How “The Matrix” Changed Science Fiction

Characters dodging time- and gravity-defying bullets, computer code falling from the sky… Here’s how “The Matrix”, whose fourth episode came out on Wednesday, is taking science fiction to a new dimension.

This new episode, signed by Lana Wachowski alone, marks a return between reality and the Matrix of the cyber-rebel in dark glasses of Neo (Keanu Reeves), and does not hesitate to reinterpret images from previous films, including the first, released in 1999 and the cult of many. .

– ‘Bullet time’ –

This is the image that made cinema through the third millennium: on the roof of a skyscraper, Neo dodges a splash of bullets in stunning slow motion, as the camera, circling the stage, seems to have frozen time. Unheard of at the time.

A combination of frame travel and freeze, this special effect that became iconic is “a moving camera in a stopped world,” sums up Dominic Vidal, of special effects firm Buf, who worked on three of the four parts of the saga.

He noted that Bullet Time, which influenced two decades of action cinema, was of French origins. Before the Wachowskis, French director Michel Gondry, a genius optical agent, used it, in the Artisan style, for … a cut-stone (“Like a Rolling Stone”).

The creators of the Matrix came up with the idea of ​​u200bu200bapplying it to combat scenes and professionalizing the process, which at that time required an abundance of technical means to capture the same scene, at the same time, from dozens of different points of view.

– code columns –

A barrage of fluorescent green computer codes falling from the sky and ending up drawing a parallel universe, the Matrix… This visual idea also remains in the records.

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“At the base was a menu of ramen (Japanese noodles) mixed with inverted numbers,” Dominic Vidal explains of these shapes that armies of fans have tried to decipher.

“There has been a tremendous amount of research that has been done on how people show + made + in computer code,” he says of the latter effect, which is covered again in Revival.

Because the Wachowskis are perfectionists. In some special effects, his teams made as many as 20 different suggestions to “get a color scheme for the effects.” He laughs, “We have plans to get to version 150!”.

The result, from an aesthetic point of view, was The Matrix that was a watershed, upending cinema in an era of “green background” and omnipresent digital effects, as Lloyd Cherry, founder of the podcast It’s More Than SF assures.

– Matrix and Metaverse –

For many fans, “The Matrix”, featuring a group of AI-battling rebels who imprisoned humans in the Matrix, a virtual reality simulating the outside world, is the best-anticipated epic of the beginning of the 21st century.

“The Matrix said a lot of things about what was going to happen, and reality catches up with science fiction with the arrival of 3D and augmented virtual reality,” Lloyd Cherry said.

Until the news of recent weeks, with the emergence of the metaverse (a contraction of meta-universe), which the Facebook giant announced that it was creating its new business, recalling some of the Matrix universe.

Up front, The Matrix was incorporated as well, blending many different references, from martial arts to Hong Kong cinema through religious mythology and Cyberpunk, as pop culture does today, Lloyd Cherry points out. Niu, a kind of Christ figure in a long black coat, experienced in kung fu and computer hacking, sums these influences up to himself.

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And last year, Lily Wachowski, who has changed gender like her sister since the first movie, made it clear that she saw the work as a “passing” metaphor ahead of its time, at a time when questions of gender fluidity were more secretive.

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