Saturday, May 10, 2003

Morpheus: . . . Do you believe in fate, Neo?

Neo: No.

Morpheus: Why not?

Neo: Because I don't like the idea that I'm not in control of my life.

Morpheus: I know exactly what you mean. Let me tell you why you're here. You're here because you know something. What you know you can't explain. But you feel it. You've felt it your entire life. That there's something wrong with the world. You don't know what it is but it's there, like a splinter in your mind driving you mad. It is this feeling that has brought you to me. Do you know what I'm talking about?

Neo: The Matrix?

- Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) introducing Neo (Keanu Reeves) to The Matrix (Warner Bros., 1999) -

I�m talking about The Matrix too. Often these days with the imminent release of Reloaded across millions and millions of movie screens and the simultaneous download of the movie into millions and millions of brains. It�s been many years since I have been so. . . well. . . excited about a big Hollywood movie. Or, as I think more accurately describes Hollywood�s typical fare these days, big commercial product. The Matrix, while certainly a money making venture for all or most involved is, I think, something more than typical big movie fare.

I never thought I would find myself saying such a thing about a movie starring Keanu Reeves but there you have it.

I did not see The Matrix during its theatrical release in �99 but soon after the film appeared at my friendly neighborhood video shop. Sarah and me watched and each of us was left with the same impression as the end credits rolled - what great ideas left cowering undeveloped in the shadows of mind warping special effects and adrenaline rush action scenes. Or something to that effect. Still, something drew me back to the beginning of the M�s in the Science Fiction section of my video rental place (in Orlando at the time) and I watched The Matrix a second time.

This second viewing was some weeks after the first and I happened to be reading at the time Joseph Campbell�s classic study of mythology, The Hero With a Thousand Faces. Campbell�s book illuminated the movie for me. I recognized myriad mythological motifs and archetypes not only threading the film but weaving it into being, the essence of the story itself.

Neo�s journey in The Matrix is one of awakening � what Campbell termed The Hero�s Journey. It is a journey we all must make and will take if we are following the true paths of our respective lives. Neo becomes a new, awakened man capable of amazing things within The Matrix and the most amazing thing of all is that, like a real Bohdisattva, he will remain within the illusion of The Matrix and point the way toward the real world for the rest of us:

Neo: . . . I'm going to show these people what you don't want them to see. I'm going to show them a world without you, a world without rules and controls, without borders or boundaries, a world where anything is possible.

- Neo promising to liberate the mind from the machine in The Matrix (Warner Bros., 1999) �

The fact that this particular version of The Hero�s Journey includes eye bending, mind popping, envelope pushing special effects and catch your breath action sequences does not, of necessity, diminish the message of redemption, liberation and ultimate atonement at the heart of the story. Contrary, it is this fact that makes the movie such a potent and viable medium in this day and age for the tale of the hero within each of us.

There is much more going on in The Matrix than gee whiz effects and catch your breath action sequences. But don�t take my word for it. . .

Matrix Essays

Philosophy and The Matrix

Taking the Red Pill: Science, Philosophy and Religion in The Matrix

These movies are stimulating a lot of action and most of it is not, fortunately, gun play or Kung Fu fighting but the energy created by brains firing and hearts stirring toward the greater truth pointed to by the Wachowski Brothers and countless tellers of tales before them.

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