The Ghost that Never Returns (1930)

Abram Room

José Real, a charismatic agitator, has been locked up for life in a South American prison because of his trade union activities. After ten years of imprisonment, the prisoners are given a single day of leave. Despite many warnings against it, Real accepts the temporary freedom to visit his wife. But he is followed by a secret agent whose job it is to ensure that Real will never return.

Every list of the one hundred best films of all time will contain Abram Room’s 1927 film Bed and sofa. But that’s not his only film. H is Prividenie, for example, ranks among the stylistic highlights of the Silent Movie; but unfortunately hardly anyone has heard of it, certainly not in the Netherlands. So be sure to grab this unique opportunity to see this visually overwhelming psycho-political thriller. Prividenie opens in a rationally designed dome prison (reminiscent of the futurism portrayed in Lang’s classi c film Metropolis), where the prison director – a surrealistic and sadistic gnome – rules with a harsh hand. Still, some news trickles in once in a while. After a riot breaks out following the suicide of a freshly arrived prisoner, the guards attempt to restore order using fire hoses to knock people off their feet (similar to the famous scene in Eisenstein’s Strike). While José Real considers taking the one-day leave, all sorts of fantasy images crowd his cell (a scene comparable to the poetical images in Murnau’s Sunrise: a song of two humans). The claustrophobic atmosphere then transforms into the vast emptiness of a desert, where the encounter between Real and the secret agent takes place. This is followed by a rousing finale in classic agitprop style.

The Ghost that Never Returns is part of the programma Film and Music by Filmhuis Den Haag. During this silent film, pianist Kevin Toma will play the piano.

Text: Filmhuis Den Haag


Abram Room
67 minutes
Spoken language
No Dialogue
Production company