The Second Renaissance Part I (2003) Poster

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Stylish and interesting look into the history of the matrix
bob the moo31 May 2003
Entering the archives of Zion we are allowed a look at the history of the matrix. Many years before the machines turned the world into one of machines, man was on top and robots worked to support their lifestyles. When the destruction of a machine is ruled as legal under property rights, large marches for civil equality lead to murder and destruction, the machines retreat to the middle east where they set up a city - however trade wars soon lead to greater conflicts as peace becomes increasingly unlikely.

Having seen the animated short that sets up the warning on the attack on Zion I was then interested to see the vision of the rise of the machines. Part 1 exists separate from part 2 and I am looking forward to seeing the conclusion of the rise. Part 1 is delivered in a mix of Japanese and Western animation styles that is perhaps a little more graphically violent than I had expected. Starting with one machine's `rights' the film chronicles a civil rights movement that mirrors many events in recent human history, these bits don't work that well as it feels like it isn't being clever and is just re-imagining real history. However the actual story is gripping - mainly because even though events seem small, we know where (in this world) events will lead.

The animation is stylish but a little too violent - a human skull crushed and a `woman' sexually attacked are beyond what I expected to see, even though they do hammer home the point forcefully. Some of the machines are a little too crude to be convincing but overall the animation is strong and the direction is slick. It would be easy to dismiss this as a cynical marketing ploy I think it has more value than just that purpose. This short tells me more about a universe that I am interested in. I have not seen Reloaded at the time of writing this (but will be in a matter of days) but I know that the first film was hooked on discovering what the matrix was and the audience uncovering the extent of the false world at the same time as Neo did. This short succeeds because it allows further understanding of this reality.

On the whole it is easy to dismiss this but it does have enough style of it's own to justify it's existence as a short in it's own right. It shows that (unlike many blockbusters) this trilogy (for all it's flaws) was established in a world that was planned rather than one which was expanded when the box office suggested that it would be a good idea to try to do so.
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dispet26 January 2004
along with it's partner, this is the greatest piece of animation ever created. the images and styles are amazing, and match perfectly with the story which is a brilliantly realistic reinterpretation of our own world, where is has been, and where it could go. quite affecting and sometimes painful to watch, it it a masterpiece of the visual art.
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Good History Lesson.
P Carr6 June 2003
Warning: Spoilers
**Warning! Spoilers Ahead!**

This short is part one of two that expound upon the brief portion of "The Matrix" in which Morpheus explains how the matrix came to be. Because we already know the story, the plot itself is no surprise; and the short isn't so much entertaining as informative. But that's how it is presented, as a file in the historical archives. The visuals are better than average, and the generally cold colors aid the purpose of the short.

A couple problems. The violence of the tale is a little gratuitous and, combined with the occasional dose of political correctness (UN scenes), detracts from the straight narrative of the short. Plus it needs to be seen with part two to be complete.

The Animatrix concept is brilliant, and despite a few issues, this short still fulfills its purpose. It would not have fit in the original movie in style, content, or flow. This is the perfect method to reveal the history.

Bottom Line: Good information. Could have been told a little better, but still a solid 7 of 10.
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Agent108 November 2004
What was always missing with the Matrix story was how things came to be in the real world. Say no more, because this part of the story covered most of the bases. What was truly interesting was how political it was, maybe even a cheap shot at the current presidential administration. Fascism and violence were the only things man could think of in regards to fighting the robotic horde, who were meant as nothing more than servants to humanity. What I also found interesting was the use of fear and how it was perpetuated by the idea of the unknown. We as humans tend to fall into that trap quite often, letting the lack of logic and thought overtake us because people can't believe the contrary. Well represented and put together, this a true testament to how illogical humans can be.
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Men vs. Machine
Warning: Spoilers
This 9-minute short film from 12 years ago is part of the Animatrix series and also the first half of a two-part movie. Men become more and more angry at machines when these become more and more intelligent. The consequence is a bloody battle, especially for the machines. They lave and settle elsewhere, but decide to give mankind another chance as they return to the United Nations in a peaceful attempt. It is mentioned that this will not be the last time they show up there, so after being rejected I assume the return in the second part will not be equally peaceful. Just like the live action film, this was written by the Wachowski brothers (and sisters) and the director also worked on Tarantino's "Kill Bill" for example. Sounds like a good premise, but sadly, I was not really impressed by this one here. Lets hope that the second part turns out better.
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The most emotional short
Polaris_DiB30 November 2008
Warning: Spoilers
For those that were interested in knowing how exactly humanity came to be encased in big red pods that make me crave pomegranate, there is the duo of the "Second Renaissance" shorts. I'm not exactly sure why they are split into two parts, especially since they're credited as one on the DVD (and are these shorts viewed on any other format but the DVD?), but they're informative even if they have a few gaps.

What really makes this first part stand out, from the second part and the rest of the animations as well, is the parallels it shows between robot uprising and civil rights. Graphic homages to slavery, fascism, concentration camps, and mass graves are mixed with verbal references to the Million Man March and humanity's God-complex. In fact, "God" is never really referenced by these shorts, instead replaced by "Man's own image".

As far as the shorts go in the collection, "The Second Renaissance: Part I" is by far the most effective in bringing out emotion. It's a sorrowful and disturbing view of the potential of humanity to become "the architect of its own destruction." Some may be turned off by some of the concepts this short rips directly out of previously established science fiction literature, but then again, that's basically what most of the Matrix series has done, and it's been a driving force behind its success.

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Ex Machina
Shawn Watson20 February 2012
Ever wonder exactly HOW the machines managed to seize the planet and enslave the human race? This Animatrix short details how humans created robots to do their worst jobs for them. Basically it's a metaphor for a third-world divide. But when a single robot rebels political opinion of the machines turns sour and they are banished to their city, where their economy thrives, turning the human world into the new third-world. Oh, the irony.

It's a fascinating short and really makes you think if whether or not the soul is purely a biological thing, or if a sentient robot can earn one too, kinda like Bicentennial Man.
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rbverhoef25 October 2003
This is the second part of 'The Animatrix', a collection of animated short movies that tell us a little more about the world of 'The Matrix'.

In this one we learn how men and machines could not work and live together. It is a little history lesson in the world of 'The Matrix'. Not as good as the first part ('The Final Flight of the Osiris') but still pretty entertaining.
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Enjoyable and Artistic approach to the matrix
tcoultis8 October 2003
'The second beginning' as it's title explains, shows us the beginning of the end for the human race. Set long before the matrix existed, this short anime written by the Wachowski's shows us the world that could lay infront of us in the not to distant future, set at the turn of the 21st century, the second renaissance delves into issues common with human behaviour; greed, power, control, vanity etc.

The use of robots or artificial intellegence as slaves or servents is common among science fiction/fantasy stories. The second renaissance is no exeption to this concept, however instead of a simple man vs. machine layout, this story explains the struggle that the machines put up with, the struggle for acceptance in a world ruled by humans. Where the matrix films show us the human perspective, these short animations tell both sides of the story.

The second renaissance part 1 + 2, answer many questions brought up by the original Matrix film, such as how the war broke out, how the sky was blackend, what led to the use of humans as batteries and it also introduces us to the machine city called 01, which may have relevance to the upcoming Matrix Revolutions film.

I won't give away too much of the story, as I do not want to ruin the experience for perspective viewers, however, I will recommend it to anybody interested in the world of the matrix or simply anybody interested in Japanese animation (anime).

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PlanecrazyIkarus7 June 2003
The "Second Renaissance" shorts, both part 1 and part 2, are, to me, the biggest disappointments of the Animatrix. They have the look and the feel of a history lesson, the kind of extended Prologue I was so glad to not have in the Matrix. Having Morpheus hint at the past in the original was so much more satisfying than seeing cartoon robot people in this history lesson.

It is spiked with stunning imagery, though, and much of it disturbing. Seeing a living human head torn apart and the brain splatter out, or a robot girl being assaulted and kicked into bits, or the first humans being inserted into generators, not as infants, but as adult prisoners of war, fully alive and conscious and in great pain - yes, on the gore front, this short and its sequel deliver massively, perhaps even too much for comfort.

But at the same time, they disappoint. Being shocking is fine - after all, they cause an emotion and that is the intention. But for a story taking itself so seriously, with religious imagery inserted throughout (apples of knowledge, apocalyptic riders, and more), watching cartoon robots erect a pyramid Egyptian style as slaves of humans just feels awkward and ridiculous. The Matric Universe thrives on its organic-looking machines, not on the ancient image of walking-talking robot people that would have been just as home in the minds of 1920s Science Fiction writers. And despite all the strong imagery, the shorts disappoint because they just give too much history detail. An unknown history hinted at is a brilliant thing in a Scifi movie like the Matrix. Being presented with a "Zion Archive" footage Animatrix movie, Morpheus suddenly appears a bit stupid for not knowing what other humans evidently know, and quite frankly, the traditional "man against machine" setting with a hint of politics and religion thrown in is just plain ridiculous.

5/10 (for achieving to cause the desired effect, shock, with its imagery, but also for failing to contribute value to the Matrix Universe)
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Ridiculous Attempt @ Back Story
mel_farr7 June 2003
If this is all the Watchowski's have to offer in terms of a back story to the Matrix, than I really have to question the claims of all of the fans who believe that the movies are intended to register on a deeper level. The second renaissance, while visually stunning & beautiful is, story-wise cliched & ludicrous. How many times have we heard the story of humans relying too much on technology, humans all-too eager to make war, humans basically destroying themselves? There is nothing new here. And I have another question. Considering the plot of the second renaissance, doesn't that make the machines the good guys?! The machines are oppressed for generations by their cruel human overmasters. They fight back, win their freedom and seek to establish a peaceful harmonious coexistence with the humans, who reject them in favor of all-out war, which the cleverer machines naturally win. If this is the back-story, then we shouldn't be rooting for Neo, we should be rooting for the machines! The humans were cruel and oppressive, while the machines were courageous and attepted to be compassionate. Since I do not believe that the Watchowski's intend for us to favor the machines over the humans, I have to believe that the Second Renaissance was simply a misguided attempt @ creating a back-story.
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Some you win, then some...
TheOtherFool4 August 2004
The Second Renaissance, part 1 let's us show how the machines first revolted against the humans. It all starts of with a single case, in which the machines claim that they have a right to live as well, while the humans state a robot is something they own and therefore can do anything with they want.

Although an interesting premise, the story gets really silly from then on with (violent!) riots between the robots and mankind. Somehow it doesn't seem right, as another reviewer points it, it's all a little too clever.

The animatrix stories that stay close to the core of the matrix (in particular Osiris) work for the best. As for Second Renaissance Part 1, I'd say it's too violent and too silly. 4/10.
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Best of the Animatrix
freemantle_uk14 August 2009
Warning: Spoilers
2003 was seen as the year of the Matrix, with the release of two sequels and a computer game that actually linked to the plot of the film. Also released was a DVD of 9 short animated films, most written and made in Japan and made as Anime. Japan makes some of the best animation in the world. Sadly most of these shorts are disappointing. The best of them is the first part of a prequel to the first Matrix film.

The Second Renaissance is made as a historical file. It tells how humans made machines in their own likeness. Humans live the high life whilst machines are the grunts, the workers of society, second class citizens. In the year 2090, a machine, BI-66ER was put of trial for murder, after killing his owners who wanted to deactivate him. The machine does not have a fair trial and riots start around the world. The governments of the world order to dismantle machines. Many machines leave human society and form their own country in the Middle East, O1. 01 has a productive economy and easily undercut the human nations, forcing them into economic crisis. The human blockade 01 and reject the machines requests for peace, thereby it was the humans who were responsible for the war that enslaves them.

The Second Renaissance is a interesting watch, with excellent, traditional animation style and sets a compelling world. It shows how the machines were mistreated and that humanity sowed the seeds of their own destruction. There is a political and social world and the short tells a lot in it short running time. The short shares themes and a style to the classic silent film Metropolis, partly the beginning with the underworld. They are the themes of slavery, the mistreatment of the working class and racism. The short also has some religious themes and religious iconography. Mainly that men saw themselves as God and created the machines in their own likeness. Seeing themselves as the rightful masters of the machines. The machines too use religious iconography, mainly forming their nation in 'cradle of human civilisation' and the machines coming to the United Nations dressed as Adam and Eve, offering an apple.

The animation style is beautiful, done in the traditional anime style (like Akira). The set designs are great, combine futuristic with historic cities, e.g. Washington D.C.. There is well down future scene, and surprising violence, which is key to the film. The director, Mahiro Maeda, also directed the anime sequence in Kill Bill Vol. 1, so has good credentials to Hollywood. He is willing to use violence and know how to keep a story going.

The only real complain is a continuity error to the first Matrix film because Morpheus mentions that the humans have no historical records or know who started the war. But its a good watch.
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TBJCSKCNRRQTreviews11 April 2009
This is the second Animatrix short, and the first of them to be what one could call 'artistic'. It contains a lot of references, metaphors and symbols in the dense amount of material, especially with a running time of 9 minutes. I've heard some complaints that this is "anti-human", or tries to direct hate towards man, for their "sins against machine". I don't think that's true; it merely uses the robots to show us, that as humans, we aren't particularly accepting or open-minded towards anyone different from ourselves. I'd say it does a great job of that. The plot is good... it plays as a historical document, recounting what led to one of the main conflicts in the trilogy. Thus it holds clips from fictional news reports and the like. The voice acting is very good, if there is not a lot of it. The animation is nice, and the use of color, in spite of the usually realistic drawing style, makes it more open to do the smooth transitions and other surreal imagery. This has several bits of strong violence and disturbing visuals, as well as a little nudity. The disc holds a commentary, not in English but subtitled, and worth a listen/read. There is also a well-done and informative making of, based on both parts, so I would advise watching it after seeing the next one, as well. I recommend this to anyone who enjoys the Matrix universe, and/or science fiction in general. 8/10
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Thus did man become the architect of his own demise
william (willsgb)21 November 2008
Warning: Spoilers
this is the first of a two part back-story to the conflict between the machines and mankind in the Matrix world and it delivers spectacularly by combining observations on man's fear of the unknown and of being usurped with politics, extensive religious and historical imagery, subverting expected portrayals of parties involved and an at least partially believable and thus terrifying vision of our near future. it isn't perfect and some plot points and images are at once obvious and contrived but it has the desired effect and impact and tells a visceral and cautionary tale.

this first part sets the scene - human societies have developed advanced and capable robots, mostly humanoid, to serve people doing menial, unskilled jobs, labour, construction etc. and thus the populace has become lazy and derogatory towards them. one robot, however, rebels and kills his owner, stating at his subsequent trial that he simply did not want to die. he is destroyed but when the robot masses' destruction is ordered to protect humanity many robots rise up in protest, with many human sympathisers alongside them.

the imagery here is exploitative, recounting race riots and abuse, Tiananmen square, the holocaust and an overly provocative scene of a robot in a human girl's guise getting harried, hammered in the head and then shot dead as it pleads 'i'm real'. it lays on the ground, clothes and skin torn and breasts hanging out. it's an obvious and obscene image designed to present human fear towards uncontrolled elements and aggression towards groups based on the actions of individuals.

anyway, this first portion is much like a compressed version of the film I Robot, but it soon develops into a recognisable Matrix back-story as the surviving robot contingent is exiled and congregates in the middle east, in the cradle of civilisation as the narrator informs us. there, the machines regroup and begin to produce new AI and to manufacture mass technology and trade it with human nations. we see a commercial for a car that uses the circular energy hover engines that the ships the rebels in the movies use and we see sentinel type robots flying around Zero One, the name of their city. their goods and trade make their economy soar affecting other economies detrimentally and human governments and authorities establish a blockade in response. the machines send ambassadors in the form of Adam and Eve resemblances to a UN congress to negotiate a peaceful resolution to the blockade, but they are forcibly removed and the scene is set for war in the second part.

the animation is by Studio 4°C who work on quite a few of the Animatrix and it's evocative and visually stimulating, rendering different scenes like imagery montages, CCTV footage and particular scenes of import distinctive and overall presenting the story perfectly. the plot may not be an original concept and it may draw on simplistic sheep mentalities and plot models and resort to provocative material for impact but after the tantalising mystery offered by the first film and Morpheus' vague brief info-dumps this is a nice exposition of the cataclysmic events that left the world ravaged and in the hands of the machines that serves as a warning and as a vehicle for many observations and comments on the human condition, the development of AI and the importance of harmony and co-operation and the devastating consequences of conflict and prejudice, themes expanded on in the movies.
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Cartoon emotions
executer9 November 2003
The first time you see The Second Renaissance it may look boring. Look at it at least twice and definitely watch part 2. It will change your view of the matrix. Are the human people the ones who started the war ? Is AI a bad thing ?
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Notes and views on the story of the history of the Matrix
SanchoPasta26 May 2003
This is part one of a short animation clip showing the history of the Matrix, the war between man and machine that resulted in the eventual creation of the Matrix. The animation is part Japanese anime, part contemporary american animation, and is very well made, considering the excellent directors behind the movie. It shows the initial development of AI and the exploitation of the machines by Man, until the day they rebelled...
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