“Matrix” 25 years later – Diario El Ciudadano y la Región

There was much talk at the end of the 20th century, 1999 more precisely, that the immersive film Matrixby the Wachowski Brothers – Larry and Andy – at that time, today the Wachowski Sisters since both began a gender transition a few years ago, pre-announced the 21st century with all its display of virtuality, its advantages and its also harmful consequences in the communication between men and also as a tool – or weapon – according to the objectives set for its use, in contemporary times with artificial intelligence at the forefront.

At the same time, Matrix He worked in detail on the still enigmatic relationship between men and machines, an aspect later widely visited in much of the cinema and subsequent series –Westworld It was one of the most complete examples of recent years – no longer so linked to science fiction or fantasy but capable of breaking into any clearly realistic story. Matrix describes a real-looking world where humans are involved in a virtual simulation generated by artificial intelligence – the Matrix of the title – which uses bodies as providers of vital energy.

Existence, under that premise, is then completely false, and it is in an interstice of that virtuality when a programmer known as Neo or Thomas Anderson, together with a commando group led by a character nicknamed Morpheus, decides to combat that system that turned reality into reality. in a “real looking” fantasy.

This aspect makes the Matrix a kind of point zero of a bid that was established with more intensity and currently constitutes a dilemma, since it is difficult to predict the scope of artificial intelligence in its probable replacement of human work, as well as its potential destructive and submissive facet since their cognitive and intellectual capacities are the property of corporations and not of governments specifically – although there are reservations regarding the affinity of interests between Corporations and States, as is the North American case.

A programmed reality

Which in Matrix appears with an unprecedented force is cinema as a device created by technical images, something that Hollywood will later use without limit or measure since it finds there the axis of the spectacle as it conceives it, a crucial element to deploy it over space and time. The film theorist and writer Raymond Bellour had already thought about the modern world of images and what would result from their passage to a new regime of visibility, taking into account the digital and virtual imaginary, where it seems that materiality is disappearing. And the Czech-Brazilian writer and philosopher Vilem Flusser also highlighted the system that produces technical images generated by devices, emphasizing that they are indirect products of applied scientific texts and establishing a close relationship between science and artistic manifestation.

The truth is that in recent years the relationship between reality and virtuality has narrowed to limits that were inconceivable a few years ago. Above all in the areas of image and sound that modified and mediated the way people relate in their daily lives. In this way, we begin to lose notion between reality and that virtual world, given that there is a displacement of the borders between reality and fantasy. The technological innovations of the last decade have deepened this situation because it is increasingly complex to discern what “is real.” Already in 1970, the science fiction and fantasy writer Philip K. Dick had stated that “we live in a computer-programmed reality, and the only clue we have is when someone changes the variable and some alteration occurs in our reality.”

In that sense, Matrix can perfectly be seen as a video game – quite popular at that time –, encrypted when Morpheus says to Neo “welcome to the desert of the real”, referring to a phrase used by the philosopher Jean Baudrillard about (virtual) worlds that seem more real than reality itself. Morpheus points out the power of that matrix – again the Matrix of the title – capable of creating a virtual, or apparently real, world, as opposed to the true real world. The anticipatory nature of Matrix It is revealed in the idea of ​​how different forms of artificial intelligence could devastate the world, condemning human beings to live virtually connected to the same matrix, almost like software installed in their minds to represent everything concerning existence.

As a passage from one world to another, Matrix appeals to the use of telephones as if they were mirrors, although Baudrillard himself questions this idea in his book Drills and simulation (1981) because “in the era of simulation there is no mirror that can reflect any type of reality,” and it will no longer be possible to move from one side to the other. The massive use of the Internet and access to cyberspace have a privileged place in The Matrix and give clues about what the 21st century would be like with the in-depth exploration of these devices, but at the same time it installs a certain fear about the power of science – of what Flusser had already warned – and the place that man occupies in front of the machine, given that it is he who perfects that machine every day without deeply questioning the possibility that at some point he will be subject to its dictates. That’s when Matrix It works as an open door to what is to come, an entrance to a realm of pure fiction that is increasingly similar to reality.

An intellectual action film

The entire film is articulated as a device where the characters move in a particular way, in fights or dodging bullets, with a design where martial arts prevail and with concepts derived from comics and anime. At first the film faced resistance from Warner Brothers, the studio in charge of its production, due to the complexity of its plot and aesthetic approach. To overcome that hurdle, the Wachowskis hired two comic artists – they themselves had practiced this practice in their early youth – who made a 600-page storyboard where this universe imbued with futuristic technology became clearer.

At the same time, there was hard work with the actors – Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano – so that they internalized the characteristics of their characters and the meaning of their actions. About the script, the former Larry and today Lilly Wachowski explained the following not long ago: “It was a synthesis of ideas that emerged at a time when we were interested in many things: making mythology relevant in a modern context , relate quantum physics to Zen Buddhism, investigate your own life. We started out thinking of this as a comic. We fill notebook after notebook with ideas. Basically, that’s where the script came from.”

The Wachowskis’ discussions with studio executives are famous when they decided that the film would be made if it was the way they conceived it and that they were not willing to make concessions that would go against its spirit. Surely the producers’ indignation calmed down when The Matrix had a rapid upward trajectory at the box office until it ended up being a real success. Over the years, she could also be seen as another reference point in pop culture, especially due to the fascination she had with her unique aesthetic – the impressive action scenes with contorted bodies, the path of idling bullets, the dark glasses on her protagonists, were key – and their amazing ability to anticipate the near future.

At the same time, in Matrix The underlying hypothesis is that human beings are trapped in a system like the one proposed in the film and that the need to escape is increasingly pressing. Before its release, Lilly Wachowski herself noted: “What we really want is to see how the world receives the idea of ​​an intellectual action movie. Because if audiences are interested in movies made like McDonald’s hamburgers, which do have value in the world, then we have to reevaluate our entire career.” Time would confirm that they were not wrong in the plot development of the initial idea and that 25 years after its premiere, The Matrix retains intact all its anticipatory power of a world that is too close today.

In addition to a story with original biases – in any case, much of the cyberpunk aesthetic and some of the Matrix was already raised in the book Neuromancerby science fiction writer William Gibson – and an impeccable execution of special effects, Matrix It had a monumental soundtrack in keeping with the paraphernalia displayed, highlighting the atmosphere created by film music composer Don Davis, very appropriate for the tempo of the story, and the themes that oscillate between rock and metal from bands like Deftones. , Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie or Rage Against the Machine.

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