Studio: Studio 4°C
Director: Mahiro Maeda
Writer: Mahiro Maeda (based on “Bits and pieces of Information” by the Wachowskis).
Presented as a historical document in the Zion archives, the viewer is given a historical overview of the events leading up to the Human-Machine war that was described by Morpheus in the first movie. A servant bot, BI-66ER, is put on trial for murdering his owner, a repairman and several of his owner’s dogs after he overheard them discussing his being scrapped (the owner and the repairman, I mean. I sincerely doubt the dogs were anything but blameless victims). The state of New York orders BI-66ER and every robot of his type to be destroyed which triggers massive protests and brutal government repression, with scenes echoing The Million Man March, Tiananmen Square, the execution of Nguyễn Văn Lém and even the Holocaust.
The surviving machines flee to the Middle East where they establish their own nation, Zero One, which quickly begins outperforming the human world economically. The nations of the world embargo Zero One. The machines apply to join the UN but their emissaries, who dressed in human clothes as a gesture of respect, are attacked by the human delegates.
But, as the narrator ominously notes, this will not be the last time the machines take the floor at the UN.
How was it?
So we go from a short with almost no story, to one with enough story for an entire movie trilogy or even a series. Part 1 crams in a dizzying amount of history and lore into a scant nine minutes. The use of real world atrocities as a visual shorthand is definitely dubious and borderline manipulative, but it’s hard to deny the power of these images, aided immensely by the superlative score and sound design and Mahiro Maeda’s brilliantly detailed animation. Some of the images are spectacular, some appallingly gruesome, but there is not a single one that is dull. Part 1 reinforces the Matrix’s themes of cyclical history, whether it’s the reference to 20th century atrocities or the image of robot workers hauling massive concrete blocks to build pyramids for their human pharaohs.
And all throughout is the unmistakable sense of dread. If you’ve seen the movies, you know things are going to get bad.
But you may be unprepared for just how bad.