What does it mean to be human? That is one of the foremost questions Major Motoko Kusanagi, the main protagonist of Ghost in the Shell (GitS), asks herself on a daily basis. After she was largely reconstructed using cybernetics following an accident, she wonders if what is left of her original self is enough to maintain her humanity. The story explores aspects of what makes us who we are (our biology, our experiences, our memories) and to what extent these things can be augmented before we become something or someone else.
When Scarlett Johansson was cast as Motoko (referred to only as The Major on the film’s IMDB site) in the upcoming live-action adaptation of GitS, a controversy erupted over DreamWorks’ and Paramount’s choice of casting a white actress instead of an Asian woman. Given the lack of Asian actors in lead Hollywood roles, the decision was concerning at the very least. However, the film and the contentious casting choice have garnered the approval of at least one major player in the continued success of GitS.
Recently, Mamoru Oshii, the director of the GitS animated films, stopped by the production set. While there, he voiced his positive impression of the film, as well as his approval of Johansson’s performance as “The Major.”
“Scarlett Johansson playing Motoko from beginning to end has gone above and beyond my expectations for the role. I’m sure this will be the most gorgeous film in the series so far.”
The featurette also includes commentary from Johansson and the film’s director, Rupert Sanders.
This version of Ghost in the Shell follows the same overall plot as it’s animated predecessor. Major Motoko Kusanagi (Johansson) is in pursuit of a dangerous computer hacker. Sounds simplistic, but anyone aware of the original story knows (don’t worry, no spoilers here) that this turns into an exciting challenge that’ll have the more philosophical among you questioning your own existence between action-packed scenes of Motoko (umm, we mean The Major) being a crime-fighting badass.
Ghost in the Shell is scheduled to release in 2017.
Image: DreamWorks, Paramount Pictures