“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!

Image Credits: Getty Images / Patrick Riviere | Keanu Reeves and Carrie Anne Moss attend the Australian Premiere of The Matrix in Sydney, Australia.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Patrick Riviere | Keanu Reeves and Carrie Anne Moss attend the Australian Premiere of The Matrix in Sydney, Australia.


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.

Image Credits: Getty Images / J. Merritt / FilmMagic | Carrie-Anne Moss & Keanu Reeves during Los Angeles Press Conference With the Cast of "The Matrix Revolutions" at Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, California, United States.

Image Credits: Getty Images / J. Merritt / FilmMagic | Carrie-Anne Moss & Keanu Reeves during Los Angeles Press Conference With the Cast of "The Matrix Revolutions" at Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, California, United States.

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. 

Image Credits: Getty Images / Ronald Siemoneit / Sygma | Carrie-Anne Moss and Keanu Reeves in The Matrix.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Ronald Siemoneit / Sygma | Carrie-Anne Moss and Keanu Reeves in The Matrix.


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. 

Image Credits: Getty Images / SGranitz / WireImage | Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishburne during "The Matrix Revolutions" Premiere at Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, California, United States.

Image Credits: Getty Images / SGranitz / WireImage | Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishburne during "The Matrix Revolutions" Premiere at Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, California, United States.

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.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Warner Brothers | Carrie-Anne Moss in phone booth in a scene from the film 'The Matrix', 1999.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Warner Brothers | Carrie-Anne Moss in phone booth in a scene from the film 'The Matrix', 1999.


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.’”

Image Credits: Getty Images / Dia Dipasupil | Lilly Wachowski, January 26, 2020 in Park City, Utah.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Dia Dipasupil | Lilly Wachowski, January 26, 2020 in Park City, Utah.

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.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Dimitrios Kambouris | Lana Wachowski attends the Marc Jacobs Spring 2016 fashion show during New York Fashion Week at Ziegfeld Theater on September 17, 2015 in New York City.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Dimitrios Kambouris | Lana Wachowski attends the Marc Jacobs Spring 2016 fashion show during New York Fashion Week at Ziegfeld Theater on September 17, 2015 in New York City.


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.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Dia Dipasupil | Mickey Mahoney and Lilly Wachowski attend It Gets Better House Hosts Happy Hour Celebrating "Disclosure: Trans Lives On Screen" on January 27, 2020 in Park City, Utah.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Dia Dipasupil | Mickey Mahoney and Lilly Wachowski attend It Gets Better House Hosts Happy Hour Celebrating "Disclosure: Trans Lives On Screen" on January 27, 2020 in Park City, Utah.

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.”

Image Credits: Getty Images / Axelle / Bauer-Griffin / FilmMagic | Director Lana Wachowski arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of 'Jupiter Ascending' at TCL Chinese Theatre on February 2, 2015 in Hollywood, California.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Axelle / Bauer-Griffin / FilmMagic | Director Lana Wachowski arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of 'Jupiter Ascending' at TCL Chinese Theatre on February 2, 2015 in Hollywood, California.


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.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Amy Sussman | (L-R) Lilly Wachowski, Abby McEnany and Tim Mason of Work In Progress speak during the Showtime segment of the 2019 Summer TCA Press Tour at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on August 2, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Amy Sussman | (L-R) Lilly Wachowski, Abby McEnany and Tim Mason of Work In Progress speak during the Showtime segment of the 2019 Summer TCA Press Tour at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on August 2, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California.

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.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Frazer Harrison | Director/Writer/Producer Lana Wachowski attends the premiere of Warner Bros. Pictures' "Jupiter Ascending" at TCL Chinese Theatre on February 2, 2015 in Hollywood, California.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Frazer Harrison | Director/Writer/Producer Lana Wachowski attends the premiere of Warner Bros. Pictures' "Jupiter Ascending" at TCL Chinese Theatre on February 2, 2015 in Hollywood, California.


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".

Image Credits: Getty Images / David Livingston | Writer/Director Lilly Wachowski arrives at the 27th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on April 2, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California.

Image Credits: Getty Images / David Livingston | Writer/Director Lilly Wachowski arrives at the 27th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on April 2, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California.


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'”.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Jeff Schear / WireImage | Director Lana Wachowski attends "The Immigrant" opening night premiere and tribute to Roger Ebert at Chicago Theatre on October 10, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Jeff Schear / WireImage | Director Lana Wachowski attends "The Immigrant" opening night premiere and tribute to Roger Ebert at Chicago Theatre on October 10, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois.

"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."

Image Credits: Getty Images / Michael Tran / FilmMagic | Lilly Wachowski speaks onstage with Keke Palmer and Lea Michele during the 27th Annual GLAAD Media Awards held at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on April 2, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Michael Tran / FilmMagic | Lilly Wachowski speaks onstage with Keke Palmer and Lea Michele during the 27th Annual GLAAD Media Awards held at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on April 2, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California.


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.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Han Myung-Gu / WireImage | Lana Wachowski attends during the 'Cloud Atlas' press conference at Sheraton Walkerhill Hotel on December 13, 2012 in Seoul, South Korea. The film will open on January 10, 2013 in South Korea.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Han Myung-Gu / WireImage | Lana Wachowski attends during the 'Cloud Atlas' press conference at Sheraton Walkerhill Hotel on December 13, 2012 in Seoul, South Korea. The film will open on January 10, 2013 in South Korea.

"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.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Amy Sussman | (L-R) Lilly Wachowski, Abby McEnany and Tim Mason of Work In Progress speak during the Showtime segment of the 2019 Summer TCA Press Tour at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on August 2, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Amy Sussman | (L-R) Lilly Wachowski, Abby McEnany and Tim Mason of Work In Progress speak during the Showtime segment of the 2019 Summer TCA Press Tour at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on August 2, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California.


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.

Image Credits: Shutterstock / Andrii Zastrozhnov | Person holds cardboard with the transgender symbol.

Image Credits: Shutterstock / Andrii Zastrozhnov | Person holds cardboard with the transgender symbol.

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.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Roy Rochlin | A fan cosplays as Morpheus from The Matrix during the 2018 New York Comic-Con at Javits Center on October 7, 2018 in New York City.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Roy Rochlin | A fan cosplays as Morpheus from The Matrix during the 2018 New York Comic-Con at Javits Center on October 7, 2018 in New York City.


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."

Image Credits: Getty Images / Jon Kopaloff / FilmMagic | Writer/director Lana Wachowski arrives at the Los Angeles Premiere "Cloud Atlas" at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on October 24, 2012 in Hollywood, California.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Jon Kopaloff / FilmMagic | Writer/director Lana Wachowski arrives at the Los Angeles Premiere "Cloud Atlas" at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on October 24, 2012 in Hollywood, California.

“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.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Dia Dipasupil | Mickey Mahoney and Lilly Wachowski attend It Gets Better House Hosts Happy Hour Celebrating "Disclosure: Trans Lives On Screen" on January 27, 2020 in Park City, Utah.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Dia Dipasupil | Mickey Mahoney and Lilly Wachowski attend It Gets Better House Hosts Happy Hour Celebrating "Disclosure: Trans Lives On Screen" on January 27, 2020 in Park City, Utah.


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 [...]”

Image Credits: Getty Images / Kevin Winter | Actor Keanu Reeves arrives at the premiere of "The Matrix Reloaded" at the Village Theater on May 7, 2003 in Los Angeles, California.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Kevin Winter | Actor Keanu Reeves arrives at the premiere of "The Matrix Reloaded" at the Village Theater on May 7, 2003 in Los Angeles, California.

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.”

Image Credits: Getty Images / David Livingston | Actor Keanu Reeves attends the premiere of Summit Entertainment's "John Wick: Chapter Two" at ArcLight Hollywood on January 30, 2017 in Hollywood, California.

Image Credits: Getty Images / David Livingston | Actor Keanu Reeves attends the premiere of Summit Entertainment's "John Wick: Chapter Two" at ArcLight Hollywood on January 30, 2017 in Hollywood, California.


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.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Amy Sussman | Carrie-Anne Moss of "Tell Me A Story" speaks during the CBS segment of the 2019 Summer TCA Press Tour at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on August 1, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Amy Sussman | Carrie-Anne Moss of "Tell Me A Story" speaks during the CBS segment of the 2019 Summer TCA Press Tour at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on August 1, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California.

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!

Image Credits: Getty Images / Dia Dipasupil | Actress Jada Pinkett Smith attends the Feature Film Jury Orientation Breakfast during the 2018 Sundance Film Festival at Cafe Terigo on January 19, 2018 in Park City, Utah.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Dia Dipasupil | Actress Jada Pinkett Smith attends the Feature Film Jury Orientation Breakfast during the 2018 Sundance Film Festival at Cafe Terigo on January 19, 2018 in Park City, Utah.


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.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Dimitrios Kambouris | Actor Neil Patrick Harris attends CNN Heroes 2015 - Red Carpet Arrivals at American Museum of Natural History on November 17, 2015 in New York City.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Dimitrios Kambouris | Actor Neil Patrick Harris attends CNN Heroes 2015 - Red Carpet Arrivals at American Museum of Natural History on November 17, 2015 in New York City.

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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