|In association with Amazon.ca.||In association with Amazon.com.||In association with Amazon.co.uk.|
Village Roadshow Productions, 1999
Running Time: 136 minutes
Directors: Andy Wachowski & Larry Wachowski
Producer: Joel Silver
Amazon.com: NTSC DVD, NTSC VHS
Amazon.ca: NTSC DVD, NTSC VHS
Amazon.co.uk: PAL DVD, PAL VHS
Suggested by: Greg Slade
By day, Thomas Anderson wears a tie and works for a respectable software company. By night, he is a hacker who goes by the name of Neo, and works himself to exhaustion, trying to find the secret behind an elusive something called the Matrix. He finds it. It turns out that the Matrix is a vast, virtual reality, hoax being foisted on the human race by artificially intelligent machines which rebelled against humanity and, after a vicious war, enslaved humanity to act as a power source for them. The virtual reality illusion prevents humans from realising their captivity, except for a very few who have discovered the secret, and are working to free the human race.
The thing which most people talk about when it comes to The Matrix is the effects, which are stunning, and won the film four Academy Awards. There are no wires, no matte halos or boxes, no visible polygon constructs. With The Matrix, Hollywood has definitely brought us to the age when seeing can no longer be believing. In fact, that is part of the message. If Hollywood can be so convincing when we know it's fictional, how can we be sure that it is fictional? How do we know that reality is, well, real?
But there is a deeper, more religious side to the film. Some have seen Neo's "flatlining" and then recovery as an analogy of Christ's death and resurrection. (Actually, that scene reminded me more of a sort of gender-switched version of Sleeping Beauty.) But if we follow the religious allusions, I'm afraid that the religion we see alluded to is not actually Christianity, but a form of gnosticism, which denies the reality of, well, reality, and promises power to its initiates through the attaining of secret knowledge. Once Neo really accepts the fact that reality isn't really real, he gains awesome powers. It's true that Christianity itself teaches that this material world is not permanent or ultimate, but getting past this world comes through a relationship with the world's Maker, not a simple denial of the world's reality. To a certain extent, The Matrix can be seen as raising important questions, but the answers it seems to hint at are not the correct ones. It can form a good starting point to a conversation about the nature of reality, but should not be the conclusion.
Note: the "Restricted" rating on this movie is justified. There are frequent scenes of extreme and graphic violence, rendered in utterly realistic detail. Only the slowed down, almost cartoonish nature of the presentation prevents this from being an extremely disturbing film. (Which, in and of itself, may be quite disturbing.)
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