The film The Matrix using extraordinary film and narrative techniques presented many themes and ideas to the audience, however the foremost of these was that human created technology, if advanced too far, could interfere with what we comprehend as real and in some ways could remove features that make us human. The reason this theme was foremost is because the rapid advancing of technology today makes advanced machinery such as AI plausible. The themes in the film were accompanied by various biblical as well as eastern cultural references. Many themes and ideas put forward to the audience were presented through the use of various film techniques such as camera and audio. The combined narrative techniques along with the film techniques used in the film accentuate the themes that the producer intended to convey to the audience. The filming techniques that were used were based on very advanced technology and therefore invoked different responses from the audience.
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The film The Matrix put forward themes that were intricately linked with one another, and the proximity of the situations the scenes that conveyed the themes were to our lives today forces the audience to think deeply about what was presented on the screen. The foremost idea that was presented questioned the meaning of reality, and how technology tampers with our definition of what is real and what isn’t. This idea comes very close to us today; as Morpheus questions reality “What is real? If you define real to be what can be seen or touched or heard, then real is simply electric messages interpreted by our brains,” it forces the audience themselves to then answer the question, of what real is, and whether what we actually see or hear is real. With reference to the matrix, Morpheus makes it apparent that this is what the matrix is doing; sending artificial messages to our brains making our minds think, even if it is not true. Scenes similar to this one displayed the intended messages and ideas, which caused the audience to have to think intensely about what has been presented to them on the screen. The foremost theme that was presented throughout the film was the idea that was most rapidly demonstrated and could be closely related to the audience.
The narrative technique of characterization was very important in promoting the theme in The Matrix. Especially significant was the characterization of Neo, being also Mr. Anderson, before he was introduced to the matrix; he was an ordinary businessman, working for a “respectable software company”. The audience is able to readily relate to this character. This encourages the theme as it reveals that anyone can be taught the truth of the matrix. However, Neo was also living a routine based life without room for change; when Neo is asked to unplug and go to the party he is ready to say no, to continue his robotic style of life, making him more machine than human. This implies that everyone who does not wish to know the truth of the matrix is bound to the matrix, almost enslaved to it. The other freedom fighters were also at one stage living a routine life, supporting the point that anyone can be taught the truth. The characterization technique in The Matrix was used to support the theme, and does so appropriately so that the audience can easily relate to the main character.
In The Matrix, the camera was perhaps the most important and symbolic film code that was used for many reasons. Symbolically, a variety of camera shots were used to produce different messages to the audience. The lower angle camera shot was used often when an agent was on the scene, giving the impression of superiority over anybody else in the scene. When action takes place the camera used pan movements to follow the action, giving a wider view of the background, and this helped illustrate the point of the scene. Near the opening of the film, the character Trinity was running from pursuing agents over a rooftop hundreds of metres high.
Panning right as she moved right, the audience can see that she is covering a very large distance, and as she reaches the edge of a roof, the camera view changes to a high camera angle looking down onto the road. This combination exemplified the setting of this scene, as well as giving the image that Trinity and the agents are superior from ordinary people, as the camera also panned slower when focusing on the policemen. From the wide range of camera shots that were used in The Matrix, the audience sees many symbolic scenes that can be interpreted to receive the ideas, which were intended to be conveyed.
Another form of camera use was visual techniques that provided stunning elements in some scenes, all of which seemed unreal and out-of-this-world. The use of these techniques promoted the question of realism in today’s world, when we see unexpected occurrences in some of the scenes. The slowing and even stopping of time was used in several instances, which begged the question of whether time actually exists, however it also presented the idea that the characters within affected scenes were too fast to be seen in normal time. When the attack helicopter smashes into the glass building, this is done in slow motion, and before the actual breaking of the glass a shockwave reverberates across the building. In real life, a helicopter smashing into a wall of glass would not produce a visible shockwave and so this scene looks unreal, that this would not happen in real life. Because of this the scene also asks the audience the question of what can be taken as real or false. The use of visual techniques created with the aid of modern computer graphic technology not only looked awesome, it also interrogates the audience into what they observe as real.
Typically not used often in films, the written film code is used quite symbolically throughout the film but mostly at the beginning. Eerie green characters, not only from English but also from eastern languages, were used when displaying the matrix, in a font that looks systematic, giving the impression that the matrix is just a code language. Although this code does not seem like it would mean much, even the Warner Brother’s symbol is coloured the same way, in a way expresses that everything is under the influence of the matrix.
Usually a large part of conveying the theme in films, the audio codes in The Matrix not only set the atmosphere of scenes, but they also emphasise what is happening in regard to the storyline. In this film however, music was undermined by the use of awe-inspiring visual techniques, though they were still present. The music that was used was often eerie or sounded very mechanical; as if it were computer generated. This is important as the matrix was said to be computer generated. Background sounds such as people talking on the street sets the scene and also makes it more realistic. Thunder was used whilst Morpheus was explaining to Neo the matrix, emphasizing the importance of this scene in conveying the story. Audio codes in The Matrix helped promote the storyline and set the scene but rarely supported or presented the themes to the audience.
The Matrix used some of the most advanced filming techniques seen to the date of release. These techniques supported the many themes presented throughout the film, especially the primary theme, which was that human created technology, if advanced too far, could interfere with what we comprehend as real and in some ways could remove features that make us human. Using new technology to generate awesome scenes and unreal visuals, the audience would respond to this film differently, as they would never have seen these types of scenes before. Undoubtedly, the camera use in the film was the most prominent, and these supported the theme the most, as the audience would be drawn mostly to the visuals in the movie. However, the narrative technique of characterization was very significant in conveying the theme in the audience, to do so would require the characters to be easily recognized and the audience would be able to effortlessly relate towards them. A variety of camera shots and techniques allowed the viewer to receive the messages from each scene. Overall, the linked combination between the film codes of audio, visual and camera along with the key narrative technique of characterization provided a firm, unblemished expression of the theme to the audience throughout the duration of the film.
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