understanding media

The Matrix

The Matrix, starring Keanu Reeves, was released in 1999 to critical and popular acclaim. The film won four Oscars and was the first DVD to sell 1 million copies. More importantly it also tackled a host of questions of precisely the sort that Media Studies addresses: what counts as real, and how do we know; do representations of society and culture control us in some way; what are the effects of new media technologies? We will be discussing aspects of The Matrix throughout the module.

Getting Started: Many books have been published on the Matrix series. Some are of greater value than others. The following list includes the key academic texts, plus a few others that are of particular interest. The best place to start if you're interested in thinking about the issues raised by the film is perhaps Matt Lawrence's book Like a Splinter in Your Mind. Two chapters are available online as 'tasters'.

Carr, D. (2005). The Rules of the Game, The Burden of Narrative: Enter the Matrix. In: Gillis, S. (ed.). The Matrix Trilogy: Cyberpunk Reloaded . London: Wallflower Press, pp. 36-47. An analysis of the first Matrix digital game, Enter the Matrix.
Clover, J. (2004). The Matrix. London: BFI.
Couch, S. (ed.) (2003). Matrix Revelations: A Thinking Fan's Guide to the Matrix Trilogy. Southampton: Damaris.
Dawson, A. (2003). Studying The Matrix. Leighton Buzzard: Auteur. Covers narrative, genre, postmodernism, colours, costumes, representation, and other aspects of the film which we examine on the module.
Diocaretz, M. and Herbrechter, S. (eds) (2006). The Matrix in Theory. Amsterdam: Rodopi.
Faller, S. (2004). Beyond the Matrix: Revolutions and Revelations. St. Louis, Mo.: Chalice Press.
Gallardo-C., X. (2004). Review Essay of Kapell and Doty's Jacking In to the Matrix Franchise. Reconstruction, Summer 4 (3), ISSN: 1547-4348. Retrieved on 19th January 2005 from:
Gillis, S. (2005). The Matrix Trilogy: Cyberpunk Reloaded. London: Wallflower Press. A collection of essays by media and cultural theorists.
Grau, C. (2005). Philosophers Explore the Matrix. Oxford: Oxford University Press. A collection of essays by philosophers, which originally appeared on the official Matrix website. Also includes short selections from classical philosophical texts: Plato, Descartes, Berkely, et al.
Hotchkiss, L. M. (2003). 'Still in the Game': Cybertransformations of the 'New Flesh' in David Cronenberg's eXistenZ. The Velvet Light Trap, 52 (Fall), pp. 15-32. A comparison of David Cronenberg's films Videodrome and eXistenZ, which includes a brief discussion of The Matrix .
Irwin, W. (ed.) (2002). The Matrix and Philosophy: Welcome to the Desert of the Real. Chicago, IL: Open Court.
Irwin, W. (ed.) (2005). More Matrix and Philosophy. Chicago, IL: Open Court.
Jenkins, H. (2006). Searching for the Origami Unicorn: The Matrix and Transmedia Storytelling. In: Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. New York, NY: New York University Press, pp. 93-130.
Kapell, M. and Doty, W. G. (2004). Jacking into the Matrix Franchise: Cultural Reception and Interpretation. New York: Continuum. See also Ximena Gallardo-C.'s review essay of this volume.
Kaveney, R. (2005). From Alien to The Matrix: Reading Science Fiction Film. London: I.B. Tauris.
Lamm, S. (ed.) (2000). The Art of the Matrix. New York: Newmarket. A lush, hardback volume including stills, production sketches, and the original script.
Lawrence, M., (2004). Like a Splinter in Your Mind: The Philosophy Behind the Matrix Trilogy. Oxford: Blackwell. Chapter 12 'Facing the Absurd: Existentialism for Humans and Programs' and Chapter 13, 'The Tao of the Code', are available here:
Chapter 13 is also available here:
Lawrence, M., (no date). Watching The Matrix Trilogy Philosophically. Retrieved on 17th January 2005 from:
Lloyd, P. B. (2003). Exegesis of the Matrix. London: Whole-Being Books. Discusses allusions, ideas and motifs within The Matrix, as well as influences, technology, philosophy, politics, religion, plot and politics within the film.
Nakamura, Lisa (2002). Cybertypes: Race, Ethnicity, and Identity on the Internet. New York: Routledge, pp. 72-85. A discussion of race in The Matrix.

The Matrix 101. Retrieved 21 January 2006.
Fox, L. and Sachs, J. (2003). The Meatrix. Free Range Graphics and Global Resource Action Center for the Environment website. Retrieved on 19th January 2005 from: http://www.themeatrix.com/. My thanks to 04126715 for drawing my attention to this website.

The Animatrix (2003). Animated films. Various directors. USA: Warner Home Video. Nine animated shorts, mostly by Japanese directors, released just before the first sequel. Each presents a story set in the Matrix universe.
The Matrix (1999). Film. Directed by Larry and Andy Wachowski. USA: Warner Brothers.
The Matrix Revisited (2003). Documentary. Directed by Josh Oreck. USA: Warner Home Video. A two hour documentary on the making of The Matrix.