The Matrix is one of those films that’s tough to see with a fresh pair of eyes. Not only is it the kind of film that burns itself into your memory but the subsequent sequels were so messy that it’s easy to forget just how tight the storytelling in the first film is. One of the biggest reasons for this is its flawless use of scene transitions.
YouTuber Patrick (H) Willems takes us through the three distinct acts of the film and shows how the Wachowskis use big overall transitions and tiny subtle ones. For instance, the first act is structured around eight scenes that rotate between Neo being in a public situation and him waking up somewhere in the next scene. Like when he first meets Trinity at the hilarious goth raver club. The scene climaxes with a track by The Prodigy building momentum as Trinity whispers her final words to Neo. What at first sounds like part of the song is actually the sound of an alarm clock going off and we cut to Neo smacking it as he wakes up at home. This smooth structuring of scene transitions and playing with loud/quiet, up/down, in/out dynamics occurs throughout the film. It’s a lesson in filmmaking technique but it’s also just great writing. The transitions keep the movie going at a solid pace and they also have thematic meaning.