The Matrix was written and directed by Lana Wachowski and Lilly Wachowski. It was released in 1999. The film was produced by Warner Bros., Village Roadshow Pictures, Groucho Film Partnership, and Silver Pictures. The artists for the main titles were Harold De Jesus and Marcel Valcarce.
Thomas Anderson, known by his preferred hacking alias “Neo,” played by Keanu Reeves, lives an unsatisfying life and has always suspected that there’s something wrong with the world he lives in. His suspicions are confirmed when he meets Trinity, played by Carrie-Anne Moss. After an unfortunate run-in with a sentient computer program known as Agent Smith, played by Hugo Weaving, she introduces him to a mysterious man named Morpheus, played by Laurence Fishburne. Morpheus explains to him that the world Neo knows is nothing more than a computer simulation, a construct playing out within the minds of comatose humans as they are used as an energy source by intelligent machines. Initially resistant to this staggering revelation, Neo is soon reborn into the real world, a post-apocalyptic hellscape full of human factories and immense dangers. Morpheus believes Neo to be “the One,” a human who is believed to free humankind. Neo must learn what it means to be alive in the real world, and hopefully, live up to what’s prophesied about him.
The titles demonstrate an unusual juxtaposition in the film. The Matrix, with all of its advanced technology, is personified through ancient computer screens. There’s no color besides green. No icons on the screen. No menu bar to be seen anywhere. The vast complexity of this simulation is shown as raindrops of computer characters. The words “The Matrix” are themselves formed from the physical representation of The Matrix: the sickly green on black glow of old computer screens. This feels like an expert melding of the visuals of the film and the complex ideas that drive its story. From moment one, the film gives us a clue as to what is in store for us.
I recall being held in rapt silence while watching this film in the theater when it came out. You knew you were about to watch something special when those characters started falling from the top of the screen. One of the most thrilling sequences in film history follows this opening title: a squad of police officers and three relentless, terrifying Agents surround the building in which Trinity is holed up. She must fight her way out and into safety, or die trying. To this day, it’s still completely effective. Give that scene a watch again. 🎞