I apologize if this has been discussed before. With that out of the way, here are some interesting things I considered when watching The Matrix:
If the Matrix is indistinguishable from reality, how can you be certain that the “real world” is not an illussion?
Why would advanced computers need to ask someone for the access codes to Zion? Couldn’t a computer easily find the codes itself?
The Agents made some good points about humans when they were questioning Morpheus. I believe that they were at least partially correct with their comments on humans being unable to accept a perfect world and the comparison between humans and viruses.
The computers do not really seem to be malevolent. It seems that their intent was to treat the humans as kindly as possible under the circumstances (remember the comment about the first matrix being a perfect world?) Also, were the humans better off knowing that the Matrix wasn’t real? Was it any better to not be a batterry? Were they, in fact, achieving anything by resisting the machines? After all, humanity will die with the Earth and the Sun, so why bother fighting a happier world, even if it is an illussion?
Why is it that so many science fiction films base their key concepts off of Biblical ones? Shouldn’t science fiction, being deeply rooted by definition in scientific concepts, be pulling away from such biblical references?
That’s all I can remember for now. Post your strange revelations here also.
What? Since when? For one thing, the naming of a city by a biblical name is not anti-scientific. And even if it were, practically any science fiction story involves something more unscientific than that.
Honestly, the more I watch this movie, the less I like it.
I agree with the guy that sold out Morpheus cause he likes steak. I can accept that, I LOOOOVE steak.
Physical injuries from your mind? I could accept maybe your heart stopping from the pain inflicted by the matrix simulation when you get shot, but getting a bloody lip from a punch without anyone touching you for real?
In short, forget about the whole plot thing. I still enjoy the action sequences though, so I watch the movie still.
Being an atheist I believe the world we live on is deeply rooted in scientific concepts but religion is still very important here. Since science fiction should at least make a partial attempt to remain plausible and somewhat realistic, a scientific work should include religious references or some kind of explanation why there are none in it’s setting.
[Rant]I honestly have never been able to understand what the big deal was about this movie. This was nothing but a totally forgettable and mediocre (at best!) sci-fi film. I’ve heard people talk about how “deep” it was. They seemed to be totally bowled over by the idea that reality may not be what it seems. People, do you really think that this is a new idea? Have you never heard of Plato, or Descartes? Or at least Serling or Roddenberry??? It’s not a new idea and “Dark City” did it much better anyway.[/Rant]
Sorry for the rant but this movie has become a pet peeve of mine.
This is actually a great question, and one probably best suited for its own thread in great debates. But, here’s the long and short of it. They don’t call it the “greatest story ever told” for nothing. Your interpretation of the Bible can run anywhere between strict literalism to absolute fantasyland, but one thing is constant: it’s an interesting set of stories.
And given that, it may be that science fiction, or any genre for that matter, isn’t copying the Bible so much as the Bible just happened to come up with it first.
I’m with davidm on this on. The Matrix doesn’t impress me on a philisophical level and Morpheus’s little aphorisms got on my nerves (and how did Switch take part in the steak-eating scene while sitting at the computer console? Wouldn’t he have to be “plugged in” to talk to a matrix agent and eat matrix food?)
Of course, once you ditch all that mind-crap, it was a damn cool chopsocky romp. A worse example by far is Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon which had more impressive chopsocky, but waaaayy too much boring mind-crap. I even dozed off during that whole brigand flashback. What up with that?!
Anyhoo, science-fiction is a fairly broad genre and if you want hard-core technological stuff that seems halfway plausible, you can always fall back on the works of Tom Clancy, Martin Caidin or Michael Chichton.
High-tech science-fiction stories that contain strong anti-technology messages irtritate me far more than biblical analogies per se. When Star Trek: Insurrection implies that technology is icky, I just want to grind my teeth and call the writers a bunch of hypocritical morons. I’d go on, but this isn’t the pit.
You can’t. Likewise, there was no way to be sure that the ‘really real’ world outside the matrix wasn’t an illusion. This is a fairly common theme, going back to Decarte and Plato, and more recently Einstein. Especially common in the 80’s, where the differences between reality, perception, and public image seemed almost non-existent. Total Recall, for example.
There’s also no way to prove that the entire world isn’t an elaborate trick that everyone is conspiring to play on you, ala about two hundred movies that came out a couple of years ago.
Because the science in the movie was about as sophisticated as a Superfriends episode. Since he’s just a simulation directly connected to the computer, couldn’t it just rip them out of his head? Why couldn’t they just find it and nuke it? They have the resources of an entire planet to draw on. Why . . . oh, never mind.
It’s not uncommon SF/existentialist theme. Striving towards perfection is better than actually reaching it, as the striving guy is improving things. And so on. Popular recently, as it’s become more popular to watch pampered celebrities find ways to make themselves miserable.
The human/virus thing wasn’t particularly clever when Infection used it as it’s tag-line, but at least it was relevant.
Leaving aside the obvious question of HOW humans worked as a battery, and even if it could, why the robots didn’t just use cows, the “aren’t they better off” thing is actually a pretty good question. It should, in fact, have been the theme of the movie, had it been able to resist the temptation to use a stupid man vs. machine thing. It’s also actually not an uncommon SF theme. Walter Jon Williams is particularly fond of it.
After all, everyone would be ‘happier’ with a permanent heroin drip, or a wire zapping their brain’s pleasure center. But then you miss out on the Socratic “well lived life” pleasures, like achievement and family. (Never having experienced achievement or pleasure from my family, I’m not taking sides on this one.) If you’re happy all the time, how would you KNOW that your happy? And so on.
Several reasons. Most of them involve the fact that SF movies are MOVIES, extended as mainstream or geeky entertainment, not as recruiting films for a scientific worldview. Mythological themes and characters often represent powerful, near universal archetypes in human thoughts and relationships.
Additionally, SF movies are frequently at least in part allegories or metaphors, and those tend to work well in metaphorical terms. And, of course, the people who write and make SF come from societies with mythological traditions, and many of those in the western world are biblical, via one path or another.
Also, blatantly using biblical/mythological throw-away references and archetypes is a great way to give the illusion of being deep and “big” without going through the trouble of actually doing so, in both SF and non-genre movies. This actually isn’t a criticism of The Matrix, as I’m a big Final Fantasy fan. Though it can be beaten to death. (Ahem. Vertigo Comics? You paying attention?)
You are aware that all the “great” action sequences were blatantly stolen, right?
A “damn cool chopsocky romp?” Matrix might have qualified as an “average” kungfu movie, if they didn’t use that annoying rotating camera trick so much.
Don’t even MENTION insurrection. You’d think Trekies would have FINALLY dropped the series after that one . . . So the ideal society is a bunch of white guys who call themselves pacifists but are perfectly happy to let other people fight, kill, and die for them? And in fact seem to expect them to do so?
“All of a sudden, Independence Day seems like a deeply nuanced film . . .”
I’m amazed at the way this movie polarizes people.
I loved it myself. Yeah, I’ve seen its ideas a thousand times before. Yeah, it’s not “great” sf. Yeah, its philosophical ideas have been recycled time and again. Yeah, the wire-work stunts have been done in hundreds of eastern martial arts films.
It’s still more original than a lot of other films. It’s premise may have holes, but people vevery willingly put up with even less cogent backgrounds for the sake of the story. They set up an interesting premise, established their ground rules, and followed it through in a conmsistent and interesting manner. I could “buy” the idea of flying martial arts in the universe of the Matrix far easier than in that of Crouching Tiger. I liked the way they handled the concepts better than in Dark City.
I liked it okay, but I really with all the religious stuff had actually had a point. They kind of forgot that the second half of a metaphor or reference is a point for the metaphor or reference. All these religious terms are bandied about but they don’t add up to anything. I’ve heard it referred to as a Christian parable, Jewish parable, Buddhist parable, but I think the truth is it’s just a muddled mess of Christian, Jewish, and Buddhist references with no clear goal in sight.
Take, for example, Trinity. Rather than extend the question to the obvious “what purpose did this character or her alleged love for Neo serve at all,” I’l just focus on her name. Trinity. Clearly a Christian reference. And yet…to what end? In what way is she symbolic of or influenced by the concept of the Trinity? None, we just needed a good Christian reference here.
I thought the movie was slighty better developed than most of the crap sci-fi we’ve been fed sionce 1986, but not much so, and that isn’t saying much in the first place.
But of course, that’s another “Huh?” moment – as he would have had to know the Matrix would just kill him once the job was done, rather than invite him go to a cookout
Nearly everything had been done before, yes – only that this one put it together in a single package in the right time and place for the mass public. Some bits of it (e.g. the bullet-dodging) had that quality that made them clichés the very instant they were seen by people that had never seen the primary sources.
That said, it’s a great-looking piece, and a cool show. High entertainment value, if weak SF. Worth the popcorn. What I don’t see is the point in sequeling (is that a word?) it.
You couldn’t, except through logic and reason, e.g. “Well, it seems the world in which I have the data ports all over my body is likely the real one.”
I’d have to see the exact lines, but this sounds like a poorly written thrownaway macguffin (a macguffin is something introduced into a film to give the characters something to fight over where the exact identity of the thing isn’t terribly relevant.) I don’t even see why you would need “Access codes” to Zion. Zion was a physical location, an underground city; the machines would want its LOCATION, not access codes, so that they could physically assault it.
The “perfect world” bit was silly; it was a script patch. They had to explain why the machines chose to have people live in a flawed circa-1998 world, so they had Agent Smith say that; if he doesn’t say that, we’d all be saying “Why didn’t they make the Matrix so wonderful nobody would ever want to leave?” But taken independently, it makes absolutely no sense at all. Why wouldn’t people accept a perfect world? Are people happier when they’re unhappy? Does Somalia strike you as being a land of laughter and good times?
I liked “The Matrix,” but it was a very, very patchy script. The movie was written with the intent of being a computer geek’s wet dreams all rolled into one; that’s rude, I know, but it’s absolutely true. Think about it; a computer geek (Neo) who leads a dull, boring life, like most computer geeks (and most people) suddenly finds out he’s not just a computer geek at all. He’s The One, a superhuman fightin’ machine going up against Evil, and with no physical effort at all he learns martial arts, guns, and gets kissed by a pretty girl. In a span of an hour he’s Jackie Chan and Max Payne rolled into one with a pretty girl on his arm. The only way they could have made “the Matrix” more of a geek love-in would have been if Neo had been promoted to Captain of the Enterprise just before the credits rolled. (And they did have a spaceship-like vessel.)
As a result of trying to include all these computer geek dreams, however, they had to write a lot of arbitrary stuff in. Why do you die if you die in the Matrix? “The body cannot live without the mind,” says Morpheus, which means jack squat. The reason they died IRL if they died in the Matrix was because otherwise, the movie isn’t exciting. There would be no risk to Neo or Trinity and so you wouldn’t care if Agent Whatshisname shot them, because they’d just reload into the Matrix like starting a new game of Duke Nukem, and that’s not exciting at all. Why, for that matter, did the machines use humans as a source of energy, which is a ridiculous concept when any one of a hundred other power sources would be a better idea? Well, because otherwise you can’t explain why they’d keep us around or why there would be a Matrix at all.
As to the “virus” bit, puh-lease. Thanks, David Suzuki.
Science fiction is FICTION, not science. Despite the name, it’s about telling stories, not about explaining science. And the Bible is a great source for material.
Besides, why can’t you be a scientist and be a Christian?
While ZION was indeed a physical locale, the access codes were for the ZION mainframe computer.
The very fact that the machines want the ZION mainframe access codes answers this question. If the “real world” were another simulated world, there would be no need for the machines to put this obstacle in their own way.
Neo answers this when he says he does not like the idea of not being in control of his own life. IMO, human beings are instilled with a desire to dominate every aspect of his/her environment. It would take this type of attitude to hold onto the top spot in the order.
The ZION mainframe is a separate entity from the machine’s network. Given the advanced technology of the time period set in the movie, it’s quite possible that the humans had developed an encryption system that was sufficient at keeping the machines out. Perhaps an integration of numerous encryption designs that generates new and random contiguous designs, each one incorporating a different set of decryption rules.
My question would be…wouldn’t word get around among the “humans” in the matrix that sometimes these people (agents) would show up that had super human strength and had a tendancy to take over your body if they so pleased? Wouldn’t there be an article or two in the newspapers? I mean, if I saw someone jump off a 20 story building, land on the street in front of me, crushing in the concrete from the force of the impact, get up and dodge several bullets, pick up a bystander and throw him/her 50 feet through the air etc… I would want to know how that was done.