STAR’S MA­JOR AP­PEAL

The anime within a Ja­panese clas­sic gets a gritty live-ac­tion makeover fronted by Hol­ly­wood hot prop­erty Scar­lett Jo­hans­son

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - MOVIES -

She was the high­est gross­ing ac­tor of last year, thanks to her Marvel role as The Black Widow, and now Scar­lett Jo­hans­son is tak­ing on a heroic new role.

The New York na­tive plays The Ma­jor, a woman who is cy­ber-en­hanced af­ter nearly dy­ing in a crash, in Ru­pert San­ders’ live-ac­tion re­make of the Ja­panese anime Ghost in the Shell. The Ma­jor is seen by her cre­ators as the per­fect sol­dier and she is put in charge of the elite task force Sec­tion 9, de­voted to stop­ping the most dan­ger­ous crim­i­nals and ex­trem­ists. But her abil­ity to fol­low or­ders is threat­ened when her mem­o­ries of her old life come back to the sur­face.

Is this ver­sion a lit­tle less ab­stract than the orig­i­nal 1995 anime movie? When I first saw the anime film, the movie was kind of es­o­teric and ex­is­ten­tial and free flow­ing. It was very po­etic and, of course, that ap­plies not just to the words; the vis­ual jour­ney is very lan­guid and po­etic as well. It didn’t im­me­di­ately strike me as some­thing that could be adapted for live ac­tion. The vis­ual ref­er­ences are ex­cit­ing and you can imag­ine how that’s go­ing to like lift off from the anime ver­sion, but the char­ac­ter’s jour­ney was not to­tally ap­par­ent to me. It didn’t seem all that fleshed out, and that was my con­cern when I first saw the anime film. I thought that the phys­i­cal as­pect would be ex­cit­ing for me and that it would be a great chal­lenge, but what was I go­ing to do with this (char­ac­ter’s jour­ney)? For my van­ity it was ex­cit­ing, but other than just mak­ing pretty pic­tures, what was there to hold on to? What could the au­di­ence hold on to? I couldn’t stop think­ing about it.

How would you de­scribe The Ma­jor? You have this woman who has an idea of who she is, or who is told she is sup­posed to be, and then this feel­ing at the back of her mind, which is the per­son who she ac­tu­ally is. There is this ghost that lit­er­ally and spir­i­tu­ally haunts her.

Ru­pert, the di­rec­tor, had a strong vi­sion for the film? We imag­ine the fu­ture as this dystopian place and of­ten times it is per­ceived as very clin­i­cal and with­out iden­tity, and then at other times we see it as a post-apoca­lyp­tic fu­ture. Ru­pert re­ally loved this idea and what seemed most re­al­is­tic to him was a fu­ture where there is just no space. We are con­stantly com­pet­ing against our­selves for space, so we op­er­ate in a city that is al­most built on top of an­other city. And it is full of cul­tures that have been ap­pro­pri­ated by other cul­tures. There are ren­o­va­tions that are hap­haz­ard and it’s a much more colour­ful fu­ture than we’re used to see­ing. It is a city that you have never re­ally seen be­fore; it al­most has this Blade Run­ner aes­thetic – as though that aes­thetic ac­tu­ally con­tin­ued and was up­dated. I was fas­ci­nated with that be­cause I as­sumed that this fu­ture would be cold and dig­i­tal but it’s not at all like that. When you see the film, it’s re­ally warm and invit­ing. That vi­sion is a real gift that Ru­pert has.

The film seems in­cred­i­bly timely … I think it is timely, cer­tainly when you look at the orig­i­nal anime. It was more than 20 years ago but was so pro­gres­sive. More than any­thing it pre­dicted this dis­con­nect that is a byprod­uct of the dig­i­tal age. Cy­bert­er­ror­ism too is a threat. But it is this long­ing, this yearn­ing to con­nect with one an­other in an age when we are overly con­nected. We are sup­posed to be so con­nected to one an­other – it’s eas­ier than ever to con­nect with each other – yet we have this feel­ing of empti­ness and dis­sat­is­fac­tion. So, yes, that feels very timely.

How do you feel about Ghost in the Shell evolv­ing into a po­ten­tial fran­chise? It is daunt­ing be­cause it is not to­tally ob­vi­ous what the next chap­ter is for this char­ac­ter. It is also phys­i­cally daunt­ing. This film was ex­tremely drain­ing, phys­i­cally, emo­tion­ally and pro­fes­sion­ally. It re­quired an im­mense amount of dis­ci­pline and thought. It was very, very dif­fi­cult for me, so it is daunt­ing. But, of course, the idea that this fe­male-driven genre film could go on to be a se­quel, that it could be suc­cess­ful enough to de­mand a se­quel, that is very ex­cit­ing. It would be a real vic­tory in many ways. I am up for the chal­lenge. I am a big girl. I can han­dle it, I think. Ghost in the Shell opens to­day in all ma­jor cine­mas.

Scar­lett Jo­hans­son plays The Ma­jor in this re­make of Ghost in the Shell from Paramount Pic­tures.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.