The 1990 film entitled ‘Ghost’ starred by Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze and directed by Jerry Zucker was among the most popular depiction of the afterlife in modern media. In the film, Swayze, who played the part of Sam Wheat, Molly Jensen’s (Demi Moore) lover was killed yet remained on earth as a ghost. It was quite intriguing how Swayze’s character was able to co-exist between two different realms, enabling him to actively participate in its events. For some reason, the notion of afterlife in pop culture is that dead people or their souls still remain on earth until they have accomplished some of their unfinished business.
‘Ghost’ is not an isolated film that depicts the ability of the dead to co-exist on two different realms. In fact, in ‘The Lovely Bones’, a film by Peter Jackson based on the novel of the same title by Alice Seabold, revealed on some extent, how the soul of a dead person was able to influence the activities of the living. Apparently, these beliefs about afterlife did not originate from the ancient Hebrew texts as it is explicitly stated in Ecclesiastes chapter 9 verses 5 to 6: “5 For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not anything, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. 6 Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion forever in anything that is done under the sun”.
Scholars believe that the immortality of the human soul was an ancient doctrine that can be traced back to the Sumerians and old Egyptian kingdoms. Pharaohs, for example, are believed to be gods or a god-like and are thought to transcend the physical world and its associated subtle body of life-energy referred to as the ‘ka’, in order to return in his star body or ‘Sahu. Furthermore, in Grecian literature, man’s soul was not only immortalized but was made to perform heroic deeds as evidenced in the Homeric scripts such as in Iliad and the Odyssey. Perhaps it comforts most people to know that there is something in the afterlife; that the present life is not the end but only a beginning of a much longer journey. This romanticized notion of the afterlife, perhaps, is what makes pop culture such as the one depicted in the film ‘Ghost’, became so much influenced by the ancient belief of the ability of the soul to participate in the activities of the living.
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Ebert, R. GHOST. July 1990. December 2014 <http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/ghost-1990>.
Ghost. Dir. J. Zucker. 1990.
Sebold, A. Sebold, Alice: The Lovely Bones. June 2005. December 2014 <http://hrsbstaff.ednet.ns.ca/engramja/ENG_11/The_lovely_bones.pdf>.
The Book of Ecclesiastes. n.d. December 2014 <http://www2.hn.psu.edu/faculty/jmanis/bible/ecclesia.pdf>.
The Lovely Bones . Dir. P. Jackson. 2009.
Thompson, W.I. The Evolution of the Afterlife. 2002. December 2014 <http://www.imprint.co.uk/pdf/afterlife.pdf>.