Shirow's Ghost in the Shell
The real beauty of Mamoru Oshii's adaptation of Shirow's Ghost in the Shell lies in its attention to detail and the sheer cohesiveness of these details which collectively form complex ideas and plot. In nearly every detail and every plot element lies some tie to the key themes of the anime. Some of the main themes deal with the commodification of the flesh and body; the separation between one's spirit and body; and the idea that a static environment or organism a weak stronghold. Here I will choose to focus on how through details the film explicates these themes, rather than spending time extrapolating or explaining the themes in detail myself.
The first key scene to examine is the interlude midway through the movie in which Motoko wanders through the city as music is played, inducing an almost transcendental mood. Nearly every one of those shots either shows the impersonality of the city, or some object which seems to make a statement about the separation between an individual and that individual's body, how the one does not equate to or determine the other.
For instance, Motoko sees several women- eating and walking- with the same face as her own, and the viewer immediately begins to wonder what else is similar. The concept that the body does not in any way determine the personality seems ridiculous to us, as our bodies are valued, and never to be bought sold, or worst of all, replaced. In the crowded, impersonal city (This impersonality was another important point, as that very lack knowledge of those around leads to a sort of commodification of strangers, which is similar to that same commodification of the body), among the thousands or millions of people she could run into, she time and again sees faces like her own. When not staring at visions of her, we watch the interior of warehouses and store windows with faceless manikins- just bodies with no personality. They had no ghosts, but their simple resemblance to people (they were a form of simulcra as they wore our clothing in advertisement) made us attach some significance to them as entities.
On a related point (and often in that same scene), we see examples of the commodifcation of people- their ghosts as well as their shells. From the beginning of the movie, one of the things that becomes readily apparent is that Motoko is somewhat objectified in her repeated removal of clothing to bare her thermoptic-camoflaged skin. In the manga, she WORE clothing to achieve this effect. Even...