Ghosts Before Breakfast


Germany 1928. Dir Hans Richter.

Hans Richter’s Ghosts Before Breakfast (Vormittagsspuck, 1928) challenges the realism of filmic image with abstract and graphic forms. Clothes here are some of the everyday objects that turn against their users between the eleventh and the twelfth hour. A bow tie travels around the neck, undoes itself and despite efforts to hold it down, it slips away, together with the collar. Hats fly off gentlemen’s heads (Richter being one of them) and have to be chased after. Teacups and saucers drop on the floor and break. Beards appear and disappear. Film positive changes into negative. The eleventh hour belongs to objects’ ghosts which muck about with their users in order to disorient and baffle them. Arguably, it is most disturbing when the objects that decide to “follow their own law”, as Richter himself put it, are clothes. When they desert their wearer, they not only physically bare parts the body – a nightmare itself – but they also take with them their representative purpose.