The progress of the movie industry from 1945 to today cannot be ignored because of many reasons. In addition to a variety of new styles and movie genres, this field has undergone multiple technological transformations and enhancements. One of the most evident achievements was surely a step forward to digital cinema, and speaking about the best examples, The Matrix by the Wachowskis should be mentioned. In 1999, this movie reshaped human worldviews, either about the essence of life or about the quality of moviemaking. In this paper, attention will be paid to the analysis of its digital techniques and approaches that blew a person’s mind within two hours (an approximate length of the first part).
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This movie turned out to be a collection of innovative filmmaking techniques where creative visions were developed at the highest level. The audiences could not expect such unpredictable movements, jumps, fights, and fights. Despite the presence of positive and negative feedback on the movie, The Matrix remains one of the most outstanding projects in the film industry due to its digital techniques, the rise of new narrative forms, and the choice of main characters.
Movie Plot and Background
Millions of people of different ages have already seen or, at least hear, about The Matrix and its impact on the film industry. On the one hand, the movie changes the way of how this life and human relationships are understood and interrelated. On the other hand, some viewers cannot analyze the context due to the offered digital technologies and discoveries. Such phrases as “there is no spoon,” “the matrix have you,” or “the answer is out there” are repeated thousand times.
When people say about The Matrix, they mean not only an ordinary movie with a trivial beginning and an expected ending but a masterpiece with various aspects for analysis. Some people identify this movie as a real pop culture phenomenon where enough evidence to prove the possibility of a dystopian future is mentioned. In addition to a number of philosophical and cultural discourses, The Matrix introduces a technical revolution with the elements of kung fu, leather cloth preferences, and prophecies.
Its plot intrigues from the very first minutes when an unknown woman has to fight against a police team, demonstrating super abilities, speed, jumps, and fast reaction. As soon as she reaches a telephone booth, the woman disappears just before a truck with an agent ram it. Then, Neo is described as a young man who lives in two different worlds (human and virtual realities). His adventure continues when he meets Trinity, Morpheus, and other characters who help him grasp the essence of the Matrix, threats of Agents, and his contributions to human development and freedom.
This movie is the first part of the Matrix franchise. Its end (when Sentinels almost destroyed the Nebuchadnezzar, the ship of the team) shows the intention of the directors to continue discussing the chosen plot and discover other aspects of the Matrix world. In this paper, in addition to the assessment of the movie narration, the analysis of its technical advancements will be developed to discuss the progress of digital filmmaking at the end of the 20th century.
In 1999, the movie Matrix changed millions of human minds, as well as the way of how sci-fi thrillers should look like. It was impressive, entertaining, and scary to understand that such innovations could penetrate the real world. Before the Wachowskis, action movies were associated with the presence of explosions, powerful men demonstrating their masculinity, fights with blood and sweat being around, and violence that is measured by justice and order. The Matrix introduces a new combination of visual effects, sounds, and computer-generated imagery (CGI).
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One of the main ideas of the chosen movie is the possibility of people controlling everything and resisting the power of machines, relying on personal knowledge and unlimited abilities. In the sparring program, Morpheus explains to Neo the peculiarities of the programmed reality, the Matrix, and says that gravity and other natural rules exist, but they can be bent or broken. The directors of the movie used almost the same rules, leaving the number of successful and unsuccessful takes unknown, behind the scene.
Visual effects in the movie were numerous because they helped to create a new environment that looked realistic but based on generated imagery. The participation of such companies as Manex Visual Effects and Amalgamated Pixels made it possible to visualize the idea of Sentinels and other machines that worked in the gardens when Neo woke up. These complex constructions were designed on computers and added to the scene on the screen, creating a full and meaningful image.
The Power of Sound
There are many fights and shooting scenes in the movie, and not to confuse the viewer with unnecessary voices and noise, the directors paid close attention to the creation of appropriate sound effects. According to Perno, the success of the movie was guaranteed as it was motivated by a perfectly chosen sound background in terms of music and effects and feel in terms of visual textures. The combination of electronic and trance music developed the necessary effect like tension, passion, and greatness of the offered ideas.
The choice of Marilyn Manson, The Prodigy, and Rammstein as soundtracks strengthens the feeling of harsh but necessary truth. All the sounds proved the idea of the movie that was not easy for a normal person to accept. However, in the end, the music does not seem extreme and severe but is expected to underline the essence of the characters’ actions and make the event memorable.
When talking about visual effects in The Matrix, one should admit the introduction of one of the most powerful and remarkable moments in digital filmmaking – the bullet-time effect. Slow-motion in a shot symbolized a possibility for characters to gain control over time and space. Several cameras moved around the same bullet, and each second was taken from a different camera picture to introduce the movement of a single bullet. Today, such an effect is known as CGI, and it is frequently used to generate backgrounds and replicate a person realistically. In modern movies, it is hard to identify if people see real animals, people, and objects or if they are under the impact of CGI technologies.
In The Matrix, the creators relied on this technique but not for the creation of some impressive backgrounds or illusions. The focus was on the actors in their live actions. The best CGI example is the scene when the Agent shot Neo on the roof, and he was able to dodge. It was necessary to use feel like one of the motivating factors in making the movie. This “bullet-time” thing emphasized the importance of flying objects, dust, and rocks and provided a viewer with a feeling of action and participation in the events on the screen. Still, it was possible to understand the role of the actor and his direct participation in the process.
Narrative Forms in Digital Cinema
The Matrix was the first part of the franchise about the desire of people to survive in the war against the machines that use human energy and put them into sleep, creating a virtual reality. People as the source of electrical power is not an ordinary topic, and the Wachowskis were ready to develop a long and informative story on this background, properly choosing the descriptions of real and virtual worlds. According to Thompson and Bordwell, serial films have a great impact on the 20th-century narrations and the movie industry in general. At the same time, The Matrix also meets the narration standards developed during the 1980s.
Screenwriters found it effective and provocative to divide movies into three “acts” with a specific plot point, characters’ change, and outcomes. In the movie under analysis, the main character, Neo, is represented via the conditions offered in his real-world (without knowing what the Matrix is), the Matrix itself (when he learns the truth), and the real world after the Matrix impact (when he knows everything).
A distinctive feature of The Matrix is a combination of several worlds within the same storyline. There are intrigue and a number of questions emerging from the very first ten minutes of the movie. It is interesting to know how she can do all those tricks, why police officers are not aware of this person’s skills but try to attack her, and who those men in black suits are. The next line of the events is directly related to Neo, who has to “follow the white rabbit” like Alice in Wonderland. Although Neo gets an opportunity for personal discovery and a new path of life, other citizens continue living in their “real world” defined by Tobias as a “blackened hell space”. The time to choose a pill comes, and this Wachowskis’ decision becomes another remarkable scene of the movie.
The world of Matrix turns out to be not as exciting and pleasant as Neo probably expected it to be. In the modern film industry, directors and other moviemakers aim at enhancing photographic contrast and using lighting and low-contrast colors to make the video bright. To underline the uniqueness of a new world, the Wachowskis did not follow the same way but preferred “an eerie green” to “tint the entire film” so the viewer gets a feeling of watching an old monitor. It seems that they wanted to say that such a dystopian idea is not new, but they are ready to share it with the world on their terms. The Matrix can be dark and harsh or bright and solid, depending on what people want to see and choose.
Real World After Matrix
One of the main themes developed in the movie is a person’s freedom of choice. The description of the real world proves that not all people (for example, Cypher) are satisfied with their chance to know what the Matrix means. As well as other representatives of modern filmmaking, including Peter Jackson or Zack Snyder, the Wachowskis used high digital technology to use their fantasy to its full extent and provide action pictures with a new scale.
After learning what the Matrix represents, the real world can hardly be defined as perfect. It does not give all the answers as some viewers want. The power of narration in this film is that people get access to some portions of information, combine them with their experiences and abilities, and become what they want or can. In other words, the idea of the Matrix is not salvation but a possibility to know the truth.
Characters’ Contributions to the Digital World
Three Leading Characters
In addition to a number of technological advancements, The Matrix has a professional team of directors, editors, photographers, and composers. However, millions of viewers around the globe like to observe the work of actors, their appearances, and the quality of play. In this film, the cast was perfectly chosen from different perspectives. The leader, Morpheus, is a strong black man with a confident look and power, which motivates and supports other people.
A young white man, Neo, is a person on a crossroad, who knows nothing about his potential and the true world. Trinity is the character who combines multiple functions imposed on women today. On the one hand, she is a devoted warrior with properly developed skills and tactics. On the other hand, she is a loving woman who is ready to sacrifice her life for what she believes. The role of other characters like Agent Smith, Mouse, or Tank should not be diminished because they fulfill the world created by the Wachowskis.
Variety of People on the Screen
Today, it is easy to use a green screen and create the required number of people, backgrounds, or other important aspects of the movie. In 1999, the Matrix was free from such technologies, and the directors invited real people to complete their functions. The goal was not to impress by numbers but by the presence of the invisible line that exists between the realities or parallel universes as it was popular among modern moviemakers. Without understanding what roles they actually perform, people turn out to be involved in multiple processes programmed by the Matrix.
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Importance of Personal Information
A final aspect of the movie for analysis and its plot is the importance of personal information and the way of how people perceive it. The Wachowskis raised one of the most debatable topics in their work, which is the worth of destiny and faith in human life. The power of the Matrix is unlimited and unpredictable, because all humans, being under the control of the machines, truly believe that they do what they like, want, or can. The desire to get rid of the control of the Matrix creates a possibility of free choices, but again, the Matrix has its impact on people. Therefore, the movie underlines the necessity to filter personal information, recognize priorities, and live, but not just survive.
In general, The Matrix is not just an ordinary fiction film in which some digital technologies are being perfectly applied. This work has changed millions of lives, providing a new perspective on how to make a movie and develop the most provocative narrations. The Wachowskis made a significant breakthrough in the film industry and the application of techniques that were poorly known at the end of the 20th century. Therefore, the combination of digital progress, strong narrations, and properly developed characters make The Matrix one of the most outstanding movies in the industry.
The Matrix. Directed by the Wachowskis. Performed by Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Ann Moss, and Laurence Fishburne. Burbank: Warner Brothers, 1999. DVD.
Perno, G. S. 2019. “How the Matrix Changed Movies.” Cinelinx. Web.
Thompson, Kristin, and David Bordwell. Film History: An Introduction. 4th ed. New York: McGraw Hill Education, 2019.
Tobias, Scott. “The Matrix at 20: How the Sci-Fi Gamechanger Remains Influential.” The Guardian. Web.