Ghost World vs Ghost World


I recently discovered the Ghost World Anniversary Collection at my local library and could not resist. I remember when the film came out in 2001 and thinking it was not bad, but not amazing. I liked the characters, but didn’t really get who they were, why we were following them and what was going to happen. But nonetheless, I wanted to revisit it.

I loved the graphic novel. I loved the characters of Enid and Rebecca with all of their disillusioned, self-centred, misfit teenage angst. Each strip was about five or six pages long and told a self-contained story whilst sticking with a broader overall narrative. Reading the original graphic novel, I felt like I was entering into a special world.

The Anniversary Collection consists of the original along with other artwork (posters, advertisements, magazine covers and the like), interviews with Daniel Clowe and others involved in the motion picture and the full script of the film. I liked the script because it reflected a lot of what had occurred in the strip, but modified to be a dramatically interesting film.

Ghost World-01

Of course, I then had to watch the film. I was so disappointed, and I cannot explain why. Only a few scenes from the script in the book deviated from the book, and the portrayal of the characters was very close to how I had imagined them. The actors were great, in particular Thora Birch as Enid, Scarlett Johansson as Rebecca and Steve Buscemi as Seymour Somehow, though, the film lacked heart. Suddenly, Enid was as much of an annoying, angsty teenager as Caulfield Holden in Catcher in the Rye, and I could not bear her self-centred actions and disregard for anyone but herself. It was as though what came across in the book as silly mistakes that had unfortunate consequences seemed, in the film, to be heartless and cold. For me, I’m going to stick with the comic strip in the future.

The film of Ghost World was nominated for an Oscar for Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published.

2 thoughts on “Ghost World vs Ghost World

  1. Strange. I thought Enid and Rebecca were both waaay meaner in the comic. I actually thought Thora Birch made the character a lot more likeable. When the girls play the fake date prank in the comic, they hardly show any remorse for their victim and he totally fades from the story. Movie Enid actually has enough of a conscience to seek him out and befriend him.

    • I don’t think I meant that they were meaner in the film just… more annoying teenagey. But perhaps that has something to do with the different connections that I made with the characters as comic drawings compared to film characters. I did love the potential of the Seymour/Enid relationship in the film, but then it ended up with Enid using him for her own means. I think also trying to turn the strip into a feature with a more significant throughline may have lost some of that which I loved from the comic. Thanks for the comment – I love to hear other people’s thoughts!

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