The Matrix as Messiah Movie

The Matrix - A Cyberpunk Parable?


(If this list bores you, just skip ahead to the allegory in part III)

To give you an idea of just how many 'lenses' are available to view The Matrix, here is a very incomplete (and purposefully so!) list of themes and influences that people are analyzing in the film:

  • Neo as man who becomes a Christian and learns to walk in faith

  • Neo as Christian Messiah

  • Neo as Jewish Messiah

  • Christ's Second Coming (the hint from Morpheus that Neo came once before)

  • Neo as Antichrist (reverse all good/evil roles in the film)

  • Neo as Moses who leads people out of captivity

  • Neo as key figure or exemplary believer for various religions, philosophies, movements, governments

  • Neo as man coming to enlightenment (Buddhism, some eastern philosophy)

  • Neo as man discovering himself and/or truth (many philosophies and religions)

  • Alice in Wonderland (white rabbit, looking glass, etc.)

  • Dorothy / Kansas / "Mr. Wizard" / Oz

  • The nature of reality

  • The nature of truth

  • The nature of identity

  • Philosophy vs. Religion

  • Man vs. Technology

  • Science vs. Faith

  • Fate / Free Will / Destiny

  • Illusion / Dreams

  • Conscious vs. Subconscious (Jung)

  • Superstition (Neo sees black cat = 'bad luck')

  • Man vs. "The System"

  • Nihilism

  • Social Rebellion / Anarchy / Nonconformity / Disestablishmentarianism (a fifty-cent word!)

  • Control / Authority ("You have a problem with authority, Mr. Anderson")

  • Greek mythology (Morpheus, Oracle, etc.)

  • Mind over matter ('Spoon boy' bending spoons, girls levitating blocks)

  • Metaphysics

  • Humanism (a future with 'no borders', 'the power is within you', 'free your mind', etc.)

  • Evolution (cf. Agent Smith's speech to Morpheus)

  • Reincarnation (Neo apparently existed previously; see Morpheus' bedside speech)

  • The 'Ecological Gospel' (Agent Smith says man is a virus that destroys the planet)

  • Truth is everywhere / Pantheist / "You're not looking for him, but for an Answer"

  • Atheism (God is arguably not part of the basic plot or future world)

  • Existentialism

  • Relativism

  • Simulation / virtuality

  • Nietzsche, Plato, 'know thyself', etc.

  • Postmodern philosophy (Simulacra & Simulation)

  • Martial arts and related philosophy

  • Martial arts film culture, Hong Kong stuntwire work

  • Drug culture (mescaline / altered perception)

  • Coded messages (Matrix code, Bible codes, etc.)

  • Harlan Ellison's sci-fi tale "I Have No Mouth But I Must Scream"

  • The Terminator films– AI controls and destroys the world

  • Logan's Run film - computers control life; a world exists outside the city domes; etc.

  • Superman – Neo flies away at the end.

  • Life is a simulation (films such as Dark City, Thirteenth Floor, eXistenZ, Total Recall, Tron, etc.)

  • William Gibson's Neuromancer novel and others (Matrix, cyberjacks, implants, construct, samurai female sidekick in leather, etc.)

  • Techno-industrial soundtrack / significance of song selection

  • Stylized heroes (shades, leather, trenchcoats, shoes, etc)

  • Stylized violence / choreography / John Woo's trademark style (guns in both hands, slo-mo, etc.)

  • Anime influences

  • Comics influences (artist Geof Darrow did some concept design); the storyboarded flavor of scenes

  • Star Wars vs. The Matrix (Neo/Luke the disgruntled hacker/farmboy is mentored by Morpheus/Obi-Wan and becomes a super-powered Jedi/"The One")

  • Hero vs. Obstacle (the hero faces an obstacle that nearly defeats him, then he revives. Superman escaping kryptonite, Godzilla getting temporarily beaten by rival monsters, Rocky Balboa nearly 'down for the count', Popeye just before eating spinach, etc.)

  • "Mikey, I think he likes it." – Tank makes a reference to an old cereal commercial!

  • Old spaghetti western clichés with gunfight face-off, 'tumbleweed' newspaper, twitching trigger fingers

...and many more!


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Symbolism, Metaphor, Imagery, Etc.:

  • room numbers 303 and 101, other numerology

  • coming 'full circle' (film starts and ends with computer screen, room 303, a trip in and out of a phone, etc.)

  • water / rain

  • reflections / mirrors

  • nomenclature (names of streets, people, companies, etc.)

  • time: regular vs. slo-mo vs. 'bullet-time'; 1999 vs. 2199, etc.

  • falling, climbing, jumping, flying, heights

  • color, filter, and lighting schemes, reality blue, hacker green, etc.

  • clothes / gear

  • casting, race, gender, age, etc.

  • lion-headed chairs appearing multiple times, other strange set pieces

  • the golden blob on Neo's chest

  • organic look of the machines

  • old vs. new, ancient vs. modern

  • clocks, signs, etc.

  • camera angles / cinematography / scene construction / etc.

...and many more!

If you wish to see just how deep the rabbit hole goes, or how wide the rabbit tracks run,
you'll surely want to visit Warner Brother's discussion forum for The Matrix
(forum still available as of November 1999).

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