People who follow me on Instagram will know that on Monday 29th July I went to a late night showing of The Matrix to mark 20 years since its original release, now that was actually 6 weeks later than its actual anniversary, as it was released on 11 June 1999. I didnt see it until it came out on VHS and my Step-Uncle brought it round and showed us the first scene with Trinity, now he and my Step-Dad were gawping over Carrie Ann Moss in that outfit, I on the other hand, was transfixed by what Lana and Lilly Wachowski were doing with their cinema work.
I’ve watched it many times since, I even spent one summer shortly after the sequels were released diving down a rabbit hole of plot theory, figuring out what each and every scene was going on about, and maybe giving the Wachowski’s writing more credit than it possibly deserved. There’s no doubt they had high idea’s for their story but ultimately its hard to see exactly what they were trying to say. Besides, alot of that has now been consigned to long lost memories and I’d struggle to go further into its lore without spending many more hours digging through the internet, Neo style, trying to find answers.
So, we go back to the original movie, I’ve seen it on VHS, I’d seen it on DVD, I’d never seen it at the cinema before so was very excited to do so.
There were a few problems with the showing though. Vue’s website says it was 4k and whilst I’ve never seen anything in 4k before (that I’m aware of anyway. I don’t have the home set up for it and the last film I saw at the cinema was Rogue One: A Star Wars Story at Milton Keynes, which I’ve no idea whether it was a 4k showing or not), there were times I was seriously unimpressed with the picture. The stand-out moment was during the scene where Smith and his cronies have Thomas Anderson in the interrogation room, when Smith mutters the line “what is the point of a phone call if you are unable to speak?” (or words to that effect) the picture of Keanu Reeves, his mouth sealed up, struggling to fight off the Agents, was really quite blurry. Likewise the scene with Trinity I mentioned early didn’t look as sharp and clean as it was in my mind.
These moments didnt detract from the overall experience though, the shift from Rob Zombie’s “Dragula” into Neo’s alarm is still a really cool scene switch that still leaves the viewer questioning whether Neo was dreaming about his meeting with Trinity, the visit to The Oracle is still as mind-bending and funny as it always was “Don’t worry about the Vase” etc, and everything from Cypher’s betrayal to Neo’s resurrection (and his position as a Christ-like figure within the world created by the Wachowski’s) is still seriously fucking awesome.
Obviously the technology on show has dated, the phones and computers we use now compared to what we see within the Matrix (both the machines program and the film itself) are ridiculously more advanced, whilst the technology used to create its visual impact has also aged and been used to death. The costumes have, again, been used to death to make someone stand out as being “cool”, which wasn’t the intention of the costume designer, instead her intention was to create a clear difference between ones appearance in The Matrix and in the real world.
And that aesthetic, and the films theme, still stands true today, maybe even more so as the internet has become a place that one can very easily create an entirely new persona for themselves, only showing the rest of the world, through their social media platforms, what they want the world to see. We live in a world of “influencers” and more than even in the 80’s what you wear and how you portray yourself is the be all and end all. One mis-judged social media post, be it something something untoward on Twitter, or wearing something on a new picture of Instagram that upsets enough people, and that image falls to pieces.
Okay, thats not the central theme of The Matrix, which is about humans becoming an energy source for the very things they created, but there’s not a huge difference.
So, 20 years after the Wachowski’s amazed the world with their visionary masterpiece, does The Matrix still stand up today? You better fucking believe it does.