Thursday, May 22, 2003

The Matrix: Chat with the Wachowski Brothers

The Matrix: Chat with the Wachowski Brothers

Chat with the Wachowski Brothers

blindrocket: Do you practice Martial Arts?
WachowskiBros: No, we do not, but we watch a lot of Kung Fu movies.

MadMatt: You guys BIG Jackie Chan fans??
WachowskiBros: Yes, we love a lot of Hong Kong cinema. Jackie Chan in Drunken Master II is fantastic..

Stone: Would you like to direct Jackie Chan?
WachowskiBros: Sure!

gdreams: Will you use Yuen Woo Ping again?
WachowskiBros: Hell yes!

Trinity303: Do you like John Woo's movies and style of shooting scenes of action?
WachowskiBros: John Woo was a genius. John Woo IS a genius.

hokeyboy: Were the filmmakers influenced by Alex Proyas's similarly themed "Dark City"?
WachowskiBros: No, but we thought it was very strange that Australia came to have three films associated with it that were all about the nature of reality. Dark City, The Truman Show and The Matrix.

Starr22: Is all the religious symbolism and doctrine throughout this movie intentional, or not?
WachowskiBros: Most of it is intentional.

Freethinker: Just out of curiosity, do you guys hold to any religious beliefs?
WachowskiBros: Non-denominational.

Wesbran: Is the title "The Matrix" related to the mitochondrial matrix located in cells; the site of cell respiration, the creation of energy in humans?
WachowskiBros: Like the movie itself, there is alot of word play, a lot of hidden other meanings, a lot of multiple meanings. Besides that, we also like the definition, the mathematical definition of the use of matrix, or the use of it in terms of a woman's womb.

agunn3: Have you ever been told that the Matrix has Gnostic overtones?
WachowskiBros: Do you consider that to be a good thing? I would.

linusa: Do you believe that our world is in some way similar to "The Matrix", that there is a larger world outside of this existence?
WachowskiBros: That is a larger question than you actually might think. We think the most important sort of fiction attempts to answer some of the big questions. One of the things that we had talked about when we first had the idea of The Matrix was an idea that I believe philosophy and religion and mathematics all try to answer. Which is, a reconciling between a natural world and another world that is perceived by our intellect.

Ronin: Your movie has many and varied connections to myth and philsophy, Judeo-Christian, Egyptian, Arthurian, and Platonic, just to name those I've noticed. How much of that was intentional?
WachowskiBros: All of it.

wrygrass: Did ideas from Buddhism influence you in making the film?
WachowskiBros: Yes. There's something uniquely interesting about Buddhism and mathematics, particularly about quantum physics, and where they meet. That has fascinated us for a long time.

Lincoln: What is your fave line in the movie?
WachowskiBros: Dodge this. And "there is no spoon." We also liked that one.

Enigma: The character Neo: Is Neo his real self and Thomas Anderson who he is 'required' to be?
WachowskiBros: Neo is Thomas Anderson's potential self.

Action: Am I really watching the movie right now, or am I in...The Matrix?
WachowskiBros: Take another blue pill and call me tomorrow.

Editor's Comments:

The above is an edited version of an online chat with the Wachowski brothers, conducted shortly after the release of their 1999 box office hit, The Matrix. The Matrix, as anyone who hasn't been living under a rock knows, was the first part of a trilogy. Part II, entitled The Matrix Reloaded, is currently entering its second week of release.

I have reproduced only those segments which suggest the central role that Chinese martial arts and Chinese metaphysical systems such as Buddhism and by implication, Daoism, play in their revolutionary, mind-bending epic.

The movie's official website notes that "The Wachowski brothers have remained relatively tight-lipped regarding the religious symbolism and philosophical themes that permeate the film, preferring that the movie speak for itself."

Alert readers will notice that although the Wachowski brothers have been bombarded with questions about every religious and spiritual system under the sun, they have shaded their answers in every instance except one. The only time this dynamic writing and directing duo has ever responded without hesitation, without equivocation, without diplomatic circumlocution, was when they were asked about Buddhism.

wrygrass: Did ideas from Buddhism influence you in making the film?

WachowskiBros: Yes. There's something uniquely interesting about Buddhism and mathematics, particularly about quantum physics, and where they meet. That has fascinated us for a long time.

Shades of Fritof Capra's "Tao of Physics." As the film trilogy's box office performance reveals, the Wachowski brothers are obviously not alone in their fascination with Chinese martial arts and Eastern philosophy.

Box Office Summary for The Matrix Reloaded One Week After Release (US Dollars)

Box Office Total: $134,282,716
Box Office Opening: $91,774,413
No. of Weeks at #1: 1
No. of Weeks in Top 10: 1

Who knew ancient Chinese cultural traditions held such enormous profit potential?

-- Bevin Chu

Explanation: Chat with the Wachowski Brothers
Illustration(s): The Elusive, Camera Shy Wachowski brothers
Author(s): None
Affiliation: Warner Brothers
Publication Date: November 6, 1999
Original Language: English
Editor: Bevin Chu, Registered Architect

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