1. “The Matrix” grossed over $460 million worldwide
In comparison, other films released that year include: The Blair Witch Project, which grossed $248 million worldwide, Fight Club, which grossed $100.9 million worldwide, and The Sixth Sense, which grossed $672 million worldwide.
2. The film won a total of 32 awards including four Oscars
The Matrix beat The Phantom Menace in each of their categories at the 72nd Golden Globes, winning Best Editing, Best Sound Editing, Best Visual Effects and Best Sound. The film also scooped Best Fight, Best Male Performance and Best Movie at the MTV Movie Awards.
3. Bullet Time wasn’t invented by “The Matrix”
The Wachowski siblings may have popularized the effect in “The Matrix”, but the first instance of bullet-time in a live-action film was in 1981 action film called Kill and Kill Again.
4. But it has been parodied by everyone since
From Shrek to The Simpsons, to Scary Movie to Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo, a film in the 00s wasn’t worth its salt until it went swoosh around a character mid-air.
5. Both Will Smith and Nicolas Cage turned down the role of Neo
Cage refused the part due to family commitments, while Smith was skeptical about how the ‘bullet time’ scenes would be produced. Smith told Empire magazine:
“The Matrix is exactly what they pitched, but they were designing those cameras to get those freeze-frames, and I was like, ‘If that doesn’t work, the movie looks ridiculous’.”
6. Keanu was in a neck brace while learning to fight for the film
Before pre-production, Reeves had undergone surgery on his neck, and was still recovering while training for the film. The surgery meant he was unable to kick for two out of the four months of training, and as such, Neo kicks very little in The Matrix.
7. He also climbed out of that window for real…
For the phone conversation with Morpheus in the Metacortex offices, Keanu climbed out of the window, which was 34 stories high, without a stuntman. Woah.
8. … and lost 15 pounds to prepare for the pod scene
Reeves shed a ton of weight and shaved all his hair to make Neo appear fragile and withered. The principal photography concluded with the scene where Neo falls into the sewer system.
9. Morpheus is based on a Neil Gaiman character
The Matrix creators the Wachowski siblings told Laurence Fishburne to base his performance of Morpheus on a character of the same name from Neil Gaiman’s comic book series The Sandman.
10. The Oracle has a history
In 8 B.C., the Oracle of Delphi was the priestess to the Temple of Apollo, and the most prestigious Oracle among the Ancient Greeks. Carved on the wall of the Temple was the phrase: gnōthi seautón. Translated, it means ‘Know Thyself’. The same phrase is seen in the kitchen of the Oracle in The Matrix.
11. Everyone had to do their background reading
Before Keanu had even opened the script, the Wachowski siblings made him read Simulacra and Simulation by Jean Baudrillard, Out of Control by Kevin Kelly, and Introducting Evolutionary Psychology by Dylan Evans , so that he could explain the philosophical thought behind the script. All actors on the film had to be able to explain The Matrix.
12. The soundtrack was inspired by… mirrors
Composer Don Davis took inspiration from reflections in the film - Morpheus’ glasses, the spoon bending, Trinity seeing Neo in her rear-view mirror. He then incorporated these reflections into his score - alternating sections of the orchestra. Whether the focus is on orchestral or synthesizer elements depends on whether the scene in the film is dominated by humans or machines.
13. There’s an homage to Bruce Lee
During the combat scene with Morpheus, Neo thumbs his nose. This wasn’t in the script - it was improvised by Reeves as a nod to Kung Fu king Bruce Lee.
14. “The Matrix” timeline takes place over 19 months
In the opening sequence, the date stamp on the phone trace program displays: “2/18/98”. In the closing sequence, the date stamp on the phone trace program in displays: “9/18/99”. This means that it takes almost two years for Neo to realise his mission.
15. ‘The Matrix Defense’ is an actual legal term
By using ‘The Matrix Defense’, the defendant claims that they committed a crime because they believed they were living in the Matrix, and not the real world. This defense has been successful on several occasions, and is a version of the insanity defense.
16. The shootout scene syncs perfectly with Lou Bega’s ‘Mambo No. 5’
17. Agent Smith also starred in “Happy Feet”
Australian Hugo Weaving, who plays Agent Smith, was the voice of Noah the Elder penguin in Happy Feet and Happy Feet 2. He was also the voice of the grumpy sheepdog Rex in Babe. An animal lover, clearly.
18. Morpheus was in “Apocalypse Now”
20 years before he starred in The Matrix, Laurence Fishburne played a 17-year-old sailor named ‘Mr Clean’ in Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now. He’s credited as ‘Larry Fishburne’.
19. Trinity has a special keepsake from the film set
In 2003, Carrie-Anne Moss explained: “The Brothers gave me a gift. They encased in glass my coat, my jacket, the glasses and some photographs of my journey. You plug it in. It’s got a light. Not sure what I’m going to do with it but it’s pretty cool. I have it in storage right now because I’m not sure where to put it. I could see it [someplace] where it makes no sense. It either needs to be in a museum or someplace where I stack toilet paper.”
20. Most importantly, “The Matrix” could be real…
Scientists in North Carolina and Brazil have managed to link the brains of two rats, using ‘brain-to-brain interfaces’. The interfaces can connect either directly or through the internet. This means that the rats can share sensory information, and collaborate to earn rewards. ‘We are creating what I call an organic computer’, explained Duke University Medical Center neurobiologist Miguel Nicolelis.