The Matrix, the 1999 sci-fi classic written and directed by The Wachowskis, is celebrating its 20th birthday today.
The film, starring the likes of starring Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, and Joe Pantoliano, depicts a dystopian future in which humanity is trapped inside a simulated reality created by machines to control humans.
Upon release, The Matrix was heavily lauded for its pioneering visual effects, cinematography and entertainment value as The Wachowskis drew inspiration from their admiration of Japanese animation and martial arts films.
Seemingly born out of the Cyberpunk sub-genre of science fiction, the film managed to combine the all-action entertainment while addressing important issues like feminism and introducing aspects of Marxism, postmodernism and even Buddhism.
The attention to detail and seamless transitions was rewarded on the global stage, the film winning four Academy Awards and grossing well over $460 million worldwide.
The film’s success resulted in a major impact on Hollywood alone. The approach to fight scenes and the decision to hire a choreographer from Hong Kong particularly effected films in the immediate aftermath.
Most famously though, The Matrix is credited for highly popularising the visual effect now known as ‘bullet time’ following Neo’s iconic scene in the film. “As for artistic inspiration for bullet time, I would credit Otomo Katsuhiro, who co-wrote and directed Akira, which definitely blew me away, along with director Michel Gondry,” visual effects man John Gaeta once explained.
Bullet time has been described as “a visual analogy for privileged moments of consciousness within the Matrix” and one that defined an ever-lasting memory from the feature.
Below, enjoy some behind-the-scenes images from the making of that scene and the film in general:
(Images via Esquire)