Black and White in Ghost Dog

One of themes that developed during the course of Ghost Dog (1999) was race and equality, largely conveyed through both dialogue and the mise-en-scène. Jim Jarmusch often used the clash between black and white color to evoke this theme. Examples include the black and white chess pieces that occurred frequently, the vanilla versus chocolate ice cream, and the cartoon professor (white) contrasted by the Felix the cat (black). The analogy of Ghost Dog to a black bear, which was hunted for standing out, was also of particular note when discussing the racial theme in the film. A comparison of two different shots in the film, helps further evoke this theme. The first shot was a close up of a white pigeon bleeding out on Ghost Dog’s pavement rooftop after mobsters came to his home. The second shot is almost exactly the same, but this time it is Ghost Dog himself bleeding out on the pavement, dressed in all black. These two shots reveal much of what  Jarmusch is trying to communicate thematically in his film.

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