Deep Dive: The Matrix
Deep Dive: Andrew Mason on The Matrix
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of The Matrix in 2019, the NFSA hosted a discussion between the film's Executive Producer, Andrew Mason, and NFSA Film Curator Nathan Smith:
The Matrix (1999) is set in a dystopian future in which humanity is unknowingly trapped inside a simulated reality. When a computer programmer, Neo (played by Keanu Reeves), uncovers the truth he becomes involved in a rebellion against the machines, under the tutelage of Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne).
Heavily influenced by martial arts films and Japanese animation, The Matrix introduced a new style of science-fiction filmmaking to the western film canon, and subsequently influenced further Hollywood action films. The film became known for its use of the 'bullet time' effect, in which the action within a shot progresses in slow motion while the camera appears to move at a normal pace.
Created by the Wachowskis, The Matrix helped establish Australia as a major film production centre. Filmed at Fox Studios in Sydney, and using the city itself as generic backdrop, the film became an effective showcase of the creative industries within Australia, with companies such as Animal Logic working on the visual effects.
The film attracted critical praise. Entertainment Weekly called it 'the most influential action movie of its generation'; other critics commented on the significant philosophical and spiritual themes delivered alongside the iconic action sequences, saying the blend elevated sci-fi to a higher standard.
The film’s success led to the making of two sequels in 2003, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, both directed by the Wachowskis (a further sequel is currently scheduled for release in 2022). In 2012, the US Library of Congress selected The Matrix for preservation in the National Film Registry for being culturally, historically and aesthetically significant.
You can find available streaming options for The Matrix films via JustWatch.
Watch footage from the world premiere in Los Angeles:
The Wachowski siblings are American film and television directors, writers and producers. Collectively known as the Wachowskis, they have worked as a writing and directing team through most of their professional careers. They made their directing debut in 1996 with Bound, and achieved fame with their second film The Matrix, a major box-office and Oscar-winning success.
Following the Matrix trilogy, the siblings wrote and produced V for Vendetta (2005), starring Hugo Weaving. They wrote, directed and produced Speed Racer (2008) and followed it with Cloud Atlas (2012). Jupiter Ascending and the television series Sense8, both released in 2015, were their last collective work, with both siblings going on to develop separate projects. Notably, the fourth Matrix film will be written and directed by Lana Wachowski, and is planned for release in 2022.
In this excerpt from Hugo Weaving's oral history, he talks about meeting the Wachowskis to discuss The Matrix and the role of Agent Smith:
Andrew Mason is an Australian film producer currently working with Hopscotch Features. In 1998 he produced Alex Proyas’ acclaimed sci-fi feature Dark City, which is held in the NFSA collection. He served as Executive Producer on the Wachowskis’ Matrix trilogy (1999–2003).
Andrew has produced several Australian films, including Danny Deckchair (2003), Tomorrow, When the War Began (2010) and Russel Crowe’s directorial debut, The Water Diviner (2014), all held in the NFSA collection.
Considered the original dystopian nightmare, and influencer to The Matrix, Dark City is a neo-noir science-fiction film shot at Fox Studios Australia a year prior. Like The Matrix, protagonist John Murdoch (Rufus Sewell) awakens from amnesia to realise the world is not as it seems, with the Strangers altering reality to control humanity. Viewing the original theatrical trailers for Dark City and The Matrix makes for an interesting comparison.
Fox Studios Australia
Established in 1998 and occupying the site of the former Sydney Showground in Moore Park, the studio offers the largest integrated studio facility in the southern hemisphere. The Matrix kick-started a string of major international movies filmed at Fox Studios including Mission: Impossible 2 (2000), Moulin Rouge (2001), Star Wars: Episodes II (2002) and III (2005), Superman Returns (2006), Alien: Covenant (2017), Peter Rabbit (2018), The Invisible Man (2020) and more.
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