What exactly is the definition of human in a society where a mind can be copied and the body replaced with a fully synthetic body? Where is the boundary between human and machine when the differences between the two become more philosophical than physical? Ultimately how do we define what it is to be human?
I’m not going to try and answer this today but these are the philosophical questions that form the basis of the futuristic manga and anime series Ghost in the Shell created by Masamune Shirow (first published in 1989). Whilst being nearly 30 years old the franchise is still alive and well with three movies, a TV series, a game and a trilogy of novels being spawned from it along with many aspects having slowly percolated into popular culture (it heavily inspired The Matrix).
With such a strong pedigree it’s rather worrying that Production I.G has sold the rights for a live-action movie to DreamWorks under the direction of none other than Steven Spielberg. For fans, this is a pretty worrying development. Whilst there is no denying Spielberg’s talent it’s an altogether different proposition when applying it to something like this, the main fear is that it will be severely dumbed down for a Hollywood audience.
If they can respect and stay faithful to the original maybe this has a chance but then again the likelihood of that is pretty low – the precedent is already pretty well established for ruining Asian cult classics.
Update (10/2009): Apparently Dreamworks has hired Laeta Kalogridis as lead writer (who also worked on one of the Tomb Raider movies) along with Avi Arad (formerly of Marvel) and Steven Paul to produce what’s being called a “3D live-action film”. Does anyone care to speculate what that means?