Summer with the Ghosts
|Summer with the Ghosts|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Bernd Neuburger|
|Produced by||Rock Demers
|Written by||Nadja Seelich|
|Music by||Zdenek Merta|
|Edited by||Matthieu Roy-Décarie|
|Distributed by||Delphis Films|
|Running time||85 minutes|
Summer with the Ghosts is a 2004 film by La Fète and Sterling Entertainment, and is part of the Tales for All (Contes Pour Tous) series of family movies. It is a fantasy/adventure/comedy, focusing on the holiday of a ten-year-old girl called Caroline, who has come to attend her father's film-making of a perimedieval romance.
Upon arriving in Austria, Caroline meets her father and his crew, which include the ubiquitous director's assistant Marcus, the irascible sound manager Steven, and the aged, gentle special effects manager Otto. These, among others, have come to Austria to make the film against the backdrop of a long-historied castle.
While exploring this castle, Caroline meets and befriends a boy called Iakob and his dog Hannibal; who in turn introduce her to the castle's community of ghosts. These ghosts are variously the animated memories of the castle's deceased inhabitants or spirits of the nearby forest. All are longtime friends of Iakob.
Shortly after Caroline's introduction to the Ghosts, Otto's equipment begins to malfunction during the filming of crucial scenes. Iakob suspects the Ghosts; he and Caroline investigate, accompanied by Otto. At a lake, they learn that the Nuns (the ghosts of heiresses consigned to the convent) have sabotaged Otto's tools so as to avoid being disturbed by them. To prevent such trouble without mitigating the film-making, Caroline and Iakob arrange for the relocation of the set to another courtyard, which is larger and better situated.
Later, more trouble arises. A rooster living in the castle is in the habit of crowing every day at a particular hour; the Nuns depend on this for knowledge of when to wake and when to sleep. Without the rooster's crow, the Nuns would wake at the wrong hour and be disintegrated by the sunlight. Because the crowing interferes with the film's sound effects, sound manager Steven attempts to remove or kill the rooster; whereupon Caroline and Iakob endeavour to keep the rooster safe without allowing him to cause trouble.
More trouble arises when a group of boys with whom Iakob habitually plays sports envy his attention to Caroline. To punish Iakob, these boys distract Caroline, seize Iakob, and imprison him in a shed. Caroline, offended at being left alone, returns without investigation. Sometime after nightfall, Iakob is discovered by Hannibal, who overcomes a strong fear of ghosts to solicit help from the Nuns.
During the next day, Caroline refuses any contact with Iakob, believing that he was a willing participant in the plot. Iakob, uncertain of what he must do, visits the Nuns and asks for help. Initially, the Nuns reject his request; but Amalia, the eldest Nun, visits Caroline and leaves with her a scrying mirror. Looking into this mirror, Caroline sees the truth of the earlier events and consequently forgives Iakob.
Later, Caroline and Iakob notice that an unusual number of near-fatal accidents are occurring to Otto. Suspecting the ghosts of mischief, they confront the Nuns, who confess to desiring to kill Otto so that he may remain in the castle as a ghost. Iakob dissuades them, saying that even if Otto becomes a ghost, he will not forgive the Nuns for arranging his death.
On the night before Caroline's departure, the ghosts invite Caroline, Otto, Lakob, and Hannibal to a farewell party. In the courtyard, the whole community of ghosts and spirits stand as if on a stage and recite a poem that evidently they have composed for the occasion;
"We are standing here, Where we belong, Singing to you A good-bye song, For Caroline... and Otto."
Having sung this repeatedly, with variations, the ghosts descend their platform and begin to dance. Otto, Caroline, and Iakob join in. Caroline thereafter makes another farewell to Iakob in the morning; and he, in turn, watches from the castle's wall as she departs.
Caroline: The eleven or twelve-year-old protagonist. Shown to be affectionate, strong-willed, resourceful, persuasive, and very serious at different points of the film. Although Caroline does not at first believe in the existence of ghosts, she is soon convinced otherwise. She has a firm sense of right and wrong, but has been known to act under the influence of injured feelings. It is implied early on that Caroline feels neglected by her parents.
Peter, Father of Caroline: A secondary character given a small but significant part in the plot. It is for his purposes that Caroline is brought to Austria, and therefore as a result of his career as a filmmaker that she experiences the events of the story. Throughout the film, Peter is busy directing the film, though he is evidently fond of his daughter.
Marcus: Peter's assistant. Friendly to Caroline, though like many of the film crew he pays little attention to her.
Caroline's Mother: An unseen character. Although not divorced from her husband, she often sees little of him because of spending many weeks on tour as a musician. Caroline's care is divided between them.
Otto: The special-effects manager of Peter's film crew. Otto is an old man, perhaps over seventy years old. He is very fond of Caroline, whom he has met several times, and is easily persuaded by her. Otto is soft-spoken, modest, and cheerful as a rule, even when taken aback by the presence of ghosts or spirits. Otto becomes endeared to the Nuns (see below), who admire him for his ability to dance. It is remarked that he has long yearned to initiate the phosphorescent glow produced by tree stumps, at which he has evidently marvelled. His use of archaic equipment has made enemies for him among the film crew, though Peter refuses to give up faith in Otto.
Iakob: An Austrian boy, perhaps one year older to Caroline, who lives in the village near the film crew's site. Iakob and his dog Hannibal are frequent visitors to the castle. Iakob himself is on friendly terms with all the ghosts, and is familiar with the environment as well. He plays sports with some other local boys on certain days, and becomes fond of Caroline. Iakob involves himself directly in the ghosts' affairs when they are in trouble.
Hannibal: Iakob's loyal dog. Hannibal has a strong fear or repugnance of ghosts, which he must overcome in order to help his master. Caroline is enraptured by Hannibal, whose name she pronounces excitedly when they meet.
Lady in White: The acting leader of the castle's community of ghosts. She is a ghost of the castle's mistress Elisabeth, whose portrait hangs on one of the walls. It is this portrait, presumably animated by its model, that points Caroline to the place where Iakob habitually sits, creating the children's first meeting. Elisabeth is said to have been killed by a misfired bullet.
The Nuns: Five white-robed ghosts, named Amalia, Barbara, Constanza, Dolores, and Illalia. They are virgins who received no offer of marriage and therefore were consigned to the convent, whose strict rules they broke by going in secret to a certain lake and dancing on the shore. When this was discovered, they were walled into an alcove and left to die. As ghosts, the Nuns maintain their custom of dancing by the lakeside. They are very frivolous and at times mischievous. Each major decision they make is made after brief discussion among themselves. They are very drawn to Otto, who is an able dancer, and he to them. The Nuns are prone to forget their own actions day-to-day, though they can be reminded. They are shown using psychokinesis to open a door, whereas Amalia in particular possesses a scrying mirror.
Weinschadt: A cheerful, friendly, melodramatic, woodwose-like spirit who lives in the forest near the castle. Each evening, Weinschadt moves through the forest, becoming or ceasing to be invisible at intervals, and triggers a shimmering green glow in rotting tree-stumps. He then inevitably wanders off singing "It's so nice to be 'Schrat", indicating his contentment. Although he is aware that the phosphorescence is caused by luminous bacteria, Weinschadt derives great satisfaction from playing a part in the ignition. He is sometimes shown flirting with the Nuns.
Hobgoblins: Several small, excitable spirits who are only seen in the courtyard where the ghosts convene. They serve as look-outs when the ghost community have invited Caroline, Otto, and Iakob for the final celebration.
The Headless Knight: A minor character, distinguished largely by the fact that his head is cut off, presumably in battle. His backstory is never told. Unlike most "headless" ghosts in fiction, he is incapable of articulate speech, possibly because of his beheading. His head is often used as a plaything by the Hobgoblins.
Steven: The irascible, belligerent sound manager of Peter's film crew. Steven is sour-tempered, hasty, often reckless, and sometimes careless, though he is known to be worried when his equipment goes missing. His role in the film is largely based on his attempts to silence or kill the rooster who warns the Nuns of their proper time to sleep and wake. Steven is also gullible, as shown when Caroline is able to easily trick or flatter him.