Although The Matrix was a game-changing instant sci-fi classic when it came out in 1999, its two sequels—2003's The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions—failed to inspire fans in the same way. And one of the directors thinks she knows why.
Directors Lana and Andy Wachowski are out doing the publicity rounds now for their upcoming epic Cloud Atlas (which they co-directed with Tom Tykwer), and it marks the first time that the notoriously private Wachowskis have spoken with the press since the release of The Matrix 13 years ago.
All this time, fans and critics have endlessly debated the meaning and intent of the trilogy, with many feeling that the latter two films got too confusing and obscure, failing to match the thrilling mix of action and metaphysics of the original.
The new press push for Cloud Atlas has given some journalists the opportunity to discuss the Matrix films with the siblings, and the subject of the trilogy eventually came up in this 30-minute interview with Movie City News. While not asked directly about why the two sequels were not as beloved as the first movie, Lana Wachowski does delve into the siblings' intentions with all three films. It starts at around 17 minutes, but here's the key quote:
What we were trying to achieve with the story overall was a shift, the same kind of shift that happens for Neo, that Neo goes from being in this sort of cocooned and programmed world, to having to participate in the construction of meaning to his life. And we were like, 'Well, can the audience go through the three movies and experience something similar to what the main character experiences?'
So the first movie is sort of classical in its approach, the second movie is deconstructionist and an assault on all the things you thought to be true in the first movie ... and the third movie is the most ambiguous, because it asks you to actually participate in the construction of meaning.
So if we have this right, the Wachowskis took the framework of the action movie and asked the viewer to throw away all its preconceptions about what that was supposed to be and create their own ideas about it. Or something like that.
In any case, it's food for thought, especially coming from the mouth of one of the Matrix creators herself. What do you think of the Wachowskis' now-stated intent for the Matrix trilogy? Do you think that's what they had in mind all along, and does it put the movies in a different light for you?