The Matrix at The Royal Albert Hall

Yesterday morning, I noticed that The Royal Albert Hall had a very special screening running in the evening: The Matrix “Live”.

I have never seen a live score accompany a film. I know The Prince Charles Cinema and the BFI provide multiple screenings of Silent Cinema accompanied by a live musician – but the idea of a film so modern as The Matrix with a live score seeemed outstanding. I listened to a little of the score before making the booking – eerie, almost scraping across the strings to provide an unnatural sound. Think back to the stand out moments in the film – shots that could be paintings: When Neo first wakes up in the ‘Real World’ and looks at the pods, when Neo realises he is ‘The One’, etc. Now think about the score – at all these points, Don Davis created a sound that was epic and grand whilst we saw The Wachowski’s vision – a profound retelling of Plato’s ‘Allegory of the Cave’.

We arrived just in time and the crowd applauded as the NDR Pops Orchestra from Hanover, Germany walked on stage, and another applause when conductor Frank Strobel arrived. Musicians in place, the film began. I cannot explain clearly the feeling as the entire orchestra swells to provide the sound to the film – on screen we hear and see the dialling tone of the phone, but on stage reed instruments set the underlying current as music suggesting a change continues. In some instances you would see the pianist stand up from his piano and arch over to the strings inside the piano to ensure he gets the single, piercing noise of a single string being gently tugged at. Even the end of the film was changed slightly – rather than Rage Against the Machine closing the film, I would assume Strobel decided to end the film in an orchestrial manner and use excerpts and the closing music to the sequels to finish.

The film ended to a standing ovation, whereby Strobel led on stage Don Davis himself who joined usin applauding the Orchestra.

Already, videos are surfacing online and I feel that this one best represents what an experience it was. I will keep my eyes peeled in future to attend these screenings because they are truly unforgettable.

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