The matrix is a science fiction directed by Andy and Larry Wachowski. It was premiered in the theaters in the year 1999. It was produced by Joel Silver and distributed by Warner Brothers. The casts include Laurence Fishburne, Carry-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano, Keanu Reeves, Hugo Weaving, and Julian Arahanga.
Keanu Reeves who is a computer programmer in a blue chip software firm doubles up as a hacker known in the underground circles as Neo. He engages in all forms of computer crimes. He is not happy with the kind of life he lives.
He tries to redeem his image and bring meaning to his life while all of a sudden an unexpected computer presence, Morpheus appears on the screen of his monitor. It pronounces that the Matrix is with him and he should follow the white rabbit. Morpheus the captain of a space ship is Laurence Fishburne. He believes that Neo is the God’s messenger.
Laurence confesses to Neo on meeting him that all does not appear as he perceived. Laurence thinks that Neo is dubious and he intends to show him that he indeed is. Laurence who has learnt to manipulate the Matrix- a computer aided machine that is capable of controlling human minds. The Sentient agents stand on the way of Laurence and his associates from realizing their dream. The agents have been made to believe that Morpheus mission is to wipe from the surface of the earth the free thinking human beings.
The agents mission is to therefore to capture Morpheus and get to know the much details he has that may be helpful to their course. There is a very thin line between the reality and computer theatrics. This does not confuse the viewer. The structure of the story allows the audience to follow the action and comprehend what is unfolding the unrevealed secrets withstanding. For deeper understanding of the story line the viewer has to invest a reasonable level of intellectual participation.
In the Roman myths, Morpheus, is used to refer to the son of god of sleep that shaped dreams and sent people visions. Towards the end of the film, the metaphor of sleep and or waking up features as a key analogy of the thin line that appears between the underworld and the real world where Morpheus exists and where he introduces Neo to.
Because Morpheus is mythologically attached to sleep it is intriguing that the Morpheus that is feature prominently in the film is in touch with reality. In literal application, Morpheus implies one who shapes. For one to shape dreams he has to exist outside its boundaries hence be able to recognize them as dreams. This helps the viewers in discerning the character Morpheus in the film Matrix vis a vee the Roman Morpheus.
Activities of agent Smith especially when he is at the roof top are very similar to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s of the Terminator fame. This shows the film’s intertextuality. This shows that postmodern art is not founded in vacuum but is built from other arts and that represents real life. It is ironical that Matrix is all abut illusion versus reality. It is quite significant that the Matrix is all about salvation and redemption, atonement, and state of sinfulness.
Neo hides his money in disc form in a book called Simulacra and Simulation. The book is authored by postmodern theorist Jean Baudrillard. Jean contends in his book that the map precedes the territory (Baudrillard, 1994). He alludes that such images do become reality by themselves.
To him Gulf War was a virtual war comparable to video game displayed on monitors contrasted to real war that involve air raids and ground campaigns. This lends a lot to themes portrayed in the Matrix. The period within Neo starts featuring in the film is called Nihilism because during this period everything tends towards nothingness.
When Neo helps Troy with some money, Troy shows gratitude by saying the Neo is his Savior. He in fact tells Neo that he is his personal Jesus Christ. There are myriad Christian references made in the film. Troy and Neo engage in cyber crime known as hacking from where the virus Trojan horse associated with Greek Legend arise.
The theme of nature of reality and perception that features in the Matrix can also be found in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in the Wonderland. In fact the phrase follow the white rabbit is a direct reference from Alice in the Wonderland. Morpheus asks Neo how it feels following rabbit down the tunnel like Alice did. The situation in which Neo is in resembles Alice conversation with Tweedledee and Tweedledum. These twins tell Alice that she is in the Red Kings dream. The moment the king stops dreaming, Alice would be no more.
The theme of illusion versus reality that features prominently in the Matrix is also evident in the Terminator movies that highlighted atonement, salvation and redemption, and fallenness. Both the movies exhibit intertextuality.
Intertextual reference comes out in the Matrix when space horror film produced by Ridley Scott is borrowed from when a bug is planted in Neo’s stomach. It represents invasion of sin at various levels of human life. Despite the fact that sin is forgiven just like Jesus did at his crucifixion, its persistence implies Neo must be a malware to save the technological world from its mess.
Issues of Christianity feature prominently feature in the film. Morpheus tells Neo that he has been looking for him. He asserts that he can actually guide him. Biblically, Morpheus can be thought to be the biblical Israel waiting the Messiah. In Christianity the crucifix is also known as a scaffold that is repeatedly talked about in the Matrix.. These words foreshadow the predicaments that Neo will face at the end of the movie. He dies to save ‘the world’ just like Jesus did.
Neo goes through a culture shock when he goes against the conventional rules in the society and is engulfed in new technological world, language, and culture. Elements of religion and metaphor are exhibited and one has to keep asking how modern day culture and religion converge in the matrix and how this movie connects to reality.
The viewer often asks whether “the one” is related to Christ and is capable of saving people from agents (Satan). The connection between the saved and the unplugged is shown. Hawethorne effect is shown when trinity suspects Neo has been bugged by the sentinels. The effect is exhibited when Sentinel changes her behavior because she suspects people watch and listen to her.
Baudrillard, J. (1994). Simulacra and Simulation, translated by Sheila Faria
Glaser. Ann Arbor, Mi: University of Michigan Press.