The opening scene of the first Ghostbusters (1984) It remains etched in the minds of fans all over the world and has done so over the many years since its release. Now several additional entries to the franchise in both movies and TV, this classic remains a fan favorite. It manages to introduce iconic characters, set its own ghostly atmosphere, and tell a fantastic supernatural comedy-adventure story. But with the technical limitations of the time, many fans may be wondering how to bring the iconic opening scene to life.

To understand how the filmmakers innovated in their field and managed to use their creativity to bring ghosts back to life on screen, let’s dive into the film to analyze how the narrative was presented, what kind of camera tricks were used, and how it all came to be the library scene as we know it nowadays.

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Domino theory of reality

Columbia Pictures

One of the keys to success Ghostbusters It can be explained by a series of events also known as The Domino Theory of Reality. The filmmakers realized that for the story to work, the audience would have to be willing to suspend their disbelief and embrace the outlandish plot if they were gradually being pulled into it. The opening scene is usually the narrative point where you need to set the mood without revealing everything at the beginning because you’ll need to do that for about 20 minutes into the movie.

Some media deal with this in a more explicit way, like musicals, for example. The band usually sings the first song. We learn about the story’s theme, the theme, how the universe works in that story, and sometimes how it all ends, leading the audience to wonder how it happened and to become interested in the journey rather than the destination.

So, basically, to tackle this concept in the film, the idea is to start in a common place: a scene in a library, where the librarian is framed as if she is trapped between the bookshelves and the camera watches her from afar, adding to the perspective of the observer and evoking a sense of anticipation that Something is about to happen to her. As the librarian begins to run from fear, the filmmakers cleverly preserve the revelations, carefully introduce our scientists and paint their work with the paranormal for later revelations, heightening audience curiosity for future revelations.

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Smart camera tricks

Ghost Library
Columbia Pictures

Creating a ghostly appearance on screen requires creativity and technical skill, especially when you need to overcome a lack of technology or limited equipment. At the time, the production didn’t have a visual effects crew who could add everything they needed or fix things with the addition of a green screen. In the case of the movie we’re talking about, the opening scene shows the filmmakers’ mastery of clever camera tricks such as, in order to achieve ghostly visual effects, the Library Ghost, played by actress Ruth Oliver, and other ghostly characters on a black screen, allowing them to be captured separately.

Later, the crew edited the film in post-production, took this separate footage and put it together with the rest of the film, creating the ghostly and transparent apparitions in the film. The same style was chosen later when the famous Slimer came out, but in his case, they built a latex model and had someone do his movements for the camera, using black fabric to cover the legs. This process resulted in a large spectral presence that enhanced the atmosphere and established the supernatural tone of the film from the very beginning.

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Shot in two different libraries

Ghostbusters Ghost Library
Columbia Pictures

To create the entire library that we see in the movie, the director decided to use real locations instead of creating a set. But what most people don’t know about the opening scene is that two different libraries were filmed, but brought together so seamlessly that it actually feels as if it’s just one place, creating a cohesive and immersive environment for the characters and their people. ghost interactions.

For the exterior shots, the opening frame, and the main room, what we’re seeing is the New York Public Library. But the piles and all the rest we see are depicted at the Los Angeles Central Library, with a system of more than six million volumes available to more than 18 million residents of the Los Angeles metropolitan area, and serving the largest population of any publicly funded library system. in the United States. This attention to detail ensured that the opening scene felt atmospheric, believable, set the stage for the exciting superhero adventures that lay ahead and helped create one of the most classic films in cinema history.


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