The Matrix Trilogy (1999, 2003)

The Matrix


The Matrix Trilogy is pure mythology dressed up and acted out in a modern technological setting. I believe The Matrix is THE movie of our time because it metaphorically presents the challenge of our lifetime and asks such questions as: Are you going to live your life being controlled by the system in which you were born, acting out the victim role? Or are you going to wake up to the profound meaning and purpose that your life craves? Is the system, represented through technology, going to control and destroy humankind or will humankind come to understand its own limitations and its dependency on nature, and therefore transcend those limitations? In asking such questions, these movies have captured the imagination of a generation, resonated with countless fans - some of whom know not the reason - and have even spawned philosophy courses about them in many university classrooms.

Morpheus describes the Matrix as the following: "The Matrix is everywhere, it is all around us, even now in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window, or you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work, when you go to church, when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth... that you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else, you were born into bondage... born into a prison that you cannot smell or taste or touch. A prison for your mind... Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself."


Brief Summary:

On the surface, Neo appears like a savior figure who is chosen to save the world. He lives a mundane life by day, working in an office and plays the hacker at night. He is searching for something until one day he is plucked from the virtual reality of the Matrix and placed into a mind-boggling world, the real world, where he is trained and prepared for his mission as the savior of the world. He is told that he is the One (the name Neo jumbled). However, through the trilogy, we learn that the savior role is also part of a system of control to propagate the Matrix, the illusion. Neo comes to realize that in order to break the system of control he has to accept the dark aspect of himself in the form of Agent Smith. Agent Smith, who was once part of the Matrix, grows beyond the ability of the system to contain him. Smith represents the evil in the world. In scenes throughout the trilogy, Smith and Neo engage in violent, superhuman duels. In the end however, Neo allows Smith to merge with him and the equation is finally balanced out. The Oracle, the guide, has something to do with this. She, in the form of an African-American woman - representing the archetypal Mother - helps Neo along the way. Her role is not to give answers but to instigate and ask questions that keep Neo advancing on the path. She is there to "unbalance the equation" and to keep the adventure moving, to keep Neo from becoming complacent. When finally Neo and Smith collapse into each other, or merge, peace comes to the world.


Mythic Elements:

The Names: Many of the characters' names in the trilogy have mythological or symbolic names. Morpheus is the name of the god of dreams in Greek Mythology. Trinity is of course the name given to the Godhead in Christianity comprising of the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit. Neo's name is actually Thomas Anderson. Neo is his hacker name that he uses by night to hack into computers. Thomas Anderson comes from the Bible. Thomas of course is the name of the doubting disciple who had to see things for himself and not accept them on belief. Anderson means "son of man".

The Call to Adventure: Neo is sleeping at his computer when the words "Wake up Neo" appear on his screen.

The Decisive Moment: Neo meets with Morpheus, who offers him a choice between taking the blue pill or the red pill. The blue pill would have Neo waking up back in his previous world where everything is as he left it, mundane and empty of vitality. Neo chooses the red pill which takes him down the rabbit hole as he enters his life's journey.

Clarity of Vision: As Neo is being prepared to be expelled from the Matrix, he is sitting, fearful, and looking at his reflection in a shattered mirror. As he stares at his reflection, the mirror's cracks disappear and he sees his own image in the mirror clearly. His mythic journey or vision comes into view.

Rebirth: Neo wakes up in the real world, cocooned in a coffin-type pod where his body had been suspended in liquid and attached to wires and electrodes. This is also the womb of the system from which he awakes. He looks around and realizes that there are countless pods like his all around him, each containing a human being asleep and suspended in liquid. All of these people are living out their lives in the Matrix, going about their business believing that they are living a free life. Suddenly a machine appears and, believing that he must be flushed out of the system, disconnects him. Instantly, he is flushed down a long tunnel, which represents the birth canal, and plunges into a pool which is assumed to be the place where all waste gets flushed out. He is plucked from the water by Morpheus and his crew. Neo is brought aboard Morpheus' ship unconscious. Eventually he comes to consciousness as he is laying on a medical table and he asks: "Why do my eyes hurt?" Morpheus replies: "You've never used them before." Morpheus' reply means that Neo has never used his "inner eyes" which are always open to the authentic myth of life.

Interesting Articles:

Metaphilm on:

The Matrix

The Matrix: Reloaded, Explained

The Matrix: Revolutions, Explained

Memorable Quotes:

The Matrix:

Trinity: "The Matrix cannot tell you who you are."

Morpheus: "Your appearance now is what we call 'residual self image'. It is the mental projection of your digital self."

Morpheus: "What is real? How do you define real? If you're talking about what you can feel, what you can smell, what you can taste and see . . . then real is simply . . . electrical signals interpreted by your brain."

Morpheus: "The Matrix is a system, Neo. That system is our enemy. But when you're inside, you look around and what do you see? Businessmen, Teachers, Lawyers, Carpenters . . . the very minds of the people we're trying to save. But until we do, these people are still a part of that system, and that makes them our enemy. You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so . . . hopelessly dependent on the system that they will fight to protect it."

Cypher: "Why oh why didn't I take the blue pill?"

Morpheus: "I didn't say it would be easy, Neo. I just said it would be the truth."

Boy: "Do not try and bend the spoon. That's impossible. Instead, only try to realize the truth... There is no spoon."

Agent Smith: "Have you ever stood and stared at it? Marveled at its beauty? Its genius? Billions of people just living out their lives . . . oblivious . . ."

The Matrix Reloaded:

The Oracle: "You have the sight now, Neo. You are looking at the world without time."

The Oracle: "We can never see past the choices we don't understand."

Neo: "Choice, the problem is choice."

The Oracle: "... You didn't come here to make the choice, you've already made it. You're here to try to understand WHY you made it. I thought you'd have figured that out by now."

The Architect: "I am the Architect. I created the Matrix. I have been waiting for you. You have many questions and although the process has altered your consciousness you remain irrevocably human, ergo some of my answers you will understand and some of them you will not. Concordantly, while your first question maybe the most pertinent you may or may not realize it is also the most irrelevant."

The Architect: "Hope, it is the quintessential human delusion, simultaneously the source of your greatest strength, and your greatest weakness."

The Matrix Revolutions:

Agent Smith: "Why, Mr. Anderson? Why do you do it? Why get up? Why keep fighting? Do you believe you're fighting for something? For more than your survival? Can you tell me what it is? Do you even know? Is it freedom? Or truth? Perhaps peace? Yes? No? Could it be for love? Illusions, Mr. Anderson. Vagaries of perception. The temporary constructs of a feeble human intellect trying desperately to justify an existence that is without meaning or purpose. And all of them as artificial as the Matrix itself, although only a human mind could invent something as insipid as love. You must be able to see it, Mr. Anderson. You must know it by now. You can't win. It's pointless to keep fighting. Why, Mr. Anderson? Why? Why do you persist?"
Neo: "Because I choose to."

The Architect: "You played a very dangerous game."
The Oracle: "Change always is."

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