The upcoming live-action adaptation of ‘Ghost in the Shell’ has been a magnet for fan scrutiny ever since the controversial casting of Scarlett Johansson was announced. Despite the attention the film has been given, only the barest of details have been confirmed regarding the film’s story.

During a recent conversation with the media on the film’s set, producer Avi Arad shed a good deal of light on the film’s storyline, the thought process behind it, and the themes the movie will be dealing with. Arad began by confirming which story arc the film is adapting:

“It involves Kuze. The Kuze story. The big thing we’re doing here is that we’re not necessarily doing an origins backstory, but we are addressing her sense of self and resolving how she defines herself in terms of memories. That’s one of the main thrusts in the story. Inspired by that episode of ‘Affection’ in ‘Second Gig’. It’s bits and pieces of those mixed together.

He also detailed some of the thinking that went into this, adding:

“I find that part of the reason we didn’t do Puppetmaster in this movie was we didn’t really feel like we had time to tell that story, and in your first movie the way the characters feel about themselves and the relationship with those people that they care about is usually more than enough story for a movie to handle. So there are villains and the do drive a lot of the story, but they are really there to antagonize her spiritually.

“The villains in the story are people that are abusing this brave new world. The movie certainly addresses this whole idea of in the future, if you think about everybody’s biggest fear around technology is about getting your identity stolen (which is really just your credit record) as opposed someone hacking your brain could happen here. The more technology gets inside you and the more it’s woven into your life the more that people can abuse it. So there are characters both at a criminal level and a governmental level, who are abusing technology and doing scary things.

“Ghost hacking is a big storyline in the movie, and in some ways we take it even further. This idea of if someone could change your memories, what would that do to your sense of self? After you meet that garbageman and you see him in the interrogation room. You’re like “that guy’s gone”. You could have a really interesting movie about that guy trying to put his life back together. Being told you  don’t have a wife and kids that you thought you did is a big hole.”

Asked what fans might recognize from the animated movies, Arad specifically mentioned the Geisha bot seen in ‘Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence’ before speaking more generally in terms of what the film borrows from prior ‘Ghost in the Shell’ works (particularly the animated movies), from specific scenes to a broader design sensibility:

“Everything we pulled from the movie is because we thought it was cool. There’s a whole thermoptic sequence with the garbageman. We did that because we thought it was really cool. What was interesting about ‘Ghost in the Shell’  is that it was never really a predictive future. It was more about a future designed to provoke a feeling in the audience and that’s guided design as much as if we were to hire a bunch of engineers and physicists and futurists to predict things. That’s the same kind of philosophy in this movie. There are things here that are more tangible like the cables or the hands. Even the cars. In every version of ‘Ghost in the Shell’ you’d never see a flying car. Everything felt like it had a combustion engine. It was all about making it feel chunkier and more tangible aesthetic and a mix of an overly dense urban area.”

What do you think of what Arad has to say about the long-gestating film? Let us know in the comments and check back with us for more as the release date approaches!

Helmed by ‘Snow White and the Huntsman‘ director Rupert Sanders, ‘Ghost in the Shell’ stars Scarlett Johansson, Pilou Asbaek, Michael Pitt, Juliette Binoche, Kaori Momoi, Rila Fukushima, Chin Han, Danusia Samal, Lasarus Ratuere,Yutaka Izumihara, and Tawanda Manyimo. The film is scheduled for release of March 31, 2017.