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GCSE Media Assignment � An analysis of the success of ‘The Matrix’

The Matrix seems like a typical film about good versus evil but once you start to watch the film in depth you will soon realise why this film stands out from other cyberthrillers and why it is so popular. The Matrix has made over $460 million dollars globally and has sold over 15 million DVDs. $00 million dollars has already been spent on a sequel. This shows the popularity of The Matrix and how the makers of the film are confident that the sequel will be just as successful if not more so. The film’s basic plot is that Neo has been given the task to save mankind. Neo was an ordinary person who went about life minding his own business until he has been told a secret about life as we know it. Since he’s known that secret he’s had to be a saviour of the world. In some ways he is like Superman or Christ, protecting the world from evil.

The Matrix is a complex film with technical and obscure language. To understand the films plot you first have to understand what The Matrix is. Morpheus tells Neo that The Matrix is a computer-generated dreamworld. Morpheus also tells Neo that his whole world is fake. The Matrix is the real world. The Matrix is so popular that it has become a cult film with people worldwide.

One reason that the film is so successful could be that many people describe it as ‘cool’. People will think that it is cool as The Matrix is a very laid back film and shows us things that we would love to be able to do but know that it is impossible. When Keanu Reeves aka Neo is fighting with Hugo Weaving aka Agent Smith in the underground, Neo dodges the bullets very quickly by bending left and right at a great speed. People watching the film know that doing this would be impossible for any human being to do yet they still wish that they had the ability to have great speed and skill like Neo. It is special effects like these that make the film ‘cool’.

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It is the choice of characters and clothing, which make the film cool. To play the lead role the director would have needed someone who seemed laid back and not a very emotional person. If you watch the film you will notice that Neo never smiles or shows any emotion apart from fear. Many actors cannot go through a scene without showing their emotion but Keanu can do this, which is why he would be perfect for the role of Neo. As Morpheus is a leader in the film, the director would need someone who looked liked a leader so Laurence Fishburne was chosen. These actors are very cool to look at as they are dressed up in black. No bright colour is seen on them. They also wear glasses all the time no matter what the weather. The black clothes and sunglasses represent to us that they are very cool and that they mean business.

One particular episode when they show that they are cool is when Neo and Trinity go inside the Agent’s headquarters and try to save Morpheus. When they start fighting with the security guards everything is slowed down so they start fighting in slow motion. When you see Neo and Trinity fighting with the guards in slow motion they look very focused yet very calm. When Neo is shooting bullets at an Agent, he keeps on dodging the bullets by going left and right at a great speed, when Trinity sees this she goes up to the Agent and says

“Dodge this”

and then shoots him in the head.

That exact line is very suave and shows that Trinity is confident enough to do that to an agent.

Another reason that the film could be successful is that The Matrix is very philosophical. It makes you think about life. Is the world that we see real or is there an another realm out there? At the beginning of The Matrix we see a seemingly normal person called Thomas Anderson hold a regular job as a computer programmer. Then we see Thomas Anderson dressed up in black and in a club under the name of Neo. The audience does not think anything of this, till one day out of the blue he receives a call saying that some men are after him. Thomas tries to run but in the end does get captured by the agents. When he gets captured the audience now starts to realise what is real and what is fake. When the agents tell him that he has been leading two lives, one as Thomas Anderson a computer programmer, the other as Neo a computer hacker, the audience think how this could be possible. It is later on in the film that the audience realises that the life of Thomas Anderson was an illusion. The life of Neo living in a computer programme is real. This makes the audience wonder whether what we see, feel, touch, smell and taste is real. To us the life of Thomas Anderson seems like a perfectly nice life to lead. We then find out that humans live in a nightmare world of pure illusion. They are fooled by computers into believing that the world that they live in is real, but in reality they live in pods that produce lifelike experiences. The audience starts to think whether this life is real. There are things around us that we have grown up knowing, for e.g. a ruler. We have grown up knowing that a ruler is used to draw straight lines and for measuring, but how can we be sure that drawing straight lines and measuring is a ruler’s real purpose. Because we have grown up knowing that that is a ruler, a pen, a rubber etc we assume that the purpose is for drawing, writing and rubbing out mistakes. There may be other uses of these products but we do not know them. We believe what we see and on that we base our judgement. Whatever we see, in our minds we believe that it is correct and that it is real. Are we sure that we see touch and smell is real? The audience is made to wonder what it would be like to live in a dream and be superhuman. Audiences often like being made to think because they feel intelligent. With The Matrix they like to think that there is another world out there. But this is not the first film or person to suggest whether we can be sure that what we see is real as a famous philosopher named Renee Descartes often asked these questions.

The third reason that The Matrix could be successful is that it is exciting. The Matrix has lots of fighting sequences and special effects. One special effect is when Neo gets to see where humans really live, in pods. This was all done on computer. The film is about good fighting evil to find out the truth. Neo is just an ordinary person given an immense task, to save the world. The Matrix is also full of tension. One scene where there is tension is when Neo gets shot repeatedly by Agent Smith. When Neo falls to the ground and does not move the audience think that he is dead and in their mind they are urging him to wake up so while Neo is on the ground there is a lot of tension. There is a lot of excitement when Neo and Trinity go to the Agent’s headquarters. The audience wonders whether Neo and Trinity succeed in saving Morpheus.

Another reason that the film is so popular could be that they audience can relate to the character of Thomas Anderson. The audience can relate to him because he is stuck in a dead end job with a boss as a bully. Many people in the audience feel that they can relate to Thomas so therefore would like to see how he gets out of his job. This is an important factor because it helps make the audience feel that they do have something in common with the film and it’s main character.

Earlier on in The Matrix when Morpheus and Trinity take Neo to see the Oracle she is nothing like the image that we have all in our minds and have seen in books. The Oracle can predict the future she is a prophet.

The audience imagines her to be very beautiful, gracious, spiritual and light coming out from her at the sides but instead ends up completely different. She ends up to be like a mother figure baking cookies in her kitchen. She also lives in a small flat. Her house is nothing like the futuristic computerised buildings you see in the film but instead it is a normal flat. The Oracle also dresses nothing like the characters. She does not wear black instead she wears bright coloured clothes. She is not cool like the others.

Morpheus and Trinity take Neo there to see if he is the One who can save mankind. When Neo talks to the Oracle he convinces himself that he is just an ordinary person but the Oracle says quietly

“You are the one but just do not know it”

In the living room of her house there are also other children who have incredible abilities and are also people believed to be the one. One child in the room has the ability to bend a spoon just by looking at it. When Neo goes up to him the boy says

“Go on try bending the spoon”

Neo replies how can I. The boy then says

“It is easy you can bend anything. The spoon is not really there so you have the ability to bend it”

Neo ends up bending the spoon. The last quote tells us again that what he is seeing is not real.

Everyone has a different vision of the perfect world. I think the Agents perfect world would be having everyone dress in black suits with sunglasses and all having the name Mr Smith. Every single agent in The Matrix looks, dresses, talks and acts the same. I do not think that the agents can accept anyone who is different. They want everyone to be like them. To the agents they themselves are perfect and if everyone were like them then the world would be a better place. The Agent’s are not prepared to believe that being different is a good thing.

Earlier in the film Neo is hooked up to a virtual reality simulator. While he thinks that he is being taught how to fight by Morpheus, the fight moves are actually being downloaded into his memory. After the download is complete, Neo and Morpheus fight against each other. This is where it becomes like a video game. Neo starts walking on the walls and sometimes the fight is frozen while Neo is in the air then the fight resumes. Morpheus and Neo both fight with great skill and speed. In the background there is upbeat music. Drums are used to make the music. The music enhances the action. So when Neo and Trinity are fighting security guards with fast paced music in the background it helps create the scene. As the action speeds up the music speeds up as well. Sometimes a whole orchestra is used to produce the music.

In The Matrix there are some people who do not care whether the world is real or not. It goes to show that even though computers have deceived the human race some people are happy with the life that they have been given. For example Cypher likes the life that he has been given

“It don’t matter to me whether it is real or not. I’m happy and that’s enough”

In The Matrix there is also bullet-time photography. When Neo and Agent Smith are fighting with each other in the underground, Agent Smith shoots at Neo. Before the bullets hit Neo they all stop in front of his face. Then multiple cameras show us a 60 view around Neo. This gives a great effect and also tells us for once and for all that Neo is the one.

The Matrix is like a video game. There are many stunts that Neo, Trinity, Morpheus and The Agents do that are like video-like. The Matrix is a computer-generated dreamworld, which would mean that certain stunts would turn out computer like. One example of this is when Morpheus tests Neo to see if he can jump from one building to the other. When Morpheus first jumps, he goes very high into the air as if he were flying. Morpheus makes the jump without a scratch. When Neo goes to jump he only makes half of the distance and falls on the ground, the floor goes in and Neo gets thrown up again he then falls on the now solid floor but does not get injured. This scene is unrealistic and video like. It is video like as if Morpheus made the jump in real life he would not be able to and if he tried to do it he would fall to the ground and die. It is the same with Neo, if Neo fell to the ground in real life while trying to make the jump the ground would not cave in and he would probably die but in The Matrix Neo was still alive without a scratch on him.

The point above could be one factor, which could prevent The Matrix from being popular. Many people could say that The Matrix is unrealistic.

The Matrix has a very complex storyline. The language is also very technical so audiences may not be able to understand what they are saying. People who are into computers and how they work may understand what they are saying but for film buffs worldwide they would find it hard to understand.

Many of the effects are unbelievable; for example when the viruses attack the ship. Because these effects are unbelievable people may not be able to get involved in the story.

People may find it hard to believe that computers could rule us. We think of computers, as boxes of plastic with lots and lots of wires inside and the thought of computers ruling us seems absurd. The human race thinks of itself as the highest life form there is and the thought of an object that man has made, ruling us seems ridiculous.

I think the reason that The Matrix is so popular is the fact it appeals to everybody. There is action/fighting scenes, romance, philosophy/philosophical questions and computers. So this would appeal to boys/men, everyone, people who like thinking in depth and people who like computers. Because this film is not targeted at one specific audience it makes anyone who watches it like the film.

I give this film a rating of 10/10.

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