Monday, August 14, 2017

The Matrix (1999)

Plato’s cave is an allegory about how perception versus reality.  A group of people facing a wall in a cave can only think in terms of the shadows.  It isn’t until they turn around that the realize what’s going on.  However, people will be reluctant to turn around, as they have no real reason to.  The people in the cave will continue to think in terms of the shadows until they break free.

Likewise, a person living in a computer simulation would have no means by which to conclude that there’s any other reality.  If we were living in a computer simulation, as Elon Musk has said is probable, we would have no means by which to even question a higher existence.   This is the start of the premise for The Matrix.

Thomas A. Anderson, better known as Neo, is a regular guy in a regular job, or so he thinks.  He’s contacted by a group of people who know the truth.  Everything around him is a construct of computers.  It’s all a simulation.  If he takes one pill, he can go back to his normal life and forget everything.  Take the other pill and he can exit the simulation and start to fight it.

Neo takes the second pill and finds himself violently disconnected from the system.  He finds himself on a ship, surrounded in part by the people that rescued him, including Morpheus, who runs the ship, and Trinity.  Most of them have been disconnected from the simulation, although a few were born outside The Matrix.  They mostly fight the system, but also find others to disconnect.

Normally, someone is only disconnected as a child.  Most adult minds can’t handle being separated from The Matrix.  Neo is a special case, as Morpheus believes Neo to be The One, as in the one who can bring down the entire system and free everyone.  It’s a heavy burden to carry, but Neo seems up to the task.  He seems to be able to assimilate most of the training materials in short order.

The hard part is learning that the laws of physics mean nothing in a simulation.  After a while, you can leap between rooftops and run up walls.  This, of course, leads to all sorts of special effects on steroids, a few of which have long since passed into the public awareness.

The movie does seem to be driven mostly by effects, but does have enough of a story to bring them all together.  I was recently looking at some of those basic story lines that are accurate in a very vague sense.  If I had to apply that here, I’d say that it’s a futuristic movie, set in the present, about humanity having been beaten back into the stone age.  This movie sets up the trilogy.  We get an explanation of what happened to humanity that it ended up like this.  We also see Neo’s transformation from an office worker to possible savior of the species.

I should warn those that haven’t seen the movie that it is kind of dark.  It seems like the entire movie was shot at night.  Even the office scenes are somewhat dark.  I’d put the age level in the mid-teens.  High school and up should be able to handle it.  Yes, there is some killing and it’s not pretty.  Consider that the movie is rated R.  To say it’s because of the violence would be an understatement.

One thing that occurred to me is that many of the real people, like Neo and Trinity, seem to use fake names.  I think Neo is the only character to be given what we would consider a real-sounding name.  Likewise, many of the ‘fake’ characters, like Agent Smith, seem to have real-sounding names.   The only exception to this is The Oracle.  If I recall, this holds true more for the first movie than the sequels.  It was just something that occurred to me while watching it recently.

No comments :