With the recent release of the new trailer for the latest addition to The Matrix series, many young film fans are rediscovering the cultural phenomenon that was the 1999 original. Structured as a high octane philosophical meditation on the nature of our reality, The Matrix had a remarkable impact on the mainstream consciousness and urged people to confront the possibility that their world might just be a simulation.
Over the years, many filmmakers, as well as other artists, have cited The Matrix as a major influence on their works. The questions that the cult classic asked had already been posed by philosophers like Jean Baudrillard. However, The Matrix proved to be an immense success because it managed to transform philosophical reflections into slow-motion shoot-outs featuring a badass Keanu Reeves.
In an interview, Quentin Tarantino recalled the atmosphere of the opening night: “I saw the evening show [of The Matrix] at the Chinese theatre on the Friday that it opened… I remember the place was jam-packed and there was a real electricity in the air. It was really, really exciting and part of the reason we were there wasn’t because we read reviews. It was because of the TV spots and it was more [about] the TV spots than the theatrical trailer.”
Adding, “The TV spots really turned the audience on and made us all want to see this movie on the opening weekend. So it was the TV spots that really put all those asses into those seats on Friday… We were all waiting for it to start but then this thought hit me that was really kind of profound. It’s easier to talk about The Matrix now because we know the secret of The Matrix but they didn’t tell you any of that in any of the promotions, in any of the big movie trailers or any of the TV spots.”
Tarantino also commented about the cultural aspect of the film’s attraction, insisting that it was a mystery why so many people had flocked to watch The Matrix even though they had no clue about what the film was. For Tarantino, The Matrix ended up having a significant impact on his definitions of what the cinematic experience should be.
The director said: “So we were excited about this movie but we really didn’t know what we were going to see. We didn’t really know what to expect, we didn’t know the mythology at all. We had to discover that. So there was this moment of me realising how excited everybody was for what was going to happen but we really didn’t know anything.”
Adding: “I was like, ‘God, can you imagine of turning an audience on so much that they’re there… full of piss and vinegar on the Friday that the movie opens but we don’t really know what we are excited about? We don’t really know what’s going to happen and then THAT movie happens.’ It was a profound experience and I had enough foresight to put the thoughts together before the lights went down.”