If you lived through the early aughts, you lived through The Matrix mania. This futuristic trilogy blew people’s minds with its deep, philosophical undertones, futuristic plot, and dystopian themes. The Wachowskis released three Matrix films, but the first was definitely our favorite.
Here are some of the best behind the scenes stories, facts, and secrets you didn’t know about this film!
The movie was inspired by comics! Andrew and Lana (previously Larry) Wachowski wrote The Matrix as a comic book so they could incorporate all the things they loved – anime, kung fu, and science fiction.
They liked how in comics, action could be slowed down to show the full scope of a given moment, something that is seen a lot in the movie.
How did the actors prepare for their role?
The training for the movie was incredibly intense. The opening fight scene took six months to train four and four days to film. The dramatic subway fight scene between Neo and Agent Smith went hugely over schedule, also, over ten days more than it was supposed to!
Who trained the actors, and what were his conditions?
The Wachowskis wanted Woo-Ping Yuen, famous martial artists choreographer, for the film, but he was reluctant and demanded an exorbitant fee in the hopes of the Wachowskis turning him down. They didn’t, so he then demanded that he get full control over the fights and train the actors for four months, assuming that this would be an impossible request. His stipulations were met, however, by the accommodating Wachowskis.
Did you ever notice how the different realities are colored differently?
All scenes that take place in the Matrix have a green tint, the way it would look if you were watching through a computer monitor. Real life scenes are tinted blue, and neutral scenes – ones that are not in the real world or the Matrix, like the fight between Morpheus and Neo – are tinted yellow.
They went $70 million over budget?
The Wachowskis approached Warner, who gave them a budget of $10 million, $70 million less than they’d requested. They took the money, filmed the first ten minutes of the movie with all of it, and returned to the studio with the footage. Warner was so impressed that they gave them the rest of the budget.
It was a good move, as the movie grossed over $460 million worldwide! Add that to the sequels and DVD releases and it’s obvious that it was a smart investment.
Where can you see the Wachowskis dissing their movie studio?
The opening credits show the Warner Brothers logo in green. This is a direct dig at studios that stifle the creativity and vision of directors and scriptwriters. According to Visual Effects Supervisor John Gaeta, the studios are evil empires and the creators of the film wanted to show that they rejected that system.
What was the main challenge when training the actors?
The challenge in training the actors was to make it seem that they’d been fighting their whole lives. The four months of training was super intense – daily for four months, with teachers who rarely spoke English.
For the scene where Trinity, played by Carrie Ann Moss, does a flip on a wall, she prepared with padded walls. When it came time to film it, she had to do it in one go due to production costs.
What else didn’t go according to plan?
The film was scheduled for 90 days of filming but constantly went over schedule. It ended up being filmed in 118 days, but the studio was supportive after preliminary viewings and didn’t mind extending the schedule slightly.
Who turned down the role of Neo?
Will Smith and Nicolas Cage turned down the role of Neo, a decision they probably regretted due to the overwhelming success of the franchise.
Cage turned it down due to family commitments, but Smith was skeptical of the movie itself. He told Empire magazine: “The Matrix is exactly what they pitched, but they were designing those cameras to get those freeze-frames, and I was like, ‘If that doesn’t work, the movie looks ridiculous’.”
How long was the movie in planning stages for?
The Wachowskis sat on their idea for 5 years, 14 drafts, and over 500 storyboards. Studios were skeptical of them due to their lack of experience so they decided to prove themselves by making 1996’s moderate success Bound.
Did Keanu Reeves do his own stunts?
The actors did a lot of their own stunts. In the scene where Neo is instructed by Morpheus to crawl out of the Metacortex office window, he actually did it. The window was on the 34th story!
What’s in a name? We tell you, next!
You can find a lot of numbers in the movie! Neo is an anagram for ‘one’ – alluding to the fact that he is the one chosen to liberate humanity from the matrix – while Trinity means three. When she chose the hacker handle ‘Trinity’, it was to imply that she is as enigmatic as the concept of a “Three-In-One Being”. She is also Neo’s guide, making her a sort of god-like figure.
Where was the scene where Neo and Trinity meet filmed?
The scene where Neo and Trinity first meet was filmed in an actual sex club. The Hellfire Club in Sydney was the backdrop for that scene, and the extras were club patrons who were asked to come in their typical fetish gear.
Do you know that Morpheus was a Greek God?
Nothing in the movie is accidental, especially the names of the characters. Morpheus is the Greek God of Dreams, and in the movie, Morpheus is tasked with waking humans from their dreamlike existence in the matrix.
In 8 B.C., the Oracle of Delphi was the priestess to the Temple of Apollo, and in the movie she is a sort of spirit guide who helps Neo understand himself, and his mission more completely. In her kitchen, you can see the phrase “temet nosce”, a Latin translation of ‘gnōthi seautón’, which means “know thyself” – words found in the temple of the Ancient Greeks.
How many lines did Neo speak?
Keanu Reeve’s Neo was quite taciturn, with only 80 lines uttered by him in the first 45 minutes of the film. Most of these are questions as he tries to figure out the intensely complex world he’s just ended up in.
What sets this movie apart from most action films?
The movie is complex, action packed, and deep. The Wachowskis wanted to why most action movies were idea-less and, conversely, most idea movies remain action-less. They decided to flip that stereotype on its head and create a movie complex, mentally engaging, and with tons of great fight scenes, too!
What was required reading for the actors?
The movie is full of philosophical themes. In order to prepare the actors for the role, the Wachowskis had them read Simulacra and Simulation by Jean Baudrillard, Out of Control by Kevin Kelly, and Introducing Evolutionary Psychology by Dylan Evans and Oscar Zarate. In the movie, Neo hides his illegal software in a hollowed-out Baudrillard book.
What’s the deal with all the reflections in the movie?
There are lots of mirrors and reflections in the movie – Morpheus’ glasses, the spoon bending, Trinity seeing Neo in her rear-view mirror. Composer Don Davis used that in his musical score, alternating sections of the compositions and orchestra.
Also, whether the music featured in a scene is based on orchestral or synthesizer elements depends on whether the scene in the film is dominated by humans or machines.
What laws were changed because of this movie?
The movie is filmed in Sydney, Australia, but street names are named after streets in Chicago, where the Wachowskis grew up.
The helicopter scene caused a law-enforecement stir when they flew through restricted airspace in Sydney! In order to coordinate further helicopter scenes, laws in New South Wales actually had to be changed!
Who designed those amazing sunglasses?
The sunglasses were hand-designed! Cult sunglasses company Blinde, which prides itself on hand-making all their glasses, beat out contracts with larger companies such as Ray-Ban by designing glasses based on the characters unsual names.
Richard Walker, company founder, was flown out to Australia and spent the entire filming period custom-designing sunglasses for the cast in the back of an Oxford Street optometrist.
Which unscripted moment made it into the film?
After the wild government lobby shootout (which took ages to film), the camera pans out to survey the damage. In an unplanned moment, a piece of the pillar crumbled and fell off. While this was unscripted, it fit in perfectly with the look and it was kept in.
None of that scene was faked, actually, which seems crazy in todays world of CGI. But everything that you see on-screen – the crumbling pillars, water, etc, happened in real life.
How many times has bullet-time been spoofed?
One of the most famous moments of the movie – the slow-motion bullet time – is both a cinematographic masterpiece and as a way for the characters ability to control things with their minds. By the middle of 2002, the bullet time sequence had been spoofed over 20 times.
What’s the significance of the name of Mopheus’s ship?
Morpheus’s ship is called the Nebuchadnezzar, a Biblical reference to King Nebuchadrezzar II of Babylon, from the biblical Book of Daniel. The king conquered Jerusalem in the book of Daniel, but also has a dream he can’t remember but keeps searching for an answer, in Daniel 2:1-49.
We show you how bullet-time was created, next!
Finally, check out this explanation of how the bullet-time was created!
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