Blown movie lines – The Matrix

In the first Matrix movie there's a very interesting character called Cypher.  If you go along with the theory that the Matrix series is a rough retelling of the story of Christ, Cypher is the closest analog to Judas Iscariot, who is one of the earliest very-interesting-characters.

Unfortunately I personally found that the actor kind of got in the way of the character sometimes.

For example, in his scene with Neo, Cypher has this line

The image translators work for the construct program - but there's way too much information to decode the Matrix.

The actor delivers this line in such a way (the image translators work for the construct program) as to imply that there are these thingies called "image translators", and this other thingy called a "construct program".  Furthermore, these "image translator" thingies are currently in the employ of the "construct program".  The "construct program" is apparently a very nasty beast with close ties to the machine Gestapo.  Therefore, if we were so foolish as to attempt to recruit the talents of the "image translators", the "construct program" would find out, and then we'd be in big trouble.

It follows then, as the night the day, that we are thrown on our own, limited, resources... and what with piloting the ship and arranging the menu and what-not, decoding the matrix (being a substantial task) is rather low on the priority list.


This would be an interesting reading, filled with wonderful foreshadowings of the inevitable discovery of Zion by the machines, except for one thing.

It is already firmly established that the "construct program" is the Holodeck-like-thing that the crew of the Nebuchadnezzar use to equip themselves with simulated equipment (and simulated skills) for use in the simulated reality of the Matrix. So the above reading is, of course, nonsense.  The correct implication of the line is:

There are these thingies called "image translators."  We throw bits of code at them and they translate them into electrical stimuluses that our brain interprets as images.  They can handle such-and-such amount of code.

The construct program is under our control, and we scale back the amount of code it generates to what our image translators can handle.  That is why when you enter the construct program you can "see" your residual self-image and whatnot.

However, the Matrix is not under our control, so we can't scale the amount of code it generates.  It so happens that the Matrix generates an awful lot of code, which overpowers our image translators... which is why these monitors just show a bunch of greenish symbols instead of pretty girls with hair of various colors.

A delivery that gets this across would be more like

The image translators work - for the construct program - but there's way too much information to decode the Matrix.

Comments (9)

  1. cpurick says:

    Cool. When I finally figured out what this line meant, I realized the actor had spoken it incorrectly.  I just typed it into Google to see if anyone had written about it.

  2. David says:

    haha..yeah me too…the way he says that line always annoyed me so i figured I’d look it up.

    Thanks for the post.

  3. Jason says:

    Likewise. Sticks out like a sore thumb whenever I watch it.

  4. Scott says:

    Finally, someone else has come forward and agrees with me.  I’m not alone… i’m not alone..

    Seriously, Joe Pantoliano is usually a solid actor, but his performance, in parts of this movie, seems phoned in.  The script supervisor, editors and ultimately the Directors are also to blame here.. Someone should have stepped in and let Joe know he had botched it.

  5. Really? I interpreted that line entirely differently. says:

    Because of the way he says it, I interpreted it to mean that the "construct program" is general, they have a copy and the Matrix has a copy it runs for people in it. "The image translators work for the construct program" as in they feed data back to it, so you can't observe the matrix in this way without it observing you. Then he jumps to the next point, about there being way too much data anyway, because he is nervous, because as we find out, he is looking for agent Smith.

    Reading what you say, you're probably right about what the writers intended, but I wonder if the actor didn't interpret it like I did.

  6. TommyNott says:

    LOL I caught this too… the way he stresses the word "for" really throws the sentence off – a simpler version of what you put in this article, and still correct, would be: "Well, the image translators work for the CONSTRUCT PROGRAM – but there's way too much information to decode the Matrix" – thereby explaining why people not "jacked in" could watch people in the construct program (like when they watched Neo and Morpheus fight), but when it comes time to look at the Matrix, all they can see is code (as the image translators for those monitors cannot decode all the info of the Matrix)… great post for those of us who like to nitpick (although, admittedly, it WAS a major mis-delivery of the line that I think throws most people off at first).

  7. another one says:

    haha, good to see that there are others who are as obsessed with the matrix as i am.

  8. Ross Youngbloood says:

    And I find this on a MSDN forum. Awesome :).

  9. Scott says:

    Ahhhhh, I’m so glad I’m not the only one who thought this… surely the directors realised this wasn’t read right?!

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