Ghost of Old Highways is a short film directed by American film director Dan Bush, and inspired by the film composer Ben Lovett’s song of the same name. Set during the American Civil War, the film follows “The Man” as he attempts to rid himself of the person he once was at various points in his life while being pursued by an army. He must face the anguish and grief that can arise when reflecting upon undesirable moments from the past.
The film opens on a scene of “The Man” facing a most certain death at the end of a faceless soldier’s gun barrel. As he escapes and begins to flee, you soon realize that in place of dialogue is an original score with a distinctly southern feel. Composed by Ben Lovett, the music ensures that the film more than a visual work, but a full experience for its viewers. As “The Man” sprints through each scene, the music picks up tempo, with violins standing out in the forefront. Each time "The Man" digs deeper emotionally, the music slows to create an atmosphere of discovery. It picks up again with an air of aggressive finality as he repeatedly takes his own life.
Several camera shots move naturally with the action taking place in each scene, allowing you to feel the atmosphere around “The Man.” An example of this is the scene in which the man runs through the woods to escape from his pursuers. The camera is shaky and the world around him is blurred, reflecting his panic and unsteadiness.
Because the film mainly takes place outdoors, it utilizes much of the North Carolina mountains’ natural sunlight, and keeps within a color scheme of muted natural tones (aside from the crimson red highlighted in certain costumes).
The film’s use of music and nature create a captivating story that will hold your attention for its entire 11 minutes and 24 second run time. Bush marries different camera techniques with Lovett’s music in a manner that tells a full tale of the human experience.
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