What does the director do to enhance the mood/atmosphere of the opening scene of the Matrix?
The Wachowski brothers’ 1999 sci-fi film The Matrix utilizes a range of film techniques to enhance the atmosphere in the opening scene. The Movie uses a range of different camera angles and shots such as the pull focus at certain points of the film, and lighting as well as special effects to immerse the viewer into the film.
Certain camera angles employed by the Wachowski brothers can trigger emotive responses from the viewers as if to mimic the feelings that specific characters feel themselves. For example, when the police officer kicks in the door the camera focuses on the police officer as he pulls out the handcuffs then the camera switches focuses on Trinity, thus leaving the viewers with the impression that she is in danger. Another camera technique the director’s make use of are close-up shots of the characters in the film to show in great detail the emotion that they are feeling, for example when the door is kicked down the camera snaps to Trinity showing her face she is shown to have a smug look on her face giving to audience the sense that she is clam and in-control and maybe a bit cocky regarding the level of effort required to deal with the police officers.
Later on in the opening scene Trinity is on the phone to Morpheus and she asks if there are any agents, with Morpheus’ response ‘yes’ Trinity’s mood darken hinting that an ‘Agent’ would be significantly tougher than a regular police officer. Another camera effect that the Director’s have applied to enhance mood is the use of stop-motion camera where multiple cameras take one picture at exactly the same time to give the effect of time slowing down as well as giving the sense that Trinity is ‘super-human’.
Actors can also enhance the mood and or atmosphere in such a way that it shows certain characters to be more dominant than others, for example when one of the police officers pulls the gun out and shouts ‘freeze!’ to Trinity you can see quite clearly that the gun is shaking and you can also hear the fear in his voice as he says it. Another set of actors play a very important role in the film, the Agents in the film you see them pull up in the car the movie tells the viewers that they are in command as soon as they get out, this is shown with the Agents blank expressions and their dominant tone of voice .
The setting of the opening scene an also have a great quantity on how the mood is set. This is shown right at the start when the camera lowers displaying the sign that clearly states ‘Motel’ the directors also decided to have one or two of the letters flicker on and off exhibiting that the hotel is run-down, and when people think run-down and dingy apartment they think that something less-than-legitimate, this is also emphasized when you see an inside shot of the apartment, you can see straight away that there are exposed cables that have fallen out from the roof, strengthening the point of the apartment and it’s run-down state.
Another factor that can enhance the atmosphere of the mood is the costumes. Although this may seem insignificant but costumes can effect the way you think of certain characters. For example, you see the police officers in their uniforms but then the agents rock up wearing suits, that displays the significance of the Agents and the priority of the task that has been assigned to them. Another character whose costume affects the mood is Trinity, to any Matrix fan would see the iconic black leather trench coat and immediately see her to be one of the good guys, but to someone who hasn’t seen the movie or any sequels before, would see Trinity as one of the ‘bad’ characters as black is often represented with sinister, as when she kills the police officer.
Special effects have a major impact on how the mood is set in the film, as it can make the characters in the movie seem more awesome than they are, for example when trinity runs up and over the wall and lands behind the police it shows that she is superhuman and can preform over-the-top acrobatics, another example is when Trinity leaps across from one building, across a two-lane road with side paths once again, it makes Trinity seem to be abnormal, but then one of the agents also leaps across the buildings reinforcing the point that the agents seem more professional than the other police officers this point is strengthened when one of the police officers were about to jump but then doesn’t at the last moment and then he states that the leap was impossible. *
* Lighting is arguably one of the best ways to set the mood in a movie. In this case, in the Matrix the Director’s use a torch beam to signify that the police officers are searching for something or someone, in this case it’s Trinity is what they were searching for. Light can also mean other things, such as when Trinity is running from the Agents she see’s the phone booth, with the phone booth light being the only one in the scene it signifies salvation and safety, this point is proven to be as when the camera snaps back to Trinity, she smiles signifying she has reached her goal. *
* Sound can also be used to set the atmosphere. In terms of the Matrix right at the start of the film you can hear Trinity discussing something with Morpheus in a hushed tone of voice stating the fact that something dodgy is going down, especially as right at the start of the phone call Trinity states “is this call being traced?” solidifying the fact that something dodgy is going down.
Sound effects are also used in the opening scene as the music is slowed down when Trinity does her jump kick, the gunshots fired from the police have also been enhanced displaying the pistols being more threatening. While this is all happening you can hear police sirens in the distance implying that danger is approaching, in this case, more police officers. At the last scene when Trinity is racing to get to the phone booth a massive truck pulls up, and of couse the sound of the engine is enhanced to sound menacing and threatening. *
* In conclusion, The Wachowski brother have employed the use of different camera focusing techniques, the use of talented actors, lighting, sound and also editing to enhance the mood and atmosphere of the movie