Bill Pope has a long and impressive resume as a Cinematographer. He was Director Of Photography on The Matrix trilogy, Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2 and Spider-Man 3, Army Of Darkness, Darkman, Bound, Clueless, Team America: World Police, Baby Driver, Alita: Battle Angel, and The Jungle Book. Clearly in command of his craft.
Another cinematographer who has legendary status is Roger Deakins. He was behind the iconic look of Skyfall, The Shawshank Redemption, Blade Runner 2049 and True Grit. In the words of Max the butler, “…when they met, it was MOIDURRR!!”
On the Team Deakins podcast, which is movie tech geek heaven, they talked about The Matrix, it’s sequels and why they don’t hit the heights of the original. Pope, speaking with the directness of an industry veteran, did not hold back. He also laid the blame at the feel of an unexpected source.
He says the reason the Matrix sequels aren’t very good is because of Stanley Kubrick:
“Everything that was good about the first experience was not good about the last two. We weren’t free anymore. People were looking at you. There was a lot of pressure.
In my heart, I didn’t like them. I felt we should be going in another direction. There was a lot of friction and a lot of personal problems, and it showed up on screen to be honest with you. It was not my most elevated moment, nor was it anyone else’s.
The Wachowskis had read this damn book by Stanley Kubrick that said, ‘Actors don’t do natural performances until you wear them out’. So let’s go to take 90! I want to dig Stanley Kubrick up and kill him. There is something about making a shoot that long, 276 shoot days, that is mind numbing and soul numbing and it numbs the movie.”
Pope decided not to return for the fourth movie. Could this be why? Instead Sense8, Jupiter Ascending and Cloud Atlas cinematographer John Toll will be on board. Meanwhile Pop will be over at Marvel working on Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.
Stanley Kubrick could not be reached for comment.