Ghost In The Shell (1995): Industrialising The Human Consciousness

In the not too distant future, we’re in the year 2029. The world is now dependent on technology and information, with humans reliant and always well-wired into the network. Crime has evolved into something far more sophisticated than what we know in the present, into hacking an interactive network. To stop this, Section 9 is alerted. Sections 9s are cyborgs, part-human part machine. They are gifted with incredible strength, endurance and abilities that can easily access any network on the planet.

I’m not really big on science fiction but I knew from the first few minutes this one was a keeper and it’s an absolute stunner as an animated feature in its own right. This is one of those films which asks questions that you begin to ask yourself when you can’t sleep at three in the morning. Questions that probes your skin like a mozzie that won’t go away. As an ex-student of Comms & Culture, I can say that this anime sci-fi will give the likes of Adorno, Marx or Aristotle a run for their money.

There I am, trying to sleep, but those damn questions are probing my brain like nobody’s business!
(Ghost In The Shell, Manga Entertainment)

Boring, unstimulating, unengaging… this film is not. We follow characters who are cyborg-humans. Our lead character is a blend of Marvel’s Black Widow and the conscious synthetics from the Channel 4-AMC collaboration series Humans. But the main questions is, can synthetic beings question their own existence? Is something created outside of the human womb completely soulless? Set against a barrage of excellent action sequences and ideologies that will make your brain go boom, this 1995 anime classic is not for the fainthearted and it’s a pity films like this won’t capture the minds of the masses.

Who are the bad guys? Who are the good guys? Honestly, I’d have to watch this at least one hundred more times before I feel comfortable answering that question. The plot is still on my mind and the depth of the film is like the Ancient One showing Strange his astral form for the first time and then some more. I’m still left with perplexities and I think I will need to watch this film again in the near future. It feels like one long lecture from the Ancient One. But if you open your mind, the film will take root and start to grow inside your soul and linger thereafter. A film can have action, a story (from what I understand), awesome effects and still be thought-provoking.

Despite the criticism towards the remake, many of the characters look perilously western and white!
(Ghost In The Shell, Manga Entertainment)

Drama, enigma, philosophy, politics: this picture has a lot of things I’d like to see in more films these days. When I watch this, my mental cogs are churning. When I watch numerous modern films today, I feel my brain cells running away. What I like best is that the characters are neither good or bad, and it’s down to the audience to group them as they see fit. It doesn’t spoonfeed the audience and makes us work for the narrative. The voice performances are on point and so is the animation. No complaints really, other than being rather quite boggled… a lot!

Once you see this shit, it will fuck you up for life