Madwomen: Ghost in the Machine

If there is a film which captures the feel of a Roald Dahl book, it is GHOST IN THE MACHINE. Short, sweet and idyllic, the characters are powered towards their fate through a series of dark twists. The film is built on the fantasy of Noreen (Jessica Gunning), an overweight teenage farmgirl who is looking for romance and independence away from her bullying father. She finds love where she least expects it: in the form of a talking tractor.

… when she discovers an abandoned tractor which that tells her she’s pretty, she thinks that she is crazy …

The short opens in rolling fields, with a beautifully dressed Noreen on horseback rebuffing a handsome, heartbroken cowboy. But the candy-coloured fields are quickly replaced with dull reality. Noreen works on the family farm, where she is constantly dirty and in the line of fire for her fathers’ mean comments about her and her weight. Her attempts to go into the town and get a job are shot down; her father would have to pay someone else to help. Even her meek and mild mother judges her over the dinner table. Noreen is trapped, lonely and miserable, and when she discovers an abandoned tractor which tells her she’s pretty, she thinks that she is crazy. However, being trapped and lonely and miserable, she goes back to the tractor, and doesn’t stop visiting. Her curiosity and affection grow. Her father warns her not to go close to it; it once killed someone… But her unlikely relationship with the smitten, passionate tractor builds into something that Noreen couldn’t have imagined.

GHOST IN THE MACHINE feels timeless: there will always be teenagers who dream about a knight in shining armour. The contrasts are simple but effective, and the filming is beautiful – set in rustic, rural England, with a strong visual contrast between the warmth of idealism and the coldness of Noreen’s reality. The story is well constructed and benefits from the faster pacing of a short film, which allows the characters to be easily-recognised stereotypes. This, in turn, is well balanced by the absurdity of the plot.

Told like a fairy tale, GHOST IN THE MACHINE is fun, rich and wicked…

Although set in England and filmed in Lincolnshire, the short was written by both a British man (director Oliver Krimpas), and a half-Texan, Christopher Coppice, and there are strong elements of both cultures throughout the short. The music, which was composed by Stu Kennedy and Michael Malarkey (who plays Noreen’s cowboy), is definitely worth a mention. It is beautiful and romantic, and happily fits in to the composition of the short.

Told like a fairy tale, GHOST IN THE MACHINE is fun, rich and wicked. The real compassion and reality of the story lie in Noreen’s honest and genuine love for the tractor; the simplicity of falling in love. Look beyond the familiar romance story and you find wicked little moments to chuckle at – this is a film with a sense of humour.

Ghost in the Machine (2011) trailer from Oliver Krimpas on Vimeo.

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