Acting Styles of The Matrix

Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, and Carrie-Anne Moss are all wild card actors that star in the film The Matrix (1999).  I place them in both the wild card and character categories because they are famous, but have not yet reached star status.  I do not believe them to be personality actors in this film either, because although I think that they adapted to their roles well, they did not incorporate their own personalities into them.  Also they were not impersonating or interpreting anyone.  After eliminating those categories it only leaves the wild card and character categories to classify them.  Reeves did an excellent job of playing Neo; despite his less than star status he was able to portray himself as one of the most important people in the world.  I suppose because I cannot see any other actor playing the part now that I have seen him play it.  Moss is less familiar to me, I have not seen her in many films, but her role as Trinity in The Matrix is the only one of its kind that I have seen her play.

Some may classify Reeves as a personality actor dating back to his role as Ted in the Bill and Ted movies of the early 1990’s.  I actually disagree with that classification because of those movies.  Reeves is clearly not stupid, or naïve as his character portrays him to be in those films.  Image

 

Movies like Speed (1994) quickly showed the world that Reeves was a force to be reckoned with, and that he wasn’t limited to comedies, he did just as well, if not better, in action films.  Reeves has played in other genres such as drama and romance in A Walk in the Clouds (1995), but he seems to do best in action and science fiction films.  I suppose that some of his personality may be present in other action and sci-fi films, but the fact that he is able to play so many different roles in many different genres makes him a wild card in my book.

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Keanu Reeves – IMDb. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000206/

The Matrix (1999) – IMDb. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0133093/

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

Categories of Function and Sound- The Matrix

Aside

The three basic categories of sound in a film are dialogue, sound effects, and music. Dialogue is best described as talking, the conversations between the actors or narration. Sound effects are the sounds that are used to enhance the film. Some sound effects are used to enhance a natural element, such as a birds chirping in an outdoor scene. Walla is a popular “natural” sound effect, it is unintelligible background noises used to depict a crowd (Goodykoontz and Jacobs, 2011). Other sound effects are used to enhance unnatural events in the movie, such as an explosion. Music is the third basic category of sound used in films. This category contains the score, which is played during action scenes in a film. Then there is the soundtrack, which contains all the music in a film. The soundtrack sometimes also contains certain dialogue from the film as well.

The Matrix uses all three of these sound categories well. Obviously the characters converse with one another to create a dialogue. There is music that is played throughout the film as well, especially during action or fight scenes. There is also the use of walla, and other natural sound effects along with creative sound effects that enhance the film. Sound specialist Dane A. Davis, was responsible for the never before heard special effects sounds used during the fight scenes in the film. With the help of animal sounds and the sounds generated from hitting large pieces of meat, Davis created unique body-hit and whoosh sounds during these scenes (Isaza, 2009). These and other sounds in this film are characteristic of both science fiction and action films.

The following fight scene makes use of the unique sound effects that Davis spoke of, along with a score playing in the background. It also uses realistic sounds like the newspapers blowing in the wind, or the cement crumbling under the blows of the agent’s fists. The meat hitting sounds are prevalent as well, as Neo and the agent exchange blows. While a lot of these sounds are unrealistic, many are realistic but enhanced, such as the knuckle cracking at the beginning of the scene. Without these sounds the scene, and the film overall would lose the excitement and suspense that makes this film so great.

 

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

The Matrix – Subway Fight. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0zIJCpUqeb4

Isaza, M. (2009, August 6). Dane A. Davis Special: The Matrix [Part 1] | Designing Sound Designing Sound. Retrieved from http://designingsound.org/2009/08/dane-a-davis-special-the-matrix-part-1/

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.

The Matrix First Fight Scene HD. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VxNiEEtYe4Q

The Matrix Meeting Morpheus Scene HD. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gDadfh0ZdBM

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.

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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.

The Matrix Opening Scene HD. (2012, May 1). Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kIXNpePYzZU&feature=kp

The Matrix (1999) – IMDb. (2014). Retrieved from http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0133093/