Strangers in a Strange Land: Cinema, Identity and the Modern Nation-State in Roman Polanski’s The Ghost Writer

  • Andrés Bartolomé Leal Universidad de Zaragoza


Cinema and the modern nation-state, both key offsprings of the late stages of the nineteenth century, have had a somewhat parallel, and arguably problematic, relationship throughout their existence. From being a committed partner in the spreading of the traditions and identities that cemented the formation of modern nation-states, cinema has become one of the most prolific media for the contestation of many of the fixities that sustain them. My aim in this article is, first, to explore the reasons and phenomena behind this change of perspective and, second, to apply this analysis to the specific case of Roman Polanski’s film The Ghost Writer (2010). For this purpose, I will analyse the film from a transnational perspective at different levels, exploring its portrayal of the decayed condition of the modern nation-state, its depiction of the exiled foreigner as a universal trope for contemporary identities, and its careful use of space and mise-en-scène for the transmission of these meanings.