Post WE05: Matrix Madness

Published 18 years, 7 months past

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.

[Updated 10 January 2006 to include links to Tantek‘s blog posts.  Also: Hi, Kottke fans!  Nice to have you drop by.]

Comments (10)

  1. I know this is probably an unwise and unoriginal thing to say to a computer geek (not to mention deeply hypocritical), but:

    You know you have too much free time, right?

  2. Argh. Reading this account makes me wish I’d stayed for the whole thing… I did enjoy the bar in the hotel for quite a while, so I likely did have the time to stay on for the full tour. Which also reminds me that I need to post the shots from the bridge scene…

  3. The Matrix trilogy is also my all-time favourite, for “some very deep philosophical and intellectual reasons” which I’m still trying to articulate :-)

    When we went out on the Thursday, Damo pointed out the place where the fountain sequence was shot – Martin Place I think it was. It’d be cool to try a recreate the scene, but of course you can’t freeze pigeons, so instead the actors would have to move very very fast (and then the tape slowed down on playback) ….

  4. What an awesome way to spend a vacation!

    In order to get a better understanding of the true depth of the Matrix, check out the philosopher’s commentary in the Matrix DVD box set. One of the philosophers is Ken Wilber, who has developed a fascinating map of reality. The Matrix trilogy, taken as a whole, embraces some of his ideas.

  5. I remember Tantek and Amber mentioning about the errands next morning after our dinner at the Coast which I very rudely turned down just cause I was really tired form the last few nights. Looks like all had fun. Looks like you guys know more about Sydney than we sydneysiders! LOL.

  6. Hm, don’t forget that the story for The Matrix is culled from here. Information on this, plus more proof than is really needed, is found here.

  7. Martin Place (where the fountain is) was was recently used for the exteriors of the Metropolis Museum in “Superman Returns”.

  8. I just spent 6 months working in the Sydney CBD. One day while out to lunch I realised that I was walking past the corner from the end of the first movie when Neo answers the phone.. although that phone booth is no longer there.

    Tantek and yourself might be interested to know that the latest version of Google Earth has been updated with much more high-res photos of the Sydney city centre.. so check it out!

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