The Matrix was a great movie for many reasons, one of them being the attention to detail. The cinematography is on point, and the director of photography used different camera tricks and filters to instill a variety of emotional reactions from viewers of the film. Another element of the movie that had a lot of detail behind it was the costume designs.
It’s hard to think of The Matrix without thinking about Neo and his iconic sunglasses. What some fans of the film may not realize, however, is that each cast member had their own custom-made sunglasses.
How costume design impacted ‘The Matrix’
Any movie buff will hear the word “Matrix” and immediately conjure images in their heads of the distinctive costume designs. For the good guys, it’s black leather trenchcoats. For the bad guys (at least the ones who weren’t machines), it was black suits with white shirts and black ties.
Sunglasses were also a big part of the characters’ costumes. Keanu Reeves’ Neo wears sunglasses throughout much of the film, as do his counterparts Trinity and Morpheus. The villainous Agent Smith, played by Hugo Weaving, also wore sunglasses.
So how did The Matrix’s production team get the sunglasses to look so good on each member of the cast?
‘The Matrix’ sunglasses were uniquely made for each cast member
According to the Chicago Tribune, a sunglasses designer from a company called Blinde Design Project named Richard Walker made custom sunglasses for each of the main leads in The Matrix, including Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Laurence Fishburne.
Each one fits the character perfectly. For example, Fishburne’s Morpheus wore a pair that had no earpieces and would stay attached to his nose. The company sold a line of Matrix glasses on its website following the success of the film series.
What made the use of sunglasses in The Matrix so powerful? Kevin Jones, the curator of the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising’s museum, says that it was because they helped the viewer understand what the person wearing them was looking at:
“What was interesting about those in The Matrix is the way they reflected back to the viewer what they couldn’t see on screen…In just about any film, when you see a person driving a car, they take the rearview mirror away. But here are these sunglasses acting as a rearview mirror so you know what’s going on behind you as well as in front of you.”
While the sunglasses of The Matrix were important, these were far from the only films in which sunglasses played a major role.
Other famous films that prominently featured sunglasses
When a film’s wardrobe department does things right, each piece of a character’s clothing will help inform and develop the character. Sunglasses have helped do that in many movies throughout the years. Below are some films in which they played a major part in terms of the main characters’ costumes:
- Men In Black. In these films, the agents wear sunglasses while looking like intergalactic Secret Service agents. Whenever they “neuralyze” someone’s memory, they have to wear these for protection, making the shades integral to the plot.
- Ray. In this gripping biopic, Jamie Foxx wears a pair of sunglasses as he plays the blind musician Ray Charles. Sunglasses were a constant element of Charles’ appearance throughout his career.
- Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Who can forget the legendary Audrey Hepburn’s signature look as she wore sunglasses in this classic film?
The Matrix is just one example of how sunglasses played a critical role in the film’s makeup. It will be interesting to see how they’re incorporated into the costume design of the yet-to-be-released Matrix sequel due out this year.
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