Ghost in the Shell Revisited
By Willden Doherty
With the release of the live-action adaptation of Ghost in the Shell, it’s time to revisit the first film adaptation. The original film came out in 1995 and inspired many films that followed.
The visual style and animation of the film is very unique. It was one of the first to combine traditional hand drawn animation and computer graphics. To get the negative out of the way, the CG is the worst part of the film. It does look dated and can be a big jarring in scenes. It is not used a huge amount which does help the film. The rest of the animation though does hold up very well. One of the things that stood out on this viewing was how good lighting was used. The lighting used on the faces of the characters as they are driving or walking is timed out very well. The matte paintings for the background are heavily detailed which brings more of a realistic approach compared to the other adaptations. The film does have moments of blood and guts which are animated in a gruesome way. The film overall is visually appealing in its look that successfully brings you into the world.
The cinematography is one of the strongest parts of the production. The camera angles are experimental and work very well with the setting. There are two standout scenes where the camera zooms in and out with the Major character in focus. These scenes mirror each other with the focus on the background coming in frame. When characters are camouflage, the camera position allows you to see the outline of the characters. This helps so the audience doesn’t lose track of where they are in the scene. There are quick cuts in actions scenes that don’t cause a distraction. The only problem the film had was that it was moving up and down in frame. It can be very distracting at first, but will be forgotten about once the story begins. This could just be on the version of the film I had viewed.
The sound is the best part of the film. It does a good job of providing realistic sound effects given the location and action of the scene. When someone is talking, you can hear the volume of their voice change. When someone is walking on a surface such as water, the splash effects are well cued. The weapons sound like they are really being fired in action scenes. The weight of the bullets depending on the gun can be felt with a softer or stronger sound. The voice over work is also very well done. The voices fit very well with the look of the characters. The content of the script can be very heavy with dialogue and it does not sound muddled. The only negative would be there are moments where the Major sounds a bit bland on some of the line delivery. Overall the foley work on this film is very consistent and well produced. The music is also very good. It elevates the scenes where there is no heavy action. It helps set the tone of the film to feel very scifi, Japanese, and a little dreamlike.
The story of the film brings a lot of philosophical questions about who we are and what it means to be human. The script includes several genres including political thriller, action, and drama. The dialogue is very heavy so it requires the audience to pay attention and multiple viewings to understand everything. It is a film for adults because of its violence and language. The puppeteer is a great antagonist against Section 9. His views of existence and technology is something that is being talked about today. The film does a good adaptation of the book which it’s based on.