Ghost appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Overall, the movie looked very positive.
As a whole, sharpness seemed good. Some mild softness interfered at times, but I blamed the era’s bland film stock more than anything else; try as they might, they’ll never be able to eliminate the sheer “1990-ness” of the footage. Definition never dazzled, but it was more than acceptable. Moiré effects and jagged edges presented no concerns, and edge enhancement appeared absent. Any digital noise reduction remained minor, as the movie showed a decent layer of grain, and the image lacked source flaws.
Colors usually appeared fine. Again, the period’s film stocks meant some blandness in that realm, but the image still showed pretty positive hues. The gaudy outfits worn by Goldberg came across especially well, as they looked vivid. Shadow detail remained fairly good, as the film’s low-light sequences appeared appropriately dense but not excessively thick. Blacks came across with reasonable darkness. This was a fine presentation given the limitations of its era.
To my surprise, I was also impressed with the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack of Ghost. The soundfield provided a rather active and engaging affair that drew me into the film. The forward spectrum presented a nicely broad and well-spread image that created a lively atmosphere via music and effects.
At times the localization seemed a little spotty, and panning could be a bit weak. For example, in one scene, a subway train moves from right to left, but the audio stayed pretty firmly anchored in the center. However, that scene was an exception, as most of the track showed sound that appeared appropriately placed.
Surround usage also seemed strong. For the most part, the rear channels functioned as reinforcement of the forward speakers. I heard good atmospheric use of music and effects from the surrounds throughout the movie.
However, at times the rear channels really came to life. This was especially true when Ghost Sam would pass through an object; the audio would give us a “you are there” ambience that was quite involving. While the soundfield of Ghost wouldn’t match up with many modern mixes, it still seemed very positive for its era.
Audio quality seemed generally good as well. Dialogue could be a little flat and occasionally displayed some slight edginess. However, for the most part, speech appeared distinct and natural, with no problems related to intelligibility. Effects displayed nice clarity and depth, and they lacked signs of distortion; the various elements appeared clean and accurate.
Music functioned especially well as Maurice Jarre’s Oscar-nominated score came across as bright and vivid. The music showed nice dynamic range as well, with some clear highs and appropriately deep lows. As a whole, I was quite impressed with the audio for Ghost; it provided a compelling environment.
How did the Blu-ray compare to the 2007 Special Collector’s Edition DVD? Audio came across as a little fuller and peppier, while visuals demonstrated improved definition, vivacity and cleanliness. I liked the DVD but the Blu-ray was a good upgrade.
The SCE’s extras repeat here. First up is a running audio commentary from director Jerry Zucker and writer Bruce Joel Rubin, both of whom were recorded together for this screen-specific affair. Normally the director would dominate this kind of effort, but here the opposite is true as Rubin provides the lion’s share of remarks. His attachment to the piece remains evident as he really digs into Ghost. I learned a lot about his motivations and what he wanted to do with it, and we get a nice look at his side of the creative process.
Zucker doesn’t say as much, but his statements are also valuable. He tends to concentrate less on the introspection and more on the nuts and bolts of the production, and he does so with humor and style.
While you won’t hear any real “dirt” on this commentary, both men show a nice willingness to criticize the piece and to discuss disagreements they had while they made the film. Since so many commentaries focus only on positives and praise, it’s nice to hear a track in which the program is viewed honestly and realistically. Overall, I thought this was a fine commentary.
A featurette called Ghost Stories: The Making of a Classic runs 13 minutes and six seconds. It combines behind the scenes elements, movie clips, and interviews. We hear from Zucker, Rubin, production designer Jane Musky, and actors Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore (from 1990), and Whoopi Goldberg. “Classic” looks at how Zucker came onto the project and his collaboration with Rubin, casting, characters and performances, Zucker’s style on the set, and the flick’s success.
“Classic” offers a quick but satisfactory recap of the production. Quite a lot of the information also pops up in the commentary. The inclusion of the other participants manages to shed a little extra light on matters, but don’t expect much new material. Still, this stands as a reasonably good overview.
Inside the Paranormal goes for eight minutes, 35 seconds and presents statements from spiritual medium/psychic Shelley Duffy, psychic medium Laurie Campbell, medium George E. Dalzell, and spiritual medium James Van Praagh. They discuss what it’s like to be psychic and how they knew they possessed the “gift”. They also discuss how Ghost connects to the “facts” of their field.
Yes, you’ll accurately interpret a heavy dose of skepticism toward the psychics’ claims and beliefs. If I remove that attitude from the equation, I find “Inside” to be in interesting program. It gives us a straightforward glimpse of its subjects and doesn’t endorse or condemn the comments; we get them as-is and take from them what we want. It’s a nice take on matters.
Next we find the six-minute and 16-second Alchemy of a Love Scene. This show includes notes from Rubin, Zucker, Musky, Moore, Swayze and director of photography Adam Greenberg. We learn why the filmmakers made Molly a potter and look at Moore’s training in the field. We also learn of complexities shooting the famous pottery love scene and find out about the musical choice for it. “Alchemy” gives us a tight view of the elements that went into the movie’s signature sequence.
Cinema’s Great Romances fills 19 minutes, 45 seconds and features remarks from Rubin, Goldberg, AFI historian Patricia Hanson, film critic/author Jami Bernard, USC School of Cinematic Arts professor Drew Casper and author Kim Adelman. We hear about AFI’s “100 Years… 100 Passions” list and get info about 14 of the flicks included on it. In addition to Ghost, we find notes about Roman Holiday, Love Story, A Place In the Sun, Barefoot in the Park, Sabrina, Reds, Grease, An Officer and a Gentleman, To Catch a Thief, Harold and Maude, Witness, Titanic, and Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
I don’t suppose it comes as a surprise that Paramount owns all 14 of these movies. That means “Romances” feels more like a promotional piece than a real examination of the various flicks. We get just enough info about each movie to attempt to sell it to us. No greater depth appears in this glorified advertisement.
In addition to the film’s theatrical trailer, we also find a photo gallery. It presents 63 shots that mix pictures from the set, from the movie, and from publicity campaigns. None of them seem very interesting.
24 years after it took theaters by storm, I remain moderately unimpressed by Ghost and still can’t figure out what all the fuss was about, but I acknowledge that it’s a generally entertaining and well-made film. It combines a variety of genres into one fairly fluid piece, and though it has its share of problems, it still can be interesting and compelling at times. The Blu-ray delivers strong picture and audio along with a decent roster of bonus materials. I’ll never be wild about Ghost, but the Blu-ray brings it home well.
To rate this film, visit the 2007 review of GHOST