SCARLETT COMES OUT OF HER SHELL
The actress, and director Rupert Sanders, talk about Ghost in the Shell, as they open up on the ‘whitewashing’ controversy surrounding their new film, out tomorrow
GHOST IN THE Shell, the Japanese manga created in 1989 by Masamune Shirow, has spawned wildly popular animated films, an anime television series and several video games. All are devoted to the exploits of Major Motoko Kusanagi, a synthetic, “fullbody prosthesis,” augmented-cybernetic human who leads a counter-cyberterrorist task force called Public Security Section 9.
Now, after nearly a decade of fits and starts, during which such talent as Steven Spielberg and Margot Robbie reportedly came and went, a live-action movie adaptation finally will arrive in theatres this weekend in the UAE. It will do so with Scarlett Johansson as Major and Rupert Sanders as the director.
Sanders, a 45-year-old Brit, previously called the shots on numerous commercials and music videos, as well as the feature Snow White and the Huntsman (2012). Sanders explained that he came to the project with both a mission statement and a vision. “I think ( James Bond
I wanted to make a version of Ghost in the Shell that I felt would capture a big audience but, at the same time, remain true to what I appreciated about it myself, as a fan.”
producer) Cubby Broccoli said to his daughter, Barbara, when he was on his deathbed – his last words were about the Bond franchise – ‘Whatever you do, don’t (louse) it up,’” Sanders said with a rueful laugh.
“That wasn’t too far from my mind. My mission statement was ... I think you have to be instinctive. I wanted to make a version of Ghost in the Shell that I felt would capture a big audience but, at the same time, remain true to what I appreciated about it myself, as a fan.
“I think I understood that there needed to be an easier way into the universe, to excite a grander audience about it,” he said.
LOADED WITH ACTION
Given that the material will be new to many moviegoers, how much of the film is an origin story?
“It’s part origin story,” the director replied. “It’s not an entire origin story. Really we follow the Major, who is trying to hunt down a cyber-terrorist who goes by the name of Kuze (Michael Pitt), and, as she follows him, she gets closer to understanding who he is, but also who she is.
“It takes place in a highly visual and stunning realisation of the Ghost in the Shell universe,” Sanders said.
“It’s a fast-paced action movie. At its heart that’s what it is, and then there are definitely a lot of philosophical, visual metaphors and conversations bubbling beneath the surface.”
WHAT’S NEXT FOR SANDERS
Sanders doesn’t know yet what he will direct next. It’s likely that it’ll be another megamovie, though he added that he doesn’t consider Ghost in the Shell to fall into that category.
“Ghost isn’t really in the mega-movie universe,” Sanders said.
“It’s a pretty conservative budget. We worked hard to really make it look like it’s a bigger budget than we had, and that’s part of the creative process. You have to beg, borrow and steal, still, when you’re doing a fairly big-budget movie, but to me it’s more about the story.”