Global ghosts: Latin American directors' transnational histories

Jane Hanley*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This article examines nineteenth-century travel routes and transcultural encounters as imagined in recent films by Latin American directors working abroad and on transnational productions. The examples discussed are Lisandro Alonso’s Jauja (Into the Unknown) (2014), Alejandro González Iñárritu’s The Revenant (2015), Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak (2015), Raúl Ruiz’s Mistérios de Lisboa (Mysteries of Lisbon, 2010) and Valeria Sarmiento’s Linhas de Wellington (Lines of Wellington, 2012). The diverse settings and genres of these films frame stories of the cultural, political and economic change wrought by the nineteenth century’s networks of human mobility and global power. The films have been selected not only because they examine the past through a globalized, intercultural lens, but also because they were explicitly made for transnational audiences and represent the contemporary conditions of transnational production, distribution and consumption. From the networked meta-narratives of Mysteries of Lisbon to the neo-western colonial frontier of The Revenant, the nineteenth century is represented through visual design and in both realist and non-realist modes, but consistently evoking transnational interconnectedness and its relationship to political and economic change, even where that change is not the explicit focus of the story. The invocation of the emergence of global modernity, its visual recreation from the present day, suggests a kind of spectrality, in which the hauntings of both past and future confront and define us now, and inform the ethics and aesthetics of contemporary globalized encounters. Our consumption of these imagined pasts, with their implicit and their explicit ghosts, has the capacity to provoke an ethical reflection on the present. The past is not a space of pure fantasy or escape, but irrevocably present in our lives. The nineteenth century is no simple exotic object of desire nor canvas for fantasy when it is read through the process of imperialism and emergent global capitalism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-113
Number of pages13
JournalNew Cinemas
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2018


  • global modernity
  • Gothic horror
  • transnational cinema
  • transnationalism
  • spectrality
  • historical films


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