‘The Matrix’ Cinematographer Bill Pope Hilariously Blames Stanley Kubrick For Difficulty Filming The Sequels
Although I keep gushing about Roger Deakins all the time, I have to admit that much of my idea about movies should be shot has been molded by Bill Pope. Why? Because he is the cinematographer of Darkman, Army of Darkness, Clueless, Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man 3, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, The World’s End, and of course, The Matrix trilogy and I’ve watched and rewatched all of them multiple times. So, it’s interesting to learn about some behind-the-scenes tidbits from his filmography.
Now, we all know that Lana Wachowski is coming back with Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Ann Moss for a fourth The Matrix movie. However, despite shooting The Matrix, The Matrix Reloaded, and The Matrix Revolutions, Pope has decided to not come back for the fourth installment and it might have something do with the process of the shooting the second and third movies in the series. According to Indiewire, in an interview with Roger Deakins, Pope said,
“Everything that was good about the first experience was not good about the last two. We weren’t free anymore. People were looking at you. There was a lot of pressure. In my heart, I didn’t like them. I felt we should be going in another direction. There was a lot of friction and a lot of personal problems, and it showed up on screen to be honest with you. It was not my most elevated moment, nor was it anyone else’s. The Wachowskis had read this damn book by Stanley Kubrick that said, ‘Actors don’t do natural performances until you wear them out.’ So let’s go to take 90! I want to dig Stanley Kubrick up and kill him.”
He further added that,
“There is something about making a shoot that long, 276 shoot days, that is mind numbing and soul numbing and it numbs the movie. You think about ‘The Hobbit,’ where they [shot] one, two, and three, and the movies are just numbing. In the books you don’t feel that because you pick it up and put it down. In a movie shoot it’s too long. There’s a limit from what you can take in.”
That said, he ended his thoughts on The Matrix series on a pretty positive note by saying,
“I just transferred them all to 4K for archive purposes at Warners. and I wrote the Wachowkis and Keanu and Carrie Ann that we did a good job [on the sequels], we should be proud of them.”
It is true that during the filming of The Shining, the great Stanley Kubrick had mentally abused actress Shelley Duvall, who played Wendy Torrance in the movie, for the sake of art. In an interview, she had revealed the famous baseball bat confrontation between Duvall and Jack Nicholson took 127 takes and how she had to cry for 12 hours a day, all day long, for nine months. There’s footage available, shot by Kubrick’s daughter Vivian, where Duvall can be seen lying on the floor in a state of complete exhaustion. And that’s no way to treat anyone for anything and I don’t how the Wachowskis found that to be the inspiration for The Matrix sequels.
While there’s no news on what’s going on with The Matrix 4, I sincerely hope that Lana has evolved from that horrific process of shooting movies and isn’t making John Toll, the cinematographer for that movie, undergo the same kind of stress that Pope had to go through. As for Pope, we’ll get to see his work in The Boys in the Band and Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. So, keep your eyes peeled!
Cover artwork by Bhavya Poonia/Mashable India