Fifteen years ago, the Wachowski brothers unveiled their science-fiction classic "The Matrix." From the groundbreaking special effects behind bullet-time to the mixing, matching and surface-scratching of every philosophy one can pull from a 101 textbook to the techno music hacking and of course, the leather, "The Matrix" was built on a potpourri of elements. To look back, we compiled a few of the folks who could speak best to a few aspects of the film.
The Special-Effects; Or, How Bullet-Time Took 18 Months To Create In 1999 But Would Only Take 6 Weeks Now
When it happened in 1999, everyone’s mind was blown. The question was simply how did they do that?
“It all started with the Wachowskis at the beginning,” Kim Libreri, the film's technical supervisor, said in the video above. “We had comic book storyboards from day one, even before we worked out how we would do it.”
Libreri went to on to discuss the now famous method they “settled on” of using “lots and lots of cameras" (122 to be exact) which were set up in 360 degrees around the actor in front of a green screen and were shot in slow motion which required “clever ways of controlling the cameras with computers.”
In Libreri’s words, the method was "the first usage of techniques that would allow us to make synthetic environments solely from shooting photographs,” thereby allowing them to have a three-dimensional environment without having to have motion-film in the actual location of the scene. (Instead, “20 or so” photos were used to digitally create the environment in post-production.)
When asked how long it took to create the now-famous scene Libreri said, “That shot was in the pipe for about a year and a half.” How long would it take today? “I would say from beginning to end, we could probably put one together in about six weeks nowadays.”
The Philosophy Behind The Film; Or, The Philosophy The Wachowskis Admittedly Got Wrong
From the 15-year-old stoner to the philosophy professor looking to engage his bored students, "The Matrix" opened minds.
“The film is definitely inspired by Descartes ‘Dream Problem’ and Nozick’s ‘Experience Machine Problem,’ where the question is, ‘How can we know for sure that we’re not actually dreaming right now?'" said David Kyle Johnson, author of "Introducing Philosophy Through Pop-Culture.”
When asked about the nature of political slavery and free will within the film, Johnson referenced the philosopher Jean Baudrillard, who, according to Johnson, rejected being hired as a consultant on the film . Upon the movie's release, the Wachowskis admitted that they got his philosophy incorrect.
“One of the things that he [Baudrillard] argues is that, in a certain kind of way, we are not living in reality, and there’s a couple of ways of understanding that,“ Johnson said. “One way to think about real and not real is: is it human made? In that kind of light you might also think about a kind of non-reality that is imposed upon you by media, politicians, government, the outside world.”
Johnson compared the idea to the way biased television can influence one's take on current events.
"Think about the kind of reality that someone that might live in if they spend too much time watching their favorite cable news television show that sells them a certain kind of reality, the kind of reality that they want to believe in. In a certain way they are living in a kind of non-reality." he said.
So, Fox News is basically our Matrix these days.
The First Major Comic Book Trilogy After 'Star Wars'
Prior to "The Matrix," Hollywood had "Star Wars," the Superman and Batman films and few other significant geek franchises. Following "The Matrix," however, there was the X-Men series, “Iron Man,” “Marvel's The Avengers” and well, essentially all of the comic book movies that come out every weekend now.
How did “The Matrix” reignite the comic book film? It gave special powers and effects to seemingly normal people. It breathed life into the narrative of an average person who discovers they can do something abnormal and possibly save the human race with it. Not only did the film reinvigorate that narrative but it also spawned a number of special-effects wannabes such as the bullet time in Angelina Jolie’s “Wanted” or the globe-trotting space-time-continuum breaking of Doug Liman’s “Jumper.” The major difference between all of these films, no matter what their financial success was none featured nearly as many “geek” elements as "The Matrix.”
From philosophy to gaming to anime and kung-fu, “The Matrix” wore its geek flag proudly and has now spawned at least 15 years of the geeks holding power at the box office and thereby holding the power in Hollywood. See the full HuffPost Live conversation below.
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