Is Ghost Based on a True Story?

The romantic supernatural thriller ‘Ghost’ has a legacy that can’t be compared with many films of the same genre. Emerging as the highest-grossing film of 1990, it became a sensation among audiences and critics alike, bagging two Academy Awards out of five nominations. The film follows Sam Wheat, a banker who gets murdered by a mugger in the street. Sam reincarnates as a ghost and tries to protect his wife, Molly. Soon, he embarks upon a mission to find the truth behind his unexpected death, with the help of a psychic, Oda Mae.

Directed by Jerry Zucker, the film has an iconic casting pair in Patrick Swayze as Sam and Demi Moore as Molly. The film’s success wasn’t limited to its box-office numbers and awards. It also stirred the audiences’ curiosity about the existence of ghosts and whether the film was inspired by any real events. Let’s move on to the answers we could find for you regarding the reality behind the film!

Is Ghost Based on a True Story?

No, ‘Ghost’ is not based on a true story. According to the writer of the film, Bruce Joel Rubin, the inspiration came from the writer who is unparalleled when it comes to “ghosts” — William Shakespeare. In an interview with The Detroit News, Rubin said, “One day, I was watching a production of ‘Hamlet,’ which begins with the ghost of Hamlet’s father saying, ‘Revenge my death’. I thought, ‘Wow, let’s transpose that into the 20th century; it’d be an interesting story.’ And the idea hit me.” The Bard of Avon’s presence can also be seen in the film as Sam gets killed after seeing a Macbeth production.

Rubin conceived the notion of a ghost to depict “the primal urge to have one last moment with someone you love.” Rather than viewing the film as an exploration of the probability of supernatural entities, Rubin believes the film is about the satisfaction of a fantasy human beings nurture in them, that death isn’t an ending. Sam’s return as a ghost completes his romantic relationship with Molly as death makes him realize the limitations of life and the limitlessness of love.

Jerry Zucker, in an interview with Los Angeles Times, explained his own beliefs about ghosts, “If you’re talking about poltergeists and weird, supernatural phenomena, not really. I have no idea what’s possible in that realm. But if you are asking if I believe all of us have souls that exist with the physical self, the answer is yes. And I believe the soul does continue on after the body dies.” Such a strong conviction is also evident in the way the ghost in the film is conceived by the collaboration of the writer, director and of course, the terrific Patrick Swayze.

In the film, we see the ghost of Sam without the typical garishness associated with the supernatural, which would have distanced the element from the drama and the emotionality of the plot. At heart, ‘Ghost’ is a romantic film that feels more like an emotional wrench. Such a connection is one reason why Sam’s ghostly existence to be with Molly, to love her again, appeals more than a supernatural film.

Explaining the film’s legacy, Rubin said, “(The) incredibly romantic idea that you’re able to have one last moment with someone you love. Those are the key elements to why the film keeps playing — it touches the human psyche in a very deep way.” Although the narrative of the film is not rooted in reality, considering the way the filmmaker and the writer have made the film, we can safely infer that ‘Ghost’ is based on one of the most real and appealing emotions — love.

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