Written and directed by the Wachowski brothers, ‘The Matrix’ is a science fiction film, which was released in the year 1999. It was the first film to use the now famous camera technique of ‘bullet time’ and also introduced wirework martial arts into conventional cinemas. Its vision of the future is similar to other science fiction films such as ‘Men In Black’ with the agents always wearing sunglasses and the idea of man vs. machineevil. In the opening sequence of the film, I am going to analyse the effects of different camera shots, as well as other factors, which engage the viewers’ interest.
The film appeals to its target audience by many different features. For men there is an attractive female character, Trinity, a lot of action packed gunfights, different gadgets and the police. For women there is an attractive male character, Neo, a strong female lead, Trinity, and a love interest between Neo and Trinity. There are quite a few questions that remain unanswered in the opening sequence. These make the viewer want to carry on watching the film to find the answers. For example, whom are they going to kill and why are they going to kill him? Tension is also created by not being able to see Trinity’s face when she is talking on the phone.
The setting suggests the film is retro-futuristic. It is set in the future but there are some elements from the present or past. One of the first things that we see are normal police cars and police men with radios and mobile phones. The opening sequence is in a derelict hotel. It’s name, ‘Heart o’ the City’, suggests it has a central role of what is about to happen. It first appears that Trinity is in a hotel room or apartment. The dark and mysterious settings create suspense and tension because the viewer cannot see all the detail, and does not know what is about to happen next. These sorts of settings can also be found in horror and crime films.
The very first thing that the viewer can see is a computer with green numbers coming down the screen. This green tinge is continued throughout the opening scene. It suggests that the film is a science fiction film, and it creates un-realness throughout it. The next things that can be seen are policemen with torches. The corridor that they are walking along has no lights apart from the torchlight, creating tension. The torchlight is focussed on two officers who are advancing towards a door. This grabs the viewers’ attention and makes them look directly at the officers. The light is then pointed towards the door. When the officers kick down the door and walk into the room, they direct all their torches on Trinity. This focuses our attention on Trinity, suggesting she has a central role in the film.
The camera then moves outside the hotel, where there are no streetlights. The only lights are coloured white, blue and red from the police cars, suggesting an element of danger in the film. The darkness and the police cars further enhance the suspense and the idea that action is about to happen. When the agents arrive, their faces are lit up. We notice that they have absolutely no emotion in them. The camera then moves back to Trinity. The little lighting present enhances the action and the flashes coming from the guns. The light focuses on Trinity when she runs along the walls so it grabs our attention and makes us focus on the action.
After the fight, the torches make a circle around Trinity. When the agents come out of the lift, we see Trinity’s face. This allows us to see her fear. Light is reflected of her leather suit so again our attention is focussed on her. Light comes from within the window that Trinity is about to jump through. This shows that Trinity is focussed on the window, so makes us look at the window also. After Trinity has jumped through the window and is at the bottom of the stairs, the swinging light helps to create tension and suspense.
In the scene with the garbage truck, its lights are directed towards the phone box. This shows that the truck is heading towards the phone box, and that Trinity’s attention is on the phone box. This makes us also focus our attention on it. When the three agents come out of the truck, the light is coming from behind them. We can only see half of their faces; this adds tension and mystery, and gives them an unknown side, perhaps showing why Trinity appeared so afraid of them.