Thursday, August 06, 2015

14: The Matrix

One that does bear re-watching but nothing will really get past the first time that you see it. I didn't see any trailers prior to watching it for the first time, and all I really knew about it was a few work colleagues telling me it was good, and seeing "What Is The Matrix' displayed on numerous London buses as I cycled past them on the way to work. And really, I think when you do watch this, it's worth trying to imagine that you've never seen it before and you don't know what's coming.

Of course once you DO know what's going on, the story itself is still strong: plenty of meta-narratives and even religious symbolism (from a variety of religions) in there, but mostly it's a fast-paced action cyber-punk thing about fully-immersive virtual reality and being able to download stuff into your brain. So essentially, let's be honest, it's William Gibson's Sprawl universe. And while I don't want to go too deeply into Gibson's work here - that's coming in another list later in the year - it's worth remembering that when asked about 'The Matrix' and its sequels in 2003, he chuckled wryly and replied "ah yes, the unpaid bill". Gibson has no official connections with The Matrix at all. But without him it wouldn't exist.

But it's not just the story that was ground-breaking - the use of the 'bullet-time' special effects were revolutionary in 1999 and the film seemed to be as much about an introduction to a new generation of film direction as about the story itself. And, of course, there's the 'what if it was me' question, very similar to the version of that question posed by The Truman Show - is the world around me really real or not?

And perhaps it IS all true. Don't sneer. When The Matrix was made there were lots of payphones around. Since its release they've almost all vanished. Don't tell me that's a coincidence.

1 comment:

Kevin Sawers said...

Oh my, yes. I also managed to watch this at the cinema without knowing anything about it (apart from the 'What is the Matrix?' billboards, and wow what a rush. Still one of my favourite films.