was also true for Michael Jackson; he was really excited about making the «Thriller» music video, for instance.
The Maestro has also a kind of privileged relation with children. There is a real complicity between them in the movie (the children love «the show»; at the end of the movie, the Maestro takes a child in his arms...). Of course, Michael Jackson too, was an eternal child (perhaps because he did not have a real childhood). He could not live without children, loved playing with them in Neverland etc. This is partly because of this complicity that he was accused of child abuses.
«It's been my fate to compensate,
For the Childhood
I've never known...»
(Michael Jackson, «Childhood»)
3 – A misunderstood man
But these accusations are to be related with the fact that Michael's way of thinking was not « ordinary ». Michael used to have an utopist vision of the world; he had a kind of imaginary world (recreated thanks to Neverland) where there should be no sadness. Because of this way of thinking, he was really a misunderstood man. All the things he used to do were natural for him; but with a «formatted eye», there could seem surprising or even shocking. That is why he was nicknamed «Jacko Wacko». Michael was not «normal»; he was completely apart from the norms created by society.
The Maestro is also misunderstood: people see him as a «freak» because he does not have the same way of thinking. The Maestro believes in «strange things» (like Ghosts). For this reason, people think he is completely mad and apart from reality; that is why he should go out of town, out of «normal valley» because he is not «normal» (like Michael Jackson).
«People say I'm strange that way
'Cause I love such elementary things...»
(Michael Jackson, «Childhood»)
B – The Mayor, incarnation of Thomas Sneddon
Although it is not obvious in the movie, the Mayor (also played by Michael Jackson) is certainly an incarnation of Thomas Sneddon (cf. photo). Every Michael Jackson's fan can tell about the different «pamphlets» made against Thomas Sneddon (the songs «DS» and «This Time Around», for instance), even if Michael Jackson never confirmed these theories.
Thomas Sneddon was the District Attorney of Santa Barbara County. He is famous for having twice investigated Michael Jackson on child sexual abuses allegations (in 1993 and 2005).
The Mayor and Thomas Sneddon have the same characteristics (apart from their physical resemblance): they both have a political role and they both seem to have personal dislikes for Michael Jackson.
1 – A political aspect
The Mayor and Thomas Sneddon were both elected to exercise their job.
Thomas Sneddon's role was to convince the others that Michael Jackson was culprit to put him in jail; whereas the Mayor is obviously the one who leads the «crusade» against the Maestro to make him go out of town.
Thus, there is a parallelism between Sneddon and the Mayor who want to remove an individual from society, convincing people of the madness of this individual. But the truth is that Sneddon and the Mayor are not neutral at all...
2 – A persecutor
In fact, Thomas Sneddon wanted more than doing his own work. He had a kind of personal dislike against Michael Jackson. He used to nickname Michael Jackson «Wacko Jacko» and wanted to catch him at all price («we got him» he said, after his first arrest). Even once Michael Jackson acquitted, Tom Sneddon did not want to stop there: «We did the right things for the right reasons» he swore. For this reason, Thomas Sneddon was strongly criticized.
There is exactly the same scheme for the Mayor. He nicknames the Maestro «Freaky Boy»; he wants to do everything to get rid of the Maestro, even if the crowd does not seem to be convinced about the Maestro's dangerousness.
Both Sneddon and the Mayor seem to lead a personal «crusade» against Michael Jackson/The Maestro.
«He's out shock in every single way
He'll stop at nothing just to get his political say»
(Michael Jackson, «D.S»)
C – The Crowd, symbolization of the public opinion
The opinion of the crowd about the Maestro is quite ambivalent: it was exactly the same thing for Michael Jackson.
If the children adore him, the parents' attitude is more complex to define.
1 – The Children
In the movie, the three children are completely fascinated by the Maestro. They want him to tell ghosts stories, to dance and sing etc. In fact, they symbolize innocence and purity. They are not yet corrupted by adults' schemes. Reciprocally, the Maestro wants to create a friendship relation with the children; he wants to entertain them or to scare them, just like children do between them.
But the Maestro is not a child anymore. That is why the relation between him and the children displeases the parents.
Michael's life was affected by this love for children, too. It seems like Jordan Chandler who used to be Michael's best friend, suddenly stopped this friendship (after having been drugged by his father) and accused Michael of sexual abuses. This is the problematic of the child corrupted by adults' thoughts (adults' desire to be rich, for instance).
2 – The Parents
The parents' attitude towards the Maestro is very complex. At the beginning of the movie, they want the Maestro out of town; they are scared of him.
However, after having met the Maestro, their attitude towards him is ambivalent. On the one hand, they are impressed by him, maybe frightened; on the other hand, they are totally captivated by his talent and they really enjoy being entertained.
There is also this complexity concerning people's opinion about Michael Jackson. Some are ultra-fans or simple admirers of Michael Jackson. But the admirers can sometimes be quite disturbed by Michael's personality. This dichotomy can also be observed in the media: tabloids used to spread odd rumors about Michael Jackson («he sleeps in an oxygen chamber», «he has bought Elephant Man's corpse»...), but after his death he was shown as the biggest artist in the world.
Interesting sentences can be quoted from Jackson's song «Tabloid Junkie»: «Who's the next for you to resurrect?» (CNN showed «Michael's ghost» after his death), «if he dies, sympathize» (Michael was destroyed by tabloids during his life, but adored by them after his death). This song really shows that tabloids (more generally people, who are influenced by tabloids) can really destroy a man, although what they say is perpetually changing.
At last, it is important to say that at the end of the movie, the parents like Michael Jackson. In fact, they had a preconceived opinion about him, but once they really knew him, they could not help but love him.
«Masquerade the heart
Is the heart of burning souls (...)
The heart reveals the proof
Like a mirror reveals the truth»
(Michael Jackson, «Is it scary?»)
III– Analysis of the Music
A – «2bad»
«2 bad» is the 12th song of HiStory, Disc 2. It was written and produced by Michael Jackson, composed by Bruce Swedien, Rene Moore and Dallas Austin. The song was partly cut for the movie; one of the verses was removed from the original version.
«2 bad» is a mix between funk, rock, pop and rap (the rap part, performed by Shaquille O'Neal does not appear in the film). Its beat is very fast and there is a crescendo in the song. Michael's voice shows anger and weariness: Michael/the Maestro only wants to be left alone.
This wish is really shown by the lyrics. In the first verse, Michael/The Maestro talks about a man telling lies and trying to convince the others (Thomas Sneddon/The Mayor). This man is compared with a «crying wolf»: he is a real predator but he wants the others to think he is a victim.
Michael/The Maestro is exhausted, disgusted by this man (bridge), who wants to win his notoriety destroying Michael/the Maestro («just want your cut from me»).
However, Michael/the Maestro tries to resist (2nd verse), to convince everybody that he has done nothing wrong. Michael/The Maestro will fight for his own pride and will make Sneddon/the Mayor lose the game (Chorus).
To finish with this song, Michael/the Maestro talks about fame («Hollywood»). Michael/The Maestro is famous for entertaining people. However, fame can be dangerous. Rumors («tales of what somebody told») are spread about celebrities, and lots of people try to harm them (this could be related to the Chandler case).
B – «Is it scary?»
«Is it scary» was written and composed by Michael Jackson, James Harris III and Terry Lewis. It is the 5th song of Blood on the Dance floor – HiStory in the Mix.
Only the last chorus is sung in the movie, maybe because the song «Ghost» has almost the same lyrics for the verses.
The music is composed of a mix between Michael's voice, a piano melody, chancels and «moderns sounds» (not in the original song). That gives a kind of mystical aspect to the song, reminding the movie and the lyrics. Michael's voice shows weariness, anger but also sadness.
Michael/The Maestro is tired of frightening people, of being misunderstood. He does not want to be considered to be «a monster» anymore because he is just a human being, a simple man with a heart who can be hurt by people's insults. What is really scary is people's behavior toward Michael/The Maestro: they abuse him, spy him and invade his privacy. The real «evil» is not Michael/The Maestro but people who pretend to be «normal» (The Mayor/Thomas Sneddon for instance).
C – «Ghost»
«Ghost» is the 4th song of Blood on the Dance Floor. Here again, the song was partly cut for the movie. It was co-written by Michael Jackson and Teddy Riley (his collaborator for the Dangerous album).
It is a pop/new jack swing song. The beat is quite dynamic; the sounds are creaking (like doors) and chancels are present like in «Is it scary?» which gives an esoteric aspect to the song.
The first verse creates a particular atmosphere. Michael/The Maestro talks about «ghosts» and «ghouls»: Michael was spied by paparazzi or police inspectors and his privacy was invaded (Neverland/The Mansion was «searched»). The «Ghost» symbolizes psychological harassment, whereas the «ghoul» embodies the loss of vital energy (Michael was deeply affected by the Chandler case; he was totally destroyed, went to hospital and became addicted to morphine).
Fantastic figures become reality («now it's onto me»): Michael/The Maestro's life becomes a nightmare.
There is a total misunderstanding («don't understand it» repeated twice): Michael/The Maestro has done nothing wrong but «Ghosts» haunt him. Michael/The Maestro did not allow people to come into his house («who gave you the right» repeated twice). He is deeply affected by this lack of respect.
Moreover, he is not the only one to suffer from this invasion: his «family» (The Jackson family/The Maestro's family) is also affected.
Michael/The Maestro is dying («put a knife in my back, shot an arrow on me») because of people's «jealousy» (lots of people were jealous of Michael's popularity and wealth).
In a nutshell, as opposed to «Thriller», «Ghost» does not only talks about horror; it is a real metaphor showing Michael's feelings.
The gothic-fantasy universe created in Ghosts is really interesting. The special effects are splendid and some sequences of the movie are scary. However, Ghosts is not only a music film with horror sequences.
Indeed, the movie is a real metaphor of Michael Jackson's life. It expresses Michael Jackson's feelings about the allegations of child abuse, the rumors the tabloids spread and its extreme loneliness. Thanks to the movie, the spectator can really enter Michael Jackson's mind, which is fascinating for a fan like me.
For this reason, we cannot say that Ghosts is «Thriller number 2», because Thriller does not have this more subtle dimension.
Ghosts is more than an entertaining movie. The film is an important element for the history of music video and for Michael Jackson's career. It is the real tragedy of a man who was misunderstood, adored by some people and hated by some others. The real tragedy of the most famous man in the world... but also the loneliest one.
Michael Jackson's Ghosts. Stan Winston/Heliopolis, 1997 (Collector box)
Michael Jackson. Blood on the Dance Floor. Epic, 1997.
Michael Jackson. HiStory. Epic, 1995.
L. Hopman & J. Derain, Michael Jackson « Ghosts » Program. Captain Eo Productions, 1997.
(Limited edition program)
L. Lavige, Michael For Ever, Hugo & Cie, 2009
Julien's Auctions, Memorabilia from the Life and Career of Michael Jackson, April 2009
Camera angles: http://www.mediaknowall.com/camangles.html
Information about the creators: http://www.stanwinstonstudio.com/home.html
3D Data scan: http://techblips.dailyradar.com/video/michael-jackson-3d-datascan-anime-01/