A film is undoubtedly influential when elements from it can be found in others produced a decade afterwards. Mamoru Oshii’s Ghost in The Shell was a cultural touchstone. An adaptation of Masamune Shirow’s manga, the futuristic noir thriller follows Major Motoko Kusanagi, leader of the organisation Public Security Section 9, tasked with finding a hacker known as the Puppet Master.
Since its debut in 1995, the film has made its mark in the sci-fi world, helping shape iconic films. A live action adaptation is also set for release later this year in March. To coincide with anime being back on the big screen for one night only, here are a series of films fans may, or may not, realise have been influenced by the legendary anime film.
The Matrix, 1999 (The Wachowskis)
The Matrix directors, then Andy and Larry Wachowski, have not been shy about their inspirations from Ghost in the Shell for their 1999 action film. Neo (Keanu Reeves) steps up to take on the role of stopping artificial intelligence from controlling human life. From the green digits “raining” against the black background, a marketplace chase, to the computer hacking takeover of society, many details in The Matrix were directly influenced by Ghost in the Shell.
I, Robot, 2004 (Alex Proyas)
Keeping with the theme, the main plot of I, Robot revolves around an attack against artificial intelligence. Del Spooner (Will Smith) investigates the death of a robotics scientist after suspicion that the death was caused by a robot. With time, the true threat of these robots becomes increasingly evident. A world with a threat of artificial intelligence takeover… sounds very familiar.
Ex Machina, 2015 (Alex Garland)
A programmer named Caleb Smith (Domhnall Gleeson) gets the opportunity to interact with Ava (Alicia Vikander), an incredible humanoid. During his interaction, Caleb soon discovers that the creator of such artificial intelligence cannot be trusted. Ava’s intelligence is strikingly similar to the Puppet Master, the powerful hacker in Ghost in the Shell, both being created with access to all of the information available on the internet.
Avatar, 2009 (James Cameron)
At the time, James Cameron publicly shared his praise for Ghost in the Shell, calling it, “the first truly adult animation film to reach a level of literary and visual excellence.” His inspiration is easy to pick out. Avatar drew influence from the idea presented in the title of the anime film itself. Human personalities are able to be transferred inside humanoid robots, Na’vi, in the futuristic world of Pandora. A direct parallel to the human ghosts in Ghost in the Shell that are able to transfer their souls into a robotic body. Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) uses the avatar identity to work for the money-hungry Resources Development Administration, until he recognises the toll his actions would have on the natives of Pandora.
A.I. Artificial Intelligence, 2001 (Steven Spielberg)
Steven Spielberg has been quoted calling Ghost in The Shell, “one of my favourite stories.” Quite the recognition from one of the biggest figures in Hollywood. His praise translates into his film, A.I. Artificial Intelligence, a film conveying a futuristic world in which robots live among humans. The film delves into the question of the depth of a robot’s existence, particularly in terms of its emotional and thinking capabilities, following the story of an artificial child, David (Haley Joel Osment). When someone as iconic as Spielberg gets inspiration from Ghost in the Shell, you know it’s the real deal.
Ghost in the Shell returns to cinemas for one-night only this Wednesday 25th January. Don’t miss out on this seminal classic. You can get you tickets at: http://gitsmovie.co.uk