Sonic Illusions: Sound Effects in ‘The Matrix’

Sound design is a Matrix unto itself.
By  · Published on October 9th, 2017

Sound design is a Matrix unto itself.

Sound effects plop, bang, and hum throughout all modern movies. Some part of our brain understands that these sound effects were recorded after the filming was done by a sound effects technician – someone like John Travolta’s character in Blow Out – but the rest falls under their spell. This effect is extra poignant and metaphorical in The Matrix series.

Neo discovers his world is but a simulation as we are engulfed by the greatest simulation humanity has yet come up with: cinema. Some of this is due to the emphasis the series’ directors put on sound design. Most of the highlighted sounds are distinct and occur in pure quiet. They aren’t there to be ignored or to immerse, but to be pieces of the action. This becomes a small, needling attempt to hint at their construction with a device generally used to mask it.

Art of the Film’s supercut highlights some of the most idiosyncratic sound effect choices by the Wachowski sisters and the isolation in which they love to play them.

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Jacob Oller writes everywhere (Vanity Fair, The Guardian, Playboy, FSR, Paste, etc.) about everything that matters (film, TV, video games, memes, life).