Ghost in the Shell
Directed by Mamoru Oshii
In the year 2029, the barriers of our world have been broken down by the net and by cybernetics, but this brings new vulnerability to humans in the form of brain-hacking. When a highly-wanted hacker known as 'The Puppetmaster' begins involving them in politics, Section 9, a group of cybernetically enhanced cops, are called in to investigate and stop the Puppetmaster.
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★★★★★ review by Awesome Welles on Letterboxd
This cyberpunk classic was a huge influence on both The Matrix (1999) and The Fifth Element (1997), whilst in itself owing no small debt to Blade Runner (1982). Ghost in the Shell is an ode to technology, identity, collective vs. individual consciousness and boobs. Hardly surprising that it blew my mind when I was sixteen.
★★★★½ review by YI JIAN on Letterboxd
I shamefully admit that I don’t fully understand what was going on in this, it’s philosophy concerning the relationship between our soul, or ghost if you will, and our bodies (the shell of course), being conveyed through imagery and monologue, were a bit too mind-numbing for me.
On surface level though, this film is gorgeous, and proud of itself too. Halfway through the story the film even took a five minute detour to show us its Blade Runner-esque cityscape. I find it interesting that the film seems to be extremely fascinated with the human body and keeps forcing us to study it. Also noticable is the way Major Kusanagi, to be played by Scarlett Johansson in the American remake, completely disregards the well-being of her body and sees them as simply tools like a wrench or a screwdriver, (tearing her own limbs off, being naked almost all the time etc.), as if she’s in a whole new, higher platform of existence unimaginable by us mere humans.
Visually, Ghost in the Shell is on par with Evangelion and Akira, but you probably already know that. The climax looks like it's straight out of Bergman's Persona, and just like Bergman's film, multiple viewings are required.
★★★★ review by SilentDawn on Letterboxd
Ghost in the Shell understands the physicality, or sometimes the lack thereof, in science-fiction. How architecture renders space oppressive, how movement is slick and slippery due to the rain pouring down onto littered pathways, how chases and gunfights (reminiscent of cops/robber showcases or saloon scuffles) collapse into reckless, mangled twists of flesh and arteries; it's an extension of how even the most corporeal entities become lost to the labyrinth in which they're chasing, one which does not recognize the limitations of the somatic world. Both influenced and influential, Ghost in the Shell runs into the abyss with its concepts, retooling sci-fi history and bleeding a new brand of existential ambiguity out of its mutilated structure. Go ahead, chase the rabbit.
★★★★½ review by Arielrocks5 on Letterboxd
Admittedly had no idea what the hell was going on half the time in terms of the plot because, 1; I was too busy quoting Katie on Twitter, and 2; it's a lot going on under the surface that I want to get more from (hopefully by tomorrow) a second viewing, but everything else aside from that was either really interesting or super cool.
Goes by a quick pace and allows itself to divulge into some beautiful set pieces for both action sequences and world building. A particular sequence towards the middle of the film spent upon the main theme playing over Major taking a ride throughout the city was stood out the most to me, because it shows it like a place where people actually live and not just for the sake of giving the movie a cool setting (though, it works that way too).
The score along side the spectacularly detailed visuals make for an incredibly rich viewing experience....even if again, I didn't know what was going on most of the time, haha. Plus it's quick too. Just under an hour and a half and manages to make the most of it.
Much like my experience with "Suspiria" earlier this month, I think this will be a movie that gets better upon a rewatch, just to take in more of the stuff thrown around.
Expect a much more detailed review somewhere down the line.
★★★★★ review by Calum on Letterboxd
Ghost in the Shell is the kind of film that after rewatching it for the 16th time i still find myself wanting to come back to it. It is probably the quintessential cyberpunk flick that really shows what anime is capable of. It is tonally consistent, full of subtext with political undertones, philosophy and visual symbolism, it has an amazing score by Kenji Kawai and a vast futuristic setting topped with one of the best character studies i've seen from any medium.
I can honestly say that it isn't for everyone but it's one my personal favorites.
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