Monday, May 12, 2003
As the legend goes, when Andy and Larry Wachowski first talked with producer Joel Silver about their next project after the thriller "Bound," they showed him the 1995 Japanese anime film "The Ghost in the Shell" and told him they wanted to make a live-action version of the film.
The two brothers had only one real project under their belts, and it was a minor hit at that, but they eventually convinced Warner Bros. of their vision, which had been influenced by scores of other films and books (comic or otherwise) along the way.
The result was "The Matrix," which has become something of a pop culture icon itself, thanks to some of the innovative camera work it introduced.
Here is a list, in chronological order, of some of the first film's references. Some are intentional as revealed by the filmmakers. Some are likely not, instead chosen just because they seem familiar or have been seen before.
- The rooftops that Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) runs across at the beginning of the film are the same ones that John Murdoch runs across in "Dark City" -- this is because much of the same set was used.
- Neo's (Keanu Reeves) opening scene, with the computer typing "Wake up Neo" echoes HAL's opening line in "2001: A Space Odyssey" (1968).
- Neo's room number is 101. Room 101 was the place in George Orwell's novel 1984 where people were sent to be tortured and would end up believing something that wasn't true.
- The question Neo asks his customer (buying a virtual 'drug') is very similar to Taoist poet Chuang Tzu's butterfly dream -- "Once upon a time, I, Chuang Tzu, dreamt I was a butterfly ... Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man."
- "Follow the white rabbit" is one of the many references in the film to "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" by Lewis Carroll.
- The idea of a drug being available on a disc, like the one Neo gives to his customer, was also explored in the film "Strange Days" (1995).
- The scene where Agent Smith erases Neo's mouth is similar to Terry Gilliam's "Brazil" (1985).
- When Neo goes to meet Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), and the characters walk up the stairs, the stairway is shown from above, looking straight down with a dizzying, turning camera angle. This visual reference echoes Hitchcock's "Vertigo" (1958).
- "Buckle your seat belt Dorothy, because Kansas is going bye-bye," Cypher (Joe Pantialano) tells Neo after he ingests the red pill. From "The Wizard of Oz" (1939).
- Neo's finger moving into the mirror is similar to a scene in Jean Cocteau's "Orpheus" (1949), in which mirrors had a water-like quality.
- When Neo is awoken, he is flushed down a tube and falls into a body of water. This, and his rescue by the Nebuchadnezzar, is a metaphor for baptism.
- Inside the Nebuchadnezzar there is a brief shot of a plaque with the ship's name, above which it says "Mark 3 No. 11." The Biblical verse Mark 3:11 is, "And whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out saying, 'You are the Son of God."'
- A metallic occipital probe is inserted in the back of Neo's neck for direct neural connection -- first seen in "Saturn 3" (1980).
- The scene in which Neo meets the gifted children in the Oracle's apartment is an homage to the similar scene at the end of "Akira" (1988).
- The little boy bending spoons in the Oracle's apartment is reminiscent of Bernardo Bertolucci's "Little Buddha" (1993), which also starred Keanu Reeves.
- In the Oracle's waiting room, the television shows white rabbits (which, earlier in the film, Neo was instructed to follow) from "Night of the Lepus" (1972).
- According to the filmmakers, the subway fight scene between Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) and Neo is a direct reference to "High Noon's" (1952) gunfight scene.
- In the final scene, Neo flies up and out of the screen much like the end of "Superman" (1978), and a direct reference to the film is made in "The Matrix Reloaded."
Matrix Reloaded ** 1/2
All the philosophical/metaphysical rambling in the world can't alter the fact that the second installment of the "Matrix" franchise is an action movie, pure and simple. In that regard, "Reloaded" triumphs, with duels and chases that are spectacular in their visual design. Of course, Keanu Reeves and his cohorts love to interrupt these instants of futuristic adrenaline with preposterous, wooden bouts of speech-making involving their evolving role in the struggle to rid humanity of its mechanized oppressors. Opens in IMAX theaters June 16.