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The Matrix was a revolutionary movie that commented on technological reliance and used lighting, special effects and camera angles to add intrigue to the storyline. It tells of the dangers of technology and shows a worst-case story about what could happen if the technology created by humans became so powerful that it overtook the human race.
The movie The Matrix tells a very interesting story about what the world would look like if the technology created by humans became so advanced it overtook and began to control the humans. It is a very ironic twist that the humans become like slaves to the technology they created to serve them. It is also interesting how the protagonists in the story must use technology in the form of training modules in order to defeat the powerful technology that is ruling over the world. However, there is still the human element of being able to use their human brains to understand to world around them and outsmart the artificial intelligence. It is a cautionary tale, but still has a hopeful ending message that the human element will still be essential no matter what.
An example of when lighting is used to help tell the story is near the beginning of the movie. When Neo is first seen in his office building, the lighting is bland and slightly dim, but much brighter than it had been at any location before this scene. This shows the contrast between the two lives lived by Neo. When he is involved in his secret hacker lifestyle, everything is dark and there are shadows everywhere. This creates a very mysterious mood and illustrates theaspect of secrecy about how Neo lives his life. When he is seen in the office of his boss, it is the first well lit scene and is portrays the boring, bland everyday lifestyle that Neo is stuck in during the day. This contrast in lighting shows the contrast between Neo’s two lives, one as an ordinary citizen in a boring job, and one as a secretive hacker attempting to hide from his ordinary lifestyle.
Special effects also play a role in telling the story. At roughly twenty-five minutes into the movie, Neo is taken to meet Morpheus for the first time. Morpheus is seen from behind, looking out a window. When he turns around and his face is seen, a loud roll of thunder is heard along with a bright flash of lightning. This shows the intimidation faced by Neo when he first meets Morpheus. Morpheus is a mysterious figure to Neo, and it seems like he should be scared to meet him. There is also a similar thunder and lighting effect when Neo takes the pill, and also when Neo sees what the real world looks like for the first time. These all serve to show the seriousness of the situations and add emphasis on what is being said or done. It startles the viewer to give them a sense of how the characters must feel at that point in the movie.
Along with lighting and special effects, camera angles are used at times to convey meaning in the movie. An example of this is when Morpheus gives Neo the option to take the red pill or the blue pill. The shot shows an extreme close-up on Morpheus’ sunglasses, and in one lens viewers see his outstretched hands with a blue pill and in the other can be seen the hand holding the red pill. This framing illustrates the two distinct choices for Neo, he can discover the truth, or he can go back to his fake life in the matrix. The framing helps depict the stark difference between the two choices, and makes viewers think about which pill they would take if they were in that situation. Another example of this is when Neo is riding in a car with the other rebels inside the matrix.
The shot shows Neo from behind looking out the car window at thepeople walking down the street. Neo’s refection is seen in the widow, with a confused look on his face. Neo now knows that the people he sees are not real, but just projections in a computerized world. He now knows that they are like his reflection, he can see them, but they are not really there. His whole life has seemed real but has not been any more real that his reflection. This is a very interesting shot and it conveys a lot about what seems to be running through Neo’s head at the time.
There are plenty of people who have opinions about this movie, many of them with interesting and unique views on the messages and how the story is told with lighting, special effects and camera angles. One of the more interesting views compared the movie to Plato’s allegory of the cave. This is something discussed in many philosophy or psychology classes. In summary, it is that if you spent your whole life in a cave staring at rocks, you would have a hard time believing anybody who talked about the world outside with things like grass and sunshine. The author says that, in the movie, “the cave is the reality, the rebels hide out from demonic machines in the sewers of this post-apocalyptic world, while those who dwell in the illusions of the Matrix bask in sunlight” (Rothstein, 2003).
This comparison makes sense, as it kind of flips Plato’s allegory. Those who live in the matrix are comfortable and feel that everything they experience is real. The viewers experience Neo’s shock at discovering what true reality is, and he has a hard time believing that this bleak world is actually real, and that the entire life he knew was fake. Another interesting point was about how the rebels fighting against the matrix relied at least partially on other forms of technology in order to defeat the technology that was in control. The massage here is, “that it is by freeing our mind… that we attain freedom. Ironically, to free the mind, the rebels use virtual teaching machines and simulated combat arenas to learn to fight terror with terror” (Boje, 2000).
This casts a bit of a negative message on the movie, because itshows how deep the technological reliance runs that even when technology is viewed as controlling and evil, it still takes technology in order to work to defeat the technology in control. It is never a good situation when the only way to defeat something is to use it against itself, it creates a “fight fire with fire” situation. This is one of many negative massages about technology in this movie. Yet another negative message applies to schooling systems. One expert took the image of humans living in a gigantic field of pods being fed through tubes with no freedoms and made connections to the current educational systems in place today. The expert states that, “when the dominant notion of education is the manufacturing of students, there is no possibility of students’ self-creation” (Cook-Sather, 2003).
This is an interesting connection that does not exactly have much to do with the movie itself but paints a strong picture of what some people feel the educational systems of today are like. They believe schools treat students like the ruling technology treats the humans, they box them in and feed them opinions and leave them no room for creativity. No matter how anyone feels about the current educational systems, it is interesting to see just how far reaching the interpretations of this very influential movie are. Some experts have been critical of the movie, saying that the creators of the movie took a bunch of ideas from other movies and threw them together. Of the creators, one expert stated: “they know a rip-roaring yarn when they see one, and they are not afraid to steal – excuse me, appropriate – the ideas of their betters if it suits their purpose” (O’Sullivan, 1999).
There are some people that agree with this, but others would say this is a stretch, and that even if they did take some basic ideas, they made it original enough to give The Matrix its own unique feel (Maslin, 1999). These are just some of the opinions that can be found surrounding interpretations of The Matrix. It is definitely a movie that has started plenty of conversations about all sorts of topics.
Personally, I find myself agreeing with most of what I read about the movie, with a few exceptions. I do not feel that the creators simply recycled ideas from other movies and put them together. I think The Matrix was a very original and unique movie. To say a movie viewed as revolutionary is regurgitated from previous movies is simply not true. I really like the comparisons to Plato’s allegory of the cave. It is interesting to think about reality and how it is different to every person. This is seen in the movie when Neo goes back into the matrix after learning that it is fake.
He sees all of the people living their lives and not even questioning if what they are experiencing is real or not. If he were to try and tell one of them that they are living inside a computer they would think he was insane, just like how the people inside the cave in the allegory would think anyone trying to describe grass or sunlight to them is insane. I like how the rebels in the movie are reliant on technology even to the point of using it to defeat the technology ruling over them. I think it makes the massage of the movie much stronger and helps show the dangers of reliance on technology even clearer. I do think there is also some positivity in this message, as the rebels were still able to use the human element and control some of the laws of the matrix with their minds. This shows that humans will always have the edge over technology as long as we keep our ability to reason and think critically.
Finally, I do not really get the connections to the education system, I think it is definitely reaching to compare humans enslaved and treated like batteries to kids going to school every day. It is very interesting how many connections can be made from this movie and how people can find topics from all over to analyze based on the massages in The Matrix. I find myself agreeing with most expert opinions on the movie, but there are some people who stretch it too far beyond where the movie applies.In conclusion, the lighting, special effects and camera angles used in the production of The Matrix help tell the story and convey meaning. The main meaning is a cautionary messageabout technological reliance and the dangers of advanced technology. It is a very interesting movie.
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