By Thomas H Cullen (UK)


Apart from the actual metaphor, that Scarlett Johansson’s adaptation of Ghost in the Shell comes to represent, a curious side-note that deserves to be made about Ghost in the Shell for 2017 is the film’s effect to ask if it’s possible for a life force to have no structure and to simultaneously be the same as structure. And also, an interesting side effect that the film’s responsible for is whether a film’s metaphor only has value if it can co-exist with any other metaphor.

Now that that’s out of the way, the metaphor in question can be addressed: the heart, and the soul of Ghost in the Shell (2017) is that violence or a type of explosive behaviour is the immediate aftermath to living interaction. Once someone comes to an understanding, with another individual, or once a group of individuals conduct a discussion of some kind, the invariable, immediate aftermath is violence. It’s pretty easy to overlook this kind of pattern, given the genre of the film, but make no mistake the pattern is real.

Violence or the allusion to violence always supersedes living interaction. Not just movement, that distinction needs to be made clear, but the specific behaviour of interaction. In its own right, interaction denotes spirituality, and it denotes oneness and responsibility. It’s a responsible way to live, to interact with other people. However, the film appears to be attacking this. The invariable aftermath of destruction to responsibility is obviously a very dense and powerful moral message. But what is the actual logic?

It helps matters, by applying scrutiny to the concept of oneness. Oneness means an obligation, to the effect of saying that obligation itself is the destructive force. So it isn’t that oneness is an inherent problem, but rather that oneness is the dilemma of its condition. Oneness needs to be separated from any obligation, as obligation implies loyalty. And it’s at this juncture that the moral message becomes perfectly clear, as it’s just so damn easy to see why loyalty is a destructive force.

Ghost in the Shell attacks loyalty but does so by retrospect. Since loyalty is the attacked, that by default makes the weapon a force which has no loyalty, but then because any force external to loyalty is a void of loyalty, the force in question being a weapon makes perfect sense. The weapon attacks, and the victim is a source of peace. So the puzzle which Ghost in the Shell is trying to hammer at is loyalty being a source of peace. As a result, the ending of the film feels logical. The Major is destined to inflict more violence, having refused Kuze’s offer to enter the spiritual realm, because the irresolution between making peace free of loyalty and the eternity of the separation is an irresolution that is eternal.

Breaking the link between time and self-awareness would mean making the weapon into an emulation of loyalty, which of course is an impossible moral boundary. Thus the moral complexity of Ghost in the Shell, a movie which is a subdued greatness. Johansson’s portrayal of the Major is hardly in tune with the 1995 version of the Major, and, it’s perhaps an unfair irony that Johansson’s portrayal is better than the 1995 character because of the exploitation being the deliberate departure. The 1995 classic was never a good film, as its type of inclusiveness as a freedom is something which doesn’t conceal itself. The 2017 movie is the rejection of freedom of possession, although since the 1995 film is the weakness of the possession that means that the 2017 film has to find different ground to beat the 1995 film – the metaphor of loyalty and peace will do.

Up until now, the review has more or less evaluated Ghost in the Shell along objective lines – okay, perhaps the metaphor isn’t 100% confirmed, but the evidence in its favour is pretty overwhelming. All that’s left is to just try and extract a subjective perspective.

Seeing Scarlett Johansson as the Major, presents the nuisance and the irritating idea of if physical matter is always meant to be subject to the conceptual. Is it sane, that the conceptual should have a monopoly over the visual? If the answer is no, and the visual is something which was free of the conceptual, is it then sane that the visual can become a source to rectify the original state of subjugation?

No matter the exact way that you look at it: one’s got to admit that 2017’s Ghost in the Shell is a gold mind of deep thought and wonder

Rating: 4/5


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