The movie, Ghost, achieves something that is difficult to achieve in any medium or means of communication. Writer Bruce Rubin and Director Jerry Zucker give us a comprehensive and convincing vision for both love and life after death.
Sam Wheat is the character around which the plot revolves. A successful businessman with a loving girlfriend and bright future ahead of him, Sam remains cautiously optimistic about his life. He tells his girlfriend, Molly Jensen, that he fears change and the swiftness by which the circumstances of a human life can be altered. Sadly, the contents of this conversation turn out to be prophetic. Sam is murdered, and he does lose it all; his body, his girlfriend, his wealth, his very life. All material realities are stolen from him.
However, Ghost shows us that we all do, indeed, have an immortal, human soul. We see and feel the horror of what it is to suffer a premature death, to have one’s essence pushed out of the body before it is truly time. Sam enters a veritable Vita Nuova (new life) as Dante would call it.
Sam’s new life and new world frighten the viewer. It is a place where cement angels watch the departed from behind their calculating, stone eyes, where the dying are forced to watch their own physical bodies passing away, and where some unlucky souls are tortured and taken by dark, demonic forces. However, we also see glimmers of a reality of infinite love, mercy, and peace, a place that can be reached by an ordinary human soul, like Sam, simply because he had empathy for others and did not destroy things, like his murderer, Carl, did.
Ghost shows us the afterlife, but also helps us to understand the nature of true love. Throughout the movie, Unchained Melody plays in the background. The lyric “my love, my darling, I’ve hungered for your touch” remains the haunting melody describing Sam and Molly’s love for each other. Ironically though, love, for the couple, does not and cannot revolve around touch. The juxtaposition of the couple’s reality with the lyrics of Unchained Melody give the story an added dimension and brings up the question, “what is love?”
If everything temporal, including sex, money, and even codependency, is taken away, then does love still stay intact? In Sam’s case, all of these things, including his body are lost, yet his feelings for Molly do stay intact. Though Sam cannot touch Molly, he still stays nearby, his protective instinct primal and not secondary to any physicality that may have been lost in death. So in Ghost, it is through the test of death that we truly understand the reality of love.
Ghost shows us that there are things that cannot be seen with our senses, but that are real all the same. Love and life after death are two things that the movie captures expertly.