Ghost in the Shell (1995)

Genre: Sci-Fi, Animation

Cast: Atsuko Tanaka, Akio Ōtsuka, Iemasa Kayumi

Synopsis: The plot is so complex that any attempt to describe it might be futile but I’ll give it a try. In the future, much of humanity is part cyborg. A cyber terrorist by the name of ‘The Puppet Master’ is hacking into people’s brains and controlling them. The film follows an elite team as they try to stop this menace.

I have a theory that, in movies, Sci-Fi is a genre that develops at a slower pace than other genres such as Drama and Action. I feel that the reason for this is because Sci-Fi is a difficult genre to perfect: not only do you have to get the ‘fiction’ right but you also have to present a believable and accurate ‘science’ to the picture. In essence, the writers and directors have two jobs to do. This is the reason why real gems in the Sci-Fi genre are few and far between. My theory is that every decade you may only get one or two Sci-Fi movies that truly bring something innovative and revolutionary to the genre as a whole. In the 1960s you had 2001: A Space Odyssey. The 1970s gave us Star Wars. Blade Runner and Akira came in the 1980s. Recent examples would be Inception, Prometheus (arguably) and the first half of Looper before it got all sappy and predictable. The two standout films of the 1990s though would be The Matrix and the mesmerizing and complex Ghost in the Shell.

This movie is, without a doubt, a landmark film not only in animation but also in the Sci-Fi genre. Ghost in the Shell has everything that a Sci-Fi film needs in order to be successful: a challenging yet engrossing story; overwhelmingly beautiful scenery; tense action scenes; and themes that present fundamental questions on life which bring ambiguous answers. Complexity is the name of the game here and this is the sort of movie you will have to watch again and again in order to understand its intricacies. For first timers, the English dub is a must. For the better prepared, the Japanese original is worth the look.

It would be hard to fully break down the individual elements of this film which make it a masterpiece so I’ll just comment on some of the things that stand out for me. The film’s central questions are: what is it to be human and what makes us human? The answer is open to interpretation but the film presents us with the idea that the human is the combination and marriage of mind, body, and soul. Is one component more important than the others? Is it possible to separate these components? The theme of separation and combination is beautifully presented through the juxtaposition of different images. Ultra-violence is mixed with scenes of haunting beauty. Light and shadow add depth to the images. The soundtrack, which includes an old chant sung at weddings, provides a spiritual element which contrasts heavily with the images of destruction and occasional sensuality. The wedding chant is wholly appropriate because it furthers the theme of the unity of separate components, creating one whole being.

This is a film that everyone needs to have in their collection. It’s a stoner’s dream. If I were to create a Sci-Fi film or book then this is what I would want it to be. That should be trustworthy enough because everyone knows I have impeccable taste…after all, I did give Catwoman a good review.

High-lights:

  • The film is an experience for the senses. Watching the movie engaged my mind, body, and soul. Oddly enough, it’s the closest I’ve come to any sort of spiritual experience and I say that as an atheist who lost his faith in the beauty of the world after he saw a homeless woman shit all over the sidewalk when he lived in LA.
  • The chase and fight scene in the alley/pool is perfection.
  • The animation hasn’t aged in the slightest.

Downers:

  • I can’t really think of any. The movie is bloody complex but I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s a downer though. You just have to make sure you try your hardest to follow along.

Summary:

Watch it watch it watch it watch it watch it watch it now! I can’t be any more explicit than that. I would advise that you watch this movie by yourself, or with someone who loves Sci-Fi as much as you do, with a sativa dominant strain. I have to award this movie ten out of ten because I couldn’t find a flaw with it. A well-deserved entry into the bakedmoviereviews’ hall of fame.

10/10

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2 Comments

Filed under Animation, Mind Blowingly Awesome, Sci-Fi

2 responses to “Ghost in the Shell (1995)

  1. I actually didn’t like this one so much. I personally felt the movie was way slow for my liking with the writers desperately trying to make the movie NOT “style over substance”. That said, I agree that the animation as absolutely gorgeous.

  2. Pingback: The Matrix (1999) | bakedmoviereviews

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