The Matrix: User Comments
NOTE: Comments contain spoilers.
May 17, 1999
Hi, I just came to this link from the Entertainment Weekly Movie Boards. Just wanted to say your analysis is quite impressive to say the least! I'm not ashamed to say that I've seen The Matrix fifteen times already, just to absorb the whole premise and get my adrenaline fix (it's hard for me to admit that I've finally experienced action scenes that or on par or better than Woo's Hard Boiled and The Killer. I thought it would never happen). It's good to see a movie that is open to such deep analysis and doesn't let down in the other areas. I'm probably not alone in my feeling that The Matrix is going to be THE best sci-fi (or any genre) film of this year. I even believe that it's probably the best sci-fi film since Aliens, for that matter.
I liked your explanation of the machine that releases Neo from the pod. I never thought of it that way. I was always arguing that the machine was controlled by Morpheus, sort of like a controlled virus, but then I was corrected that the pods are actually in the "real" world, not in The Matrix, so your idea definitely sounds like a winner to me!
Fifteen times? You've got me beat by eleven, but I'm sure I could see it several more times without my enjoyment being diminished. One of the reasons I loved The Matrix so much is that it works on two levels, as you point out. You can choose to watch it as purely an escapist action movie, or you can explore the deeper meanings of the symbols and motifs. Either way, you're likely to enjoy it. I haven't seen Star Wars: Episode One yet, but I would be greatly surprised if it surpasses The Matrix--in spite of the fact that Star Wars is so embedded in our collective consciousness. I don't think we'll see a better science-fiction/action movie this year.
There are a number of unanswered questions in The Matrix, like the question of what the machine that releases Neo is. However, there are far fewer unanswered questions and plot irregularities than I thought there were after my first viewing, and many of these questions can be answered with educated guesses, as I have tried to do in my analysis.
Thanks for the e-mail and the compliment! I'll be posting your comments on the site.
May 19, 1999
My wife and I have only seen The Matrix twice. We will return this weekend for another round. I was pleased to see that we had essentially interpeted much of the plot correctly. There are a number of allegories related to religious symbolism.... Neo's "resurrection"... the fact that Neo was not in fact in control of his destiny, but fulfilling prophecy. This is a great flick for any of a half-dozen reasons. See it for action, see it for imagery, but SEE IT! I wonder if we are not in the matrix....
Thanks for the comment! My interpretations, however, are not necessarily the "correct" ones.... I've tried to note where I'm just making educated guesses and where I'm fairly sure about what I'm saying. I do love how this movie works on so many different levels. Hope you keep coming back to visit AboutFilm.Com!
May 25, 1999
Well done! Some very good insights in your analysis. Of course, print influences on "The Matrix" are probably too many to research, but one that popped to mind on my first viewing was a short story by Dean R. Koontz from the mid-70's called Wake Up to Thunder, in which human drones serve a large machine called Thunder. They sleep in pods similar the the ones in The Matrix, and when they remember who they used to be before the machine took over, they become "renegades." I can't believe you didn't expand on Agent Smith's assertion that humans are like a virus, especially when Neo in fact turns out to be The One--an individual capable of remaking The Matrix as he sees fit, not unlike a computer virus that begins rewriting data.
–Norman (Washington, D.C.)
D'oh! [Forehead slap.] I can't believe I missed how Agent Smith's likening of human beings to a virus was related to Neo's abilities in The Matrix. Good catch.... You're also up on your science-fiction more than I am. Although I've read my share, I haven't read that Dean Koontz story. I'll have to add it to my incredibly long list of things I need to read.
May 28, 1999
I looked over your Matrix thesis. I was a little disappointed that you did not really make a comparison with Dark City. I suspect the reason may be because you haven't actually seen Dark City. If so, then GO RENT IT!! The movie is EXCELLENT–even people I know who normally despise science fiction liked it. And you will have to add to your thesis, because I'M TELLING YOU, Dark City and The Matrix are VERY similar movies.
I will stand by this no matter what you say: The Matrix is almost a ripoff of Dark City. I say almost–The Matrix is an cyberpunk action movie, while Dark City doesn't really fit into the cyberpunk genre, and it certainly isn't an action movie. It's a very patient, brooding, gothic, sinister, and, well...dark science fiction movie.
If the makers of The Matrix spent a long time watching Dark City and The Terminator, that's okay–it's no skin off their backs–The Matrix is still a good movie, and lots of fun. But I'm urging you to recognize the extensive similarities. And while you're at it, why didn't you address the extensive similarities between The Matrix and They Live? (that was a joke)
–Marco (Baltimore, MD)
You will stand by your statement that The Matrix is almost a ripoff of Dark City no matter what I say? What if I say this: The original script to The Matrix was completed in 1996, well before Dark City was released, and I'm pretty sure that by the time Dark City came out, The Matrix was already in production. That's why I did not include Dark City as an influence on the Wachowski Brothers, although I do think that the similarities are interesting, especially with regard to the explorations of the nature of consciousness. They share many common influences, but one is not a ripoff of the other. By the way, I rated Dark City a B+, and just bought the DVD. Maybe after watching it more closely I'll bump my grade up to an A-. I had a tough time choosing between the two grades to begin with.
In any case, there is truth to the adage that there is nothing new under the sun, and as I already stated in my analysis, the Wachowskis have unashamedly borrowed from other films. In the HBO First Look special, the Wachowskis cited Japanimation and John Woo films as particularly strong influences.
As for the similarities between The Matrix and They Live..... ummm, how about the extensive use of sunglasses?
Seeing The Matrix was, simply, a great experience.
I've seen it twice. It is a great representation of the Gospel. I agree that Neo was a Christ figure. However, it seemed that Neo represented Christians more so than Christ himself.
First, converts are targeted not only by the enemy but also by God's team for discipleship. Neo was The One--the chosen one. We are each chosen by God for a specific purpose--to influence our sphere of influence--as only we can. Each of us is "The One" in some situation, through Christ who gives us the strength. And it's up to us to take a stand, extend our faith, and put it all on the line to bring light to that situation.
Once we are "reborn", we have to learn how to see in a whole new way. The battlefield is our mind. The world we know is not what's real at all. We have to learn to walk by faith. And it is holding onto that Faith which saves us. Neo, Morpheus, and Trinity were saved because they clung to the individual prophesy they had received.
Armed with what we know (the Truth), our goal is to lead others to this knowledge.
There are 4 pitfalls to Faith illustrated in the movie:
1. Ignorance - not knowing what's really going on. This is represented in the masses of people still sleeping. They have not yet heard the good news. "Faith comes through hearing . . ." (Romans 10:17).
2. Disbelief or No Faith - This is represented in Cypher who betrays the group.
3. Little Faith - focusing on circumstances not on what's really real (that the Matrix can't hurt me unless I believe it can hurt me). This is represented by many of the past freedom fighters who tried and failed and who kept running from the enemy. Most of the people in the resistance (the believers) were looking for a savior. They didn't realize that their faith would have to grow. The chosen one came to show them how to increase their faith. But truly they already had everything they needed to defeat the enemy--they just didn't believe they did. "The Word is near you; it is in your heart and in your mouth . . ." (Romans 10:8).
4. Focus on the Flesh - The woman in the red dress (a distraction with no real substance). Whenever Christians focus on the flesh we forget that we are really spiritual (supernatural) beings. This is when we are open for the enemy to try to take us out.
And one last note: I loved how Neo and Trinity walked into the enemy's camp, "wrecked-shop", and set the captive free. Their boldness shook the very foundation of "Hell". May we go and do likewise.
There is no spoon.
–KljKlj (Richmond, VA)
P.S. Your analysis and review of The Matrix (one of the best movies I've ever seen) are some of the best I've ever read. You've done a great job! Keep on Keepin' on.
Thank you for expanding on my analysis of the Christian symbols and parallels in The Matrix (and thanks for the compliment!). It's also nice to have my interpretation validated by someone who is obviously a very devout Christian. While I consider myself open to religion (in contrast to my attitude 10 years ago) and find all faiths fascinating on an intellectual level, I am not myself a deeply religious person. Thus, my analysis of the Christian themes in The Matrix was from a more scholarly point of view than yours. I also find interesting the idea that Neo represents Christians more than Christ... is it possible that he can represent both? Are the two really different? Isn't the goal of a Christian to emulate the life of Christ? As you say, we are each "The One" in some situation.
28 March 2000
What a great movie!!!! What an outstanding and thought provoking analysis! Thank you very much for publishing your review and analysis on the web! I have some thoughts about Trinity that I would like to run past you.
I believe there are several ways to view Trinity. First of all it is Trinity who first appears or calls to Neo on his computer screen to warn him of the Matrix and tells him the next steps to take. He believes this has occurred in a dream, not unlike other Biblical characters yet follows the message. When Trinity introduces herself to Neo, he recognizes her name as the one who was able to break into the IRS data base; he is surprised she is a woman, he says he thought Trinity was a man...and she calmly says most men do. Within the Christian traditions, Trinity means the Three in One... or the Father, Son and Holy Ghost....or aspects of God and most religions project God as a masculine image. At a pivotal scene at the end it Trinity raises Neo from the dead with a kiss---the kiss of life. She is the ongoing protector of his life before he becomes unplugged from the Matrix and during his becoming the One. She is also the protector of Morpheus and defends her authority to do so even to the One or Neo. As she is second in command on the Nebuchadnezzar, to Morpheus one could ascribe to her the Jungian archetypes of the Mother in her relationship to the crew and Mother and Lover with regard to her relationship in her relationship to Neo. She is most definitely reflects the Jungian God/Goddess. She is also the original Warrior as the story opens who can outwit the plugged police and agents, leap buildings, demonstrate superior physical and strategic fighting skills, debug the unplugged, mechanically repair hover crafts, fly helicopters, console the bereaved Tank, wipe blood away from the injured body of Neo before giving him the kiss of life so necessary for his resurrection as the One. So in the Matrix she manifests all aspects of the Trinity or the Three in One. What a great role!
It is so interesting that your analysis really neglected her. It is difficult not to be plugged into our own cultural Matrix. What an awesome thought provoking action movie!
Warm regards to all,
Thank you so much for your e-mail! My analysis neglected Trinity, because, frankly, I didn't figure her out. I kept thinking that somehow, if Morpheus can represent the Father and Neo the Son, that Trinity somehow represented the Holy Ghost (though I could not figure out how), and that her name referred to the fact that she completed the Trinity. But I couldn't make the idea fit, so I didn't write about it. I should've thought more outside of Christianity, because, plainly, the Wachowskis drew from other religions as well, as I did note in my review.
Your analysis, however, works very well. She is three-in-one, much like the Hindi conception of God, manifesting all the divine aspects in one being. I wholeheartedly agree with your Jungian interpretation of her as well. Now I'm frustrated that my analysis is incomplete! Perhaps I shall revise it at some point.
By the way, if you enjoy movies with religious themes, we have a number of others reviewed on the site. Check out Picnic at Hanging Rock, for example. Thanks for visiting us!
There is no spoon,
30 March 2000
Thank you for responding!... I believe interpreting Trinity as the Holy Ghost works too... since she works through and around the Father and Son.... She also works as Mary.... There are many truths reflected in the Matrix which is why it continues to be fascinating! Still trying to bend my mind... since there is no spoon...
16 April 2000
HI, I think The Matrix is the best movie I've ever seen! I`ve already saw it 4 times and I can`t get enough from it. The script is very good and the actors too. But if I see such a movie it is so unreachable to me. Because if I see a movie that cool, good and sturdy, I wanna go through it to myself. Especially with such a good looking and hot actor like Keanu Reeves!
Kisses from isha.
28 April 2000
Heya! I liked your review, one of the best there are, and I'm not saying only about The Matrix! Though, there are certain faults I found that remained unexplained... all of that religious jazz is OK, and correct but... let's not get TOO religious and tee things from the surface... The Matrix isn't Hell, it is a computer program. Now, a program is either hackable or it's not hackable (though every program is actually hackable), you don't need no "chosen one" to hack a program. How comes Neo can do it and Morpheus and the crew can't? Is it just a compromise the Watchovskis made to make the movie more like a fairy tale to attract Star Wars and Tolkien fans more, or is it the "inner" mind control - others believe only Neo can do it so they don't even bother to try..?
Another thing that bothers me includes my favorite character, Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving and Reeves are a couple that can only be matched by James Earl Jones and Arnie in Conan - really gross how a good actor exposes a foul one). Anyway, I'm surprised nobody so far noticed this little bit: while Agent Smith is fighting Morpheus, while being at a slight advantage Morpheus asks him "Who are you?" For some reason, Agent Smith does answer, "A Smith, Agent Smith" (My name's Bond... James Bond) and then Morpheus suddenly changes his mind and says "I don't care, you're all the same to me!" I've got two explanations for this, and I don't like either too much, so I'm asking for a "second opinion"... the first one (that I like less) is that it was a REALLY lame way to remind us of this guy's name. The other one (that I like more, but it has a messed up foundation) is that Morpheus somehow knew Agent Smith had rapidly changed his source code and is starting to function like a human. It is obvious Smith really hates and despises people, and he's not suppose to do that; he should simply do his job like the other two agents. When I read the script I saw he himself wasn't too happy about it, maybe even scared. Perhaps Morpheus tried to piss him off or test him or something, by leading him into some sort of a communication (acknowledging him as a person) and then resenting that acknowledgment to... I don't know, "hurt his feelings"? I see no other option than these two. Morpheus knew too much about Agents to hope that he could distract him with talk.
And... I'm full of questions, aren't I? How did Neo "kill" Smith? He's a program, right? So he should be erased, not blown apart. Smith has no physical body so he could accept the reality of the Matrix and die (thus he is not captured in the Matrix "Like everybody else," because others CAN get out, he CAN'T.) The reason why he didn't return to fight after he was blown apart could be that he couldn't find a new "host" close enough to them to do it. On the other hand, if he WAS destroyed, why didn't Neo proceed the same with the other two Agents (who, for some reasons kept standing and watching all the time)?
Ooooh kaaay... that sorta covers it... :) Keep up the good work here... Just one last question... what am I suppose to do with the soup now!? Use the fork!? :)
11 May 2000
Perhaps you should try Campbell's Chunky, "the soup you can eat with a fork." :)
Thank you for your comment about my write-up on The Matrix. It's always nice to get positive feedback. I take your point about taking the religious "jazz" too far, but I didn't mean to suggest that the only 'correct' way to see the film is as religious allegory. I wanted to analyze the religious element thoroughly, but the film is first and foremost a sci-fi/action pic, and it's a lot of fun. However, the extra depth the Wachowskis gave it made the film outstanding instead of just very good. To the extent that it mixes "fantasy" with "science-fiction," I don't mind. The Wachowskis cite Japanese anime as their primary influence, and I think that fantasy and science-fiction are mixed pretty regularly in that medium.
With regard to your questions about the script, I would note that I don't think that the script is free of defects or anomalies. In my analysis, I was merely making the point that some of the larger discrepancies that have been cited by other observers are not necessarily unexplainable. In my view, the film remains reasonably internally consistent. This is a long way of saying that I don't have a specific explanation for the exchange between Morpheus and Agent Smith. Perhaps you are correct that Morpheus could detect, consciously or subconsciously, that Smith was behaving differently from the other Agents... that he was emotionally invested in the fight. If I had to posit a reason that makes sense within the film, that would be it. But the most likely explanation is simply that the Wachowskis thought the exchange would be cool. With regard to how Neo destroys Smith... well, again, simply erasing Smith would have made more sense, but it wouldn't have been as visually interesting. If I had to explain it in a way that was consistent with the rules of the film, I would say that Neo entered Smith's program and scrambled it, thus blowing him apart. Thanks again for the e-mail.
Send us a comment on The Matrix. We'll post the best comments!
Back to the review. Back to the analysis.