The Matrix, by The Wachowski Brothers- at the time, authors that are called Lana and Lilly Wachowski today
The Matrix is a cult movie that can be watched repeatedly and worshipped by a huge community of fans, considering it is included on the IMDB most popular films at 18, and dismissed at the same time by critics, albeit it has a good standing among reviewers, but no outstanding recognition at Awards Ceremonies.
The feature has won four Academy Awards, but they are all in technical categories-Best Film Editing, Best Effects, Sound Effects Editing, Best Sound, Best Effects, Visual Effects, and two BAFTAs for the latter categories.
A quote from John Milton comes to mind — 'The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven....’
It is relevant from two points of view; one referring to the ability the mind has to create worlds like the ones in The Matrix and the other to the manner in which audiences can take the phantasmagoria of this motion picture.
You either go along, enjoy the ride and take many of the statements, lines and exchanges as philosophical, deep, valuable musings that explain not just this world, but the other and the possibility that we all live in a…
Keanu Reeves is remarkable, in spite of receiving no major nomination for this part, as Thomas A. Anderson, who becomes Neo and might well be the Chosen One, a reference to other prophets and Deities, from Christ to Mohamed.
However, the leader of the insurgency against the Matrix and what might be taken for a conspiracy of Artificial Intelligence controlled machines, is Morpheus aka Lawrence Fishburne, who strongly believes he has found the Savior.
This is an uphill battle against agents of the Evil Matrix able to transfer and take over the bodies of others, capable of pulling incredible stunts, such as dodging bullets and hitting opponents with astonishing force and rapidity.
The words, concepts and language used in The Matrix can be more than challenging, perhaps overwhelming at times, with ideas like: mental projection, residual images, electric simulation and scenes that take place in an alternative reality, perhaps generated only in a simulation, computer program that can make one forget…everything.
The parallel is not the most appropriate maybe, but one could think of Once Upon a Time in America, wherein Robert de Niro’s character uses opium to get high, thinks about stories in the past, only to give the impression that maybe, all that we have seen never actually happened outside the drugged mind of the main character.
The fight scenes, that seem paradoxical, especially in their multitude, in a film that delves into the real nature and the meaning of existence, are spectacular, flamboyant and to be admired as a resplendent dance by those who reject the violence implied.
There is strong support from science for some, if not most of the suggestions in the Matrix, including the one that the power of the mind is staggering, with examples ranging from Roger Bannister to experiences wherein Buddhist monks have proved what they can achieve, using their fantastic control of their brains.
Which is not to say that we can try at home to jump from one building to another, as Morpheus does and then invites Neo to follow, dodge the bullets in the manner that only the enemy machines had been able up to the moment when The One came to the fore.
There is a traitor within the guerrilla group led by Morpheus, and he is the one who kills some of his mates, in exchange for money, a superior status as a celebrity, say an actor and the cleaning of his memory, which would make him unable to remember any of the bad things that he will have committed…Reagan is the new name suggested, in an attempt to make a joke on the former Republican president-actor.
When Neo consults the oracle, he and the audience are stupefied to find an apparently normal woman, cooking something that looks like the pie and not the “normal” bizarre apparition, with the crystal ball and other paraphernalia that is usually associated with fortunetellers and palm readers.
The ordinary woman does know that a vase will fall before it happens and this raises the issue of self-fulfilling prophecies, as well as what happens next and makes us wonder later in the feature, for she tells Neo that he is not the expected Savior and that Morpheus will choose to sacrifice himself for the One and Neo will have to choose between survival and some other choice facing him.
The Oracle had some smart, profound things to say, including the ancient reference to the other Oracle, from Delphi, where the imperative “Know Thyself” was visibly written above the entrance and celebrated as the most important act of knowledge humans can perform…”the Unexamined life is not worth living”
Very soon, the prophecy seems to be fulfilling, as Morpheus is cornered with Neo and decides to do everything for the latter and fight the enemies in order to let the Chosen One escape to safety, only from here on, the prophet seems to be wrong, until we realize that some fortune telling may be there for a reason.
There are very powerful messages that we can extract from The Matrix, from the aforementioned idea that Words Create Worlds, in the words of the Harvard Professor Tal Ben Shahar, to the notion that we can do almost anything with our minds and then the paramount importance that Artificial Intelligence will have in the near future and beyond.
To end with, a quote has gone viral, together with other lines from The Matrix, and is used in all manner of sophisticated books:
“This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. 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.”