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The Matrix

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`The Matrix,' released in April 1999 directed by the Wachowski Brothers, was an outstanding blockbuster success. The magnificent effort in making the film was rewarded as it won four awards for the British Academy Awards. These were for best sound, best film editing, best sound effects editing and best visual effects. `The Matrix,' was also nominated for three awards. These were for best cinematography, best production design and best editing. `The Matrix' can be analysed in many different ways to recognize the film for being such a best seller.

The audience reads the genre of `The Matrix' as being sci-fi /action by the generic codes that are visible in the film. The audience is able to read any film and realise the genre by its visual language or generic codes. The generic codes in a film are the conventional signs such as the setting, the plot, the theme, the icons and the characters, which helps you recognise the genre without being aware that you have `read' the signs. For example, one of the generic codes in `The Matrix' is that it is set as a typical action film with the dark atmosphere involving hi-tech modern technology set in the future. The rain in the film matches the atmosphere and genre. The situation of the film is another generic code set in a dystopian world and parallel universe. The characters in `The Matrix' are also heavily linked with reading the film, for instance, the aliens, the agents and artificial intelligence, the computer operators and Trinity. The special effects make the audience identify the genre.

The video sleeve also has major conventional elements on it that identify the genre. The figures of the main characters are on the cover. The image of the `chosen one,' Keanu Reeves playing the lead role stands out like the title of the film, as it is glossier than the rest of the cover. There is another generic code on the video sleeve involving the colours and lighting in the film. There are always dark colours being used such as blacks with the tint of green and silver. The icons such as the dark glasses are additionally related to the reading of the film and the use of black cloths and long coats refer the audience to previous films with the similar genre such as `Men in Black.' This film was made with this particular genre as it is very common these days and is becoming more and more popular with the public, unlike the genres that are not made anymore, because they have died down and less of them are being made such as westerns and musicals.

As well as genre, the significance of the choice of star is equally relevant in order to have a good reaction from the public. Neo played by Keanu Reeves, the star for the movie, leading action and romantic hero who wins the princess, captures attention from the audience. He is loved by women as well as men. Previous films such as `Speed' and `Devils Advocate' Keanu plays similar roles as the hero heart -throb by attracting women. Men are equally drawn attention to by him as they recognize him as a role model and want to be like him. The choice of star also has a major role for the commercialism and publicity. The more the lead actor is loved by the public, the more the money is made. The representation of the lead character on the video sleeve would be the same on the poster. Neo would be in front of the other characters and the icons like the cloths, the lighting and colours would be included. His T-shirt is tight to show off his muscles and he holds a large gun in one hand. The video sleeve and the poster would have the identical images.

In order to grab further attention, the use of showing meaning through camera shots and camera angles has an impact on the audience. Each shot of single recordings have short hand symbols to them, for example `big close up' or `BCU' would have the prominence of facial detail to show the dramatize the act. In the start of the film when Neo receives messages on his computer, a CU of his face is used to show that he is alarmed. This alerts the audience that something is not right and it will lead to an incident. The `very long shot /wide shot' or `VLS /WS' usually used at the beginning of a sequence, a number of shots, to establish the scene. If the film were set in NY, the WS would show the skyscrapers and twin towers. In the film, a VLS was used when Neo had a deja vu, which told the others that they were in danger and had to escape down the cavities of the wall. The shot showed the group one underneath the other climbing down the wall. The `medium shot' or `MS' shows significant details like the hand just about to pull a trigger of a gun and it is shaking. This lets the audience know that the character is nervous and that there is a lot of tension. For instance in beginning of `The Matrix,' there is a MS of the typing on the keyboard. This tells the viewers that it is related to the building up of the plot and the genre of the film. Another scene in `The Matrix' where an MS was used, was when Neo was given the gun and the camera showed the gun from Neo's point of view for about 3 seconds, which in that time the audience read that Neo is an innocent man, who has never killed anyone in his life and it is a shock to him that he has just been given a gun.

`The Matrix' has been classified by the BBFC [British Board Film classification] and the VSC [video stanadards coucil] as a certificate 15. This is because of the fairly adult nature of the film. The theme may contain sexual swear words unsuitable for younger children. It also may have scenes of sex, violence and nudity inappropriate for people below the classified certificate. An 18 certificate is similar, but more explicit. A personal point of view believes that `The Matrix' does not suit its classification. I think it should be certified with a 12 certificate, as it does not have explicit scenes, except for the swear words which are non- sexual, heard in our day-to-day lifestyle anyway. However, there are scenes of violence in the film, which could affect the viewer between 12 and 15, for example, the scenes conatining guns and kicks mainly created by special effects. Nevertheless, this is not likely to happen, as other films with similar situations of violence are catergorised as a 12 certification, such as `Rush Hour.' The only major difference of the two films is the genre, and that `The Matrix' is more difficult to understand.

One of the reasons that the film would be difficult to understand is that it has an alternative religious meaning to it and the life of Neo is parallel to that of Jesus. A viewer of the film under 15 may not observe this. There are various elements of the film, which tells the viewer that it has an alternative meaning. Firstly, this can be seen as the film was released



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