Twenty years ago, today, the #1 film at the box office was The Matrix, a science-fiction action film starring…Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, Gloria Foster and Joe Pantoliano. Produced by Joel Silver, it was written and directed by The Wachowskis.
[The movie] depicts a dystopian future in which humanity is unknowingly trapped inside a simulated reality called the Matrix, created by thought-capable machines (artificial beings) to control humans while using their bodies as an energy source. Hacker and computer programmer, Neo, learns this truth and “is drawn into a rebellion against the machines”, which involves other people who have been freed from the Matrix.
The film is an example of the cyberpunk subgenre. The Wachowskis’ approach to action scenes drew upon their admiration for Japanese animation and martial arts films and, the film’s use of fight choreographers and wire fu techniques from Hong Kong action cinema, influenced subsequent Hollywood action film productions. The Matrix is known for popularizing a visual effect known as “bullet time“, in which the heightened perception of certain characters is represented by allowing the action within a shot to progress in slow-motion while the camera’s viewpoint appears to move through the scene at normal speed. The film contains numerous allusions to philosophical and religious ideas, including existentialism, Marxism, feminism, Buddhism, nihilism and postmodernism.
From Roger Ebert:
“The Matrix” is a visually dazzling cyberadventure, full of kinetic excitement but, it retreats to formula just when it’s getting interesting. It’s kind of a letdown when a movie begins by redefining the nature of reality and ends with a shoot-out. We want a leap of the imagination, not one of those obligatory climaxes with automatic weapons fire.
I’ve seen dozens if not hundreds of these exercises in violence, which recycle the same tired ideas: Bad guys fire thousands of rounds but, are unable to hit the good guy. Then, it’s down to the final showdown between good and evil…a martial arts battle in which the good guy gets pounded until he’s almost dead, before he finds the inner will to fight back. Been there, seen that (although rarely done this well).
“The Matrix” did not bore me. It interested me so much, indeed, that I wanted to be challenged even more. I wanted it to follow its material to audacious conclusions, to arrive not simply at victory but, at revelation.
From Darren Aronofsky:
“I walked out of The Matrix with Jared and I was thinking, ‘What kind of science fiction movie can people make now?'” Aronofsky says. “The Wachowskis basically took all the great sci-fi ideas of the 20th century and rolled them into a delicious pop culture sandwich that everyone on the planet devoured. Suddenly Philip K. Dick‘s ideas no longer seemed that fresh. Cyberpunk? Done.”
From M. Night Shyamalan:
[…] Mr. Shyamalan is not much of a cinema historian. Among the directors he admires are Peter Weir, Cameron Crowe, Alfred Hitchcock and the Wachowski Brothers. “Whatever you think of ‘The Matrix,’ every shot is there because of the passion they have! You can see they argued it out!”
♦ For the cell phone conversation scene between Neo and Morpheus in the MetaCortex office, Keanu Reeves actually climbed up the window without a stuntman, which was 34 floors up.
♦ Will Smith was approached to play Neo but, turned down the offer in order to star in Wild Wild West (1999). He later admitted that, at the time, he was “not mature enough as an actor” and that, if given the role, he “would have messed it up”. He had no regrets, saying that “Keanu was brilliant as Neo.”
♦ In an online interview when the film was first released, the Wachowskis revealed that they’d both take the Blue Pill when given Neo’s choice.
As the snowiest month in the United States, February’s full moon is commonly known as the Full Snow Moon in Native American cultures. These ancient tribes named this moon after the way trees cracked in the cold or how people had to sit shoulder to shoulder around the fire for warmth. Even the Celts called it the Moon of Ice. As expected of the coldest month in the year, the Full Snow Moon is also known by more sinister names, such as the Bone Moon. The Cherokee tribe called February’s full moon the Bone Moon because, by this point, the tribe’s winter food supplies had usually dwindled to the point where people had to gnaw on bones and cook bone marrow soup in order to survive. For the same reason, the Kalapuya tribe called this moon the Out of Food Moon. Appropriately, it’s also known as the Hunger Moon and the Little Famine Moon. Perhaps, due to this month’s association with death, the Cherokee tribe would commune with their dead ancestors during the Bone Moon. A didanawiskawi, or a medicine person, would host a medicine dance for the community. Fasting and rituals for the dead were also common practices.
However, not all cultures associate February’s full moon with extreme cold and death. The Hopi tribe calls it the Moon of Purification and Renewal, which is very fitting because the Full Snow Moon is usually the very first full moon of the year according to the lunar calendar. Cultures that follow the lunar calendar, especially East Asian cultures, tend to associate the Full Snow Moon with new beginnings for this very reason. The ancient Chinese, for example, called it the Budding Moon. As a matter of fact, celebrations of February’s full moon are the climax of Lunar New Year festivities in various East Asian countries. In China, the Full Snow Moon is celebrated during the Lantern Festival, also known as the Yuanxiao Festival, which is the 15th day of the Lunar New Year. During this festival, the Chinese release kongming lanterns into the sky as they admire the full moon and eat tangyuan, glutinous rice balls that are usually filled with sweet paste. The round shape of the balls symbolize family togetherness and bring good luck to the whole family.
Many East Asian cultures in general also light lanterns and bonfires to celebrate February’s full moon. According to an ancient Chinese legend, not long after Buddhism was brought into China, 17 deities were witnessed flying through the sky during the first full moon of the Lunar New Year. Shocked and excited, the populace lit fires and lanterns to see the godly beings better. They continued to do so year after year but, for more practical reasons – to chase away pests and to pray for a good crop in the upcoming spring. In Korea, where February’s full moon is known as Daeboreum, these fiery structures are called “Houses of the Burning Moon”. During Daeboreum, Koreans hike mountains, despite the freezing temperatures, in order to catch a glimpse of the first rise of the first full moon of the Lunar New Year. According to legend, the very first person to accomplish this feat will have their dearest wish come true.
From Farmers’ Almanac:
Among the Micmac people of eastern Canada, the driving winds that often accompany February snows led to the name Snow-Blinding Moon. Because this month’s typically harsh weather conditions made hunting very difficult, other common names for February’s Moon included the Hunger Moon, Bony Moon, and Little Famine Moon. To the early American colonists, the optimal time for trapping beaver, fox and mink was the dead of winter when these animals’ coats were at their fullest. So, to them, February’s moon was known as the Trapper’s Moon.
From a Wiccan site I stumbled across while ‘Googling’ (or ‘Binging’) a particular name, additional names not listed above are Storm Moon, Horning Moon, Wild Moon, Red & Cleansing Moon, Quickening Moon, Big Winter Moon, Moon When Trees Pop and Chaste Moon. And, there is quite an extensive list of Native American moons on Skywise Unlimited.
100% illumination will occur at 10:53am EST.
Howl for me! ~Vic