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The Matrix Reloaded is a 2003 fictional futuristic film written and directed by Lana and Lilly Wachowski. The film is set in the future were artificial intelligence reigns over the rest of the world. As a second sequel to the matrix, it builds its story from a post-apocalyptic time were man faces rebellion from machines that became self-aware after the introduction of artificial intelligence. The machines overwhelm humankind and create a virtual network system was man serves as a source of energy for them referred to as the matrix.
Humankind serves as the source of energy as an alternative to sunlight that they blocked off to deny the machines their main source of energy (Cloud 330). Large portions of the movie were filmed at Fox Studios in Australia. Filming of the film took place starting from March 1st, 2001, and ended one and a half years later. Other parts of the film were shot in the United States. Oakland and Alameda were the locations for the highway chase as well as other minor sections of the film. The film was released as a follow up to the original matrix film that proved to be a huge success.
The matrix Reloaded falls under the science fiction category and forms a long list of imaginative films made in response to the rise in computer technology and fears that uncontrolled strides in the industry could prove to be a catastrophe for humankind (Fielding, 15). Similar movies at the time followed a similar pattern like the Terminator. The matrix is also a fusion of science fiction and action. This paper delves into the stylistic analysis and interpretation of a five-minute scene in the film. The main thematic concern of the film is the dangers that arise from uncontrolled development and improvements in technology. The scene, from 1:50:00 to 1:55:00, provides the most in-depth understanding of the characters, sums up the film, and explains the function/role of each character within the matrix as envisioned by the architect who has been absent from the beginning of the film and yet central to its plot.
The selected scene is the culmination of most sections of the film. To find an answer to his question, Neo is told to access the mainframe of the computer by the Oracle. However, to access the mainframe, they would need the Key maker and precise planning by their teams. Once Neo accesses the mainframe, he meets a seated, elderly looking man who introduces himself as the architect. The meeting is an eye-opener for both the audience and Neo as a character. Throughout the film, the development of the plot and characters centered on Zion and Neo. For the first time in the film, attention shifts to the bigger picture and reveals the role of Zion, Neo (the one), and the Oracle.
The architect is a well-spoken speaker and proceeds to explain the role of Zion and Neo within the whole web of the matrix. Instead of the Messianic figure envisioned by the prophecy that Morpheus strongly believes in, the One (Neo) is revealed as a means to an end, a facilitator for the continued existence of the matrix. As revealed by the architect, the function of the One is to facilitate the continued existence of Zion by picking 23 individuals, 16 females, seven males to rebuild the next Zion. In a nutshell, to act as a system of control. Further, Neo finds out that this is the sixth time that Zion is about to be destroyed by the machines.
The of the scene is rather dramatic. As Neo opens the door to face up to the architect, a bright white light envelopes him, fully placing him at the center of the image that forms. The cinematic illusion of the bright white light creates an illusion of messianic grandeur and complex. Neo is entering the room with the purpose of not only finding answers to his questions but also to save Zion from ultimate destruction as per the ancient prophecy. The dramatic nature of his entrance creates anticipation for the remaining portion of the scene. As part of the mise-en-scène, this paper analyses various aspects of the film in detail, as explained below.
As Neo opens the door, he steps into a large room with screens on each wall and a single chair facing the other opposite end of the space. The architect is seated on the chair and makes a dramatic spin to face up to his nemesis. To further illustrate the adversarial nature of their relationship, the scene places the two some distance apart from one another in several shots. While Neo stands, the architect sits in a spinning chair that depicts the positions of the two gentlemen. The architect is in a position of power and wields that power with a sense of invincibility. The knowledge dap between the two adversaries is also depicted in their physical positions. The room itself is neatly set up without any clatter and only the single chair as the sole furniture.
A well-organized room portrays the architect as an orderly person. Additionally, the empty white space is used by the directors to depict nothingness and a cold machine-like attitude of the architect towards the inhabitants of Zion. Throughput his monologue, he describes them as part of an unbalanced equation rather than a people with an identity. It is important to note that the changing colors of the room plays with the viewer’s sense of depth and creates an illusion of infinity. To further enhance the sense of illusion of both depth and infinity, the walls are layered by many television sets that have the same image at any given point in time. While the architect sits in his chair, he seems to control the mounted television sets that grab Neos attention now and then.
The directors use the televisions to enhance the Architects points and further enhance his persona. As the architect spins with his chair to face Neo, he snaps a pen that he is holding in his right hand. Wielding a pen further illustrates his status as the architect of the matrix. In scholarly settings, the tutor is often carrying a pen or another pointer of his/her position as the teacher or instructor (the purveyor of knowledge). In the scene, there are few transitions as a majority of it is played out in the same room except reflections of Trinity.
As earlier mentioned, the scene is composed of two parts; the interaction between the Architect and Neo and the fight scene between Agent Smith and Trinity. As Neo enters the room, a sharp, crisp white light is used to illuminate and place a spotlight on him. The light functions as an attention seeker as it emphasizes him. In the fight scene between Agent Smith and Trinity, the directors make use of low-key lighting (high contrast) to show the dramatic nature of the scene. Low-key lighting further enhances the do or die facing Trinity in her quest to help Neo in his mission. It acts as a precursor to the eventual fatal shooting of Trinity. In the Architects room, the theme continues with a focus on low-key lighting comprising of a light pattern juxtaposed against darker tones.
Low-key lighting is used in both instances to unsettle the audience and create a feeling of anxiety about the upcoming series of actions. The same theme of low-key lighting extends to the images of past human horrors portrayed on the screen as the architect explains the grotesque nature of the human psyche. The picture depicts events of wars and shows photos of old dictators like Adolf Hitler. Low-key lighting with shadows comes in handy whenever a director wants to enhance an unnerving section of the film further. The shadows and overlapping dark portraits create an illusion of impending danger or air of peril/menace.
Color in the Matrix is employed to show deeper meaning and contrast between different places and sections in the film. The two events of Trinity facing up to Agent Smith and Neo conversing with the architect happen concurrently. To create a difference between the two sections/scenes, the directors used brighter colors in the conversation, while darker tones showed the other scene of Trinity fighting the Agent (O’Halloran 1). Textures are also employed in the scene whenever flashbacks are used. The grainy television set depiction of Neo creates a difference in the changing sections and scenes of the film. The different color schemes help the audience to keep track of all scenes simultaneously as well as bring out the full range of emotions as envisioned by the directors.
Costumes are used to show the rank of an individual or status within a society. Directors may employ the same in films to create a distinction between characters or to enhance further their appearance concerning their roles. To her, their rebel and fighting background, Trinity is in tight pants that help contribute to her agility and flexibility. On the other hand, Neo is dressed up in a long suit that enhances his superpower status within the film characterization. The architect takes up a formal executive grey suit-look to depict his position within the matrix as well as differentiate him from agents within the system. Agent Smith matches the normal ware of official security personnel in a black suit and an earpiece. The earpiece, in particular, identifies Smith as security personnel or agent within the matrix. The architect is dressed up immaculately and therefore exudes a measure of sophistication that is in line with his persona. The neat look is further enhanced by accessories such as the gold watch on his wrist.
The architect is articulate, slow, and confident with a deep voice in his speech. The deepness of his voice creates a commanding atmosphere as well as enhancing the perception of control that he has over the One.
The scene chosen is the culmination of different sets of events that takes part in the film. At the beginning of the film, captain Niobe alerts the rest of the ships about an impending attack by the machines. The build-up is unlike anything that they have faced before and worries a majority of the captains. However, an old prophecy portends that the One will save Zion. Morpheus advises Neo to seek the guidance of the Oracle (Cloud 330). The latter advises Neo to gain access to the mainframe by using the key maker as a means to achieving that end. All the other events in-between lead up to the selected scene; Neo meeting up with the architect.
Additionally, the film creates pertinent questions that can only be answered by the architect. For example, the role of the One in saving Zion and whether Zion will be saved at all? The architect answers the thematic concerns of the film by explaining the very dormant position of the machines when compared to humans. The scene further develops the plot but in a conclusive manner when compared to other sections of the film. In our chosen scene, it reveals the role of the major characters in the film in one sitting. The movie follows a typical Hollywood narrative of plot development, confrontation, and then resolution.
In our particular case, Neo confronts the architect as a culmination of the build-up of the plot. The confrontation, although not physical, features the protagonist trying to find solutions to the problems that they face. Therefore, the film follows the 3-act structure of film development. For large sections of the film, the director builds up the plot of the security challenges facing Zion as the first part. Our scene falls under the category of the second act as Neo (the protagonist) seeks to find a resolution to the challenge that is built up in the first act.
The third and final act of the film shows Neo accomplishing his task as envisioned by the architect. Zion does not survive the war with the machines, and everyone is wiped out apart from a few individuals that will make up the future of Zion. The film’s implicit meaning is the increase in power of the machines. As a result of the developmental changes of technology, machines become self-aware and revolt against their human masters whom they consider to be viruses. The film, released around the same time as Terminator 3, describes the dangers of technology and human innovation if left unchecked.
Matrix is a fictional depiction of the dangers posed by human development in multiple fields. While the film emphasizes the computing and technology sector, the same warning can apply in other fields like biology, with the continued advancement in human biological studies. Although innovation is good for human advancement, unintended consequences can often result in cataclysmic results for the human race. Over time, other stories and films have dwelt on this theme with dire warnings about uncontrolled human advancement.
We can draw parallels between the matrix and other writings of art from an age past like Frankenstein that has the same thematic concern. In the scene analysis, the architect lays bare the very intention of Machines and the powerless nature of humankind. Despite his supernatural powers, Neo cannot stop the series of events designed to bring to an end the existence of Zion. The scene is the single most important scene in the film as it lays out the role of each character as well as answering the question about the purpose of Zion and the One. By analyzing this scene, the actions of each character in the film begin to make sense to the audience. Throughout the film, many unanswered questions raised find their answers in that particular scene.
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