The Use of Color in the Movie "The Matrix Revolutions"

by Nathaniel Williams
Keanu Reeves returns as Neo in

Keanu Reeves returns as Neo in "The Matrix Revolutions."

Matt King/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

"The Matrix Revolutions" (2003) concluded the groundbreaking "Matrix" movie trilogy. Although some fans felt the series plunged too deeply into abstract, convoluted philosophy, others declared it a fitting and satisfying conclusion. Like its predecessors, "The Matrix Revolutions" is a very carefully designed film, with color playing a key role in terms of tone, mood and symbolic meaning.

Green

Green is perhaps the defining color of the "Matrix" trilogy. The Matrix code itself is green on black, and scenes shot inside the constructed world of the Matrix receive a heavy green tint. The green imagery serves several objectives, including creating an unnatural, pallid feeling, evoking the green-on-black colors of early CRT computer monitors and carrying the traditional symbolic meaning of knowledge and the Christian liturgy.

Blue

Much of the "real world" outside the Matrix is tinted blue. Blue serves the practical purpose of contrasting with the green of the Matrix, helping audience members quickly identify the location of a new scene. It is also typically a more peaceful, relaxing color, signalling that there is something more natural about this setting than the green Matrix. The most striking use of blue in the film is in the brief scene when Trinity's ship breaks through the heavy clouds that dominate the world and she spots clear blue sky briefly.

Orange

Orange and red typically convey feelings of passion and energy. Orange is primarily seen when portraying the free humans who populate the resistance in the "real world," including Niobe, Link and Captain Mifune. Unlike the cold, calculating machines or the transcendent Neo, these characters are driven by a strong emotional desire for freedom. The character of the Oracle, though in the Matrix herself, is surrounded by orange, conveying that she is able to create genuine emotion within the Matrix.

Black and White

Technically the absence of color, black and white play key roles in the film. The costume choices for the vast majority of characters are black -- although this seems to be more an embrace of an edgy, "cool" aesthetic than a specific symbolic choice. However, monochromatic images do carry symbolic weight, particularly the heavily white limbo world of the train station, stuck between the Matrix and reality.

Photo Credits

  • Matt King/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images