For the past few days, I have been running movie marathons. Among the classic masterpieces, I had stumbled upon “The Matrix”, the movie I once thought to be too complex and alter-dimensional. But when I saw the movie , it was so interesting because I was able to decode a lot of latent meanings from the manifest content. That’s what provoked me to do a #moviereview series.
To begin with, this movie was directed by the Wachowski Brothers in 1999. The plot revolves around a computer programmer/hacker Neo alias Thomas Anderson and his quest for the ultimate truth “What is the Matrix ?”. In his journey Neo meets Morpheus, who enlightens him that the existing world is a computer generated dream world and that machines (cyber species) have taken control of the world, which is now a dystopia. Morpheus also adds on that Neo is the prophesied liberator to free humanity from its bondage to the malevolent AI. The movie stretches as Neo understands his meaning of existence and ascends to his role of the “Chosen One”.
In order to unveil the underlying puzzles and to gain a deeper understanding about the movie in today’s context, I have decoded the movie in my own style. Hope you enjoy it.
The movie starts with everything green, which kind of adds an element of surprise and excitement about the plot. Following this, codes appear to form the title, which gives a cue that the movie might revolve around technology and machines. The idea to introduce the protagonist with the line “Wake up Neo” was really fascinating, since the phrase can be interpreted in terms of the ‘physical wakefulness’ and the ‘awakening from ignorance’ of the person. In the scene where Neo trades a CD of simulation to another hacker named ‘Choi’ left with an irony that people – even under simulation, crave to be simulated.
Ever have that feeling where you are not sure if you are awake or dreaming?
The above quote by Neo further highlights that people are always in a state of ambiguity as of what is reel and real. The influence of mind altering drugs like Mescaline further adds fuel to the argument that individuals seek extreme means to avoid reality, even in a state of dreaming. In the next scene where Neo lands up late at work, his superior reminds him that
Employees understand they’re part of a whole.
Thus if an employee has a problem, then the company has a problem
This quote can be swapped and understood in terms of humans as employees and cyber species as the company. Thus, the reflection of AI’s influence to maintain order and control over human mind and to prevent any flaws in the perfect system is observed. This assumption also can be substantiated by the existence of ‘Agents’ to monitor changes in the Matrix. The quick shift in-between scenes creates a sense of discrepancy for Neo, causing him to differentiate between a dream and the awakened state which depicts the machines’ ability to create an illusion to fool an individual’s conscious.
The screenplay of the movie also gives sufficient hints for the viewers to identify the simulations through illusions and dialogues. For instance, in a scene where Neo meets Morpheus for the first time, the staircase is depicted in form of an optical illusion. Similarly, Morpheus uses the reference of “Alice in Wonderland” to indicate that Neo will ascend the role of Alice to slay the evil. Hints like these give way for possible assumptions from viewers’ side and affix the element of curiosity.
When asked whether Neo believes in fate, he answers that he doesn’t and quotes that he doesn’t like the idea of not being in control of his life. This strong attitude of Neo is what makes him stand apart and qualifies him as a liberator. Moving on with Morpheus’s definition of the ‘Matrix’, he brilliantly depicts the Matrix to be a “prison for the mind”. This phrase is apt to describe the existing world. People forget that the materialistic world is an illusion made by man himself and they end up chasing the inconstant. This further cages the minds of millions and drive them to run in the same path, without being deviated.
The part where Neo was offered with two pills was beautifully captured through the reflection on Morpheus’s glass. It gives a clear idea that the choice of choosing a pill completely weighed on Neo and that he had the free will to make any decision. The reflection on both glasses also can be assumed as the possibilities of Neo’s responses to the given stimuli. The scene where Neo wakes from his simulation for the first time was a bit disturbing and the revelation of human beings contained in chambers on farm fields was beyond imagination. The core concept of humans being used as batteries to power the machine world was completely inhuman.
When enlightening Neo about what is real, Morpheus asserts that ‘real is simply electrical signals interpreted by brain based on what one can see, smell and taste’. This statement senses in many ways (ie) it makes the concept of “real” more relative and makes the viewers assume that even perception, which is completely oriented on the individual can be altered. Another irony that was found in this scene is that the television present in the construct is named as “Deep image”, that which is used to show Neo of the condition of the existing world. As the name appears to be, the television acts as a source to probe into the latent world.
What really fascinates is that the discussion of the concept of “Residual self-image” is done as early as 1999. The introduction of the Promised Land “Zion” is done in the following scenes, which gives an element of hope for the protagonist and for the viewers. The mastering of various fighting skills by Neo within 10 hours of time was unbelievable and makes viewers to question the age-old saying of ‘Practice makes a man perfect’. The most admirable characteristics of Morpheus is that he never boasts about his knowledge. Even after being the leader of the resistance and captain of the ship, he never displays his supremacy. His role of mentoring is highly crucial for the transformation of Neo in the later part of the film.
When analyzing the character of Trinity, she is a strong and independent woman with a special interest towards Neo, which irks Cypher. Her loyalty towards Morpheus and her belief in the Oracle is boundless, that even makes her to risk her own life in order to save Neo. Moving on with Cypher, he portrays the dissatisfied fighter who yearns for a chance to once again rejoin the Matrix. In one of his dialogues,
It means buckle you seat belt Dorothy, because Kansas is going bye-bye
His vexation towards the real world is clearly seen. The drive that he has gained nothing out of his 9 years of sacrifice made him turn dark. This justifies his action of turning against the resistance and betraying his own people.
One fact that was observed among the resistance group was that all the names of the members were more like alias and not their real names (ie) like Switch, Apoc, Mouse, Tank etc. This creates an inquisitiveness among the viewers and a premise that the members adopted the alias name since they relinquished their real names along with their simulation avatar.
The highlighting component of the movie is the concept of “Freeing one’s mind”. The movie suggests that by freeing one’s mind, the person can reap one’s complete potential and break free of shackles. Throughout the movie, all the agents and rebel members wear glasses inside the Matrix. This can be interpreted as a sign of indicating that the Matrix is a grand illusion and the reflections in the glasses underline the fact that all people inside the Matrix are the same (ie) bonded slaves to the cyber species.
The conversation between Neo and the potential child at Oracle’s was thought provoking. For instance, the conversation
Child: Don’t try and bend the spoon, that’s impossible. Instead, only try to realize the truth.
Neo: What truth?
Child: There is no spoon. Then you’ll see that it is not the spoon that bends. It is only yourself.
is highly meaning filled one. The quote conveys that in situations, people have to make themselves flexible in order to adapt and resolve concerns. This spiritual conversation coming from a child indicates the level of maturity and is highly appreciated in the movie. The phrase “Temet Nosce” (Know Thyself) is also discussed in the movie, which once again sums up the fact that knowledge about oneself redeems the person. The use of reverse psychology by Oracle on Neo was well scripted and this acted as a stimulation for Neo to become the ‘One’.
In the next scene where Morpheus is imprisoned and tortured for information, his endurance and resilience is well appreciated, because he doesn’t lose hope and give up. This adds on as a reason to admire Morpheus more. Agent Smith’s description of human beings was cruel but precise (ie) he asserts that ‘humans are not mammals since people lack the basic element of developing equilibrium with the environment. Instead they multiply and exploit all available natural resources till its annihilation’. This statement which was discussed in early 1999 perfectly recount the current scenario of scarcity existing in the world. One of the personal favorite quote in this movie is
There is a difference between knowing the path and walking the path
This quote depicts Neo’s journey from being a doubtful hacker to the destined liberator. Later, Neo’s act of staying and fighting the agent also asserts that he is now a believer. The notion of bringing Neo back from dead was similar to the resurrection of Christ, and after being liberated from the grip of The Matrix, Neo was able to break the codes and bend the rules. This phenomenon was beautifully delineated by Neo’s ability to stop the bullets and see the Matrix as codes.
Thus, this screenplay is directed towards the dominance and supremacy of machines against humans, but it is applicable in any scenario where restriction prevails. My overall review is that this movie is a delight for all sci-fiction lovers and it truly a real-find.
Ps: Sorry for such a lengthy and a time-consuming review, hope you linked it. Until next time,
Hasta la vista !!