The Matrix (1999)

R   |    |  Action, Sci-Fi


The Matrix (1999) Poster

A computer hacker learns from mysterious rebels about the true nature of his reality and his role in the war against its controllers.

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  • Lilly Wachowski and Lana Wachowski in The Matrix (1999)

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22 February 2019 | david-meldrum
10
| 20 years on from release, some random thoughts on revisiting The Matrix. Spoiler: It's still brilliant.
20 years after its release, and several years since I last saw it, some reflections on the experience of rewatching The Matrix. In no particular order ...

1) It still look great. I mean, this is one amazing, stylish looking phone. Very little about the look of the film has dated - the mobile phones, obviously, Neo's computer, and very briefly a couple of visual effects creak. But otherwise, this looks as amazing at it did on release. It's sumptuous.

2) I think I was one of the many who misjudged Keanu Reeves all those yeas ago. I made easy jokes about his vacant stare and apparent intelligent. From this vantage point we can see he's been in a good number of successful, intelligent films. It's also become clear that within the industry he as a reputation as decent, hardworking man who is a pleasure to work with.

3) It's apparent again how literate and cine-literate the film is. I knew this 20 years ago, but since then I've seen a lot more films and read a lot more books, and this time around I especially loved the way the film nods its head to other film genres and influences. I noticed a lot of Peckinpah, and did I see a nod to Kurosawa there too? And I was reminded that for an English Literature graduate like me, this is a goldmine of quotes, allusions and references.

4) Seen 20 years on, its influence on cinema since is clear. There's a lot we could talk about here, but I was especially struck by how indebted a director like Christopher Nolan is (keeper of the flame of intelligent blockbusters), especially with Inception.

5) I'd forgotten that the narrative ostensibly maintains uncertainty about Neo's identity until just before the end. I'm not sure this really works - anyone who's read many books or ever done an anagram will not find that the most suspenseful part of the narrative.

6) Despite a run time of 2 and a quarter hours, it never flags and attention never wonders. The film fizzes with kinetic energy and the time flies by. It's a lean film, without a wasted moment.

7) The film is, of course, packed with religious allusions. When I wrote a chapter on this for my BA Theology dissertation, I said I thought the film was neo-Bhuddist (forgive the pun, please), and I stand by that on rewatching. Of course, there's lots of allusions to Christian and other theology, and The Matrix spawned some really bad reading of film by Christians which has never really stopped. When will some Christians learn to read a film/book etc with integrity and understanding of what the film is trying to do? It's a spiritually confused mish-mash of a film - but still a gloriously entertaining one.

8) All these years later, it turns out The Matrix was somewhat prophetic about the role technology would play in our lives. Humans permanently plugged in to networks? Different layers of reality that are somehow more real than what we think of as real? The Wachowskis saw all that and more coming 20 years ago. Artists are the weather vane of society; we really should learn to pay attention to them.

9) Bottom line. I still bloody love this film. I'm trying to work out if I have the requisite strength to revisit the sequels....

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Did You Know?

Trivia

Sets from the film Dark City (1998), including rooftops, buildings, and other exterior sets, were used in this film. The rooftops that Trinity runs across at the beginning of the film are the same ones that John Murdoch runs across in Dark City. Both movies deal with humanity being kept in a carefully constructed illusion by outsiders, which prompted claims that The Matrix had effectively ripped off Dark City; in reality, the screenplay of The Matrix had been written long before Dark City was released.


Quotes

Cypher: Yeah.
Trinity: Is everything in place?
Cypher: You weren't supposed to relieve me.
Trinity: I know, but I felt like taking a shift.
Cypher: You like him, don't you? You like watching him.
Trinity: Don't be ridiculous.
Cypher: We're gonna kill him. You understand that?
Trinity: Morpheus believes he is the one...


Goofs

When Neo meets the Oracle, she makes a big deal out of waiting until the exact moment to take the cookies out of the oven. Then after a few minutes she gives an oven-fresh cookie to Neo. When Neo takes a bite of the cookie, it breaks and crunches like a store-bought ginger snap -- hardly a perfectly timed oven-fresh cookie.


Crazy Credits

At the end of all the credits, the URL for the (now defunct) website of the film is given, www.whatisthematrix.com, along with a password, 'steak'. There's a 'secret' link on the page that requests a password.


Alternate Versions

In the French version, when Neo dies, Trinity says that she loves him and that she is going to bring him back. In the original version she says that she is not afraid anymore because she loves him.


Soundtracks

Rock is Dead
Written by
Marilyn Manson, Jeordie White, and Madonna Wayne Gacy
Performed by Marilyn Manson
Courtesy of Nothing/Interscope Records
Under License from Universal Music Special Markets

Storyline

Plot Summary


Synopsis (WARNING: Spoilers)


Genres

Action | Sci-Fi

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