Soundtrack Analysis of a Scene in the Film Matrix (1999). Essay Sample

Published: 2023-01-08
Soundtrack Analysis of a Scene in the Film Matrix (1999). Essay Sample
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Music Inspiration Analysis Movie
Pages: 8
Wordcount: 2016 words
17 min read

Human imagination has played a crucial role in the phenomenal technological achievements that have graced the world in the last hundred years. Curious people come up with ideas that appear crazy on the face value but, over time, these forms of imaginations translate into technological innovations that drastically change how human beings interact with each other in their physical environment. Some of the conceptualization of these ideas takes place in the movie industry where industry players produce films that capture events that may seem imaginary and odd in the current context but end up becoming a reality after some time as seen in the advent of the internet and mobile phones. One such movie is the Matrix. Directed by Lana Wachowski and Lilly Wachowski, the film is a science fiction capturing humanity in an environment where artificial intelligence rules. The flow of scenes and related actions leave audiences glued from the beginning to the end. However, it is the mastery of the soundtrack that makes the movie a genius of its kind.

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The effectiveness of any movie to deliver its main message depends on how well scenes are created as scenes create a sequence that develops the plot of the story by creating connections between the various events in the film. One of the most prominent scenes in the Matrix movie is the scene that features Neo waking up in the real world. The soundtrack is in this scene is quite effective in communicating the essential themes of the story. According to Slobin (2008) sound in the film is a necessary component because it enhances the entertainment aspect of the movie. In the five minute sequence that depicts the power of intelligence machines, different sound designs are used to act locally, with focus given to serving functional and relational ends, and globally in narrative and other aspects of film sound tracking. The paper explores the local and global dimensions of sound tracking and how they develop the plot of the film. The primary focus of this review is given to the excerpt itself by exploring the role of sound in this scene and then contextualizes how sound in the extract relates to the entire story through theme development.

The movie takes place in a distant apocalyptic future, somewhere in 2199, where human beings have been colonized by the machines they created through artificial intelligence. Programmer Neo, the protagonist, is of the view that something has gone in the computing world. The feeling comes as a result of repeated encounters with a strange phrase known as the Matrix. Trinity contacts Neo refers him to Morpheus for an explanation of what the phrase means. Agents target Neo intending to coerce him to help them capture Morpheus. The current life form of Neo is a consequence of the activities of machines. Morpheus gives Neo a choice of red pill which stands for truth and a blue one that would enable him to return to his former life form. The protagonist chooses the red pill which disintegrates reality. Neo wakes up naked, weak and hairless connected, alongside other human beings to an electrical system. As Neo comes to terms with the fact, he learns of robots and how they are capable of harvesting the human's bioelectric power. The characters later learn about the matrix, its harmful effects on humans, and how the human created machines have changed the world around them. At the same time, agents continue to pursue Morpheus to get information about his access codes to a computer system based in Zion. The film ends with Neo flying into the sky after calling the Matrix to assure the prisoners that the machines would be defeated because everything is possible with human beings.

At the onset of the action in the scene, the sound is used to work in several ways in developing the main issues in the film. Non-diegetic sound is prominent as the scene sets in and this is crucial as it helps the generate attention in the viewers as the suspense created in the previous scenes is unraveled. Neo is seen seated in a confined position and instructed to buckle the seat belt. Suddenly there is a sound that represents the thunder, and an image can be seen on the screen that reflects the impact of thunder up in the clouds. This is depicted in the form of swift lighting that is displayed behind Neo and the other characters. Since this is the introductory part of the scene, the lightning that is accompanied by non-diegetic sound plays a critical role in developing the plot of the film in many ways.

One of the essential effects created by the thunder sound is drawing the connection between the images and the narrative of the story. Thunder strikes represent catastrophe in many literary contexts, including film. Its appearance in the film signifies that something dramatic is to happen and significant changes in the lives of the characters would take place as a consequence. Since we generally associate thunder or lightning with tragedy, this sound provokes suspense in the audience as viewers as encourages viewers to be more interested to know the next action in the scene sequence. In other words, this sound allows the viewers to create a connection between the situations of the protagonist and process it in the context of the real world. Sound puts the audience in the real world and makes them experience the action in the movie as though it was taking place in the real world. Without sound in the film, the sense of the presence of the audience in the real world would disappear (Impey, 2009). As such, the non-diegetic sound at the start of the scene helps in creating the utopian atmosphere that is central to themes highlighted in the movie.

The other element of non-diegetic sound that is evident in the scene is the use of the shepherd tone. The shepherd tone is a unique type of an auditory illusion that descends or ascends in pitch as the action in the movie unfolds (Rapan, 2018). The sound is composed of multiple sine waves that are differentiated by an octave. The significant attributes of the shepherd tone are that there are a low-pitched tone, a middle-pinched tone and a high pitched tone in a given sequence. The pitch starts at a low level and then rises to middle and then to the highest standard and this trend can be repeated in reverse in the sense that the highest pitch is lowered until the lowest level is achieved throughout the track(McGregor, 2017). As a result, the pitch takes a particular pattern that intends to have different effects on the audience. In the context of the film, the shepherd tone as an element of sound spreads throughout the scene. At the scene where Neo is in a mystic seat, the sound begins with a low pitch and then rises rapidly to the highest level before slowly returning to the original lowest pitch before it finally fades entirely. Its end allows another action in the movie to take place.

Inclusion of the shepherd tone in a film is significant in that it contributes to the development of various aspects of the movie that make it not only entertaining but also more accessible for the audience to interpret the meanings of the events in the story. According to McGregor (2017), the shepherd tone is instrumental in creating bring out the effect of suspense in a given story as it provokes interest among the audience regarding actions in a scene. Based on the shot that captures the use of the shepherd tone in the film, it can be felt that the tone generates a force that appears to intentioned to create an impact on the characters. As the tone rises and falls, the audience cannot avoid feeling that something dramatic or harmful is likely too specific happen to Neo and the force created by the shepherd tone is expected to be the source of such occurrence. Consequently, a sense of anticipation grows among the viewer which in turn creates suspense in action. Uncertainty is essential in the film as it serves the purpose of encouraging the audience to pay attention to the events taking place in the scene thereby actualizing the entertainment of the objective of the movie.

Diegetic sound is also an essential inclusion in the film as it helps to fuse the shepherd tone with the action in the scene. Diegetic music is the sound in the audience can see in the movie a given item as the real source of the sound that is being heard as the action in the film progresses (Fabe, 2014; Beauchamp, 2014). As defined in the previous paragraphs, rising tones are common elements of filming that make videos enjoyable to watch. In the diegetic context, the various save treatment that Neo gets in the world of machines is an outstanding example of this type of sound is used to develop the plot of the story. Notably, a different tone is released as Neo gets engulfed in the electronic system of robots. The pitch rises and falls depending on the situation that Neo is subjected to the brutality of the machines. At the start of the pitch, the audience can see Neo slowly being attacked by the devices that spread through his torso and then the neck before the next shot reveals that he is interconnected to the machines through a network of cables that piece through his body. As follows the action in this scene, it is almost impossible to avoid developing tension as the cables engulf Neo. That is to say, the rising pitch as Neo is absorbed into the machines creates a tense atmosphere that keeps the audience fixed on the screen to witness the fate of the protagonist. The action is connected to the entire movie in the sense that it captures the battle between Neo and the Machines as he strives to understand what the secret behind the existence of the matrix. Hence, the excerpt contributes significantly to the development of the central theme of the film by depicting robots as alien beings that in constant war with humans even they are products of human creation.

Besides the shepherd tone, the diegetic sound is manifested in the conversations between Trinity and Morpheus as they seek to rescue Neo from the capture of the machine creations. Communications are described as diegetic since they represent verifiable sources of voice in action. One can quickly note the source of the sound as it comes from the three characters. This is where Neo is asked to find out whether it is aware of his current form. The sound that comes up from the tripartite conversation relates to the two worlds that Neo finds himself: the world where he is connected to machines and cables and also in the world where he lives in his natural form as a human being. The sound that comes out of this activity focuses on the individuals who are at the center of the film. By choosing this sound effect, the director was deliberate to fulfill particular entertainment objectives. For one, this type of diegetic sound is essential as communicates the intentions and feelings of characters towards the main issue that causes conflict in the story, which is the desire of Neo to get to the understand the workings of the matrix. This way, the producer manages to fuse the human element in the scene. Without the human element, the audience may struggle to locate the real world application of the story, and this could render the movie overly unattractive to the viewers.

Closely related to the conversations between the characters as the technique of diegetic sound is the concept underscoring. The technique of emphasizing as a sound inclusion in movie production entails playing of music quietly as action in a given scene takes place(Magee, 2014). As events occur, a piece of soft music is played to accentuate the atmosphere in which the work is happening. The producer of this film has also included underscoring to create sound effects.

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