SCAR­LETT COMES OUT OF HER SHELL

Khaleej Times - City Times - - FRONT PAGE - Ian Spell­ing, The New York Times

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.”

Ru­pert San­ders

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.”

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