Leonard Cohen: Bird on a Wire
Palmer's film is that rare concert doc that isn't for established fans only.
The film is set in the next century, when humans coexist with cyborgs, who are part human, part machine and part computer. The Puppet Master describes itself as “a living, thinking entity who was created in the sea of information.'' It once occupied a “real'' body but was tricked into diving into a cyborg, and then its body was murdered. Now it exists only in the electronic universe, but is in search of another body to occupy -- or share.
“Ghost in the Shell'' is not in any sense an animated film for children. Filled with sex, violence and nudity (although all rather stylized),it's another example of anime, animation from Japan aimed at adults--in this case, the same college-age audience that reads Heavy Metal and other slick comic zines. Anime has been huge in Japan for years but is now making inroads into the world market; this film was co-produced with British money and includes a song performed by U2, “One Minute Warning,'' which runs nearly five minutes under apocalyptic images.
The movie has a tendency, as does a lot of traditional science fiction, for its characters to talk in concepts and abstract information. Sample dialogue: “Aside from a slight brain augmentation, your body's almost entirely human.'' Or, “If a cyber could create its own ghost, what would be the purpose of being human?'' Or (my favorite), “You're treated like other humans, so stop with the angst!''
The lead character is a shapely woman named Maj. Motoko Kusanagi, a cyborg who runs an intelligence operation. Her unit is assigned to investigate an evil foreign operative who wants political asylum, but soon the case leads to contact with the Puppet Master, the “most dreaded cyber-criminal of all time. ''The major and other characters can change shapes, become invisible and dive into the minds of others--which places them not so much in the future as in the tradition of Japanese fantasy, in which ghosts have always been able to do such things.