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THE MATRIX: REVOLUTIONS

Designing The Revolution
Envisioned by the Wachowski Brothers as one epic film that would be presented to audiences as two chapters of the three-piece story arc that began with The Matrix, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions were shot over a grueling 270-day production schedule. Principle photography began in Oakland, California in March 2001 and wrapped that location in June. After a brief summer hiatus, production re-commenced in September in Sydney, Australia, where the entire Matrix production was filmed in 1998. Reloaded and Revolutions were shot primarily at the Fox Studios in Sydney until production wrapped in August of 2002.

In Australia alone, the two films created over 3,500 jobs, employing 80 full-time actors and hundreds of extras. "It was a massive operation," says producer Joel Silver. "We had close to one thousand people on the payroll full-time. We were very lucky that we had great continuity of incredible personnel from the first film. "

One of the first artists employed to work on the Matrix trilogy was Geof Darrow, whose illustrations for comic books like the gleefully maniacal Hard Boiled were a source of great inspiration for the Brothers as they conceptualized their post-apocalyptic universe. For The Matrix, Darrow created painstakingly-drawn, almost torturously intricate designs for the films' mechanized beings and sets. He reprised his role on The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, rendering conceptual drawings of Zion, the ominously sprawling Machine City and its insect-inspired machine creatures, the sinister-tentacled Sentinels, and the Zion military's fleet of hovercraft and APUs (Armored Personal Units).

To bring the Reloaded and Revolutions design concepts to life, the Art Department employed over 400 people at any given moment under the aegis of production designer Owen Paterson. In contrast to the 30 sets he and his team designed for The Matrix, Paterson was responsible for creating a total of almost 150 sets for the two films, constructing approximately 70 sets for each. "That really is a huge amount of sets to build, particularly given the limited number of stages we had," Paterson discloses. "Some of the sets weren't used for more than a couple of days. It was an enormous logistical effort for Lead Art Director Hugh Bateup and a team of art directors and construction people who made this possible – a real exercise in getting one set finished, shot, broken down and out of the stage to make way for the next."

The most challenging environment for Paterson's team to create was the vertical underground city of Zion. "Zion is the absolute opposite of the Matrix," Paterson explains. "This is no high tech space; it's located near the center of the Earth. It's rather reminiscent of the early 20th century industrial design, very decrepit but still practical."

Zion consists of various levels, the uppermost being the dock, a landing base for the hovercraft fleet. The Zion military, aided by courageous volunteers like Zee, Charra and the Kid, desperately battles to hold the dock from the Sentinel invasion. "The dock area looks like a large domed cistern fitted with aircraft carrier-sized landing platforms, walkways, ammo bunkers and elevators," Paterson describes. "It's very old and suffering from lack of materials repair, so we had to give it that rusty, aged look."

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