Film Analysis: The Oracle Scene from The Matrix

I chose to analyze a film scene from The Matrix, specifically the wonderful scene where Neo enters the kitchen of The Oracle and a key point in the movie takes place. There were a lot of good scenes in this movie, and certainly many others, and I could go into writing each one of them out like this, but by then I’d have quite a bit of words. Generally it’s for a lack of time that I can honestly commit to watching movies, that I get through so few, please consider this in reading through this paper that took me not so long to write this much, and another little bit to refine its errors. For the sake of the reader looking explicitly for a film analysis, and not a critical analysis, please cease reading upon moving to the paragraph that begins the discussion on the critical analysis of the scene after completing the film analysis, and skip to the conclusion paragraph where a link to the scene can be found.

Starting with the film analysis side of this, the acting performance is limited to two characters, one of Neo and one of The Oracle. The Oracale indicated moments of presentational and stylized or otherwise exaggerated and outspoken performance, but this seems to’ve been a design choice by the film crew as the character was such an outspoken role up to that point in the movie. Neo indicated a more naturalistic and representational stature, although the moments when he was inspecting his hands were a bit exaggerated. Neo was very silent in this conversation – most of the the dialogue here was one sided and Neo was largely portrayed as receptive to the almost one-sided conversation, responding often with one word answers, questions and comments. The dialogue starts calm and remains quite calm through the entire scene and was continuously slow moving. Their interaction appeared genuinely to be with each other as the bits of dialogue that they exchanged reciprocated the responses of the others conversation and very little seemed to be ignored. Much of the gestures that The Oracle character made seemed designed to satisfy or otherwise placate the Neo character who didn’t know what to expect but seemed to be looking, at the time, for some sort of physicial indication, visibly hung on on some physicial indicator of his situation. In this dialogue, these two characters complement each other, and seem to have very little tension with each other but retain their own inner tension as their own inner monologues seem to be going on.

Through the scene, the camera starts focused and zoomed in on the oven, and then pans out and begins to sweep the kitchen, and then zooms in again on the individual characters. Multiple times the film is such that the character that is saying something important has their face in full view of the screen, as when The Oracle is sitting at the table, generally only showing their head as a close up. The scene used medium shots when the two were physically interacting and full shots when introducing and setting up the scene. A few times the long shot was used to show the surroundings of the room, as it panned from one wall to the other when The Oracle stood up. The movement of the camera was used to create engagement with the viewer, and it was an interesting addition to have the camera shot from where the vase had originally been placed that had been knocked on the floor and destroyed. For the most part the camera was still, to establsih the serenity of the scene, but a few times it tracked movement such as when The Oracle approached Neo, and in doing so moved from a high angle to an eye-level angle.

The lighting of the scene predominantly was shown as coming through the window and was used to cast shadows on both of the characters faces. The Oracle generally had a well lit face and the unlightened side of her head was opposite to the light from the window, whereas Neo was positioned in such a way that the light was generally used to split the front of his face into two different parts, showing one half of his face to be illuminated and the other half cast in the shadow. The kitchen itself was reasonably well lit by the external sunlight and there was not a discernible source of interior light that had cast shadows on either of the actors. The light was mostly green in color, accentuated by the colors of the room, not seeming to be inherently hostile but possibly conveyed a tension as if to indicate that The Oracle was of the same world that The Matrix was from which in various parts of the movie was always depicted as green text or other types of green light.

The music was referenced earlier as some kind of 50s style trumpet, evoking some kind of nostalgic or longing feeling, but at times switched up to be more engaging depending on the topic they were discussins. Various sounds just as the glass of ice or the puff of the cigarette were used to punctuate sentences, a common tactic at the time due to how common smoking was during the time in which the movie had come out. The film itself has much work that went into it in order to better portray the story in the movie, and due to its great talent portayed in doing this, it becomes very easy to critically analyze the story without having read the book – instead going directly from the film and to levels of detail that, in many places, exceed the level of detail offered by the original author that wrote the book.

Where the applications of technique to the film itself are imporant, a critical analysis of the content of the scene itself would be the next step. Beginning again from the beginning of the scene, as the scene opens after Neo enters through the bead door, here’s this woman, The Oracle, a black late-aged hearty looking and kind person, possilby a grandmother (she later refers to children although the context is more than this as it applies to the rest of the movie). She’s presented as some counterbalance to the Neo character, who appeared as a gaunt white male dressed in all black and young in age. Due to the nature of her character as described, her character would’ve known the exact moment, day and time he would’ve arrived, in the same way he would’nt’ve, so the choice to bake cookies for the engagement was a planned event. The walls are green, the painting is green, there is a green ice cube tray on top of the freezer, the phone books are shades of green, the woman is adorned in green. Neo’s wearing black on the outside, but the woman’s black, as if to indicate that there’s some sort of whole that he’s about to become a part of through their meeting. He’s standing, and leans under the bead door to enter even though he can walk right through it, the light switch is flipped up as if to indicate it was on, but there’s only seemingly sunlight that casts light through the room. There’s magnets on the fridge and a marked up calendar on the wall. The Oracle appears as this human woman, though we’re not meant to understand her to be just a human, now or in the future. Neo appears as a human male, although the implication at the end of the scene is that we’re not meant to regard him as limited to that observation at some point in the future.

She’d chosen this exact moment to make cookies, and as he says his first words to her, she tells him to wait, because “they’re almost done”. But the kitchen and adornments in it appear outdated even for the time the movie came out, by at least a decade or two. The door of the oven’s used as a sound effect to indicate that the oven door opens off screen, but is unmaintained in that the oven’s not been tended to, making it apparent that the whole scene is just there to serve a purpose in much the same way the oven did its duty. She’s sitting, leaning over the oven, ingredients strewn about, not cleaned up, even though it took time to cook the cookies. This indicated that she was doing something else while the cookies were cooking in the oven, as if seeming to make it apparent that by extension the guy is just another step in the assembly line of the process of making cookies, they simply “wouldn’t be done” he he not arrived.

As she stands up, she tells him she would ask him to sit down, the chair she was sitting on in the first bit of the scene has seemingly disappeared, as if she may have placed it in a spot for him to sit on, meaning that she was offering him her own chair. It’s apparent now that the tilework’s also green, the countertops are green, her shirt and pants are green, her oven mitts are green. She comments on the smell of the cookies, saying that they smell good, which urged a response from him. Neo agreed casually. He knocked over the vase she told him not to worry about, and she then momentarily asked him if he would have still broken it if she hadn’t said anything as he lights up a cigarette with a match, not a lighter, again indicating the outdatedness of the adornments of the apartment – as if she’d been portrayed as having waited longer than expected, aleady. She wears glasses, presumably to correct her vision up close as she uses them later, her body language is one that indicates admiration and appreciation, possibly adoration, for the person that stands in front of her. Neo’s casual demeanor, depicting his inquitivieness and naivety is maintained through the beginning of the scene.

As she lights the cigarette she does so near the window, near the light, but then lights the match in the lighted window, as if the cigarette was used to indicate that she was simply passing a message onto him from a source of illumination, through the match which then the flame she inhaled and translated to him the information that she was to divulge through her voice. The scene pans back to him and the lighting is such that you can see that half of his face is illuminated, and half of his face is dark, as if he is parted, or straddled, halfway one place, and halfway another place. This contrasts with her in that while half of her head is shaded, her whole face itself is illuminated in standing in the window.

She calls him cuter than she thought, as she shows a very toothy grin, as if to confirm that this was a moment that she had been imagining for quite a long time, savoring the importance of it in ruminations that had already spanned decades. This built on the narrative that the time has come and past when she’d first thought he was going to be present. She then says that she can see why she liked him, feigning ignorance by presenting the notion that it was his ‘cuteness’ that was the reason “she liked him” (referring to Trinity). Neo plays coy but she knows better already as she keeps the wide grin and responds that, “he’s not too bright though”, which is another reference to light and dark in this scene, especially as he is dressed in all black, important to note here is that the words here indicate that he was at least “a little bit” bright, depicted by the light cast across his face. The scene pans again to his face that is still half illuminated, as she says this after having moved from a chair near the oven to another chair nearer to him. The wallpaper of the rest of the room is seen to be green at this point, and she has removed her apron and placed it near the sink in the sunlight.

She asks him what he thinks, implying the whole situation he was in right now, but asks him if he thinks that he was ‘the one’ that Morpheus was looking for as she takes a sip of a cool drink where you can just faintly hear the sound of ice hitting the side of a cup as if the sound itself were a punctionation mark. He responds, “Honestly, I don’t know”. Not just – “I don’t know”, clearly torn in some sort of denial of the situation he’s in. Here he was in the kitchen of what was told to him was “The Oracle” and he feels the need to indicate that he was being “honest” or not, as if this was not the kind of entity that wouldn’t immediately know him to be a liar or not. Was the term used endearingly or to reflect the nature of naivety he posessed at the time? Rather, was he attempting to garner pity from The Oracle by indicating that he was being honest, in saying that he didn’t know or, what?

She then uses the cup and cigarette to point to something behind him, she asks him if he knows what it meant, then doesn’t wait for an answer because she’s already concluded that he didn’t have an answer for her. She continues in saying that it’s latin, the phrase over the doorway that was over his head, meaning “to know thyself”. The words themselves are also written in green, on a brown background, the placard rests on the door frame, though not above or apart from the door frame as if one were to hang a decoration. The placard appears to need to touch the doorframe because it indicates that the decoration is a part of the doorframe, and refers to those that step through it, and is not an adornment of the room itself. The doorframe itself is an adornment of the very green room, but the placard is adorning the doorframe, it says “temet nosce”.

In this scene just Neo stepped through the door frame, not her. She then says she will let him in on a little secret and says that being “The One” is just like being in love in that in both, where you “just know it” when you’re in it, she also says of it, “balls to bones” and “through and through”. This indicates that as he goes through the door frame and then through the door frame again, in the moment he steps through that door frame in particular, he is not “The One” as he stands in front of her, and it’s only when he steps through that door frame again that he again becomes “The One”. The phrase, “through and through”, was a well selected phrase for this situation in that it related very directly to the doorway that was in the scene.

In the background at 2 minutes, the nostalgic sounding 50’s music was playing, again indicating the nature of the long wait The Oracle seems to’ve had prior to having this encounter. No radio is apparent besides the one on top of the fridge, but this one was seemingly unused as it’s behind things on the fridge, so the music can even possibly be imagined as playing from another room, the sound carrying into the green room. The bead door is always behind Neo in this, he doesn’t go more than a couple feet from the doorway, indicating his hesitancy to approach his situation. He doesn’t step forward, but stays near the open doorway, there is no door to open or close, just some beads in his way of a safe escape. He’s presented in a cautious manner, in that it appears that he might flee at a moments notice. At 2:03 we get the most panned out view of the kitchen yet, which over the last two minutes has been coming more into focus as the first few seconds of the scene we were shown a close up view of some stuff in the kitchen, but now can see that theres a whole (Green) kitchen table, the chair by the oven has reappeared, there’s additional shelving on the left side of the room, and we can see the bottom cabinets and the floor of the room for the first time as the camera angle points down filming her and her kitchen.

She then stands up, puts her glasses on and says she should have a look, in the same way the audience was just “given a look” of her whole kitchen as the camera pans from pointing down and tracks her to become eye-level with both of them as she’s now elevated to match his stature we get the appearance that we are looking straight onto the scene. Here it’s as if one were viewing the scene from the same spot the flower vase was prior to him knocking it off and destroying it. She extends her arms and takes on an inquisitive body language with her arms outstretched, he braces for her touch as if expecting a heavy weight, he changes his feet around to steady the anticipated force. She grabs his head with both hands, covering his cheeks and tells him to open his mouth and say “ahh”, and he complies. It becomes apparent at this point that the visual and physical inspection is a ruse, for she’s again concluded that the person in front of him lacks any ability to grasp that what he’s doing there, and what she was doing there, was anything more than a secular experience, and proceeds to “play doctor” for his benefit. So that he could feel as if he’d been inspected for his pedigree, as if looking into his mouth was to reveal the answer, shortly after comparing that which she was allegedly looking for to being in love.

Here she is almost comically, “looking for evidence of love”, with a corporeal physical inspection of the guys face and hands – this is seemingly to placate him and put him into an ease as one would a child. This is because overall the entire scene is possibly a ruse – the idea that he was or was not who he was believed to be, or believed he was, all went out of his own control when he willingly stepped through the doorway to be evaluated for who he was and was perceived to be (this opposes her parting words to him when she sarcastically says things are in his control). In a sense, a willful suspension of disbelief of his own situation could’ve been the only reason that he was even in that room, therefore, it could be said that in this one scene alone, the character of Neo was vulnerable. It could even be argued that throughout the entire movie, this 5 minute scene was the only time in which he was not “The One”, and it was only because he willingly subjected himself to the evaluation of something outside of himself that he was seeking validation from for that moment – the only time in which he’d done so in the movie.

This necessarily places The Oracle in a spot that essentially “nullifies” the powers of those around her in order to empower them for who they are. This denial, this nullification, this is possibly tied to the green imagery through the entire scene, in that the green could have denoted nature or something godlike – something that stands to have more relative power than anything could for its ability to placate, nullify or otherwise temporarily invalidate that which is undeniable otherwise because in that kitchen alone, nobody was who they were. In the same way the matrix was represented with the green lettering and the machines in lights of green, this color is used to denote this interconnected network that in its dualistic nature both provides for and suppresses the human population that’s entangled within it.

Neo complies in placing his face in her hands and says ahh, with an inquisitive, disturbed and concerned look. She probes his eye lids, we see the back of her head and the front of his face and he’s looking off to her left side, as if glancing at the kitchen sink, or through the window, and it becomes apparent that he’s likely daydreaming, and his mind is elsewhere, evidenced by his not looking directly at her during this critical period of time. Her hands drop down to his neck, as she rotates his shoulders looking at his facial profile, then her hand goes to his collar, she looks down as if to divulge some bad news, but then grabs the back of his hands as he opens his palms and displays them to her. He’s also looking at his palms, then for the first time looks at her, possibly because he now fees safe in doing so because she’s not examining his face and he can get a look at her facial language without having to look direct at her, again showing his timid nature. In doing this he reflects a deflective, defensive nature, but as he’s looking at her face, his face is wholly illuminated, for the first time in the scene, and it’s the side of his head that’s shaded in the same way hers was at first.

He is always facing the same direction in this scene, but she has faced all directions in this scene. He looks as if to read her face but sees nothing as he looks right to left with his eyes. She exclaims, “oh” and it’s then that he looks down at his own palms. It’s apparent that the whole interaction appears to be her putting on a show, as she’s first looking at his palms in the darkness as we look over her right shoulder, they’re covered in the same shade that’s on half of his head. She indicates, almost sardonically, that, “I’m supposed to say hmm..”, as if this is some parody of some pre-ordained situation with knowable results, while she’s holding his palms in the light now as the camera view switches back to over his left shoulder from her right shoulder side. She says, “but you already know what I’m going to tell you” – as if to confirm that willingly steppping through the doorway was an act that itself indicated that he already knew what it was to be. Had he believed at that time they’d not’ve needed to even had gone to her. It’s at 2:40 that he says, “I’m not the one”, and she does not say this at all. She instead says, “I’m sorry kid”, as if to agree with him, because it’s becoming clear that it’s not within her ability to say one way or ther other whether or not he was, it was for him alone to say.

He then places his palms together at the same time she says, “it looks like you’re waiting for something.” His hands are pressed to together in some way reminiscent of a prayer (in Christianity this arrangement of hands is a common way to depict prayer visually). After hearing her say this he opens his palms and then takes on a seemingly feigned surprised stance, he looks in his opened hands as if to expect something to’ve magically appeared there. He then looks down, rubs his palms together and looks up and over at her, and asks, “when?”, to which she says, “next life maybe”, having continued working with the cookies now but didn’t put the apron back on, seemingly resuming her disinterest with him, but also not getting ready to cook more cookies. At this point the cookies are done, the cookies she would’ve chosen well in advance to make for this arrival. they’re done and removed from the oven, and are cooling, as cookies do, when taken out of the oven. She grabs a spatula as he resumes looking at his open palms in disbelief, and she says that’s the way these things go and he laughs, and as he does this she glances over skeptically, with cookie on the spatuala, and asks him what’s funny.

Neo then indicates that Morpheus had him convinced, almost, but she consoles him in saying, “poor morpheus,” and says that, “without him we are lost”. She’s somehow resumed smoking at this point and the cigarette appears to be a new one, but overall the scene has only been 3 minutes so it’s quite likely implied to be the same one, so she takes a drag on her cigarette as he says, “what do you mean”. She responds, “are you sure you want to hear this?” This is another baited question at this point, because she knows well enough by now that the guy in front of her doesn’t want to hear a single thing at this point but has nothing else better to do, at that moment, when he’s momentarily under the impression that all the burdens that’d been placed on him recently are no longer his to bear, for a time. So it’s on this precedent that she asks, again, if he would like to hear it, to which he nods his head.

She continues to say that Morpheus believes in him, and she smiles, and then says that nobody can convince him (Morpheus) otherwise. She said that Morpheus believes in Neo so blindly that he will sacrifice his life to save Neo’s. Neo then asks for clarificaiton, and she responds by saying that Neo will have to “make a choice”. She still at this point hasn’t said that he’s not “The One”. This is the choice she’s talking about, in the same way she offered him the choice to say it just moments before as she was physically examining him. In discussion of this second choice, she says he will have Morpheus’ life in one hand, and in the other hand he’ll have his own. This closed the loop in regards to the scenes portrayal of the inspection of his hands. The part where he was inspecting his hands was foreshadowing the words she was saying later on in that what he was looking for in his hands was hypothetically both of their lives – his own and Morpheus’ lives. These weren’t able to be phsyically seen because it was a metaphorical display. The scene portrays much concern with the characters looking for something physicial, when what was being looked for lied below the surface at a wholly different point in time in their shared future.

She then says that one of them is going to die, Morpheus or him, and which one that is is up to Neo. She then apologizes to him, and says he has a good soul, whereas previously she said he’s got the gift. Which says something about the writing here in that it could be implied that this says that a soul is a gift to a person, which has much more philisophical connotations to it that are outside the scope of this currently. She then she says she hates giving good people bad news, as the conversaiton trails off, she says don’t worry about it. She said this was because as soon as he steps outside that door, he’ll start feeling better, which closes the loop about the door and being “through and through” – the door in particular being that which he had gone through and then through once more.

She consoles him in saying that he’ll remember that he doesn’t believe in any of this fake crap and that he’s in control of his own life, the camera is zoomed into her at this point, so we can see the gravity of the words she’s speaking in the shape of the muscles of her face that imply the dire situation that the guy’s a part of. She offers him one of six cookes, tells him to take a cookie, and extends the glass platter to him, he picks the nearest one on the corner, and as he does this she promises that by the itme he’s done eating it he’ll feel “right as rain”. One one hand, she knew that he would’ve stepped htrough the doorway by the time he was done eating it, and the idea was to again placate the guy in giving him a cookie so’s to distract from the action of going through the doorway being the event that does or does not qualify him as “The One”. The phrase itself “right as rain” stands to have further consideration as well, but this is the end of the scene where the rest of the movie then proceeds to take place.

In conclusion, this wonderful scene has much to be said of a basic film analysis as well as a critical analysis that hinged on the context portrayed in the scene. It doesn’t requre a particular attachment to this scene to observe this, other than to regard it for its ability to cultivate and inspire a deeper appreciation for cinematic art.

Weblink to this scene can be found here:

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