It’s not exactly easy to say what Ghostlight is.
The film is equal parts history and fiction, story and impression. The audience joins the journey of Barbara Rosen (Ann Magnuson), a documentary filmmaker, in her quest to capture the process of the legendary dancer/choreographer Martha Graham (Richard Move).
Move, does not in fact attempt to create a facsimile of Graham – an impossible task given the distinct difference in stature – but instead inhabits her character with his own body, gracefully displaying the form and style that Graham was known for developing.
Though the real Graham died almost twenty years ago, the film imagines her to be alive and continuing to create work in New York. Her dance company, however, is on the verge of bankruptcy, and she must work to raise the necessary support to continue work on her latest ballet — a modern dance retelling of the myth of Phaedra.
Through a mix of scenes — some faux-documentary, some plot-driven, and others merely impressionistic glimpses of Graham’s thoughts — the story unfolds. But it is not so much the plot of a struggling company or a documentarian that captures the audience, as it is the enigmatic Graham herself.
Ultimately it may be difficult to separate some fact from fiction in this film, but the point is not so much to chronicle the life of Martha Graham, but rather to find inspiration from her dedication and passion to furthering the art. Move’s performance is as breathtaking as it is intriguing, and it serves as a worthy homage.
Ghostlight screens for free on Sunday, October 24 at the UWM Union Theatre, 2200 E. Kenwood Blvd (2nd Floor). For more information, click here.