The Matrix may very well be my – or one of – my favorite films. I don’t remember when I saw the first one. I can vaguely remember going to see Reloaded with my parents in the theaters. That I remember, and though I didn’t really understand a lot of it, I loved the action scenes as well as the music. Don’t remember when I saw Revolutions.
I decided to write this post because…I’ve been meaning to for years. This trilogy actually means a lot to me, I have a lot of personal attachment to it. Truth be told, I actually do not hate the two sequels like everyone else. I like them. I recognize the flaws, but I like them. The entire story that was told – I loved.
And contrary to what many seem to believe, yes, the Wachowski’s knew exactly what they were doing with Matrix: Reloaded and Matrix: Revolutions. They weren’t just making this up as they went along, they knew what they were setting up from the very beginning – and everything that happens is deliberate. And I’ll explain why throughout this post, where I’ll mainly be discussing the first film.
The first movie is simple enough, right? It is pretty much a good vs. evil story, that’s how it’s given to us. Thomas Anderson/Neo is a lonely computer hacker, who is questioning reality…and is curious about this thing called the Matrix. He doesn’t know exactly what it is, but he wants to know, there is something in him that is dying to know. Neo knows something isn’t right. He can feel it. And he gets that message on his computer screen, telling him to follow the white rabbit. This is Trinity talking and Neo is aware of who she is and the fact that she is a hacker.
Neo is looking for Morpheus. He has the answers Neo is looking for. And thankfully, Morpheus gets a hold of him at his office while he’s at work. The mechanics of the plot are actually moving fairly quickly, early on in the film. No time is wasted, which is really, really good. The Agents are after him, they know that Morpheus and Trinity are looking for Neo.
Neo is finally able to meet Morpheus face to face. And the red and blue pills are presented to him. In addition to a brief explanation of what the Matrix actually is. Laurence Fishburne’s performance is just stellar. Rewatching the movie, I completely forgot how good he is in this role. The wardrobe, the glasses, his cadence, everything is great.
They’re able to pinpoint his location in the human birthing chamber-place, and bring him into the real world. Furthermore, Morpheus actually shows him what the Matrix is: a massive computer program. A neural interactive simulation, designed by the Machines to use humans as batteries.
And this is the war. There is a small group of those who are resisting and fighting against the Machines. With this “prophecy” that claims the One will bring about the destruction of the Machines. I put that in quotation marks for a reason. Later on, Neo is brought to see the Oracle. An old Black woman – which is, actually, quite telling. Because believe it or not, the Oracle is the most important person in this entire trilogy.
In the car, as they are driving to see her, Neo asks Trinity if she has ever spoken with the Oracle. He asks what she told her and Trinity is about to tell him, but, they arrive at their destination, thus cutting her off. What the Oracle tells Trinity is extremely important and radically vital to the plot of all three films.
In the Oracle’s apartment, there a bunch of children present, all whom have the potential to be the One. Which is why they’re there to see her. They’re all kids, which is important to remember, because freeing a mind once it has reached a certain age can be problematic. You always get ’em while they’re young.
The Oracle displays her importance just within a few moments of meeting Neo. She tell him, “don’t worry about the vase.” Neo then knocks over a vase. She tells him, “what’s really going to bake your noodle later on is…would you still have broken if I hadn’t said anything?”
It feels like a nice little joke, right? But this is crucial. Most people seem to completely miss it, I know I did for several years. With that one throwaway line, she illustrates what she is capable of. The power of influence.
If she can change the future simply by saying something to someone, that’s something that could be taken advantage of. That’s a lot of power to have. All this means is, you should pay very close attention to everything the Oracle says in each movie. See, when she takes Neo’s hands to look at him…she says that he has the gift, but “it looks like you’re waiting for something.” The Oracle doesn’t tell Neo outright that he isn’t the one. He says it first, and she seemingly confirms it by saying “you have the gift, but it looks like you’re waiting for something.”
So Neo walks away from this scene thinking that he isn’t the One. Later on in the film, he has to make a choice to hack back into the Matrix to save Morpheus from Smith. The Oracle tells him this will happen. Since he doesn’t believe he is the One, there is no pressure. He’s just another guy. So he decides to go back into the Matrix and risk his life. This is also just a tactic used to play out that question until the very end of the movie. Where it’s more effective, after everything Neo has been through.
They had to do the Jesus thing where they kill him and bring him back to life. Thomas Anderson dies, and Neo is born, thanks to Trinity. I know the love angle here may be laughable or terrible to some, and I get that. It’s cheesy. But, symbolically, I like it. And it just sets in place the very element that is necessary to ultimately winning the war. That’s revealed in Reloaded. There are plenty of little easter eggs in this film that connect to the other sequels. They can incredibly difficult to notice. One of them appeared in the first act of the film. When Smith first captures Neo and brings him in for question, or whatever he was doing.
These screens. This is a very specific transitional shot, and it’s not random. These screens are something you’ll see in Reloaded, when we meet the Architect. Neo is being watched. Another key thing to point out is the fact that the Agents’ jackets have gold inner-lining. Yellow or gold. This color scheme is also important. The green tint of the Matrix, the more blue tint of the real world and then this yellow/gold. This is more evident in the sequels, specifically Revolutions.
Also, there’s Smith. We know what he turns into in the sequels, but even in this first film, there are hints as to what he will become. And how he reflects Neo. Smith is an Agent, and is a program. They’re designed to do one thing. However, Smith is the only program/Machine in the film that starts reflecting what could be considered to be more human traits. He has a strong desire to get out of the Matrix. To break free from his purpose, to break free of the system of control that he is in. This is key.
The Matrix can hold many different meanings for different people. Several interpretations can be made. The Jesus/Buddha symbolism is obvious and very much on the surface. But there are even deeper layers of symbolism and meaning. One that I picked up on points out that the Matrix is representative of the mind. The real world/Zion is representative of the body. And the Machines are representative of spirit. Mind, body and spirit. This is hinted at in this first film, when Neo fails the jump program. Crashing on the pavement, checking his bloody mouth when he unplugs inside the Nebuchadnezzar. Neo says to Morpheus that he thought it wasn’t real – how could I get hurt in the Matrix and end up hurt in real life? Morpheus tells him the mind makes it real and “the body cannot live without the mind.”
Fun stuff. There is symbolism like that scattered all throughout these three films. But what does the mind, body soul thing really mean? Well, these three domains are separated, fragmented, in a sense. They’re at war with one another. They’re not whole, they’re not connected. And, any spiritual person knows that mind, body and soul/spirit need to sync, right? They can’t be at war with one another. With that symbolic framework in perspective, the events of the next two films make a bit more sense…I’ll be writing about those at some point.
But, there is so much for me to love about these movies, and this first one. Green happens to be my favorite color. Racial diversity. This is actual science-fiction, that touches on society’s relationship with technology and is actually quite intelligent commentary. As well all of the spiritual, existential and philosophical talk that can be had.
This first film is very black and white. Notice how it ends. The Machines aren’t destroyed, the Matrix still exists. Obviously, it was left open-ended for the possibility of sequels. And this good vs. evil narrative is really going to shift in Reloaded and get turned upside down.