GHOST IN THE SHELL Trailer

Trailers rarely wrap themselves in layered meanings, but the opening line for Ghost in the Shell’s first full trailer has interpretations that could be speculated about ad nauseam.

“This is Major.”

In Scarlett Johansson’s unmistakable voice, the line can be read as an aggressive response to the project’s rampant whitewashing controversy. It dares you to forget that her character is overlooking a city modeled after Hong Kong and that the shot preceding it is of a robotic Geisha. The film is resolutely set in Asia with an actress who’s previously embodied displacement in Tokyo as your lead. That is the live-action version America is giving you, the line seems to say, whether you like it or not.

And yet, the firmness of the opening line could also be taken as a nod to the trailer’s prominent theme. Major is a full-body cyborg with so many robotic pieces that her identity comes into question. That makes the uneasy feeling you have upon seeing an out-of-place Johansson entirely fitting. That sense of misplacement is an intentional reflection of Major, not an ill-advised casting choice.

The previous interpretations are all dependent on the audience knowing about Ghost in the Shell, but since it isn’t a huge property in the West, many people seeing the trailer will know nothing about the franchise. Some will read the line as “This is major,” with major not referring to Johansson’s character but to the concept that the movie will be significant or big in some way.

GHOST IN THE SHELL Trailer
source: Paramount Pictures

Little do these people know that Ghost in the Shell has already had great influence on Western science fiction over its 25-year existence. A single film in the franchise has been adored by the likes of Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, and The Wachowskis, just to name a few from a longer and more descriptive article from The Guardian. For the uninitiated viewer, the trailer’s cyberpunk feel may seem familiar, but what they’re being introduced to is a trendsetter that has already earned the moniker ‘major’.

So that’s the first line, and while there’s many other wormholes you can go down after seeing the trailer, perhaps the most important one is whether director Rupert Sanders will pull the entire story together or deliver another beautiful disappointment like Snow White and the Huntsman. From what we do get to see, the project seems to be on a promising track. Controversy, however, will likely cling to the project until its release.

Ghost in the Shell is directed by Rupert Sanders and stars Scarlett Johansson, Pilou Asbæk, and Takeshi Kitano. It will be released in the U.S. and the U.K. on March 31st, 2017. For international release dates, click here.

What wormhole did you go down after seeing the trailer for Ghost in the Shell? Let us know in the comments!

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