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In the movie Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Marianne is an artist hired to paint a portrait of a young noblewoman Héloïse. The portrait is a critical element in arranging a marriage, something that Héloïse is trying to avoid.

During the movie, Marianne three times (IIRC) has a vision of Héloïse wearing a bright, white dress:

ghost seen the first time

  • First time, shortly after Marianne tried to kiss Héloïse. The latter runs away and Marianne sees the aparition in the door leading to Héloïse room (but the real Héloïse is somewhere else).
  • Second time, when they both has taken some herbs "that slow time and let you fly"
  • The final time is when Marianne leaves the mansion after finishing the painting.

Although, in the last case it might be real Héloïse in her wedding dress, as the background of the scene is not pitch black:

"ghost" seen the final time

What are those ghosts? Initially, I've thought that it was a "real" ghost of Héloïse's sister (who apparently committed suicide) but we never seen her face and the "ghost" is definitely Héloïse. So I guess it must be more symbolic - but symbolic of what? Love between those two women? Longing?

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  • They're not ghosts, they're visions. Also: vox.com/culture/2020/3/31/21200255/… There are plenty of articles "explaining" the film.
    – BCdotWEB
    Jan 6 at 7:22
  • @BCdotWEB Thank you for pointing at the difference between vous and tu, but that doesn't really answer the question - was that a vision of equality in love?
    – Yasskier
    Jan 6 at 9:38
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I see those as Marianne vision of insecurities about losing Héloïse . The dress and facial expression of Héloïse is fragment of thought involving Héloïse getting unhappily married and looking at her at despair. She feels somehow responsible for that for avoiding her.

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