Dr Mark’s The Meaning in a Nutshell

Lana Wachowski (formerly known as Larry Wachowski) and Lilly Wachowski (formerly known as Andy Wachowski)(directors and writers), The Matrix (1999)

The Matrix, written and directed by the Wachowskis, is a dystopian story that warns that humans meddling with Artificial Intelligence (AI) risk creating machines that will not be the servants of humans but will overthrow humans and exploit them. 

The film also plays with postmodern epistemological notions that we cannot be certain of the reality outside of our brain.  In this future world, humans exist in incubators to be exploited by intelligent machines for the natural energy they produce.  This powers the world.  Meanwhile, humans are plugged into a computer programme that creates an artificial reality that is all that the humans know so they do not realise that everything they think to be real is false.

One of the oldest philosophical questions regards whether we can be sure of a real world outside of our ideas.  We believe we perceive the world through our senses: sight, sound, touch, taste smell.  But can we be sure that there is a real world outside of what our senses indicate?  We can only be sure of our ideas and not the supposed reality beyond those ideas that we assume corresponds to those ideas.  The computer world of virtual reality plays into this philosophical scenario and conundrum.  This film takes up that idea of extreme scepticism regarding reality and argues that what most people think is the real world is only an illusion. 

Not much of the real world is left.  Humans are depicted as a destructive force that destroyed every environment that they inhabit.  The film compares them to a ‘virus’. This is a hard-line environmentalist belief. 

However, the film is ambivalent about humans, since it also celebrates them as freedom fighters seeking to liberate themselves from the oppressive machines that exploit them. 

The film presents a warning that technology is not necessarily good and that humanity’s pursuit of more powerful technology may become a threat to humanity rather than be its servant. This warning is very much the case with Artificial Intelligence or AI.  This is a common theme in a great deal of dystopian fantasy and science fiction literature. 

The film is a computer nerd’s fantasy.  In this film, young computer hackers are courageous heroes and one of them, Neo, is potentially the saviour of the human race, ‘the one’ who, like King David, will be the messiah and lead the oppressed to freedom since he and only he will know how to defeat the Matrix. 

The remnants of humanity reside in Zion, which is a Biblical name for the promised land of the Jews.  It is also the place where King David built his temple. 

The crew of freedom fighters are in a kind of space ship named the Nebuchadnezzar, which refers to a rebellious character in the Bible who destroyed the temple of Jerusalem.

The Oracle represents Jewish prophets, chosen people who have a communication with the divine and bring the holy word to the people.   The Oracle is also like an ancient Greek oracle who has a special relationship with the gods and can predict the future. 

The film also promotes the power of will. When one has faith in one’s abilities one had greater strength.  When Neo believes in himself and his abilities he becomes a formidable warrior able to take on the agents

In addition, when he believes in himself he begins to see the computer code that is the Matrix.  He sees that falseness of what wat was assumed to be the real world and this indicates that he may be the one, the chosen savoir of mankind. 

The film is also a special effects film that features surrealistic imagery and scenarios that are like high-powered computer games. The film invites viewers into a high-powered computer game. 

Student resources by Dr Mark Lopez

© Mark Lopez 2019 All RIGHTS RESERVED

The purpose of the concise notes of Dr Mark’s The Meaning in a Nutshell is to provide much needed help to students seeking to unlock the meaning of the texts with which they have to deal.  (More elaborate notes are provided in lessons as part of my private tutoring business.) 

Subject: The Matrix meaning, The Matrix themes, The Matrix analysis, The Matrix notes