Saturday, 9 January 2010

Film Language Essay- refined copy!

THE MATRIX (1999) Lobby Scene

The Matrix (1999) is directed by Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski. The film is a Hollywood production; it is distributed by Warner Brothers and Village Roadshow Pictures and is shown on mainstream multiplex cinemas. The film is promoted through posters and trailers courtesy of Warner Bros. Also, the film is promoted by Samsung, Lego and is promoted through the internet through the film’s website; , where viewers can submit comments and ideas regarding the film and connect with viewers from various countries, can have access to screenshots, memories from the film, storylines and other features. As well as the website, the film has its own video game called ‘Enter the Matrix’, where viewers can play the game and access scenes from the film itself. Through these various platforms, the film generates profit and a larger fan base, globally and appeals to various audiences such as teenagers, adults. This essay will explore the film itself and will explore and analyse one of the iconic scenes in the film, ‘The Lobby Scene’.

The Matrix is a hybrid genre film which combines elements of action/ adventure/ and science fiction. The film contains many references to the cyberpunk and hacker subcultures; philosophical and religious ideas.

In terms of mise en scene, the film relates to the action/adventure science fiction genre, as the setting is based around the future, where the year is 2199, therefore and, a revolutionary utopia setting could be portrayed in the film. As the matrix is an illusory ‘simulated reality’, the characters have superhuman abilities, which are reinforced through the fight scenes which take place in various settings such as subway stations, parks , abandoned warehouses, flats, government buildings and other urban areas. The Matrix follows Neo, who is seen as the prophecy, who can save the human race, as he becomes adept in order to fight against the agents and machines, he learns to train in a karate dojo, the action mainly takes place in urban areas. Continuously, the setting shifts from the inside of the Nebuchadnezzar (hovercraft), which allows the characters to move across to various portals and to escape the relentless machines, therefore it is representative of the science fiction genre, as there are futuristic ships, equipment and complex technical vocabulary used by the characters, in order to shift from the real world to the artificial world.

Interestingly, the characters in the film tend to wear worn out blue jumpers and trousers whilst in the real world, their clothing and sullen facial expressions connote that they have been living in captivity and grim existence, and have been trying to evade the persistent machines. However, the prominent characters such as Morpheus wear a red sweater, this piece of clothing connotes that they are important and carry a specific responsibility, such as a captain on the Nebuchadnezzar, which is their main control station, for communication with each other in the matrix, awareness of any threats, for example agents. However, the main characters such as Neo, Morpheus, Cypher, Trinity, wear full length suits, carrying loaded weapons, which connote that they are ready to fight, as their facial expressions connote composure, readiness and anticipation. On the other hand, the sinister agents are dressed in formal black suits, which connote that they are powerful, lethal, in terms of intelligence, physique and persona. Interestingly, the main motif of the eyeglasses within the film seem to connote a sense of rebellion and sincerity, as the characters seem more professional and are getting ready to fight the ‘Agents’. Similar to the human protagonists, the agents wear black eyeglasses, which also connote a sense of superiority, rebellion and to some extent intimidation, as the agents, are seemingly flawless and immortal, as they have substantial, unique qualities such as shape shifting and can control any other program.

Furthermore, the film’s narrative is a structured narrative which involves, equilibrium, disequilibrium and new equilibrium, which was introduced by the theorist Torodov, effectively involves the audience in a linear narrative focusing on events in chronological order; the audience see the narrative through various shots and camera angles. The use of exposition leads the narrative up to the climax and foreshadows the end result. The use of narrative roles, such as the protagonist and hero, Neo, dispatcher; Morpheus, heroine Trinity, the false hero, Cypher as introduced by the theorist Vladimir Propp are implemented in the film. As well as this, the film has evident use of binary opposition, in the form of good vs. evil; the humans are against the machines and agents. The theorist, Levi Strauss’s use of the binary opposition is relevant with this genre of film, as science fiction and action films seem to use this opposition; the audience would expect the good to prevail and be held in suspense, as evil could be a difficult opponent, as the machines in the film are sinister and dexterous and seem to suspect the humans and pursue the humans, who are left to be vulnerable and cautious, as to where they go.

The Matrix focuses on the depressing life of Thomas A Anderson, a man who leads two lives; by day he is a computer programmer, but by night he is a malevolent hacker known as Neo. Neo has always questioned his reality but the truth is far beyond his imagination. Neo finds himself being hounded by police over his various infiltration activities.

However, Neo is contacted by Morpheus, a legendary computer hacker, who was branded a terrorist by the government. In order to escape the authorities, Morpheus leads Neo to the real world, a ravaged wasteland, where most of humanity have been captured by a race of machines, known as Sentinels which live off of their body heat and imprison their minds within an artificial reality known as the Matrix. Neo has to rebel against the machines, along with the help of Trinity, Cypher, Tank and the other rebellion, in order to restore equilibrium for the whole of humanity, and must return to the Matrix, in order to fight the ‘agents’ who are formidable computer programs, who have the ability to shape shift and are intended to stop Neo, at any cost and prevent the human rebellion, through various methods. In general, the Matrix seems to target a primary male audience, as the film includes action, which stereotypically, men seemed enjoy witnessing; however, women may also be interested with the narrative as they can identify with the heroine, Trinity who is one of the main protagonists in the film. As well as this a teenage audience may be drawn to the narrative, due to the science fiction aspect, as the film uses special effects and action codes, as evident in the Lobby scene, when Neo reveals his collection of weapons and violent scenes, in the subway station, abandoned warehouse; where Morpheus, Neo and the other humans are climbing up the chimney, in order to avoid the SWAT teams and FBI. To an extent, the use of non diegetic and diegetic sound, parallel sound, contrapuntal sound of rock and punk music over the fight scenes could appeal to a rebellious, teenage audience, as they might feel involved in the action and are captivated by the carnage and violence. As well as the music, action codes and SFX, the film could appeal to an adult audience through its complex, voyeuristic narrative, which uses well known actors such as Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishbourne, Hugo Weaving and other actors and actresses. Similarly, the various camera angles such as close up shots , medium shots, long shots, tilts, panning and tracking shot may appeal to the audience, as they are seemingly involved in the scene; the directors might have chosen these camera angles to captivate audiences and to involve them in the action. Consequently, teenage and adult audiences may attracted to the film, through the camera angles and action codes, narrative or other means.

However, the recurring violence, action codes and continuous scenes of death, destruction and gore, could result in moral panic amongst a secondary adult audience, as the film encourages violence and imitable behaviour, which could ultimately lead to crime. Also, adults may might catharsis their children against the film, as it advocates the use of weapons, which therefore promote violence and influence crime.

In terms of socio economic groups and demographics, the audience is comprised of a /C1/C2/D/E group, as this particular audience would expect to see special effects and action, which is iconic of the genre of science fiction/ action. Though the film’s could suit an A/B/C1 demographic, as the film’s moral message of technology, in accordance to the film’s plot and narrative structure would have a significant meaning, rather than just viewing action and destruction, without actually understanding the film; therefore the A/B/C1 demographic would watch the film for that very reason. Also, as this demographic is combined people across a higher management sector and middle management, this particular audience would pay to see the Matrix, as they would expect the film to be a non mainstream film, which openly conveys a message of society, rather than a film that is similar to other films in its genre.

To an extent, the film’s zeitgeist (outlook of the time period) would be surrounding technology, as it is an emerging force in today’s society and could be sign of what the future can behold. Interestingly, the film centres around machines and is complex in terms of how the film involves technology, i.e. computer programs and reveals the faults of technology, therefore the film would appeal to the audience, who use technology in their everyday lives and could say something of reality and the technological society as a whole, how it could go wrong; the apocalyptic theory, mankind are slaves to technology. The audiences’ dominant readings and expectations of the film genre seem to include special effects, violence and destruction. In regards to the narrative, the film deduces voyeuristic pleasures and evokes suspense, as anything could happen; certain protagonists could die, the donor could get killed or even the dispatcher or heroine. Also, the film is aimed toward explorers, strugglers, reformers and succeeders, as the film uses elements of escapism, control, binary opposition; regarding good vs. evil, and discovery, as there are certain plot twists.

The film’s values appear to be liberal, as the film focuses on simulated reality and seems to show the future and is based around the idea of a post apocalypse; the hero must save the future of mankind. However, the film’s positive values could educate audiences about technology and show how technological changes can be proved to be complex and be negative, as the machines rebel against their masters who are humans.

Most notably in the film, ‘The Matrix’, one particular scene, ‘The Lobby Scene’ appears to be iconic, in terms of the genre of the film and its special effects. To an extent the scene, involves full blooded violence, and clever use of action codes makes the scene more influential, as the use of camera angles and shots chosen by the directors, seem to make the audience involved in the action and can identify with any of the two protagonists, Neo or Trinity.

The scene begins with a diegetic sound of a slow moving turnstile, and parallel sound of a shunting hammer sound, which slowly raises in tempo, therefore connoting the fact that action is about to ensue, this use of a sound bridge is incorporated with the low angle shot of the protagonists’ feet, this shot could connote that action is about to take place, as the boots are leather and are tough boots, which connote that action is about to take place, as the boots are used for rigorous activities such as hiking. There is apparent use of low key lighting and backlighting, this could connote how the protagonist’s intentions are meaningful, and that the lighting could reflect the mood in the tense lobby setting.

In the beginning of the scene, the camera wipes and tilts up to the protagonist through a medium shot, who is situated on the right hand side of the frame, the camera cuts, then zooms on the bag, which the protagonist put on the conveyor belt, the bag is an enigma code, as the audience are not revealed about the bag’s contents and are left in suspense. Swiftly after the cut, there is close up shot of the protagonist’s face, he is wearing black sun glasses and is wearing a large black trench coat, the use of top lighting in comparison to the hero’s serious facial expression, could connote to the audience that he is about to do something serious. The hero is intended to look sinister and superior by the directors, as he is signified to be special in the film, and is seen to be the hero.

Progressively, the camera cuts to a medium shot and two shot of the protagonist and a security guard, who is armed with a metal detector and who appears to be wearing a stereotypical security guard outfit, equipped with a hat, identification, and company shirt. Interestingly, the protagonist appears to be looking around, this could connote to the audience that the protagonist is curious and is analytical, as he could be about to do something irrational, therefore creating enigma. In the background, there are more security guards and computers which could connote how the setting is seemingly tense and could be used for action and destruction. The dialogue spoken by the security guard is typical of what a guard would say “Could you please remove any metallic items you are carrying, keys, loose change”.

After the brief dialogue, the camera wipes to a medium, close up shot of the protagonists’ coat, notably, his waist, which displays a collection of props, in the form of weapons. The use of low key lighting and filler light, is used by the directors, the medium close up shot of the protagonist revealing his weapons is an action code, as his intentions, are to cause destruction and violence, to some extent, this shot could result in catharsis amongst certain audiences such as adults, as they may object to the use of weapons, which promote violence and influence crime, and may choose to be catharsis against the film, to prevent moral panic. Sharply, the camera tilts up to the protagonist’ face, in the form of a close up shot, which conveys an expression of confidence and sincerity. In some ways, the audience are in the position of the security guard, who feels vulnerable and shocked, the audience expect the protagonist to shoot the guard, and therefore, the guard is left to feel alarmed. After this, there is use of an over the shoulder shot which is used to show the guards’ reaction of shock and anguish.

Slowly, there is a brief medium shot of the protagonist pushing the guard. Evidently, there is apparent use of diegetic sound, in the form of a thud sound from the forceful push of the protagonist; the camera follows the movement of the guard in mid flight, through slow motion, this action code connotes how powerful the hero is and how more action is about to commence. Swiftly, the camera wipes to the other security guards’ reaction, via a medium shot, their facial expressions show a sense of shock, as they have seen their colleague thrown across the floor.

The camera cuts to the protagonist in a medium shot; this effectively is a benchmark for the start of the major action scene. Neo is armed with two machine guns; he aims at a guard who is reading a newspaper, in a medium shot. The scene cuts to the guard who is shot repeatedly, this is done in slow motion, which could be in comparison to the genre of sci-fi, which is meant to be abnormal and ambiguous, as the action is slow paced, showing the action slowly, creating an effect of understanding, they are immersed in the action. The use of high key lighting and filler light from the gun shows how the violence is graphic. The use of diegetic sound of the gunshots shows how the violence is abrupt and shocking for the audience, who would expect the hero to be righteous and good. The use of the tracking shot and recurring medium shots, show how the protagonist is in control, to an extent, this could raise sadistic pleasures for the audience who could identify with the hero, as he is willingly and joyfully killing the guards.

Shortly after the two guards are dying, the camera wipes to one of the senior guards, who frighteningly tries to call for back up, however he is vulnerable, as the camera zooms out to a medium shot. Immediately, the camera dissolves to a long shot of the heroine, Trinity, she is signified as the heroine, as she is similarly dressed in a leather trench coat, and is wearing sun glasses, she could be part of the action and be a helper to the hero. Swiftly, the camera changes from a close up shot of Trinity who is holding a gun in a medium shot, then to a similar shot of the guard who is killed repeatedly by Trinity’s gun, this killing could connote how ruthless and insensate the protagonists can be, as they do not care whether the guards survive and are only focused on progressing out of the room.

Gradually, the camera cuts to a high angle shot of the two protagonists who are walking out of the room; the shunting, hammer sound is repeated, to add emphasis and shows how an objective of the protagonists has been achieved. Both protagonists are identified in a medium shot, they are carrying the mysterious bag, which was left at the beginning of the scene, this could connote how the bag is of high importance to them. The use of high key lighting shows the audience that the protagonists are important in the film and in the scene; the audience are encouraged to identify with them.

As the sinister drum sounds develop, there is use of diegetic sound, in the form of loud footsteps. Subsequently, the camera is in a low angle shot, the intention of this is to show how more action is to follow, and to show how reinforcements are ordered to deal with the protagonists, the introduction of these armed army personnel could be an action code and enigma code, as the protagonists might not survive, as they are severely outnumbered.

Immediately, the armed personnel scurry into their positions, so that they can fire at the protagonists. One of the soldiers says ‘Freeze’, prompting the protagonists to retain from moving; their facial expressions signify a sense of rebellion and determination, as they are ready to rebel at 1:02 seconds in the clip. The protagonists disperse, immediately, the sound of gun shots emerge, the camera pans to Neo, who shoots willingly at the soldiers, parallel to this, fast beating rock music follows, this use of contrapuntal sound over the action, connotes a sense of rebellion and determination, as the audience are involved and expect Neo to prevail.

Alongside the contrapuntal sound, the use of a tracking shot and panning follow, this could connote how the audience are involved in the action and are identifying with Neo, who is in command; the audience seem to follow him in the lobby, as he shoots the soldiers coolly. Thoroughly, in the scene, there is use of low key lighting and backlighting, as there is dust coming from the floor, and debris seems to be flying around, as consequence of the action. Neo recharges his gun with ammunition and is identified through a close up shot, this shot is used to show how he determined to fight and is willing to overcome all difficulties to get across the lobby.

In slow motion, the camera cuts to Trinity who is climbing across the wall, via a tracking shot this action move, is iconic, as it gives the protagonist powers, which could show the audience that the protagonists are supernatural and powerful. Trinity spins in the air and shoots at the soldiers in slow motion; through a tracking shot and pan this could show the audience how she is limitless and liberal. The use of the special effects in the scene are influential and powerful, as they show how the protagonists are special and liberal, as they can perform superb fighting moves and are able to have an extra advantage due to this.

Midway through the trailer, the camera pans to a medium shot of Neo, who slowly shoots at the soldiers, his pose seems confident. However, the gun shot sounds seem to become slowed down, parallel to the gun shots, the camera cuts to the image of bullet shells. There is use of diegetic sound, in the form of tinkering sounds of empty bullet shells, which seem to fall on the floor solemnly; this could connote how ruthless Neo shoots in slow motion and how he tries to do whatever he can to destroy the onslaught of soldiers. The wipes and cuts shift from perspectives of Neo and the soldiers, through close up shots and medium shots. Also, the use of high key lighting and filler light from the guns and debris show how destructive the action is, as there are many soldiers who are killed. Also, Trinity seems to be more acrobatic, and seems to protect Neo, as she jump kicks one of the guards, to an extent, this could show how she could love Neo and be protective over him.

Momentously, the iconic moment in the clip is when Neo is running to get across the pathway in slow motion, the strong use of a tracking shot and panning are used to show how the protagonist is oblivious to the violence and is formidable, as he is not injured by the continuous gunfire. The use of low key lighting of the debris and dust and use of background contrapuntal music connote how the protagonist is special and how he is trying to escape and is running to survive. The audience can be attracted to the special effects and action, as Neo is identified in the scene and enigma is created as the audience wonder whether or not Neo will survive. There a multiple wipes and cuts which change from the soldier’s perspectives to Neo who acrobatically is trying to dodge the bullets, his balanced pose is held temporarily, as he cartwheels across the path to try and escape and have access to a weapon, which he manages to capture, as evident through a close up shot. Neo simultaneously shoots in mid air, as the use of a medium shot shows; this effectively shows his individuality and superiority, as the soldiers slowly, are killed and the bullet sounds echo throughout the lobby, showing how action is continuous. Neo also shows his acrobatic capabilities, as jump kicks a soldier and is framed in the centre, with filler light focused on him, which could show the audience that he is capable of anything, and is very powerful.

Finally, Trinity picks up the bag, and drops the gun on the floor, as she is about to pick up the bag, there is a crane shot and tilt, as well as a low angle shot which shows how the action and the protagonists’ objective is complete and head off to the escalator, as evident, through a long shot of the protagonists from the back.

On the whole, the ‘Lobby scene’ is influential, as it involves many camera angles such a tracking shot, low and high angle shot. In addition, the scene uses lighting such as high key, low key lighting, filler light, back light, in accordance with various shots such as medium, close up shots, which are used to involve the audience in the action, as well as to identify with certain protagonists such as Neo or Trinity. The film seems to be significant; its complex narrative is of interest to the audience, as well as certain characters, the setting and other areas such as sound seem to add to the suspense of the narrative, and the mise en scene of the protagonists. Similarly, the film’s production, distribution and promotion is interesting, as the film’s website can be of access to the public and could be of interest to fans who can add comments and talk about the film to others, as well as the official video game, mobile phone sponsors and other promotions. In regards to genre, the film could live up to the audience’s expectations, as science fiction/ action and adventure genre is interesting, as special effects are used, which could please various audiences and could appeal to a male audience, as there is a substantial amount of action and violence in the film. The characters in the film are interesting, as the narrative is complex, as the film is based around technology and the Matrix, as well as the typical binary opposition of good vs. evil which is typical of the genre.