“The Matrix”: True Meaning Behind The Movies
The 1999 science fiction action movie, The Matrix, is still to this day considered one of the best trilogies to ever make it to the silver screen. Written and directed by the Wachowskis, the movies depict a dystopian future in which all humans are trapped in a simulation of reality where machines use humanity’s bodies as an energy source. For the past 20 years, many theories have come forward about the real meaning of the movies, however, it was just earlier this year that the directors came forward with the explanation. Keep reading to find out how the Wachowskis opened up about the movies!
A MAN WITH TWO LIVES: THE PLOT OF THE MOVIE
Starring Keanu Reaves as Thomas A. Anderson, The Matrix shares the story of a computer programmer who has a secret life by night. Working as a hacker known as Neo, Keanu’s character has always questioned what was real and what was not, however, his imagination about the real world could not make justice to what he finds out.
After being contacted by Morpheus, the legendary hacker who has been listed as one of the worst cyber-terrorists ever known, Neo finds himself being chased by the police. The plot then develops with Neo finding out about the reality he is living and how the machines have been making humans energy slaves for years.
A CYBERPUNK MASTERPIECE: WHAT HAS BEEN SAID ABOUT THE MATRIX?
Quickly becoming a box office hit, The Matrix has received (and still does) widespread critical acclaim. The movies, which won four Academy Awards, are still as smart and mindblowing today as they were when the first movie was released in 1999.
Slavoj Zizek, a known culture critic, has suggested that “The Matrix is a kind of Rorschach test, setting in motion the universalized process of recognition.” This means that each person that watches The Matrix will have a different experience, seeing what they want to see, from feminist topics, religious imagery, and virtually any philosophical theory you can think of.
THE WACHOWSKIS: THE MASTERMINDS BEHIND THE MATRIX
Along with 2004’s release of “The Ultimate Matrix Collection” came a booklet from the writers and directors of the movie: “We encourage the consciously curious to flip back and forth going from complexity to simplicity, from internal to external, and somewhere between the search and the denial of meaning, we ask the curious to ‘make up their own [...] mind.’”
But what did they mean by that? With dozens of fan-created theories all over the internet, The Matrix is still one of the most analyzed movies of all time. Many fans have taken to the web to share their ideas and theories about what the movie’s true goal is, however, many of them have also been wrong.
THE REAL THEORY: THE WACHOWSKIS OPEN UP
Earlier this month, Lily Wachowski confessed that The Matrix is about being transgender, describing "That was the original intention but the world wasn't quite ready.” Lily and Lana Wachowski, who came out as transgender shortly after the movies were released, have shared that "the corporate world wasn't ready” for a movie about transgender people.
Nevertheless, it seems that the people who also identify as transgender have always seen it. The director mentioned that "they come up to me and say these movies saved my life,” continuing that she felt “[...] grateful I can be throwing them a rope to help them along their journey,” and that she was “glad that it has gotten out.”
THE DESIRE FOR TRANSFORMATION: THE CHARACTER SWITCH
"The Matrix stuff was all about the desire for transformation but it was all coming from a closeted point of view. [...] We had the character of Switch - who was a character who would be a man in the real world and then a woman in the Matrix,” Lily addressed.
All other characters also reject their birthnames in favor of their chosen names, and from the moment they move into the real world, their clothes also become more androgynous. This makes the whole movie’s experience about transcending the limitations of the physical form. “Bodies are, at best, a suggestion. Your brain is what really matters.”, critic writer Emily VanDerWerff stated.
HOW BEING TRANSGENDER WAS ALWAYS IN THE BACKGROUND
Lily Wachowski continued explaining "how present [her] transness was in the background of [her] brain as [they] were writing" The Matrix, explaining that the sisters’ attraction to science fiction was due to the possibility of “[...] existing in a space where the words didn't exist, so we were always living in a world of imagination".
LANA WACHOWSKI: THE FIRST ONE TO TRANSITION
In 2012, Lana confessed in an interview with the New York Times how her internal conflicts were affecting her, mentioning that they became harder to deal with during the filming of the second and third movies of The Matrix. She continued that "For years, I couldn't even say the words 'transgendered' or 'transsexual'”.
"When I began to admit it to myself, I knew I would eventually have to tell my parents and my brother and my sisters,” she continued. "This [...] would inject such terror into me that I would not sleep for days. I developed a plan that I worked out with my therapist. It was going to take three years. Maybe five."
LILY WACHOWSKI: ONE OF THE LUCKY ONES
"I just wanted - needed some time to get my head right, to feel comfortable. But apparently I don't get to decide this," Lily mentioned in an interview to the Windy City Times after coming out as transgender in 2016, after a journalist from The Daily Mail came up to her door.
"I am one of the lucky ones. Having the support of my family and the means to afford doctors and therapists has given me the chance to actually survive this process. Transgender people without support, means and privilege do not have this luxury. And many do not survive.", she continued.
HOW DID THE TRANSGENDER COMMUNITY RECEIVE THE FILM?
Being one of the most influential works of culture created by trans people, The Matrix seems to have been an eye-opener to how life is before transitioning. Lana and Lily, who had not yet come out as transgender at the time of the movie’s release, seem to have been well understood by those who related to how they were feeling.
The transgender fans also “claimed The Matrix as an allegory for gender transition since at least 2012, when Lana Wachowski publicly came out”, Andrea Long Chu noted in a 2019’s piece. She continued that another piece from The Matrix’ storyline, especially Morpheus’ saying something is wrong is “like a splinter in your mind”, refers to gender dysphoria.
RED PILL OR BLUE PILL? ART IS NOT STATIC, NOR IS THE PERCEPTION OF IT
One of the most famous tropes from The Matrix revolves around the Red Pill and the Blue Pill. “You take the blue pill, the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes."
“There’s a critical eye being cast back on Lana and I’s work through the lens of our transness. This is a cool thing because it’s an excellent reminder that art is never static. And while the ideas of identity and transformation are critical components in our work, the bedrock that all ideas rest upon is love.”, Lily stated in 2016.
WHAT DID THE ACTORS HAVE TO SAY ABOUT THE NEW REVEAL?
Keanu Reeves, who played one of the main characters, Neo, came forward mentioning that he didn’t know about the transgender meaning behind The Matrix. The actor mentioned in an interview that “I never spoke to Lilly about that, she never conveyed that to me, I think The Matrix films are profound [...]”
He added that “I think that allegorically, a lot of people in different versions of the film can speak to that. And for Lilly to come out and share that with us, I think is cool.” When asked if he believes the 4th movie will share that ideology, Reeves commented “I don’t know. I think it’ll be open to interpretation.”
THE MATRIX 4: WHAT TO EXPECT?
Initially expected to be released in April 2021, the fourth movie from the series will be released the year after due to some delays related to the Covid-19 pandemic. Lana Wachowski will be the sole director as her sister Lilly will be working on other projects at the same time.
The movie, which is already in the development stage, will see many of the previous actors come back. Keanu Reeves will be playing Neo, Carrie-Ann Moss will be playing Trinity, and Jada Pinkett Smith will also return to play Niobe. Nevertheless, the new movie from the series will also count on some new faces!
WHO ARE THE NEW CAST MEMBERS OF THE MATRIX?
Get ready to find out how the following actors will handle their dystopian characters! The new names coming on the credit list are Neil Patrick Harris, Jonathan Groff, Priyanka Chopra, as well as Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, with some people speculating the later will play a younger version of Morpheus.
The Matrix, one of the Hall of Fame members within the science fiction world, was a visual trendsetter, where the viewers can be immersed in a multitude of cultural, ideological, and philosophical realities. Standing out from the other movies released in the 90s, The Matrix still stands as a fiercely exciting adventure, and we can’t wait to see what the next movie brings us! Keep an eye on this space to find out more about what this futuristic drama and martial arts-inspired movie will offer us next.
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