Global point of view

November 06, 2003

IF A MOVIE starts screening at the same moment in 65 countries in dozens of languages, can it change the world?

Maybe only the world of film piracy. The third chapter of the Matrix trilogy opened in more than 20,000 theaters in more than 100 territories worldwide to thwart those who record and resell pirated DVD copies, which is estimated to cut profits by 25 percent.

The beauty of doing it with The Matrix Revolutions is the conceit of the film: Humans who are living in a seemingly real world that actually is a computer construct wake up to find they have been jacked into a reality-game console all their lives. Or maybe this new life is just another construct.

Humans living in the various social and political constructs called nations who watched the film in synchronicity yesterday (9 a.m. in Baltimore, 7:30 p.m. in New Delhi, 10 p.m. in Beijing) could also picture themselves a layer deeper - sharing the plot twists and philosophical exposition in real time with their global geek brethren.

Even then, of course, viewers don't "see" the same movie; the images pass through each person's unique set of inner filters. Not to mention outer filters: Filmgoers in Singapore see a dubbed and sex-censored alternate version - just another layer of reality.

Born of market realities, simultaneous worldwide film distribution could alter our own reality. More shared experiences hold the potential, if one but believes, for better global understanding and cooperation. After all, isn't that a solid basis for friendship?

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