We are going to watch ‘The Matrix’ and try to pick out aspects of the film which make it a postmodern film. Think about: the narrative structure the idea of changing established conventions Drawing the viewers attention to the construction of the film – ‘bullet time’ sequences Taking existing ideas from earlier films and using them in a different way – paying homage Suggestions it makes about society and its troubles
The Matrix The Matrix is a 1999 science fiction-action film written and directed by Larry and Andy Wachowski and starring Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano, and Hugo Weaving. It was first released in the USA on March 31, 1999, and is the first entry in The Matrix series of films, comics, video games, and animation.
Box Office Info It earned $171 million in the U.S. and $460 million worldwide, and later became the first DVD to sell more than three million copies in the U.S. The Ultimate Matrix Collection was released on HD DVD on May 22, 2007 and on Blu-ray on October 14, 2008. The movie is also scheduled to be released stand alone in a 10th anniversary edition on Blu-ray in the Digibook format on March 31, 2009, 10 years to the day after the movie was released theatrically.
The Matrix was a co-production of Warner Bros. Studios and Australian Village Roadshow Pictures, and all but a few scenes were filmed at Fox Studios in Sydney, Australia, and in the city itself. Recognizable landmarks were not included in order to maintain the setting of a generic American city. Nevertheless, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Anzac bridge, AWA Tower, Martin Place and a Commonwealth Bank branch are visible in some shots, as is signage on buildings for the Sydney offices of Telstra and IBM Corporation among others.
Other clues remain, such as the sign next to the elevator in the famed lobby scene reading "do not use lift during fire." (as opposed to elevator); and the "Authorised Personnel Only" sign (American spelling would be Authorized Personnel Only) on the door of the rooftop of the building where Morpheus was kept. In addition, in some scenes, traffic flow on the left hand side can be observed, which is another give-away for the filming location.
In Postmodern thought, interpretations of The Matrix often reference Baudrillard's philosophy to demonstrate that the movie is an allegory for contemporary experience in a heavily commercialized, media-driven society, especially of the developed countries. This influence was brought to the public's attention through the writings of art historians such as Griselda Pollockand film theorists such as Heinz-Peter Schwerfel.
The Wachowski Brothers were keen that all involved understood the thematic background of the movie. For example, the book used to conceal disks early in the movie, Simulacra and Simulation, a 1981 work by the French philosopher Jean Baudrillard, was required reading for most of the principal cast and crew.
The Matrix makes many connections to Simulacra and Simulation. In an early scene, Simulacra and Simulation is the book in which Neo hides his illicit software. In the film, the chapter 'On Nihilism' is in the middle, rather than the end of the book. Morpheus also refers to the real world outside of the Matrix as the "desert of the real", which was directly referenced in the SlavojŽižek work, Welcome to the Desert of the Real. In the original script, Morpheus referenced Baudrillard's book specifically. Keanu Reeves was asked by the directors to read the book, as well as Out of Control and Evolution Psychology, before being cast as Neo.
The Matrix has us. Our consumption of the films, the merchandise, and the world and myth the Wachowskis sell us, and our collective orgasm over the effects and phones, guns, shades and leather, represent our integration into the virtuality it promotes. The Matrix became a viral meme spreading through and being mimetically (mimicked i.e. copied) and absorbed into modern culture, extending our virtualisation. Merrin – Baudrillard and the Media (2005:131)
Just as the film offered the stark choice of being inside or outside the matrix so you were either inside or outside the zeitgeist (the spirit of the times). To paraphrase Morpheus: The Matrix is everywhere. As Baudrillard makes clear, however, its fans and public are caught in a similarly invisible matrix that is far greater than depicted in the film, and that the film itself is part of and extends.
Other Postmodern Influences The film describes a future in which reality perceived by humans is actually the Matrix: a simulated reality created by sentient machines in order to pacify and subdue the human population while their bodies' heat and electrical activity are used as an energy source. Upon learning this, computer programmer "Neo" is drawn into a rebellion against the machines. The film contains many references to the cyberpunk and hacker subcultures; philosophical and religious ideas; and homages to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Hong Kong action cinema and Spaghetti Westerns.
Challenging Film Making Conventions The film is known for popularizing the use of a visual effect known as "bullet time", which allows the viewer to explore a moment progressing in slow-motion as the camera appears to orbit around the scene at normal speed. One proposed technique for creating these effects involved propelling a high speed camera along a fixed track with a rocket to capture the action as it occurred. However, this was discarded as unfeasible, because not only was the destruction of the camera in the attempt all but inevitable, but the camera would also be almost impossible to control at such speeds. Instead, the method used was a technically expanded version of an old art photography technique known as time-slice photography, in which a large number of cameras are placed around an object and triggered nearly simultaneously.
The evolution of photogrametric and image-based computer-generated background approaches in The Matrix's bullet time shots set the stage for later innovations unveiled in the sequels The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions. Virtual Cinematography (CGI-rendered characters, locations, and events) and the high-definition "Universal Capture" process completely replaced the use of still camera arrays, thus more closely realizing the "virtual camera". This film overcame the release of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace by winning the Academy Award for Visual Effects
Task Discuss the concept of postmodernism as you understand it so far, and link your ideas to The Matrix to show how it can be read as a postmodern film. You should write about one to two sides of A4