Matrix : les résonances, l'analyse de M. Bobine

Matrix : les résonances, l'analyse de M. Bobine

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People of the silver screen greetings! Do you remember the 90s? We only have bits of information left, but we are sure that at the twilight of the twentieth century, all of humanity was ecstatic at its own magnificence, because we had generated the internet! Okay so of course, at first we didn't really know how it worked. I'm going to call the internet and ask them to fax me the phone numbers of all these women. nevertheless, this brand new network has largely contributed to the mass dissemination of pop culture via forums, fandoms or even peer to peer. Certainly, there are some who were not super enthusiastic like the group Metallica: but others thought that there was perhaps a way to surf this phenomenon by making a little money in the process, like Hollywood which suddenly became interested in comic books or video games for the better, but especially for the worse… In any case towards the end of these glorious nineties, I remember having discovered, on a CD-rom of the late magazine Cine-live, the hallucinating trailer of a film that came out of nowhere, a trailer that told us nothing of the story of this film, but which asked this simple question: As we had seen in our episode devoted to the surprise box office successes of 1999, the second film of the Wachowski sisters was a hit, a real phenomenon that will give rise to two sequels plus a third 22 years later that we are about to discover. And yes, there was clearly a before and an after Matrix.

During the 2000s, we saw plethora of films flourish that tried to emulate with more or less success the improbable mixture of Kung Fu comic-book and philosophy of the first part of the picaresque adventures of Neo and Trinity. We even find a few winks supported from 2000 as in The Art of War by Christian Duguay for example: Besides, I have the impression that the Wachos realized this and sent him back their wink eye in Speed ​​Racer ... In this period, the fashion is for bullet time this effect where the camera suddenly starts to navigate in a frozen or slowed down image to the extreme that we discovered for the first time in Matrix … Ah well no, hey, there was already one in Lost in Space in 1998, then something a bit similar in Blade the same year, and another one in 1999 in Wing Commander… Well yes, one of the peculiarities of this first part of the mythical Wachowski trilogy, it is to have one foot in the future, the other in the past, and not a very distant past because in the light of the film production of the period, Matrix has a little air of “déjà vu”. So did The Matrix become the pivotal film of an entire era by copying from its boyfriends? Or, as you can imagine, is it more complicated than that? Contrary to my habits, I'm going to start with a bit of self-promotion.

This episode of M. Bobine's Ciné-club is adapted from one of the chapters of our book published by Third Editions: The work of the Wachowski: the matrix of a social art, which is finally available for sale everywhere, and if you want to acquire the magnificent limited edition with a cover that sends wood, it is on the publisher's site that it happens! And then it's almost Christmas, eh, I say that I say nothing… This being done, it is time to get to the heart of the matter. Perhaps you have already spotted some strange visual or thematic similarities between two films, to the point that one sometimes wonders if one of the writers would not have looked a little too much at the copy of his comrade.

Indeed, Hollywood is an environment in which ideas are shared, recycled, or even quite simply copied. And between the lawsuits for plagiarism the winks or the tributes assumed the more or less pirate adaptations it is very difficult to distinguish things, especially since we often only have the words of the authors for us decide. However, it happens that several works simply enter into resonance, that is to say that they develop a narrative, visual or thematic idea in the same way, without necessarily being conscious on the part of their authors.

For example, many have noticed that Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim has similarities to Hideaki Anno's Neon Genesis Evangelion anime. Indeed, the two works feature pilots psychically and emotionally connected to gigantic mechas, who fight against kaijus, that is to say titanic monsters. When these similarities were reported to Guillermo del Toro, he declared that he had never seen the Evangelion series or films. As the latter has always spoken very freely about his influences and the references that dot his films, there is no need to question his good faith, even if some do not deny it. Thus, by drawing their inspiration from the same sources, the authors of the two creations have simply captured the same ideas, even if their formal and thematic applications remain very different. The Wachowski sisters' cinema is also strewn with claimed references to works which have left a lasting mark on them.

However, some of their films also captured ideas that were lying around in the air , sometimes even giving an impression of déjà vu; and, as is often the case in these situations, accusations of plagiarism are never far away. While some attributed Speed ​​Racer's box office failure to the film being too far ahead of its time, the Wachowski sisters' first four films fit perfectly into the cinematic landscape of their time. For example, Bound came out right in the wave of erotic thrillers started in 1992 by Basic Instinct, directed by Paul Verhoeven and written by Joe Eszterhas. The latter is also the screenwriter of other naughty thrillers like Sliver by Phillip Noyce in 1993, or Jade by William Friedkin in 1995.

Also in 1995, the duo Paul Verhoeven and Joe Eszterhas come full circle by releasing the controversial Showgirls, in which we find in undress the actress Gina Gershon, who, the following year, will play Corky in Bound. Matrix was released in a very special year for moviegoers around the world. Indeed, 1999 saw the return of one of the most famous sagas in the history of cinema: Star Wars.

This year therefore marks the kick-off of two science fiction trilogies which, a priori, do not have many thematic links between them. On the one hand, The Matrix is ​​a never-before-seen science fiction saga set in a relatively near future to ours, while The Phantom Menace unfolds in the already established universe of the most famous space opera of all time, including the The action takes place, as everyone knows, a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. Yet, these are not the similarities that are missing between the universes of The Matrix and Star Wars, if only in the way in which the two works arrived on our screens. During the 1990s the name of George Lucas is at least as legendary as the Star Wars saga.

The filmmaker can therefore announce without taking too many risks, a series of three films even before the first part of this prelogy arrives on the screens. However, it is rather on the side of the first part of the original trilogy, A New Hope, that we find the first resonances with The Matrix. Indeed, in the 1970s, Lucas only had two feature films to his credit, and the studios were very skeptical about producing this little Flash Gordon-style film whose story they did not quite understand. .

Thanks to the unwavering support of Alan Ladd Jr. and the success of Lucas' previous film, American Graffiti, 20th Century Fox agreed to release funds to make a film. Soon after, Lucas negotiated the right to design two sequels, but no one in the studio at the time imagined the film could achieve a sufficient score at the box office. Star Wars was therefore entitled to a relatively confidential release, and the box office of the feature film was a surprise for everyone. Matrix was also intended to be a trilogy even before the first installment was released. Still, the Wachowskis only had one feature film under their belt, and the studios were very skeptical about producing this sci-fi movie whose story they didn't quite understand.

Thanks to the unwavering support of Joel Silver and the esteem success of the previous Wachowski film, Bound, the Warner Bros. agreed to release funds to make a film. If successful in the video market, Warner reserved the right to produce two direct-to-video sequels, but no one in the studio at the time imagined that the film could achieve a sufficient score at the box office. . Matrix was thus entitled to a relatively confidential release, and the box of the feature film was a surprise for everyone. Note also that the first Star Wars and The Matrix both end with an open end where the hero literally wins a battle but not the war, that is to say a fairly satisfactory conclusion in the event of a flop. Obviously, after the box office of these two films, the studios were much less reluctant to produce the sequel.

Thus, The Empire strikes back and Matrix Reloaded end on the contrary on a cliffhanger immediately announcing a third part. However, what is particularly interesting with the first part of the Matrix saga is that it multiplies the connections with its time, and in particular with the other films of the cyberpunk wave which swept the screens during the 90's. Before going any further, we need to take a quick break on cyberpunk and its origins. This sci-fi subgenre originated in the 1980s, and its best-known literary representative is William Gibson's novel Neuromancer, a major influence of the Matrix saga. Fruit of the evolution of computer technologies and the excesses of neoliberalism of the Reagan years, the cyberpunk universes are embodied in stifling futuristic megalopolises, dominated by omnipotent multinationals. Technology and in particular information technology occupy a preponderant place.

Gibson's novels are populated by humans augmented with implants or prostheses, hackers with a strong taste for leather and dark glasses, or even artificial intelligences out of control. William Gibson is also known for inventing a virtual reality very similar to the Internet that we use every day, and in The Neuromancer, he called it ... the Matrix. In 1982, while writing the novel that would lay the foundations of cyberpunk in literature, a film was released that would do the same in the cinema: Blade Runner by Ridley Scott. William Gibson was very impressed with Blade Runner and, years after the release of both works, through a discussion with Ridley Scott, he realized that their works shared the same sources of inspiration, namely science- fiction of the 1970s or even the black novels of Raymond Chandler Thus, the matrix works of cyberpunk in literature and cinema have also resonated. However, if the genre is gaining popularity very quickly in the field of literature, it is another story for the big screen. After the failure of Blade Runner, then that of Tron the same year, it was not until a little less than a decade that this futuristic genre returned to the top of the bill.

Towards the end of the Eighties, the democratization of data processing, and especially the arrival of Internet, will put the virtual universes and the technological fantasies to the taste of the day. Fiction will naturally turn to the genre that best speaks of these new obsessions: cyberpunk. If there are already anime and films inspired by this genre in other countries, notably Japan with Akira by Katsuhiro Otomo in 1988 or Tetsuo by Shinya Tsukamoto the following year, it is box office success. -office of Total Recall by Paul Verhoeven in 1990 which relaunched the genre in the United States. In this adaptation of the new Souvenirs for Sale by Philip K. Dick, Douglas Quaid, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, is obsessed with Mars, on which numerous mining colonies have settled.

Not having the means to travel to the Red Planet, he plans to pay for fake memories implanted directly into his brain by a company named Rekall. But the technicians at Rekall then realize that Quaid's memory has been erased and that the latter is in fact a spy in the service of Mars. After many adventures and as many questions about his own identity, Douglas Quaid receives a visit from a doctor who will make him doubt the reality of his adventures. This doctor explains to him that he is still attached to the machine of the company Rekall, and that what he lives is only a dream. He then hands her a red pill that he must swallow to symbolize his choice to come back to reality. It's hard not to see an echo of this scene in the Matrix sequence where Morpheus offers Neo the pills of choice.

Did the Wachowski sisters take this famous red pill from Paul Verhoeven or is it a coincidence? Although they do not easily give the keys to reading their works, the Wachowskis are nevertheless quite transparent about their influences. So I tend to think that this is not a borrowing but a resonance between two works. To be convinced, just look at a dialogue from Morpheus directly referring to Alice in Wonderland.

At the beginning of Lewis Carroll's novel, when Alice arrives at the bottom of this famous white rabbit's burrow, she discovers a potion with a label on which is written "Drink me." "As the pill Morpheus, this potion symbolizes symbolizes the will of Alice continue the adventure; she physically transforms the young heroine, who shrinks to be able to cross the small door with the golden key. Neo and Douglas Quaid think the pill is a way to wake up from the dream they are locked in.In Total Recall, the red pill is presented as the one that wakes Quaid

and his refusal to ingest it leads him to sink deeper. deeply in his dream, until he ends up lobotomizing as suggested by the fade to white on which the film ends. and yet with the Wachos, it is rather the opposite, if we are to believe Morpheus, the red pill, as the potion of Alice allows to sink even deeper into the fantasy, while the blue pill is literally the one to wake up Neo. Finally, note that Neither the Wachos nor Verhoeven were the first to make the link between weird pills and Alice's transformations, since the group Jefferson Airplane went through there with their famous song White Rabbit, that the logically we find on the trailer for Matrix Resurrections ... As I said in the introduction, in parallel with the success of Total Recall, the expansion of the Internet and video games will give the studios ideas. These are the beginnings for the less difficult of the exploitation of video game franchises in the cinema with Super Mario Bros, Double Dragon, Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, or Wing Commander.

This craze for virtual universes and for digital images will then combine with the success of Paul Verhoeven's film and give birth to a handful of films more or less inspired by the cyberpunk current. Among the best known, we find The Guinea Pig, Strange Days, Judge Dredd, Virtual Past, Dark City or Johnny Mnemonic with Keanu Reeves, which is quite freely adapted from the eponymous short story by William Gibson. And since we are talking about him, know that Chris Carter, the X-Files showrunner, had entrusted William Gibson with writing an episode of season 5 where it is quite a question of virtual reality and transfer of consciousness. .

As we said earlier, the box office box office Matrix was also accompanied by small inconveniences, like the traditional accusations of copying, inseparable from the surprise successes. Matrix will be the subject of two lawsuits for plagiarism which will lead nowhere. However, outside the courts, some are starting to compare Matrix with Dark City released a year earlier, such as Roger Ebert who, in his review of the Wachowski film, accuses them of recycling the beginnings of Alex Proyas' film.

Unlike The Matrix, Dark City was a failure on release. Nonetheless, the film gained a solid fan network after its video release. From then on, many viewers discovered it after seeing The Matrix and did not fail to notice the similarities between the two feature films. Even today, the Internet is teeming with articles and comparative videos accusing the Wachowskis of shamelessly digging for ideas from Alex Proyas. The latter has also recently put a small part back in the machine: And it must be recognized that the two works do indeed have a lot in common.

See for yourself: while trying to escape mysterious pursuers Thomas Anderson, the protagonist of The Matrix, and John Murdoch, the one of Dark City, discover that their lives are a lie. At first distraught, they receive the help of providential guides: Morpheus for one, Doctor Schreber for the other. These two mentor figures will then reveal the truth to our heroes: the world they took for granted is only a simulation made by beings who have only human appearance.

On the one hand, the Machines created the Matrix to be able to feed on the energy generated by the human body. On the other hand, the Aliens are a dying race of aliens who use the city in which the action of Dark City takes place to unlock the secret of the human soul and find the salvation of their kind. Thomas Anderson, aka Neo, and John Murdoch discover that they possess powers similar to the creators of the simulation who hold them prisoner. Their mentors will then help them develop their abilities until the powers of our heroes surpass those of their enemies, So Dr. Schreber inoculated Murdoch memories

of a workout whole life to the development of its psychic powers, while one of Morpheus' subordinates downloads several fighting styles directly into Neo's mind. However, the correspondences between the two films are not only narrative. When Neo sees two oddly similar cats in the lobby of a run down building, he shares his "déjà vu" feeling with Trinity. A feeling that was certainly shared by the few spectators who had discovered Dark City in theaters the previous year. Indeed, the stairs that Neo is about to climb is exactly the same as in the preamble to Alex Proyas' film, since the films were both shot in the same studio, as is often the case in Hollywood.

In addition, the two feature films share the same artistic director, Michelle McGahey, and James McTeigue, first assistant director on The Matrix and future regular collaborator of the Wachowskis, was second assistant on Dark City. Obviously, with so many bridges between the two shoots, it is very easy to imagine that information circulated during the production of the two films. This is also a fairly common thing in Hollywood. Only, like Jean-Pierre Jeunet with Guillermo Del Toro, Alex Proyas has perhaps a tendency to forget that his film too was largely irrigated by the cinematographic or literary productions of his time, and even perhaps by some of his fellow filmmakers. I like you Alex, but there ... No. It is obvious that the Wachowskis were aware of the production of Dark City while they were working on The Matrix.

However, the reverse is probably also true and, with only a year of difference between the two releases, it's unclear who would have copied what from whom. Indeed, the writing of the first versions of the two scripts dates back at least to the beginning of the 1990s, and narratives of the two films had been decided for a long time. For example, to convince the studio to produce The Matrix, long before production started , the Wachowski sisters had recruited cartoonists Steve Kroce and Geof Darrow to make a six hundred page storyboard, which Joel Silver claims to be virtually identical to the finished film. .

It seems to us, once again, that this is a new example of two films that have resonated. Be careful, I am not saying that the Wachos did not take a few things under the cloak from other films! For example, the scene of the awakening of Neo looks a lot like that of Extraterrestrial Visitors, released in 1993, a film on which the director of photography was Bill Pope, as on The Matrix ... But during the 90s, the thematic connections and formal concerns a hell of a lot of science fiction films. Cyberpunk being a sub-genre of sci-fi, it is indeed forward-looking. However, it is also a genre with a foot in the past, since as we saw earlier, it was largely inspired by novels and noir films, very popular during the 1940s and 1950s in the United States. -United.

Likewise, this dialogue between past and future is recurrent in science fiction cinema of the 1990s. Thus the cars and costumes of the characters in Dark City seem to come from the 1950s, and Alex Proyas said he was inspired by the Falcon. Maltese for his character as a detective in search of the truth. In The Matrix, when Morpheus shows Neo what the Matrix is, it's through an old television set.

Likewise, the crew of the Nebuchadnezzar use antique rotary telephones or old telephone booths to enter and exit the Matrix. Agents of the Matrix, meanwhile, refer to the mythical men in black who often intervened in the stories of UFO appearances in the 1960s. These mysterious characters have also inspired Lowell Cunningham for his comic Men in Black, from which is taken the Barry Sonnenfeld film released in 1997. Released the same year as The Matrix, Josef Rusnak's Virtual Past opens with the murder of a programmer who designed a virtual reality in the image of the time of his youth: the 1930s.

For the anecdote, Josef Rusnak's film also shares a lot in common with Dark City. Much like John Murdoch, Virtual Past hero Douglas Hall is accused of a murder he doesn't remember committing. Douglas also meets a young woman whom he has no memory of, but with whom he had a romantic relationship in another life. At the same time, the inspector responsible for shedding light on the murder is first convinced of our hero's guilt but, little by little, will join him in his quest for the truth. In Virtual Past as in Dark City, the hero travels to the edge of the world to discover his true nature. While trying to get to Shell Beach, an imaginary place where he thinks he spent his youth, John Murdoch falls into a dead end.

When he succeeds in drilling a hole in the wall that was blocking him, he then realizes that the city he is in is floating in space, a scene which also refers to an episode of The Fourth Dimension. For his part, Douglas Hall discovers that his world is a computer simulation when he arrives at the limits of this virtual reality. Virtual Past was also released a year after Dark City but, if you are still tempted to see it as a case of plagiarism, know that the film by Josef Rusnak is adapted from the novel Simulacron 3 by Daniel F. Galouye, published in 1964. Long before Dark City, then.

Well, while we're at it, still in 1999, we also found in Mystery Men a city being remodeled in the same way as in Dark City. So we can't say that Alex Proyas stole his “visionary director” mention at least at that time ... We also find a dialogue between past and future in Demolition Man by Marco Brambilla released in 1993, in which Sylvester Stallone plays a police sergeant evoking the typical heroes of 1980s cinema who, after being cryogenized, finds himself propelled into a sanitized future without violence or profanity.

Or the film Blade by Stephen Norrington, in which the most modern computer technologies rub shoulders with the traditions and myths of an ancient world. Obviously, this back-and-forth game between two eras is not limited to the movie episode of the Star Trek: The New Generation series is called "The Big Goodbye", in reference to the novel The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler. In this episode broadcast in 1988, Captain Picard swaps his Federation uniform for a trench coat and a fedora; to take on the role of private investigator in a 1950s simulation generated by the Enterprise simulator: the Holodeck. Likewise, the X-Files series largely played on the imaginary of the 1960s linked to UFOs. Note that in 1998, the film taken from this series is called in its original version: The X-Files: Fight the Future, literally "fight the future".

It is therefore not surprising that the fashion is in cyberpunk during this decade since, faced with an uncertain future, many are nostalgic for a bygone past. As such, Demolition Man is, with Back to the Future II in 1989, one of the first films to exploit the nostalgia for the cinema of the 1980s which will invade our screens during the 2010s. Since Tron in 1982, computer-generated images have continued to progress. If it will take a few years before the staggering level of realism of the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park in 1993 is restored , by the 1990s the technology is sufficiently convincing to represent virtual reality. Thus, during this decade, the fashion of "cyberspace" is in full swing. In 1992, Brett Leonard directed one of the most famous films featuring a virtual reality, which would experience a sequel four years later titled as if by chance: The Guinea Pig 2: Cyberspace, directed by Fahrad Mann.

Brett Leonard reoffended in 1995 with Programmed to Kill, in which Denzel Washington pursues a psychopathic artificial intelligence, camped by a totally freewheeling Russel Crowe, who escaped from a virtual reality training program. In 1995, in the climax of Johnny Mnemonic, Keanu Reeves tries to hack a large pharmaceutical company in a system that looks a lot like the Matrix invented by William Gibson, also screenwriter of the film. Virtual worlds are so popular that they are sometimes introduced opportunistically in certain films. For example, in the sulphurous thriller Harassment by Barry Levinson, released in 1994, the company in which Michael Douglas works is developing a virtual reality system called the Corridor. Unfortunately, this famous Corridor is only a pretext to create suspense during a sequence where the hero tries to recover compromising files on his rival Meredith Johnson, played by Demi Moore.

However, see in what terms the latter presents the Corridor to the shareholders of his company at the beginning of the film: This line finds an echo in Hackers of Iain Softley released in 1995, in which a police officer reads the manifesto of the hackers that he confiscated afterwards. a descent into one of the protagonists of the film: Cyberspace is therefore a world that we can master through knowledge, a world that frees us from the shackles of the flesh and the material world corrupted by bad demiurges. This definition is very reminiscent of the precepts of Gnosticism, a religious current that also permeates the entire Matrix trilogy, but also Dark City. What is called Gnosticism is in fact a multitude of religious doctrines and practices which developed on the fringes of the Church during the second and third centuries. We could summarize the main lines of these doctrines as follows: man is divine in nature, but he is the prisoner of the material world, a world ruled by an evil god, the Demiurge, who ignores his lower nature.

Indeed, there is also a higher entity, designated by several names depending on the sources, the One, the Monad, the Supreme God, etc., who reigns over the spiritual world. The salvation of men passes through the acquisition of a secret knowledge, gnosis, a transcendent truth which will open the spiritual realm to them.

This idea of ​​a dummy world controlled in the shadows by an evil demiurge is at the heart of Peter Weir's The Truman Show, released in 1998, in which the hero realizes his life is a TV show, before rebelling. against the director of this program. In 1997, in David Fincher's The Game, a banker takes part in a life-size role-playing game but ends up not knowing what is real or fictional. Because the main anxiety linked to virtual worlds is to no longer be able to distinguish them from reality, in other words to lose control of them, as the opening card for Le Cobaye reminds us: “At the turn of the new millennium, the technology known as virtual reality will be widely used. Elle vous permettra d'entrer dans des univers artificiels générés par ordinateurs, dont la seule limite sera votre imagination.

Ses créateurs en ont envisagé des millions d'utilisations positives tandis que d'autres y voient une nouvelle méthode de contrôle de l'esprit…» Dans eXistenZ, sorti en 1999, David Cronenberg s'amuse à imbriquer plusieurs niveaux de simulation dans lesquels se perd Allegra Geller, une conceptrice de jeux vidéo poursuivie par des fanatiques du réel. Et puis si Blade ne se déroule pas dans un univers virtuel, voyez en quels termes le diurnambule expose sa vision du monde à Karen Jenson, une jeune femme qui découvre l'existence d'une nation souterraine de vampires : Dans le même style, la célèbre tagline de la série X-Files résume très bien le sentiment qui plane en cette fin de siècle : «La vérité est ailleurs. », même si le citoyen lambda préfère se complaire dans son ignorance… Mais c'est Tyler Durden dans Fight Club de David Fincher qui décrit le mieux les enjeux de la grande bataille de cette fin de siècle : Si le premier volet de la saga Matrix pioche allègrement dans cette angoisse sur la nature de la réalité, nous verrons plus tard que les Wachowski pousseront la réflexion bien plus loin que la simple opposition entre réalité et simulation.

Ainsi, le simulacre est à la mode dans le cinéma des années 1990. Le monde n'est pas ce qu'il paraît et, comme le dit le personnage campé par Tom Sizemore dans Strange Days de Kathryn Bigelow : On peut évidemment y voir une résurgence du cinéma paranoïaque des années 1970 avec JFK, le chef-d'œuvre d'Oliver Stone sorti en 1991. Néanmoins, la paranoïa ne trouve plus sa source dans la guerre froide ou dans le scandale du Watergate. Désormais, elle s'avère aussi technologique. Dans Complots de Richard Donner sorti en 1997, Mel Gibson joue un ancien cobaye du programme secret de la CIA, MK-Ultra, qui visait à développer des techniques de manipulation mentale.

L'année suivante, c'est Will Smith qui est pourchassé par toutes les technologies de surveillance de la NSA dans Ennemi d'État de Tony Scott. Toujours en 1998, un jeune enfant autiste ayant percé le secret du code de cryptage le plus sophistiqué au monde est menacé de mort par des agents fédéraux dans Code Mercury de Harold Becker. La génétique n'est pas en reste, puisqu'il est question de clonage dans Judge Dredd en 1995, d'eugénisme dans Bienvenue à Gattaca d'Andrew Niccol en 1998, et de grosses bébêtes génétiquement modifiées dans Jurassic Park en 1993 puis dans Alien, la résurrection en 1997 et dans Peur Bleue en 1999 où l'on retrouve aussi quelques étranges ressemblances...

La grande peur de cet te époque, c'est surtout que cette technologie finisse par se retourner contre nous, comme dans les Terminator de James Cameron. Dans la série B Virus de John Bruno, un navire scientifique à la pointe de la technologie se retrouve sous le contrôle d'une intelligence artificielle d'origine extraterrestre qui considère l'humanité comme un virus, faisant écho aux paroles de l'Agent Smith dans Matrix. Ces angoisses débordent même dans l'actualité, puisqu'en 1999, le fameux bug de l'an 2000 menaçait de faire dérailler tous les systèmes informatiques à cause d'une simple erreur de calcul de la date. Un scénario digne du projet Chaos de Fight Club, en somme. Si ce fameux bug n'a pas renvoyé le monde à l'âge de pierre, il demeure tout de même révélateur de notre dépendance aux technologies informatiques. Et oui, si nous n'avions plus l'ascendant sur les machines dont nous sommes dépendants, quel contrôle nous resterait-il sur nos propres vies ? Le cinéma va évidemment se faire le miroir de ces angoisses, notamment en mettant en scène des personnages aliénés par ces nouvelles technologies.

En effet, une poignée de films des années 1990 présentent des machines tellement invasives qu'elles peuvent accéder à l'esprit humain, et même le trafiquer. Par exemple, dans Total Recall, Le Cobaye, Johnny Mnemonic, Dark City ou encore Judge Dredd, la mémoire des protagonistes est littéralement piratée puis réécrite. Dans eXistenZ, les personnages principaux se font implanter de nouvelles personnalités selon le niveau de simulation où ils se trouvent.

Pire, certains de ces héros se révèlent être des intelligences artificielles tellement avancées qu'on ne peut quasiment plus les distinguer de véritables humains, Neo lui-même pourrait tout à fait être une intelligence artificielle, au même titre que tous les personnages de Matrix. Même une comédie loufoque comme Disjoncté de Ben Stiller, cache une part de noirceur et d'angoisse existentielle. Jim Carrey y joue le rôle de Chip, un employé de la compagnie du câble dont les parents démissionnaires l'ont laissé grandir devant la télévision. À l'instar du narrateur de Fight Club, ce personnage névrosé évolue dans le monde des mass media et de la surconsommation. Sa rébellion contre le système évoque également le projet Chaos de Fight Club, puisque Chip décide de « tuer la baby-sitter » en se jetant sur une gigantesque antenne parabolique.

Ce faisant, il interrompt la diffusion d'un feuilleton judiciaire qui passionne l'Amérique, forçant les téléspectateurs à se reconnecter avec le monde réel. Un final qui ressemble quelque peu à celui de The Truman Show avec le même Jim Carrey... Ceux d'entre vous qui ont été contemporains des années 1980 se souviennent certainement que l'an 2000 avait une résonance toute particulière, du moins pour ceux qui se réfèrent au calendrier grégorien.

L'imaginaire lié à l'an 2000 était alors peuplé de voitures volantes et de voyages dans l'espace des visions encouragées par certains réalisateurs comme Stanley Kubrick avec 2001, l'Odyssée de l'espace. Bref, l'an 2000, c'était l'avenir. Mais les années passant, nous avons compris que cette promesse d'un futur idyllique ne serait jamais tenue, laissant place à une angoisse millénariste qui résonnait encore une fois sans le paysage cinématographique. Dans Matrix, on nous apprend que l'année 1999 représente l'apogée de notre civilisation.

Dès lors, quoi de mieux qu'une bonne apocalypse pour en précipiter l'inexorable chute ? Cette fin de siècle est donc l'occasion pour Hollywood de rivaliser d'inventivité pour détruire notre bonne vieille Terre. Et de rivalité, il va en être question puisque, à partir de la moitié des années 1990, les idées d'apocalypse arrivent systématiquement par deux… 1995 est une année visionnaire puisque la mode est à la pandémie : avec nos moyens de transports modernes, les virus d'Alerte ! et de L'Armée des 12 Singes peuvent librement se répandre à travers le monde. En 1996, ce sont les aliens qui s'invitent à la fête dans Independance Day et dans son pendant parodique : Mars Attacks. Plus localisé mais tout aussi apocalyptique, En 1997, le magma refait surface pour tout péter dans Le Pic de Dantes et dans Volcano.

En 1998, deux météores se font la course dans Armageddon et dans Deep Impact. Enfin, certains scénaristes ont remarqué que lorsque l'on retourne les trois derniers chiffres de 1999, on obtient 666. Cette année est donc l'occasion pour l'antéchrist d'organiser une petite apocalypse surprise pour fêter la nouvelle année dans La Fin des temps et dans La Neuvième Porte. Même dans les films qui se déroulent dans un futur plus ou moins lointain, le présent est le prélude d'un cataclysme qui a changé le monde à jamais.

Si l'Agent Smith prétend que l'année 1999 représente l'apogée de notre civilisation, c'est parce que, peu après, un événement a précipité le monde dans une guerre totale contre les Machines, comme nous l'apprennent les deux épisodes de Seconde Renaissance des Animatrix. Dans Demolition Man, c'est un tremblement de terre, celui que les Américains appellent «The Big One », qui ravage la côte Ouest à l'aube du XXIe siècle. Dans ce futur, la fin du XXe siècle y est dépeinte comme une époque de violence et de chaos dont le héros du passé, campé par Sylvester Stallone, est le digne représentant. Stallone reprend d'ailleurs du service deux ans plus tard dans Judge Dredd.

Cette fois, l'action se déroule dans une ville gigantesque construite sur les ruines d'une apocalypse nucléaire. Et puisqu'on est à parler de résonance, le comparatif entre les intrigues respectives de Demolition Man et de Judge Dredd se révèle encore une fois édifiant. Dans les deux films, Stallone est confronté à un politicien qui souhaite renforcer son contrôle sur ce nouveau monde.

Pour ce faire, il libère la némésis du héros et lui donne les pleins pouvoir pour remplir sa mission. Ces deux antagonistes finissent par se débarrasser de leur commanditaire afin de prendre le pouvoir. Notons aussi que dans le climax de Demolition Man, le bad guy utilise une sorte de rayon congelant au sein d'un plan très similaire à celui dans lequel Cypher, dans Matrix, utilise un lightning gun contre les opérateurs Tank et Dozer. Vous voyez, tout est lié… Sorti en 1995, Strange Days de Kathryn Bigelow est une parfaite illustration du point de rupture que représente l'arrivée du nouveau siècle, puis du nouveau millénaire un an plus tard.

Dans ce film qui s'inscrit de nouveau dans le courant cyberpunk, les protagonistes sont prisonniers d'un passé dont ils doivent impérativement se libérer s'ils veulent avoir un avenir. En effet, le héros, Lenny Nero, est un trafiquant de clips virtuels qu'il enregistre et diffuse directement dans le cerveau de ses clients, grâce à une technologie futuriste développée par des services secrets puis tombée dans le marché noir. Lui-même est prisonnier de ses propres souvenirs puisqu'il se sert de cette technologie pour vivre de nouveau avec Faith, une chanteuse qui l'a quitté.

Si les personnages de Strange Days se complaisent dans le passé, c'est parce qu'à l'aube du nouveau siècle, ils ne sont guère optimistes quant à l'avenir du monde. Par exemple, le meilleur ami de Nero a un point de vue assez cynique sur la question : D'autres, au contraire, appellent de leurs vœux un changement de paradigme. C'est le cas de Jeriko One, un rappeur noir qui tient un discours engagé : Tiens d'ailleurs, Tyler Durden aussi évoque le Titanic dans Fight Club : Et puis il y a aussi eu ça… Même si le film de James Cameron sorti en 1997 est un drame historique dans la veine des grands classiques hollywoodiens et n'a, a priori, rien à voir avec un mouvement futuriste comme le cyberpunk, il ne s'en inscrit pas moins lui-aussi dans les thèmes et les angoisses eschatologiques de cette fin de siècle. En effet, le gigantesque paquebot est un monde à part entière, bâti sur la technologie la plus avancée de son époque.

Un monde stratifié en classes sociales bien distinctes, dans lequel chaque personnage est l'engrenage d'une gigantesque machinerie parfaitement huilée. Par exemple, le personnage de Rose est aliénée par sa condition de femme de la bourgeoisie du Vieux Continent. Lorsqu'elle décide de ne plus jouer le rôle qui lui a été assigné, elle fait dérailler cette machinerie et conduit ce monde à sa perte. Ben oui, en fait c'est elle qui fait couler le bateau en détournant le regard des vigies. Dès lors, James Cameron ne met pas en scène le naufrage du plus gros paquebot jamais construit, il nous donne à voir la fin d'un monde rigide et vieillissant, une apocalypse régénératrice qui va permettre à Rose de se libérer de sa condition et de vivre pleinement sa vie selon ses propres termes, sur le nouveau continent qui est aussi appelé le Nouveau Monde. Ainsi, le cinéma des années 1990 ne met pas tant en scène la fin du monde que la fin d'un monde, le vieux monde, celui qui n'a pas tenu ses promesses.

Voici comment le mythologue Joseph Campbell définissait cette apocalypse dans un essai «Le terme “Apocalypse” ne désigne pas un Armaggedon dévastateur mais le fait que notre ignorance et notre complaisance touchent à leur fin... L'unicité du chemin vers le salut, l'idée qu'une seule religion est seule détentrice de la vérité, c'est ce monde tel que nous le connaissons qui doit disparaître. Qu'est-ce que le royaume des cieux ? C'est notre compréhension que la présence divine est partout, en notre prochain, en nos ennemis, en chacun de nous. » On retrouve d'ailleurs cette idée de la fin d'un vieux monde, d'un système injuste et défaillant dans la tirade de Neo qui clôt le premier volet de la saga Matrix : Toutes ces résonances rappellent la théorie du Rhizome de Gilles Deleuze et Félix Guattari.

Selon ces deux philosophes, le mond des idées n'est pas organisé en arborescence, mais en rhizome, c'est-à-dire une racine qui n'a pas de centre et qui se développe sans structure ni hiérarchie. Si l'on en croit ce modèle, la culture s'organise donc comme un gigantesque réseau dont on pourrait interconnecter n'importe quels points. Non seulement les sœurs Wachowski partagent cette vision d'une culture sans hiérarchie, mais elles en ont fait un des principes fondateurs de leur filmographie. C'est la raison pour laquelle elles ont conçu Matrix comme un véritable film-somme dans lequel les questionnements philosophiques les plus pointus côtoient des références à la pop culture sans aucun ordre de valeur. On y retrouve des références explicites, d'autres plus discrètes, on retrouve à peu près tout ce que le cinéma d'action mondial proposait à l'époque : des courses-poursuites, des gunfight de western, du kung fu comme dans Il était une fois en Chine, ou cet assaut aérien d'un immeuble qui rappelle le True Lies de James Cameron sorti en 1994... A mon sens, si Matrix a souvent été la cible d'accusations de plagiat, 'est parce que contrairement aux autres films des années 1990 qui ont capté quelques idées formelles ou thématiques qui flottaient dans l'air du temps Matrix contient littéralement tous les thèmes et les questionnements inhérents à la fin de cette décennie.

Dès lors, Matrix est le film qui a le mieux défini l'esprit de son époque, ce que la philosophie allemande nomme zeitgeist. On peut voir là une profonde ironie, puisque les Wachowski utilisent justement ces questionnements propres aux années 1990 pour mieux nous tendre un piège intuitif qui sera méticuleusement déconstruit dans Matrix Reloaded, laissant plus d'un spectateur sur le carreau. En fait, Matrix est en quelque sorte, un anti film-doudou, une oeuvre qui oppose la nostalgie d'un monde familier mais vieillissant à l'avènement d'un monde nouveau, inconnu et angoissant, et qui nous invite à faire évoluer la seule chos sur laquelle nous avons un véritable pouvoir : notre regard ! Deux décennies après la sortie de Matrix, nous faisons de nouveau face à des angoisses existentielles mêlant technologies informatiques en roue libre, ultralibéralisme et fin inéxorable du monde. Nous entrons de plain pied dans la nostalgie des 90's et en toute logique, le cyberpunk et ses thématiques dystopiques font leur grand retour sur nos écrans. Dans ce contexte, il n'est guère étonnant de voir revenir la saga qui a su si bien définir l'esprit de cette décénnie dans nos salles de cinéma.

Et pourtant, la bande-annonce de Matrix Résurrections est au moins aussi mystérieuse que celle que je découvrais en 1999 sur mon cd-rom de Ciné-Live. On peut cependant remarquer que comme avec le premier volet, il y a des airs de déjà-vu, des résonances qui pourrait n'être qu'une enième manière d'exploiter la nostalgie d'une franchise à succès si elles n'étaient pas intégrées à un étrange jeu de symétrie avec le premier volet Car comme Alice dans la suite de ses aventures à travers le miroir, il y a de fortes chances que ce quatrième opus soit un monde inversé, une version miroir du premier film dans lequel on prend cette fois la pilule bleue, un nouveau piège intuitif dans lequel nous avons hâte de nous précipiter.

2021-11-15 10:53

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