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Who are the Wachowski Brothers?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
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  • Last Modified Date: 13 March 2014
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Andrew and Laurence (Andy and Larry) Wachowski are the filmmaking team most frequently referred to as the Wachowski brothers. The two Chicago natives, Larry born in 1965, and Andy in 1967, are best known for the film The Matrix, which broke considerably boundaries in computer generated graphics, and was a sleeper hit of 1999. Together the Wachowski brothers are a collaborative writing, directing, and producing team that continues to make fascinating films, with some of the most advanced visual effects to date in filmmaking.

The Wachowski brothers cite their closeness even as young siblings, and both shared many interests in school. In high school they were certainly not well known or particularly popular, belonging to the Dungeons & Dragons® crowd, and taking part in school theater projects. They expressed an early interest in reading comic books, loving the serial form, and also fantasy literature, particularly J. R.R Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings because of its multi-part form.

Both young men applied to and began college, but both dropped out and instead entered the construction field, while meanwhile writing comic books, and hatching the plot of The Matrix. The claim that The Matrix was solely the invention of the Wachowski brothers has been challenged by other writers, but these claims have never been proven. The Matrix does have themes that are in some respects universal and could be traced to Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. It’s certainly true that many writers have drawn this parallel between modern work and Platonic writing.

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Prior to the huge success of The Matrix, the Wachowski brothers gained writing credits for the film The Assassins, and also for the dark thriller Bound. The latter film, first released in 1996, was not only written by the brothers, but also directed and co-produced by them. As a directorial debut, critics haled the twisted film-noir quality of the movie, and its unflinching depiction of a love story between two women. Though critically enjoyed, Bound was not a huge commercial success.

In 1999, the Wachowski Brothers added their second written, directed and produced movie to their film repertoire with The Matrix. Studios released the film in March, not one of the “blockbuster” months of film releases. Reaction to the movie well exceeded any expectation of Warner Brothers Studios. The film became an instant success, earning a worldwide $460 million US Dollars (USD) and becoming the first DVD release to sell over three million copies in the US. Two sequels, though visually interesting, are often thought inferior to the original, though they both inspired even better box office returns. Common criticism of the sequels suggest that the plotlines became too muddy, too confusing, and that the acting was simply not as good.

In 2006, the release of V for Vendetta reestablished the Wachowski brothers as two of the most interesting writer/director/producers in Hollywood, and 2007 brought the release of The Invasion a reworking of The Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Fans of the brothers’ work eagerly looked forward to the 2008 film Speed Racer a reimagination of the early 1960s cartoon. There’s little doubt that forthcoming films from the brothers will continue to engage audiences and wow moviegoers with fantastic special effects.

The Wachowski brothers give few interviews and are known for their desire to stay under the “Hollywood” celebrity radar. Persistent rumors suggest that Larry is planning to undergo gender reassignment. Those who work with the brothers, particularly Joel Silver who has co-produced a number of their films, have repeatedly denied this rumor. Silver suggests that as fairly reclusive directors, the brothers' personal lives are a subject of speculation and in the absence of many interviews, unscrupulous writers merely make things up about them.

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