Very little is directly explained to the viewer in Gespenster, Christian Petzold's 2005 film. It's a movie about people with fantasies about how reality ought to be and who try vainly to make reality suit their ideas with willpower alone. It's a sad, good film delicately put together, the characters and the story fading in and out of existence with a sort of bittersweet absence of beginning and end.
A teenage orphan, Nina, is at the centre of the story and seems to serve the other characters as a medium for their ghosts. Having drifted through different foster homes and group homes, Nina's quiet and her personality has seemed to have been stunted. But evidence is shown of detailed fantasy realities she creates to give meaning and significance to the people and things she encounters. Toni, a thief who Nina meets early in the story being beaten in the park, becomes in Nina's diary the subject of a rape fantasy. When Toni actually does enter Nina's life, Toni invents her own fairy tale past for the two of them, a trite story about a boating incident where one met the other when she rescued her from drowning. We soon learn that this story is concocted by Toni as something to sell to a group of people casting couples for a reality series.
No-one seems impressed by Toni's unimaginative tale, but they seem more disturbed when Nina weaves a stranger, more complicated story about how she'd dreamt of Toni before she's met her, had seen her gang raped in a dream before meeting her at school where she was the clique queen.
But, although it's decided Toni and Nina won't be cast in the reality show, the only male member of the casting committee invites the girls to a party where he uses them for his own sexual fantasy.
Toni has little trouble abandoning the new dream she'd put together with Nina, and we'd seen earlier in the film how she'd kept her heart on a mercenary leash, demonstrating love and loyalty to her unseen girlfriend Susanne before being betrayed, and we see her trying to convince an old boyfriend of her love for him when she needs a place for her and Nina to stay. It's impossible even to tell if Toni is straight or gay or bisexual.
Also in the movie is a middle aged woman who approaches Nina claiming to be her long lost mother. This is shortly after Nina had become friends with Toni, and Toni clearly seems threatened by the older woman using Nina as a vessel for her dream.
In the end, though, Nina remains as much a spiritual orphan as a literal one as she only seems to share these realities with others temporarily. It sort of reminded me of The Lower Depths, which was also about people living in extreme poverty. Both stories make clear the tormented existence these poor people lead where they both desperately seek faith but are conditioned to trust nothing.
Twitter Sonnet #356
Tall rats marvel at doubling potatoes.
Illusions dizzy the hapless snacker.
Raindrops fall like small Nelly Furtados.
Birds can't flee an Imperial tracker.
Seven skittles skitter in the wind pit.
Scarcer candies drown in mutant Hudson.
Rubber armour ambushed the numb rabbit.
Cool space introduced Virginia Madsen.
Cocoanut snow globes decoy a picnic.
False news is bad news except when its blocked.
Pawn bars arched over the sleeping Kramnik.
Cats see fleshy knights at night end up socked.
The nine nachos drew blood from a dead bean.
It was the last satellite to be seen.