10/06/2011

Ghost Car: John Carpenter's "Christine" (1983)

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Christine was born on a Detroit conveyor belt in 1957. A mere twenty years later, she is a thing of the past. Wrecked beyond repair, she has passed from commodity form to deformity and finally, when a young man's devotion reawakens her fetish powers, to monstrum. Her new life is the life of a ghost: No matter how hard we try to destroy her, Christine keeps coming back to haunt us; the violent return, in an age of deindustrialization, of the steel-fuelled consumer utopia that had once engineered her immaculate body.

Christine is a film about the degradation of industry, and of a whole world - of working stiffs, rock 'n roll and fast cars - attached to it. Despite the horrors Christine has inflicted upon the world, her eulogy is filled with shame and regret. The detective, played by Harry Dean Stanton, tries to reassure her vanquishers, two college kids, that killing Christine was an act of justice: "I wouldn't feel so bad if I were you. You two are heroes, you know." With an air of self-disgust, one kid replies: "Yeah, real heroes."

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