Document Type



In recent years, analysts of cinematic ghosts have called for ways of “learning to live with ghosts”; in this paper, I argue that Richard Linklater’s Before trilogy—1995’s Before Sunrise, 2004’s Before Sunset, and 2012’s Before Midnight—models precisely such a process. I attend to the crucial role of ghosts in sparking and sustaining the romance at the heart of Before, and I argue that Linklater’s trilogy is not only ghost-written (relying formally on ghosts) and ghost-ridden (relying narratively on a preponderance of them) but a staging ground for ghost-righting, an active ghosting in the vein of Derrida’s spectral ethics. Issues considered include traditional narrative patterning of love and death; ghosts and (dis)embodiment in Western cinema; spectrality in the work of Jacques Derrida and Roland Barthes; questions of temporality, duration, and fear of death; romantic historiography; and the intimate politics of Before.