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Seeing through Spirits: Superimposition, Cognition, and The Phantom Carriage

Casper Tybjerg
Film History
Vol. 28, No. 2, Film History and the Individual Film (2016), pp. 114-141
Published by: Indiana University Press
DOI: 10.2979/filmhistory.28.2.05
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2979/filmhistory.28.2.05
Page Count: 28
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Seeing through Spirits: Superimposition, Cognition, and The Phantom Carriage
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Abstract

ABSTRACT Superimposition was long a popular technique for showing ghosts in films. Through the example of Victor Sjöström’s film Körkarlen (The Phantom Carriage, 1921), this article examines the technique and its critical reception. André Bazin wrote an important essay on superimposition (first published in 1945) where he dismissed the use of double exposure to depict ghosts in films. The article examines Bazin’s remarks in detail. The credibility—and the fraudulent associations—of multiple-exposure effects may derive from their similarity to spirit photography, but the article also argues that our understanding of superimposed phantoms may be enhanced if we draw on the cognitive study of religion.

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