Thursday, November 22

Reading pop-up Cinema by Ella Harris

Carnival of Souls: Are we ghosts in the city?

Introducing Herk Harvey’s Carnival of Souls (1962) at A Nos Amour’s pop-up screening this Thursday, Rodger Clarke began by contextualising early cinema within other historical technologies of entertainment. He outlined the early competition between X-ray and Cinema as forms of amusement and explained that, at the turn of the 20th century, both were features of pop-up urban spaces, found mainly at travelling fairs. Alongside ghost shows and mechanised rides, cinema and X-ray evoked awe and astonishment, poised half way between feats of science and enigmatic apparitions. That early film was emerging in these transient spaces, alongside X-ray and ghostly spectacles, goes some way to explaining film’s long fascination with the ghoulish; an obsession which is at the heart of Carnival of Souls. It was therefore an apt choice for a pop-up film showing; the ghosts on screen, as illusionary as the shadows of cinema, were in turn as fleeting as the happening itself.