Sunday, May 06, 2012

Holding up the Mirror

Ghost in the Shell is a highly influential Japanese cyberpunk science-fiction film from 1995.  The film concerns a female cyborg assassin called Major Motoko Kusanagi, the leader of an elite counter-intelligence unit called Section 9 and its brushed chrome style influenced the look of The Matrix, which also borrowed its scrolling green alpha-numerics.

Tasked with apprehending a dangerous hacker called the Puppet Master, who has been using 'ghost hacked' humans to accomplish shadowy political aims by proxy, Kusanagi starts to question the validity of her subjective experience as an artificial human. One striking sequence in an interrogation cell depicts a ghost hacked human confronted with the truth about the simulated experience the Puppet Master has programmed into his brain in order to manipulate him. "Will I get my old memories back?" he opines, desperately.

Short and snappy at 80 minutes, Ghost in the Shell takes science fiction norms familiar from the writings of William Gibson and Blade Runner, and lends them a sinewy sense of Oriental otherness.


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