Friday, June 10, 2011

The Matrix lesson plan

We spend a good part of our year at school preparing for standardized tests, so once the tests are over we get to do fun stuff. Since the kids have been working on screenplays, which turned out to be pretty awesome so far, I figured this week I'd show some clips from some of my favorite movies and talk about why they work.

The best lesson ended up revolving around The Matrix. I showed the subway battle with Agent Smith from the first film and explained why it works. Then I showed the playground fight with the billion Agent Smiths in the second movie and explained why it doesn't work.

In a nutshell, the first one has a plot. Neo doesn't believe he is special, but at the beginning of the fight he starts to wonder if he might be. Then he actually hurts Agent Smith and it pisses him off, so Agent Smith kicks his ass. And when you think Neo is about to give up, he stands and signals to Smith to bring it on, he's ready. But Smith is still stronger. And just when you think all is lost, Neo says he knows who he is. And he wins.

The fight in the playground Agent Smith talks and talks and talks and talks, then finally they fight. And Neo is never not winning. And then he beats them all up and flies away. It takes five whole minutes, which is super long in fight time. And no plot happens, just fighting.

If the first movie is about Neo accepting that he is special, that fight is very much about that. If the second movie is about Neo's fear that he can never live up to that image people have of him as a messiah, I guess the fight proves.... he is a messiah?

The kids all agreed completely. They found the second fight boring.

Then one kid goes "Miss, you're going to make us think when we go to the movies, aren't you?"

I nodded and smiled.

"But then we won't like the same movies anymore."

I laughed maniacally.


  1. Nice.

    Yes, get them now when they're young and impressionable. :)

  2. Anonymous3:10 PM

    Matrix movie and script -genius.
    First Fight scene is the best, and I read this script at least three times a year.
    I read about these script Readers who hated the script when it came out. F*** them.
    I swear I am getting fed up with these wrong, wrong Readers. Damn why dont they get lost and leave the art of filmmaking to us.

    I love the Matrix script.
    Fed up, Readers are always picking the wrong script. Wrong , wrong.

    Ca not wait for Martix part 4, and please do not waste time giving it to Readers. They will not get it. Ever. Sci-fi scripts are from the producers and directors only.

    Lets hope the W siblings give us a fight scene better than Matrix 1.


  3. Anonymous3:28 PM

    Here is the trailer that started it all. Great post Emily.

    A movie that that will be cherished by a new fresh generation. I feel so proud of watching THE MATRIX. I will watch and read this script often to learn the art of screenwriting. As as said screenwriting is in the blood of filmmakers and dreamers and rule-breakers and Neo-like screenwriters.

    To my life as screenwriter. Thank you Hollywood for your tools and films to learn from.

    Thank you W brothers for writing THE MATRIX and showing us the ways.

    Thanks for your post Emily.

  4. Anonymous3:32 PM

    I would like to say this fight is a masterpiece writing, fight choeography, music, violence, grit, suits :), all perfecfly mixed in a sweet exciting cocktail. It is indeed a masterpiece of writing and action set-ups.


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