The Matrix and Becoming a Cinephile

You can take the word cinephile anywhere you want; the definition would be told as a ‘fondness of cinema’, which is not what I really gauge from it.  To be described as a cinephile you have to have a film knowledge that is far vaster than mine.  However I’m certainly over the edge towards being a cinephile and The Matrix is one of the films that gave me a push. I saw it on video when I was about 10 and i’m hopefully going to explain the impact it had on me.  The impact being that now film is basically my centre of gravity and certainly a guide in my life.

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The box that encased the video tape was beautiful, well is beautiful, it still sits under my bed at home. It had that thing where the letters and pictures stuck out from the rest and you could feel them with your fingers. There was no latch but it sort of folded into itself. it was a cool video and has survived, with a few others, the switch to DVD and then the switch to digital. This alone sold me on the idea of film being an important art form. Forget the cynical marketing view and accept the beauty of the case, meaning that it must be protecting something special inside.  I remember the 15 certificate logo vividly and it was probably the second 15 I had seen after Die Hard.  It was the first one that I watched without my parents.

Green is the first thing that comes into my head when I think of watching The Matrix as a kid. That lovely envious tint that the movie has over it. It gives it a sense of uniqueness and it certainly sticks in my memory. Watching it again recently I was surprised by how brilliant the film-making behind it is.  Each scene on a technical level is choreographed with incredible precision and it allows the film to move dynamically.  By this I mean the film transitions from shot to shot with freedom and it breathes as a painting with each motion.  The characters are placed exactly in the right spots and the camera is with them as they run, shoot and fight.  In the quieter moments the mise-en-scene is dense and the characters mould into every scene. This is all just on a technical level, and the Wachowski’s ability to portray threat and create excitement through the moving image.

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Then you mention the contextual parts, and the open-mindedness of the narrative.  The story of reality and imagination weaved amongst a tale of a hero fighting a villain.  A hero realising their potential through a series of  grounding encounters.  Grounding being the key word as it is the films closeness to the Earth that keeps it compelling. You are thrown down the rabbit by a notion of a simulated world but kept afloat by a string of tangible problems.  The Wachowskis effectively never let you lift off to that dream world, and keep you firm on their arc of pure entertainment.

Now, imagine seeing all that at 10 years old.  My impressionable mind was mesmerised by the action, that was not only explicitly violent, but also cool in every aspect.  I wanted to be Neo in the wavy jacket and sunglasses dodging bullets.  Perhaps what I didn’t realise at the time was that I wanted to be thrilled by films of a similar nature.  It had suddenly come to me that there is a world of film out there that replicates this, and The Matrix is a small cog in a big wheel. From there, film became an independent love.  It was about my connection to movies, and their ability to change my perspective on the world. The Matrix is timeless, and watching it recently I took more out of it than ever.  It sits proudly as the catalyst for the coming of age of my film obsession.

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