With the upcoming live action Ghost in the Shell three dimensional experience approaching, it feels like a good time to revisit the ghost hacked garbage truck driver who asked “[w]hat does a virtual experience mean then?” Probably not a three dimensional movie, but those kids at Dreamworks and all the punks who have the skills but moved to New York to cut their teeth on freelance benders are making it pretty damn difficult to tell if the pixels I see on the way to work are forming Time Square in my reality or yours.
“I am a life-form that was born in a sea of information.”
Speaking of Times Square, school is out, and teenagers instinctively know that Times Square is their territory. I am more afraid of a group of teenage boys than anything else I encounter on a regular basis. When they suss out that deep dark insecurity you didn’t know still lingered, they let their insults fly casually so you know how easy it is for them to hurt you.
These kids. They were born in a sea of information. They don’t, as far as I can tell, have George Church’s sili brains, but they do carry a rough draft around with them like the rest of us. Will they give us a choice when they merge?
Released at the end of 1995, which began with the opening statements of the OJ Simpson trial, Ghost in the Shell was both ahead of its time and right at home in the same year that witnessed the Oklahoma City bombing and the Unabomber when some of us were naive enough to believe that tragedies on US soil were by definition outliers.
The film did not depend on special effects or violence to the same extent The Matrix franchise would a few years later, instead, it asked a serious question about the future of humankind. These Times Square kids might be surprised at how much dialogue is in this film. It is thoughtfully constructed, and its spirit is more in line with Olaf Stapledon’s Star Maker than most stories involving cyborg assassins with ghost cloaks.
Ghost in the Shell was visually inspired by Blade Runner, and that is beautifully evident in the final scene, which takes place in a large room with a domed ceiling that intentionally or not looks like a sly nod to the impossibly fresh view of LA’s iconic Bradbury Building seen in Ridley Scott’s masterful adaptation of PKD.
If you’re feeling broken, take an evening to re-watch this classic before the marketing blitz for the live action remake assaults you. Watch the subtitled version and, if you can, try to get a teenager into it.