Before it was a controversial live-action film in production with Scarlett Johansson in the lead, GHOST IN THE SHELL was one of the most popular and influential Japanese animated films of all-time, second perhaps only to AKIRA as the most popular and influential. The original film, directed by Mamoru Oshii, is part sci-fi, part action, and part thriller, but underneath all this there’s a philosophical stream to the film as well, a merger of ideas on identity, groupthink, and the effects of society, technology, and community on the individual.
This stream is best denoted by a sequence that comes in the middle of the film and features 34 breathtakingly-detailed shots of a futuristic Japanese city. A series of establishing shots, essentially, their purpose – according to the following classic video essay from The Nerdwriter — is to draw attention to the perception of space in the film, and how that informs the perception of how the minds of the individual are connected to the body of the city in which they live, which mirrors the film’s greater themes of identity versus host.
Every Nerdwriter essay is a chance to learn something new, but we dusted off this older essay because it’s one of his better, more engaging, and thought-provoking analyses, and on a film people are going to be talking about more and more as the release of ScarJo’s version gets closer.