The Matrix, a legendary science fiction film, was released on March 31, 1999. Its main philosophical theme that questions the meaning of human existence is mixed in with special effects and a diverse cast, making it more than just a fun action film.
Neo’s Journey into Wonderland
The Matrix centers on Neo, played by everyone’s favorite, Keanu Reeves, who doesn’t quite fit into the society around him. He is approached by a group of strangers, all who are dressed in black with funny sunglasses, that lead him to their leader, Morpheus. This meeting leads to Morpheus explaining that there is an omnipresent force known as ‘The Matrix’ that cannot be escaped, but also, cannot be explained. Real comforting, right? Morpheus continues by offering Neo two pills: the blue one that will allow him to wake up in his bed, thinking this was all make-believe or the red one that will keep him ‘in Wonderland’, where the truth will be revealed. Neo takes the red pill, despite not knowing the possible risks, which leads him on a crazy adventure.
Is Ignorance Bliss?
Knowing the truth comes with preparation. Neo is escorted to Morpheus’s ship, The Nebuchadnezzar, where he begins an intense re-birthing process that prepares him to understand the forces he is up against. After his body is renewed, he must train both physically and mentally if there is a chance to destroy ‘The Matrix’. Understanding the inner workings and details of a false reality built to control the entirety of humanity is not easily explained or easily understood, especially for those who have been living inside that fantastical construct. The Matrix is constantly juggling the existential benefits of truth versus ignorance.
Neo could have continued his life as he had prior to his meeting with Morpheus and never learned about the fake society he was living in. However, the extreme renewal process and discipline he undergoes after boarding The Nebuchadnezzar is only a minor consequence that puts him in a position to save not only himself but the rest of the world.
The Matrix was SO Before Its Time
I’ve heard some people say The Matrix is cheesy, specifically citing the acting, which I whole-heartedly disagree with. The entire film universe is complex and detailed while also questioning bigger systems that have always been at play in society. While there is the presence of basic flip phones, cell phones like we know them today were unthinkable. Since 1999, social media has not only been introduced to the masses but has been popularized for every generation still alive. There are children that know the workings of Twitter better than me, and don’t even get me started on the Grandma selfies on Facebook!
This sort of technological advancement that is all stored on our personal mini computers we carry around sounds like something straight out of The Matrix. It is just another way we are trying to cope with the false reality we are all engaging in, not saying I believe in ‘The Matrix’ or anything…
Why is Diversity Casting Such a Hard Concept When The Matrix Did it in 1999?
Here we are, twenty years later, and still the battle of representation is still heavily being disputed. Somehow, The Matrix did it right before it was the ‘cool’ thing to do. Morpheus, played by Laurence Fishburne, is a Black man who is in charge of the revolution. Those who work under him are also diverse, with a couple of women and other people of colour who are diligent to the vision Morpheus has. The biggest plus when it comes to the casting in The Matrix is in the villains. There is a tendency in film casting to have a non-white character end up being the bad guy. In The Matrix, all the characters that end up being evil are white men. This is a powerful message when talking about forces and systems that feed off the ignorance of the entire population to stay in control. Along with the casting is the identity of the directors, Lana and Lily Wachowski, who have undergone gender transformations in the past twenty years. Therefore, this film is directed by two transwomen who are talented, creative, and well-read in philosophy.
I cannot write about The Matrix without talking about the character of Trinity, played by Carrie-Anne Moss. In the film, the first scene focuses on a badass female character in a black latex suit who fights away all the bad guys. She jumps into mid-air, flies from building to building, and escapes an army of men. Trinity does not disappoint the rest of the movie either as her fashion sense is always above the other characters and her ability to stay calm is very admirable. In the end, Neo and Trinity do have a few feelings to exchange but I can’t hate on Keanu getting the girl of my dreams. Trinity is one of the best characters of the late 90s to early 2000s cinematic releases that both men and women can crush on.
20 Years Later
The Matrix will be a film that is talked about for generations to come. Yes, two sequels came out after this magnificent work of art that are not on the same level as this 1999 release but this first movie in the trilogy is a gem. It is well thought out, brilliantly directed, thoughtfully cast, and Trinity is the best. Here’s to twenty more years of watching The Matrix.