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New Ulm Film Society resuming animation series with Japanese classic ‘Ghost in the Shell’

NEW ULM — After over a year’s delay, the New Ulm Film Society is restarting its film screening series with the animated film “Ghost in the Shell.”

The movie will be screened at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 13 at the New Ulm Public Library.

The screening is part of the New Ulm Film Society’s animation series that was started last year before the pandemic shut down screening events. The animation series will pick up where it left off with “Ghost in the Shell”.

The movie is a landmark in the history of animation. The film introduced western audiences to Japanese-style anime and inspired sci-fi action films for a generation.

Released in 1995, “Ghost in the Shell” is a science-fiction film set in Japan in the year 2029. In the future, cybernetic people are commonplace and human brains can connect directly to the internet. This has created a new class of crimes that are investigated by a police division called Section 9.

Major Motoko Kusanagi is an officer in Section 9 that is hunting for a cybercriminal who can hack the bodies of cyborgs to steal information and commit other crimes. Kusanagi is herself a cyborg. Most of her body was rebuilt with artificial parts following an accident. Her cybernetic enhancement assists her in fighting crime but also makes her susceptible to cyber attacks.

“Ghost in the Shell” is described as a futuristic crime drama, but the film often deals with difficult existential questions about the nature of humanity. In a world where many people live inside artificial bodies, the characters are left to question what makes them human. Are humans the sum of their physical bodies or are humans a collection of thoughts and information inhabiting a shell?

The film is credited with popularizing Japanese anime in Western countries and influencing action cinema to this day. Japanese-style anime had existed for decades but had little impact in the United States or Britain. “Ghost in the Shell” was the first anime to gain a large cult following in the United States. The film sold well on home video.

Part of the appeal of the film was its approach to the future. In 1995, the internet was still new to American culture, but this film was predicting a world where humans were constantly connected as a part of daily life. The film’s predictions went further than reality but were correct in predicting how much human interaction would occur online.

The audience was also impressed with the film’s action sequences. As an animated film, character movements were not bound by the physical world. The animators could draw the character movements however they imagined. The film created some of the most unique action sequences in the film.

“Ghost in the Shell” is often cited as an influence on the Wachowskis and their creation of “The Matrix.” The two films have overlapping themes and similar action sequences. When seeking funding for “The Matrix,” the Wachowskis showed producers “Ghost in the Shell” and said they wanted to do the same in live-action.

An American-produced live-action remake of “Ghost in the Shell” was released in 2017, but the original is considered the better adaptation.

The New Ulm Film Society will start the screening at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. The Film Society members will provide additional information on the movie before and after the screening.

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