Religious Undertones in the Matrix

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Kevin Dang
Professor Gourko
The Matrix Analysis
In 1999, the Wachowski brothers released the first movie in their epic trilogy and box office sales went through the roof. Filled with unbelievable special effects and kung fu, the first film of The Matrix trilogy was a must see for anyone and everyone around the country and the world. It isn't just explosions and fighting that made this film special, the plot is one that leaves the viewer endlessly pondering about the film for days after watching it. It involves almost the entire human race enslaved by machines that have tapped into their minds and placed them in a virtual reality world that they think is reality. Meanwhile, the machines use the energy from the bodies of the humans they control to survive and mankind's only hope rests in the hands of one man. Although the plot sounds like any other science fiction story, The Matrix is filled with intelligence and philosophical meanings about questioning reality which caught the attention of just about everybody along with a religious element of the film where its depictions and allusions are absolutely everywhere and difficult to overlook.

The Matrix is revolved around computer hacker, Neo, who lived a relatively normal life until he is contacted by Morpheus, who leads him into the real world. In reality, it is 200 years later, and the world has been laid waste and taken over by advanced artificial intelligence machines. The computers have created a false version of 20th century life, known as the Matrix to keep the humans satisfied. Neo, pursued constantly by "Agents", computers who take on human form and infiltrate the Matrix, is believed to be "The One" who will lead the humans to overthrow the machines and reclaim the Earth. One of the major issues the film put in question is the validity and perception of the world around us. How do we know exactly what reality is or can everything around us simply a projection of what our senses are fed?

Morpheus asks Neo: "Have you ever had a dream Neo, that you were so sure was real? What if you were unable to wake from that dream? How would you know the difference between the dream world and the real world?" Morpheus is not the first to ask such questions. The philosopher René Descartes asked very similar questions in the seventeenth century. Descartes and Neo of the Matrix have a similar dilemma. They both know that what seems to be reality is not actually real. Descartes tried to show that what we know of the world around us is undoubtful even though he imagined that we would not be able to tell the difference between the real world and a very similar dream world if we were living in the dream world (Skirry). Descartes had said that we might be deceived by a "powerful demon” which is the seventeenth century version of the computers deceiving the people living in the Matrix.

Morpheus also asks Neo: "What is real? How do you define real? If you are talking about what you can feel, what you can smell, what you can taste and see, then real is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain." Morpheus is explaining to Neo that his perception of reality is around a computer program that tricks and fools his senses. If Neo's explanation of reality is linked to senses, his notion of reality is completely false. On that same note, Descartes theorized in the 17th century that we should not base reality on our senses because they deceive us. Descartes believed that in order for one to begin to understand what is clear and distinct, the mind must rid of all biases and discriminations, as seen in the Meditations of Descartes (Skirry). "I will now shut my eyes, stop my ears, and withdraw all my senses. I will eliminate from my thoughts all images of bodily things, or rather, since this is hardly possible, I will regard all such images as vacuous, false and worthless." (Descartes, 3rd Meditation) Descartes wanted to build his new reality world...
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