***½/**** Image B+ Sound A- Extras B
screenplay by Kazunori Itô, based on the manga by Masamune Shirow
directed by Mamoru Oshii
by Bryant Frazer I'll get this out of the way first: the soul is the ghost and the body is the shell. The title is a reference to Arthur Koestler's book The Ghost in the Machine, which itself refers to a term coined by philosopher Gilbert Ryle to describe the duality of mind and body. The writer and illustrator Masamune Shirow borrowed and altered the phrase for his serialized 1989 manga "Mobile Armored Riot Police", which bore the subtitle "The Ghost in the Shell." I haven't read the manga, but the animated feature it inspired is positively heady with ideas. Ghost in the Shell is a cop movie about robots with human souls. It's science-fiction about the human rights of artificial intelligence. And it's a fantasy about a sexy cyborg who knows how to use a gun. It's all of those things, and it's a disquisition on human consciousness, a meditation on urban loneliness, and also, maybe, a poem about unrequited love. It's extraordinary.