The spectacular success of the original The Matrix film put a lot of pressure on the filmmaking duo of the Wachowski siblings to up the ante with the two sequels, The Matrix: Reloaded and The Matrix: Revolutions. In a recent interview, cinematographer Bill Pope revealed how the legacy of The Matrix, and the Wachowskis seeking to emulate Stanely Kubrick's filming style ended up causing a lot of misery on the sets of the sequels.
"Everything that was good about the first experience was not good about the last two. We weren't free anymore. People were looking at you. There was a lot of pressure. In my heart, I didn't like them. I felt we should be going in another direction. There was a lot of friction and a lot of personal problems, and it showed up on screen to be honest with you. It was not my most elevated moment, nor was it anyone else's. The Wachowskis had read this damn book by Stanley Kubrick that said, 'Actors don't do natural performances until you wear them out.' So let's go to take 90! I want to dig Stanley Kubrick up and kill him."
While filming unending retakes might have worked for Kubrick, Bill Pope is not a fan of that particular method of moviemaking. Additionally, the two sequels were filmed back-to-back, which added an extra layer of exhaustion to the entire process.
"There is something about making a shoot that long, 276 shoot days, that is mind numbing and soul numbing and it numbs the movie. You think about The Hobbit where they [shot] one, two, and three, and the movies are just numbing. In the books you don't feel that because you pick it up and put it down. In a movie shoot it's too long. There's a limit from what you can take in."
The original movie in the series, The Matrix, told the tale of a hacker named Neo, who is contacted by an underground group of rebels who inform him that the world he knows is a computer simulation created by humanity's machine overlords to lull the people into a false reality that keeps them docile and compliant.
The two Matrix sequels saw Neo embrace his role as the liberator of humanity from the false reality and confront an even bigger threat in the shape of the rogue computer virus named Agent Smith. Now, two decades later, a third sequel is in the works, to be directed by Lana Wachowski, with Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Jada Pinkett Smith, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Neil Patrick Harris, Jessica Henwick and Jonathan Groff leading the cast.
Although he is not joining the creative team behind the third sequel to The Matrix, and despite the wearying slog of making the first two sequels, Pope is ultimately satisfied with what the cast and crew were able to achieve with Reloaded and Revolutions.
"I just transferred them all to 4K for archive purposes at Warners. and I wrote the Wachowkis and Keanu and Carrie Ann that we did a good job [on the sequels], we should be proud of them."
This story comes from IndieWire.