Today’s Classic Rewatch offers you the choice of the red or the blue pill. The Wachowski sisters’ groundbreaking 1999 philosophical flick The Matrix poses existential questions with spectacular action sequences, marrying the two elements to create one of the defining films of its decades. Keanu Reeves, 56 this week (woah), leads a cast that boasts impressive performances from Lawrence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss and the always screen stealing Hugo Weaving. But it’s the sizzling and technically amazing slow-motion sequences that really steal the show. It also boasts a scene from Joe Pantoliano that will REALLY make you want a steak.
But did you know…
1.) Keanu, surprisingly so, wasn’t the first choice to play Neo. Several big Hollywood names turned down the opportunity to play the leading man, including Will Smith (who instead shot Wild Wild West… yes, really) and Nicolas Cage (who would have definitely given us a very, very different Matrix).
2.) The infamous slow-motion “bullet time” effect was specifically created for The Matrix. To achieve this frozen-in-time 360 degrees effect, over 100 still cameras were arranged to capture every angle and every frame of the action, and were then triggered at extremely close intervals, creating a slow-motion effect. Nowadays the same visuals can be achieved through CGI with merely a few clicks.
3) The key production crew and cast members of the film all had to be able to understand the philosophy behind The Matrix, so the Wachowskis made them study philosophical texts before filming began. Reeves said he had to read everything from Jean Baudrillard’s Simulacra and Simulation to Dylan Evan’s Introducing Evolutionary Psychology.