Photo via Flickr user Tony Werman
The first few minutes of The Matrix (1999) are ominous and disorienting: a torrent of lime-green characters trickle down and then jam the frame. From afar, it looks like utterly indecipherable code; If you peer closely, however you'll be able to discern that it's a jumble of Japanese characters: hiragana, katakana, and kanji.
The Wachowskis, who directed the movie, have opened every subsequent film within the Matrix franchise with this sequence. You could even consider the green techno-rain the series' defining imagistic attribute.
For those of us who've found it impossible to get a handle on what, exactly, is gushing onto the screen, though, I've got news: As it turns out, we've been played.
The man behind the code is Simon Whiteley, who worked as a production designer on the film. In an interview with CNet last Thursday, Whiteley revealed that the source of that mystifying code was none other than a batch of his Japanese wife's cookbooks—and the sushi recipes he found within them.
"I like to tell everybody that The Matrix's code is made out of Japanese sushi recipes," Whiteley, who's also lent his design talents to Babe (1995) and The Lego Movie (2014), told the publication. "Without that code, there is no Matrix."
So, to recap: This vexing code, which many nerds have surely spent an ungodly amount of time trying to decipher, is a bunch of sushi recipes. Wild! Thanks for clearing that one up. This will no doubt lead some obsessive franchise fans to extract the recipes from each frame; I wish anyone who braves such an endeavor good luck.
Plus, there's this:In spite of the fact that Whiteley was the architect of one of the film's most indelible sequences, he was uncredited in the film. That's a shame.