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Matrix is a mixture of complex science fiction story incorporating mythology, computer science, philosophy and several religious themes from Hinduism, Gnosticism, Buddhism and Christianity. The story raises certain moral and philosophical questions, such as the nature of reality. How would man ever know the difference of reality and illusion, if he is born in unreal world? And the most important question is, if we keep on developing technology, are we going in direction to ask computers to rise up and over take us. Matrix looks at two kinds of species, man and machines, where man is victim and machine is ruler. The story mentions a catastrophic war between human and machine (artificial intelligence). How it started no one knows, but it leads to an attempt on machine genocide that failed and man was subdued by machine. However machines are dependent on power, which they obtain from humans making nothing more than embryos floating in womb like environment. There was a time when man created machine, now machine is ruling and creating man, a reverse from traditional way of living.
There are several underlying undeniable questions and themes in Matrix. The most important question is the nature of reality. The question of reality is constructed through simulation, which may not be real, but the question asked is, what is real. As Morpheus says “what is real? How would you define real? If what you can feel, smell and taste and see is created by electrical signals created by brain”, the question becomes confusing. Matrix answers the question of reality in the shape of Matrix reality that is created by computer for humans, where human exists for the sake of serving the system’s needs. The theme is shown as a conflict between real world where human are struggling and simulated world, where humans are plugged into computer to serve the machine.
Closely related is the theme of ignorance, human on one side are living in their own world having their typical lifestyle, but in reality the real humans are floating in womb like structure. The hero goes out to seek reality, which depicts the difference between knowledgeable and ignorant and how true knowledge releases man from the bonds of ignorance. It also conveys the message that ignorance is bliss and too much knowledge is pain. For example Neo takes so much pain to reach the Oracle similar to the Greek legend, where upon knowing the truth he is left with a choice between saving his life or Morpheus. Had Neo not been curious, he would have met his fate unknowingly and there would have been little conflict or indecisiveness on his part.In Matrix, we can see the duality of science (science and religion), religion over takes science in the scenes where Neo slows down the bullet (by mind power) and even heals himself. Thus Neo is not only science fiction character, but also a combination of both, embodying science and spirituality existing in one.
The movie carries many Christian elements, Neo’s death and return and other allusions to Bibles, such as Apoc reverence to the Apoclapyse and Neo’s given name Mr Ander which in Greek means “Son of Man”, a reference to Jesus Christ. The ship name Nebuchadnezzar is a reference to the Babylonian king, who in the Book of Daniel has puzzling symbolic dreams .The last remaining human city Zion reference to Judaism, which is a holy city in Jewish literature. And above all Neo is a Jesus like figure who is awakened from dream like state by Trinity message .He battles the evil and killed, but eventually returns to life again. The construction of Neo as Jesus is reinforced in many ways. At one time, a hacker mentions to Neo “You’re my savior, man, my own personal Jesus Christ”. In an another occasion, when Neo enters the ship, the camera shows interior of the ship, resting on the make is “Mark III no:II” which is again a reference to Gospel Mark 3:II “”When ever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and shouted, ‘ You are the Son of God!”
The film also echoes the metaphorical language of Gnostics. Gnostics normally describes human problems in ambiguous metaphor, such as blindness, sleep, ignorance, dream and darkness, waking up from dream etc. In the movie, when Neo is first time unplugged and his eyes ach, Morpheus (the name is taken from Greek god of sleep) mentions every thing Neo has seen was through mind’s, but created through software simulation. Like an ancient Gnostic Morpheus explains that martial arts has nothing to do with body or strength which are illusory; every thing depend on mind which is true and real.
It is through Gnosis that Neo learns about reality breaking the rules of material world. He no longer is bounded by material world rules and defying them, which makes him strong and powerful. Even Neo given name reverberates with Gnostic the Gospel of Thomas, the doubting Thomas, who does not believe in his role as redeemer. He has twin roles to play, the doubting Thomas and the redeemer Jesus like figure. He learns the secret knowledge that evokes the ancient Gnostic elements, such as freeing the mind, overcoming the fear etc. There is also reference to stillness and rest where Neo realizes that Matrix is only a dream world, where any thing is possible, all he has to do is be peaceful and fight back.
Matrix is a departure in the words of Nietzsche from herds’ mentality. Human beings are normally socialized into societies where groups are taught shared beliefs, while individual thinking is strictly forbidden. Any one going against the system are chased by Matrix agents, such as Neo and Morpheus who do not believe in the system. Neo rebellion against the system starts from the anxiety in the world he lives in, finding it meaning less; he tries to find meaning by breaking away from ordinary life. It was under such anxiety where Neo learn that the world his world is nothing more than illusion and his search for truth begin.
It is easy to associate Matrix with Gnostic, Buddhist, Christian or Platonic parables, where reality is illusion and true world is beyond appearance in the shape of higher spirituality. Even though Neo works like Jesus to take his people out of the darkness leading them to Maya kind of state. However the story moves beyond this belief, Neo does not leave his body behind for a bargain of eternal bliss. The story depicts achieving salvation with a body in the world where Neo awakes and evades death, but not forever. He is resurrected, yet has a vulnerable body and has to die a real death, but he has overcome the fear of death, which all human being carry inside them.
Matrix is a wonderful combination of myth and science, where science seeks to overpower nature and human through technology. Thus we can say that Matrix portrays a salivation, where virtual science is fighting spiritual myth. The movie creates the feeling that no matter, how much science progresses, the power of myth cannot be shattered by technology alone.
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