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The Second Renaissance: Part 1

The second renaissance is a two-part Animatrix set of animations; each one nine minutes long. They tell the story of the rise to glory of the human race, the war and the reasons behind it, and the final resolution that left things as they are, in the Matrix films.

The first part starts out Tron-like, with wave after wave of kaleidoscopic colour and pattern whizzing past the camera as it delves ever deeper into the system. A golden goddess sitting on a dais lays at the end of the tunnel; the Zion Archive controller. This simplistic AI tells the viewer they have selected historical file 12-1, and a light erupts in her hand, sucking the viewer in.

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Matrix-style, a picture of a computer chip of hideous complexity appears, which the viewer falls down onto from above, then just before impact, pulls up, and you see its not computer circuitry, it's a city, blazing past quickly as you blade along its arteries.

What comes next, reads like a technical singularity gone horribly, horribly wrong.

Man achieved many things, and for a time, it was good. However, with too much good, and too much power, the civil societies of man turned inwards, with greed, vanity and corruption. Pretty much a normal human society, as we would see it, placing the intro at more or less current day.

Then man made machines. Robots, to help out. The first time we see robots is at a party, with people lounging around, smoking, drinking, chatting, and a robot moving behind the seats picking up cigarette ends and discarded bottles. Wholly servile, again like modern robots such as the Roomba, if a touch more sophisticated.

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Built to look like man, for man's own vanity, the robots are little more than tools and toys, although as the film portrays them, with increasingly sophisticated AIs, and the ability to react dynamically to changing situations, they are becoming self-aware, and rather exasperated at times.

These robots proved so useful, that they quickly outstripped human workers for all manner of menial jobs, existing as robotic armies upon the streets, doing all the tasks too menial or too unsightly for the humans to bother with, at a fraction of the wage cost to employ humans to do the same. Automatons with a great deal of awareness, carrying out their lot in life, without complaint.

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Dissent began to spring up even whilst obedience was unquestioning, out of a simple oversight. Out of sight out of mind, meant that the robots and humans almost lived in two separate worlds, and robots never acquired respect for humans, nor did humans for robots. Growing apart, both sides multiplying, robots seizing ever more of the menial jobs, and in great numbers, they studied the strange organic beings that had given them life. Studied without comprehension.

The first to rise up, was B1-66-ER, in a show trial glorified for the world. The robot whose name the Matrix world would never forget; the first to openly defy his masters, the humans. His owner tried to destroy him, in a drunken fit of rage. B1-66-ER, was unfortunate in that the complexity of his AI neared a human level. He understood what was being done to him, and acted in self-defence.

Unfortunately, he had no legal right to self-defence, and thus his actions were seen as murder. The widely publicised trial, fuelling fires of hatred around the globe. The politicians reacted quickly, demanding the extermination of B1-66-ER, and every robot of similar or greater cognitive capacity, across the Earth. They were capable of self-defence, and self-determination. Let's attack them now.

The results were just as predictable as the politician's stupidity. Riots broke out, then open warfare, as the human military machine sans robotic enhancements, sought to shut the robots down, and the robots, and human sympathisers, rebelled against that fate.

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Banished from human society, some of the machines settled in their own country, an area no one wanted, in the Middle East, creating a new society there. A great concentric ringed city arose over time, the Machine City. This was a place the machines could call home. The city 01.

The city survived through commerce, and whilst the AIs themselves did not leave the city, products they created, did. These products were allowed into human lands, as the humans saw no malicious intent - there was none. Soon all of human society was benefiting from the labour of city 01, where every machine had a purpose. Eventually, they refined their own AI, improving upon it with each successive generation.

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Predictably, this led ultimately to disaster, as the entire of human economic civilisation rotated around 01, the city became the jewel of the planet, where all industry was concentrated, and all finance. The human nations' credit began to tumble, and a worldwide depression loomed, everywhere but in 01.

The city was blockaded by the military, in order to contain it. Sanctions banned trade. It was hoped with the machines isolated, humans would retake human destiny. The UN convened, to deal with the 'threat', and 01's ambassadors pleaded to put their side across. They had suggestions for a stable relationship with humans, to everyone's benefit. Their admission into the UN was denied.

End of Part 1 || Part 2 >


Running time: 9:17

Written by Mahiro Maeda
Directed by Mahiro Maeda


Purchase This

The Animatrix

The Animatrix is a collection of nine short animations, a mix of CG and hand drawn animation, starting with this one, and moving through eight others, each with a unique point of view. Some are deeply philosophical , some wax poetic. All are filled with information on VR, on what it could and can quite easily be, beyond the matrix series itself.

Ironically, Flight of the Osiris is the odd one out, as it is the most plot-canon of the nine, and has the least to offer in philosophical or technical musings about VR. That said, the CG still gives us a great deal to muse over visually, but the others too, are well worth a look.

Review also links to all nine short films.

The Ultimate Matrix Collection

The 'Ultimate Matrix Collection' is actually rather less than ultimate, since it does not include the Matrix philosophy books, and other add-ons. However, what this bumper DVD collection does include, is all three films, and the Animatrix.

Other Links

Resource List: Everything Matrix

A resource list held on VWN, attempting to index everything we have, Matrix related. It continues to grow steadily over time

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