The Matrix Essay

1261 words - 5 pages

1 Justin McBride
Philosophical Analysis of the Matrix
When the film "The Matrix" debuted in 1999, it captivated audiences far and wide with
its slow-motion gunplay, dazzling special effects (including the much lauded and oft imitated
"Bullet Time") and exciting and well-choreographed fight scenes. The film was highly
successful and quickly became a cultural phenomenon. However, the most important points of
the film were often unnoticed by casual moviegoers. The Matrix contains a great deal of religious
and philosophical parallels which have been noticed by philosophers and academia and the film
is still being closely studied to this day. While many may appreciate The Matrix for its over-the-
top fight scenes, there is much to be gained from the film on both intellectual and philosophical
levels.
Classical Greek philosopher Plato's Allegory of the Cave has many parallels with The
Matrix. Plato presents the idea that the world we see is a mere shadow of what truly exists and
that we have never seen the world for what it really is. In The Matrix, this idea is integral to the
film's plot and setting. As the Matrix is a computer program that humans are plugged into, the
world they view as "real" is not what it appears to be. In reality, those living within the Matrix
have never seen the real world that exists beyond their perception. Only those who have been
"unplugged" or removed from the Matrix have ever truly seen the real world.
In the film, it is suggested that people should be unplugged before they reach a certain
age because there are some who will never be able to accept the reality of the world around
them. In another allusion to the Allegory of the Cave, it is stated that "If the prisoners remain in
the cave, or are not rescued when they are young, they will never know a higher Good"
(Ferguson). If an individual is too old or otherwise set in their manner of thinking, it is highly
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2 Justin McBride
unlikely that they will be capable of understanding and believing that everything they have
grown to perceive as real has been nothing but an elaborate façade.
The Matrix is in itself another form of reality. Despite its existence as a simulation, the
actions people perform within the Matrix are perceived by the mind as real. Thus, if you are
killed within the Matrix, you will die in the real world as well because the mind perceives what
occurs within the Matrix as "real". In another allusion to Plato's Cave Allegory it is stated that
"What exists is reality, like the shadows dancing on the wall in Plato's cave. Knowing influences
what and how things are viewed and can lead to a richer experience of life" (Stewart). The mind
views the actions taking place within the Matrix as real, and despite the fact that the characters
have the ability to bend the laws of physics to perform superhuman feats because they know that
the Matrix is a simulation, they cannot defy the mind's perception of personal injury or death....

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