The Matrix

Directed by The Wachowski Brothers, 1999

The Wachowski Brothers
Keanu Reeves, Hugo Weaving, Laurence Fishburne

The Matrix Summary

What is The Matrix? The movie explores the nature of reality, in a distant dystopic future in which man’s mechanical creations have been become unmanageably powerful and rebelled against their creators (not unlike The Terminator‘s ‘Skynet’). It follows the path of one man’s quest for the ‘truth’.

5 Reasons To Watch The Matrix

  1. ‘Bullet-time’
  2. Sunglasses, even indoors
  3. Keanu attempting to act mysterious
  4. Agent Smith. Don’t mess with him
  5. The red pill moment

The Matrix Review

It cannot be denied that The Matrix is a powerful film. This was the first big hit for the Wachowski brothers who masterminded and directed the whole trilogy. It is one of those films that turns the world upside down and makes you question everything. But what is more intriguing is how it has been taken up by the ‘alternative community’ in general, as a powerful metaphor for the reality in which we live. It is often cited as a breakthrough expression of the hidden truth behind the world. But the ideas explored here, although presented in a whole new stylistic fashion, are nothing new, as we shall find out.

Somewhat puzzlingly, those commentators who see ‘The Matrix’ as a ground-breaking exposé of mankind’s current plight are the very same people who will tell you that Hollywood and the mass media in general is completely controlled, and that nothing is broadcast without some kind of hidden agenda behind it. It frustrates me somewhat, that such people would not take the extra step and apply those same principles to this film in particular – as it was a massive Hollywood blockbuster! So lets do it for them, lets dig a little deeper…

An obvious example of someone in the alternative domain who has picked up on Matrix imagery and run with it is David Icke with such lines at “we all live in a holographic reality”; his website sports the tagline: “Exposing The Dreamworld We Believe To Be Real”, complete with Matrix-style green background lettering. One of his books also borrows from this imagery, and is titled ‘Children of the Matrix: How an Interdimensional Race has Controlled the World for Thousands of Years-and Still Does’. Opinions on Icke usually fall into one of three camps: 1: he is crazy; 2. he delivers earth-shattering hidden truths; 3. he propagates misleading and dangerous new age propaganda.

One thing Icke does NOT openly purport to be is a Nietzschean. On the contrary, he claims to be presenting something wholly original. You might notice however, if you have some familiarity with modern philosophy, that The Matrix is full of Nieztche – and his ideas of man and ‘superman’. He developed and propagated a potentially very dangerous self-centric view of the world, and this philosophy has been taken up by many of the global ruling organisations, and is, when you dig into the details of what he said, extremely narcissistic.

Nieztche is massive in the new age too, unsurprisingly, though generally it only appears when you read between the lines. The Wachowski brothers, on the other hand, are completely open and almost blazé about it:

It’s all there in Nietzche, man. We dwell in the dominion of truth and are marshalling our armies of metonyms and anthropomorphisms into our future world”
- from ‘Cracking The Wachowski’s Code’, 25 May 2003

Those in the know have also observed that there is a strong Gnostic slant to the story of The Matrix. In ‘Gnosticism Reborn: The Matrix as a Shamanic Journey’, Jake Horsley (a self-proclaimed Gnostic) referred to ‘The Matrix’ as “Gnostic Propaganda”:

“The film itself is a breakthrough work in the propaganda illumination program of the hidden rebel forces of ‘the future’. The Matrix deserves attention and respect, beyond any other movie in recent memory. Perhaps one in a thousand of those who see the movie will recognise or even notice its Gnostic tenet but regardless of this everyone who sees this film has effectively been exposed to them.”

Now that might be noteworthy in itself, but perhaps ‘The Matrix’ is just the visible tip of a gigantic iceberg? :

“I guess one could see the whole of the mass media as it stands today as some sort of extension of the gnostic faith – maybe cinema itself is acting as some kind of hand maiden to the apocalypse – in that in Gnostic terms the Christian God is the ‘wrong’ God… the Christian God who created the world in seven days is actually evil for doing that, for trapping our spirits into matter.”
– from Hollywood director Richard Stanley. Kinokeze (1994)

For those unfamiliar with Gnostic principles, there are various branches and flavours, but the basic tenet is as follows: God is the infinite and incomprehensible creator of the cosmos. However he delegated smaller jobs, such as the creation of earth to a lesser being, known as the Demiurge, or more commonly as ‘Satan’. It follows that, as Satan is flawed, the earth is similarly fundamentally flawed. The Gnostic ‘way’ therefore is an occultic quest for knowledge in order to transcend our current broken existence and become ‘godlike’ beings – ‘godlike’ in this sense doesn’t refer to ‘goodness’ in particular, but rather to anyone with sufficient might, or power, or authority.

Explaining the world like this, the parallels within ‘The Matrix’ are pretty astounding – the earth is evil because of its corrupt creators, and the solution is to achieve ‘superbeing’ status in order to escape it – we’re back to Nietsche again! Not everyone would be entirely comfortable with the view that the world we live in is inherently evil, OR that we should strive to put ourselves in the place of God. There are several outspoken Christian critics particularly, who are appalled by the implications here!

Morpheus identifies with Neo’s recognition that something is wrong, and then he provides the solution with an extremely seductive explanation, which is more than a little based on appealing to Neo’s ego as ‘The One’. Wow, that simple dynamic mirrors a whole milleu of cultic organisations who dazzle their followers with stories of personal saviourship during the heady mix of what Dr Robert Lifton (the leading expert on thought-reform cults) refers to as ‘End Times Theology’. Funny how this film was released during the height of ‘Millenial Fever’ in 1999. Well, the world didn’t end then, and perhaps it will still exist after 2012! The temptation to personal godship via the seductive promise of knowledge (‘Knowledge is Power’ coming from sir John Dee) is more than a little remeniscent of the biblical story of man’s fall from Eden in the story of Adam and Eve. Fascinating.

Wherever this melting pot of potentially world-shaping ideas come from, the Wachowski Brothers clearly view them as immediately relevant to the real world. When asked if The Matrix is similar to reality, their response was:

“We think the most important sort of fiction attempts to anwser some of the big questions”.
- Wachowski Brothers, Matrix Virtual Theater, Transcript 06 Nov 1999

The Matrix Trailer

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1 Comment

  1. Susu says:

    You walk into this film not knowing what the Matrix is. You take your seat and watch the trailers. The green Warner Brothers (green? you ask) trademark comes up, and without warning you are thrust into the Wachowski brothers grand vision. 2 hours of excitement later, you stumble out of the cinema, knowing what the Matrix is.

    This is one great movie. Keanu Reeves is cooler than cool as Neo. The Wachowski brothers skilful direction is brilliant. The special effects sequences will blow you away, did I mention the government lobby scene?

    The film starts off with a ‘what is real?’ first half, and then the first kung-fu sequence makes way for an action- packed, John Woo-esque second half with slomo and style cranked up all the way to the top. Did I mention the government lobby scene?

    Keanu becomes Cool Keanu, Carrie-Anne Moss is a real find and Hugo Weaving is perfect in his against typecasting role as the evil Agent Smith.

    You may notice in this review that I have not revealed what the Matrix is. Like the trailer says, ‘You have to see it for yourself.’

    Excellent. Best film of ’99. 9/10.

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