Animating Imagination: Examining the visualization of philosophy in Ghost in the Shell

Ghost in the Shell poses classic philosophical thought experiments about Cartesian dualism, The Ship of Theseus, free will, and the convergence of biology and technology. I will be analyzing the visuals of various scenes within Ghost in the Shell in order to show that the film uses its animation to provoke and demonstrate the above thought experiments. Animation's ability to visualize one's imagination makes it a useful tool with which to turn philosophical ideas into imagery; Ghost in the Shell is a prime example, as the film forms and demonstrates within its frame the philosophical backbone of the narrative.

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To Infinity and Beyond: The Function of Time in The Terminator

The film The Terminator provides a narrative involving time travel that perfectly exhibits one of the most common paradoxes of the genre: the self-fulfilling time loop. Sci-fi philosopher Theodore Sider describes two possible ways of thinking regarding time: as a moving flow or as a dimension with the same characteristics as space (343). In order for the loop in Terminator to exist, time must be something that moves, and the very idea that time can flow allows for time to exist in the years before and after the ends of the loop via the creation of parallel timelines.

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Fargo: The Female Officer vs The Patriarchy

This discrepancy between Molly Solverson (Allison Tolman) and Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand) leads to one of the major differences between the film and the series; while Marge is perhaps the only competent officer in the film, capable of solving the case on her own, Molly’s capacity for detective work is hindered by the male authorities that surround her as the world inside the television series is decidedly more patriarchal than the one written by the Coen brothers.

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Christian Metz: Language Over Language System

Christian Metz establishes that cinema is “apparently a kind of language” even though it was initially “seen as something less, a specific language system.” Metz establishes that film is not a language system, but instead a language, by outlining the lack of basic linguistic properties that characterize language systems, while simultaneously illustrating how the language of film supersedes the sense of system that remains.

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Cult Cinema: Napoleon Dynamite

Jared Hess’ Napoleon Dynamite takes the ever-popular teen high school movie to an extreme. While it does follow some traditional conventions of teen high school films, it simultaneously throws conventions out of the window. However, those abandoned conventions are self-aware decisions which steer the film away from paracinema and closer to a hyperbolic parody.

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