The Matrix-Lighting Analysis

In the scene from The Matrix when Neo (Reeves) meets Morpheus (Fishburne) for the first time three-point lighting is used, as well as low-key lighting. It is a darker scene without much use of high-key lighting. The benefits of three-point lighting are many, but for this particular scene it is beneficial in setting the mood, which in this case, is mysterious. The audience is learning things as the main character, Neo learns them. The use of low-key light is evident as it is a darker scene; however high-key, back light and the fill light are also used to create the shadows that can be seen. If this scene was shot in high-key lighting only, it would take away from the mystery, and the mood would surely be confusing. The Matrix and other sci-fi films typically use low-key lighting as the scenes are generally dark. However, the three-point lighting method is common as well.

The following scene is a perfect example of three-point lighting. The scene takes place at night, which allows for some natural light from the moon when the characters move outdoors. This scene is suspenseful; therefore keeping the lighting dark helps to set the mood. The use of fill, low, and high-key lighting is imperative in this scene as the characters are moving a lot as they fight. It also helps to shift the focus from one character to another, and to emphasize the fighting techniques they are using. If this scene was shot in high-key alone it would take away from both the suspense and the mystery of it. The use of shadows is also evident as in many other science fiction films.

Due to the fact that science-fiction films generally take place in outer space and other alternative realities, it is common for them to be shot using the three-point lighting technique. Using high-key lighting alone would make it hard for the audience to take the film seriously, and using only low-key lighting would simply be too dark causing the audience to miss important aspects of the scene.

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Goodykoontz, B., & Jacobs, C. P. (2011). FILM: FROM WATCHING TO SEEING. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.

The Matrix

The film I have chosen to talk about is The Matrix. This film was released in 1999 starring Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, and Carrie-Anne Moss. The Matrix was both written and directed by Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski. This film is presented in chronological order, as the events occur one after another versus jumping from different time periods as in a non-linear film. In order for the plot to make sense, a chronological order of events is imperative to this particular film. The plot is already quite complex therefore a non-linear approach would likely confuse the audience. Although the past is brought up in order to feed the plot, it would not have been a smart choice to put too much emphasis on the past or future, the events of the present time in the film are more than enough to understand the plot. Personally I had to watch the film a second time to fully comprehend it, so if it wasn’t presented in chronological order I wonder if I would have been able to fully comprehend the plot at all.


The Matrix engages the audience with the use of Universal Truth and finishes with conflict. The main character Neo (Reeves) is presented at the beginning of the movie as a regular guy, someone that most people can relate to. When Morpheus (Fishburne) initially meets with Neo he compares the experience at hand to that of Alice in the classic story of Alice in Wonderland. This is an excellent way for the audience to empathize with Neo, because most people are familiar with the story of Alice in Wonderland. This film makes excellent use of foreshadowing beginning with the opening scene when Trinity (Moss) is heard speaking to another character about Morpheus and “The One” as a computer screen is shown to the audience.

While it does not make much sense at first, as the plot progresses it becomes clear what she was talking about. The film ends with a conflict between the humans and the machines, and once again the Universal Truth factor is at play. This films plot is one that almost anyone can relate to, because it focuses on all humans, not just a specific race or gender.

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