When it comes to the elusive and enigmatic “Matrix” creators, it’s hard to tell where the picture ends and the brothers begin.
CANNES — To the immense press corps here, waiting for the Wachowskis has taken on the surreal qualities of “Waiting for Godot.”
Journalists are lined up for bits of wisdom from the reticent auteurs of “The Matrix Reloaded,” but the Wachowski brothers have remained stubbornly invisible, avoiding even their Cannes premiere.
Not since the days of Kubrick, whom the brothers are said to venerate, has a filmmaker seemed so disinterested in representing his work.
Hence, I was especially pleased last week when wandering the back streets off the Croisette I came upon the Wachowski brothers having coffee at a sidewalk cafe.
“Aren’t you Andy and Larry?” I asked tentatively, hoping that by invoking their first names I wouldn’t scare them back into their cocoon of silence.
“Yeah, we’re the brothers,” the bearded one responded. “Do we know you?”
“Sure,” I lied. “From Chicago. Congratulations on your opening grosses; a home run. So why have you guys dropped out of sight?”
“Hey, success is not our dominion,” the second brother replied. “It’s all there in Nietzsche, man. We dwell in the dominion of truth and are marshalling our armies of metronyms and anthropomorphisms into our future work.”
“They’re misunderstanding our picture, man,” the bearded brother put in. “We’re giving them causal ties to a mechanistic world and to its dynamic quanta. Schopenhauer had it right.”
“If audiences aren’t getting the message, perhaps you should be out there explaining it,” I offered.
“Explanation is only the description of the superficial,” said the first brother. “It relates back to that manifold succession where the naive man and the prober of older cultures try to perfect the conception of becoming. It’s tough, man.”
I was perplexed. “I saw a Keanu Reeves interview where he said, ‘The truth is often terrifying when the cost of knowledge is the central theme.’ Maybe you could elaborate on that in terms of Neo’s personal quest and the role of Morpheus as teacher and spiritual leader.”
“You’re oversimplifying, man,” said the bearded brother. “You’re forgetting that dialectic thought is only an attempt to break through the coercion of logic by its own means. That’s tough shit, man. Theodor W. Adorno demonstrated that in his book ‘Reflections From a Damaged Life.’ ”
“I haven’t read Adorno recently, or Schopenhauer. But look at it this way: you’ve given great entertainment to the mass audience, both in your movie and your videogame. There’s truth in that alone.”
The second brother shook his head ruefully. “Erecting truth directly amid the general untruth only perverts the former into the latter.”
I peered at him as he returned his attention to his pages of script. “I understand you’re serious about this dilemma,” I said. “By the way, are you Andy or Larry?”
“I’m just a brother, man,” he said. “We’re the brothers.”
“Even the official program notes for the movie said that very little is known about you…”
“That’s how we like it,” the bearded one said. “The self is indissolubly linked with imitation. Those are pre-ordained social laws of exploitation, which we resist.”
“Well, in view of your decision, I’m glad you have your producer Joel Silver out there to represent you,” I said.
“He’s a bear, man,” said the first brother. “He’s canonical. He understands that truths can be metaphors that have lost their sensuous power. He read his Nietzsche, man.”
“Then I shall seek his message,” I assured them as I walked away.
I saw them returning to their pages and I wondered, “Were they really the Wachowskis? Or were they just two strangers who had seen the ‘Matrix’ movies once too often?”