The Other Wonderlands

It’s not just Alice who follows the white rabbit. Thomas Anderson a.k.a. Neo,does the same,and the hole he goes down is way deeper and more complex than that of the Victorian lassie’s....

Written by Shubhra Gupta | Published: March 13, 2010 11:02:46 pm

It’s not just Alice who follows the white rabbit. Thomas Anderson a.k.a. Neo,does the same,and the hole he goes down is way deeper and more complex than that of the Victorian lassie’s.

The three-part DVD of The Matrix (Matrix,Revolutions,Reloaded) is a treasure trove,revealing many wonders,and the films are as sharp and enjoyable as they were a decade earlier (the first released in 1999). The first of the trilogy opens with computer programmer Anderson discovering that there is more than one world,that what he inhabits is only code,the matrix,and the only person who can save the real world is him. He is The One.

Directors Andy and Larry Wachowski reference many of their favourite works in this astonishing film,including Alice in Wonderland. Quentin Tarantino isn’t alone in his love of Japanese anime: the Wachowski brothers make brilliant use of it throughout the three films,and Neo makes a wonderful Alice,all wide-eyed,as he is reluctantly co-opted by two other inhabitants of wonderland,Morpheus and Trinity,and goes off for the maddest tea party of his life.

In a special section with the directors,they talk of their fascination with Lewis Carroll’s classic,where “nothing makes sense,nothing is logical,where people say ‘eat this’,and ‘drink this’ and everything affects her and changes her”. In a very similar way,Neo’s accepting the red pill (the blue pill is to stay in the world that he knows) takes him on a journey where nothing is expected,everything is new.

The Wachowskis’ use of “bullet time”,a process where everything is in slo-mo,is a real dazzler,and is jaw-dropping even in this day and age of Avatar. Part of it is still a lot of mumbo jumbo,but it’s the sort of smart cyberpunk-ese that feels completely right in these films.

Just as The One arrives in the nick of time to save the world,so do Watchmen,in their just-out DVD. Based on Alan Moore’s cult graphic novel,it is about a group of superheroes who are being bumped off,one by one.

For the fanboys of the comic,the movie didn’t match up. Even for those who haven’t read the original,Watchmen isn’t as enthralling a watch as The Matrix Trilogy,but you can come away with some of the most bizarre superheroes ever to grace the screen. The blue-bodied Dr Manhattan who can change the size of his body at will; Roscharch,whose mask is a shifting kaleidoscope; and able companions Nite Owl,Silk Spectre and Ozymandias.

Watchmen is set in an alternate universe,which they altered by their presence (John F. Kennedy’s assassination was prevented,Nixon won a third term,the Vietnam war was won),and now they have to save the world from the biggest threat—the Russian nukes. The comic is set during the time when the Russians were the biggest enemies of the Americans and the cold war was referred to as the Cold War. But a human being,even if he has a blue body,stretching like an elastic,is still a sight to behold.

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