The Matrix is a premier American science fiction action film directed by Wachowski sisters and later released on March 31st, 1999. Since its onset, the movie has won four Oscar awards. One of the main reasons why the film has managed to achieve a high standard is due to the perfect use of costumes on the screen. These costumes were designed by Kym Barrett, who managed to show the sleek black iconographic costumes. The costumes have been used to illustrate the varied themes in the film such as the growth in the fashion industry, Cultural Revolution, and the power of women in promoting gender equity in society. This paper explores how the costume style was used and its overall effect in promoting the themes and other aspects of the film.
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One of the primary reasons why the designer Kym Barrett used costume in The Matrix was to predict the future of trendy fashion in the world. Consequently, designing some of the futuristic costumes on predicting the emergence of various fashion and designs was the only ideal way of achieving the mission (A. Wachowski & L. Wachowski, 1999). The use of sleek clothes on most of the characters was meant to help the audience reveal their power in changing the global perception of fashion and trends. As a result, the costumes’ designer worked diligently to distinguish between the ultra-stylized virtual simulation, the sleek, and the dystopia of the 20th century. The designer managed to differentiate the changes in time and fashion created by the use of various clothes of the characters in the film. In other words, Barrett depicted the power of costumes in promoting fashion.
To effectively achieve the costumes’ power in the movie, Barrett created several characters wearing sleek clothes, micro-sunglasses, and duster-length coats. Through these attires the designer managed to depict heir persona and show the audience the power of costumes in portraying the nature of every person in the movie. The film designer continues to depict their characters by indicating the movement of their costumes as they jump across the buildings.
The Elizabethan-style long coat dress featured the characters as powerful people who could work to accomplish their mission in society. In most cases, women featured in the film are shown wearing a functional dress and rubber-soled boots, prepared for running and fighting (A. Wachowski, & L. Wachowski, 1999). The portrayal of such dressing code indicated that women were equipped to fight and win. The provision of such costumes suggests how these characters are harnessed and interested in their roles in the community. Therefore, by dressing the female characters in the Elizabethan-style, the designer indicates the future change in promoting gender equity.
Barrett continues to use costumes to portray the Cultural Revolution which was occurring across the globe. By providing a duster-length wool coat, Barrett takes the opportunity to incorporate the varied cultural groups’ influences on the present society. She was trying to create a new culture that does not have any link to the older neo-culture. In fact, her approach shows that she is accepting the cultural changes in the future (A. Wachowski & L. Wachowski, 1999). By showing knee-high combat boots, the designer achieved to unveil many cultural changes that will occur in the future, such as women’s involvement in active politics. The film perfectly manages to show that the future world will be highly determined by a number of new cultural forces geared to move the world. Therefore, the aforementioned revolution defies the present cultural positions and accepts the changes that will occur in the future regarding the Cultural Revolution.
Barrett also managed to use the costumes’ style to enhance the movie’s appeal to the audience. The element has perfectly been used to exhibit certain themes such as violence. As the movie shows the fight on the subway stations, Barrett managed to use different costumes with varied colors to stimulate the visual appeal to the audience. The main reason for using these costumes is to promote entertainment and fantasy. The Matrix designer wanted to give the audience a visual thrill of observing the wave of activities in the most phenomenal events in a slow motion. In most cases, Barrett designed quite appealing attires that could catch the attention of the audience as well as promote their love for the film.
In conclusion, it is clear that The Matrix has managed to effectively use the costumes as a perfect style in the film. The designer use of costume has helped the entire crew depict varied characteristics as well as propel certain themes. Some of the most common themes that have been shown include women’s power in supporting gender equity, the Cultural Revolution, and violence. Therefore, this film should be used as a perfect example of the costumes’ power in creating changes in society. In fact, it is clear that Barrett managed to design some of the perfect costumes that can be used in the modern day films to promote themes as well as characters.
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Wachowski, A., & Wachowski, L. (1999). The Matrix. [Film]. YouTube.