Sunday in Sydney was a day of truly beautiful weather, and after breakfast I accompanied Tantek, Amber, and Derek on a “makeshift Matrix” tour of Sydney. Amber had done some digging online and found out where a variety of scenes from The Matrix were filmed in Sydney.
Now, you have to understand that Tantek is a major Matrix fan—he’s one of the few people I know who actually liked the sequels, and having discussed it with him, I understand why he did. As anyone who knows Tantek will be unsurprised to learn, he liked them for some very deep philosophical and intellectual reasons; and yes, he has solid ground on which to base those reasons. Now consider that Tantek and I are both perfectionists, and that he had a 12″ Powerbook loaded up with his DVD of The Matrix along for the tour.
Yeah. We geeked out. Big time.
Thanks to Amber’s research and our obsessive analysis, we established fairly exact shooting locations and angles for:
- The “Adams Street Bridge” sequence, including exterior shots seen during the car ride after Neo gets picked up. It turns out that he tried to get out roughly seven feet further on from where he was picked up, despite having ridden in the car for a minute or so. See Tantek’s posts “Then go to the Adams Street bridge“, “Stop the car“, and You know that road” for pictures and more commentary.
- The fountain sequence, from the crossing of the street at the beginning of the sequence to the walk through the crowds and the side angles on Morpheus, Neo, and passers-by (including my finding a slice of the Sydney Harbor Bridge just barely visible over a series of green scrims); and, of course, the fountain itself, which is kind of hard to miss. We think someone should do a flash-mob recreation of the “freeze program” bit and document it. (Further, we acknowledge that convincing the pigeons to freeze will be a bit of a challenge.) See also Tantek’s post “Agent training program, part 1“.
- The exterior shots of the building where Morpheus was being interrogated. See also Tantek’s post “Agent Training Program part 2, Westin Sydney stairwell, Morpheus interrogation.
We also noted where the urban landscape had changed since shooting. For example, there’s an entire building missing from the background of the initial Adams Street Bridge shot, and we deduced that construction had just started when they filmed. You can see the construction fencing in the background, but no girders or walls. Similarly, the building across the street from the interrogation building has either changed or been replaced; also, none of the lobbies of the building look anything like the lobby where the shootout took place. I was able to identify the building visible through the window of the interrogation room, but we were unsure of the location of the room itself.
We also determined that it’s incredibly unlikely that the spiral staircase scene where Neo experiences déjà vu was shot in the Sydney Westin. Several web sites claim that it was, but while we found a number of staircases that had similar tile patterns (only rotated 45 degrees), none of them were even close to being a match with what appears on-screen. (See Tantek’s post Sydney Westin: Not the Matrix hotel” for more.) And we seriously plumbed the depths of the Westin, at one point getting onto a guest floor without having the required guest card and, at another, taking a service elevator to the kitchens. We also found an unlocked, unguarded Ethernet router with a number of open ports.
So that was fun. On the spot, I dubbed it “urban spelunking”, which is no doubt a completely unoriginal formulation but I was proud of it anyway.
It’s too bad that Google Maps has such low-resolution images for downtown Sydney, or else we could combine screen captures of the movie with some GMaps API magic to create an interactive virtual shooting tour. Oh well. Some day that problem will cease to exist.
After a very lovely and enjoyable dinner at Circular Quay, a short wandering tour of the Sydney Opera House, and a few hours’ sleep, it was off to the airport for the long, long flight back to the United States.