Interpretation and Intertextuality of the film “The Matrix”

Pre-University Paper 2012 15 Pages

Didactics - English - Literature, Works


Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. The Plot

3. Explanation
3.1. Extended Definition of the Matrix
3.2. Bending the Matrix
3.3. The Oracle
3.4. Neo as “the One”

4. Intertextuality
4.1. Biblical Approaches
4.2. Plato's “Allegory of the Cave”
4.3. Other mentionable References

5. Conclusion

6. Works Cited

1. Introduction

Take a trip down memory lane and find yourself in the year 1999. This year marked the birth of a film that would eventually become one of the most praised science fiction films of all time. Not only being received positively by critics and having a worldwide gross profit of over 463 million dollars with a budget of 63 million dollars, The Matrix by the Wachowski Brothers quickly gained a cult following for it’s highly professional fighting scenes, revolutionary special effects and steampunk atmosphere. It spawned two even more successful and anticipated sequels four years later, three video games, comic books and an anime spin-off. But what really made The Matrix a mentionable film was not it’s focus on action scenes, but it’s complex storyline and a wide range of possible Interpretation and Intertextuality. This seminar paper will give you a glimpse of how far those two points can reach. It will summarize the plot of The Matrix first, then it will interpret the points in the movie, that seem unclear and confusing to the viewer and last but not least explain the most notable references and the Intertextuality to works, that inspired the movie. It will, however, only treat the first and original movie The Matrix and not it’s sequels Matrix Reloaded and Matrix Revolutions and other media from the franchise.

2. The Plot

The Matrix revolves around Thomas Anderson in the year 1999, who lives a double life as an employee for a software company at daytime, as well as a criminal hacker under the pseudonym “Neo” at nighttime to earn money. He doesn’t seem to go out and enjoy himself very much and when not at work, he desperately searches for the meaning of the so called “Matrix” and a man who could lead him to its answers called Morpheus. One night, after he fell asleep on his computer, sentences about the Matrix and an instruction saying “Follow the white rabbit.”(min 7) appear on his computer screen and seem to be able to predict certain events, just like someone knocking at his door. After opening the door for a customer of his hacked data business, he is told by the buyer to go out with him and his friends for the sake of Neo’s health. At first slightly excited about this idea, he recognizes a tattoo of a white rabbit on the shoulder of one of the customers friends and decides to “follow the white rabbit”(min 7) and go with them.

After going to a club with this crew he meets a woman called Trinity, who is, just like Neo, an infamous hacker on the Internet and seems to know a lot about Neo. She tells him that he is in danger and that she went through the same questioning about the Matrix and Morpheus once in order to find the answers. The next morning, at his work cubicle, he receives a package containing a cellphone, which immediately rings. The caller is Morpheus, through whom he discovers, that he is prosecuted by three agent looking men in this very moment. Morpheus tries to guide Neo through the cubicles to help him escape but he still gets captured by the agents, who arrest him.

In an interrogation room, they reveal, that they know about his second life and the crimes he committed. They offer to delete his crime file, if Neo tells them about Morpheus, who is considered the most dangerous man alive by the agents. Neo refuses to cooperate by flipping them off and demanding a phone call. He then strangely loses control over his mouth, which seems to disappear. After that, the agents implant a strange device into his belly button, which causes Neo to wake up in his room, holding the events for a dream. He then gets called by Morpheus again, who tells him once again, that he is in high danger and the first time, that he is supposed to be “the One” and that Morpheus has been looking for him his entire life. He also tells him a meeting point under a bridge.

Upon arriving, Neo gets picked up by Trinity and several unknown people, who all seem to be affiliated with Morpheus. They point a gun at him in their car and tell him to take his shirt off in order to remove the bug the agents have planted in him with a strange device. Neo struggles, whether he should trust them and considers getting out of the car, but Trinity appeals to Neo’s curiosity about the Matrix. He stays in the car and Trinity removes the bug. He meets Morpheus at his home then. After talking about various issues like Fate, Slavery and "the Truth", which doesn't seem to have much context at all, he tells Neo, that the Matrix is basically everywhere, but you can't be told what it is, you have to witness it to understand it.

He offers Neo one of two pills: A blue pill, which will make Neo accept his fate and never understand what the Matrix is and a red one, which will show Neo what it is, but he couldn't go back then. He chooses and swallows the red one and is told to follow Morpheus into the next room, where some kind of laboratory with Morpheus’ crew is. Neo is told to sit down and recognizes a mirror, which is broken but seems to fix itself after a while on its own. After touching the mirror, Neo's world begins to fade and he seems to start hallucinating, while Morpheus asks him, whether he ever had a dream that was so real, that he couldn't figure what was real and what was not (min 30).

With this last words, Neo wakes up in a strange kind of booth filled with liquid, with a lot of wires attached to various plugs on his body being completely naked and having no hair at all. He gets rid of the wires and realizes, that there are millions of those kind of booths around him. He then gets sucked out of his booth and lands in a sea, where a big crane rescues him. After his arrival he meets Morpheus and his crew again, is introduced by Morpheus by the words "Welcome to the real world"(min 33) and blacks out.

After regaining consciousness he notices, that the crew started to do various operations to his body, to strengthen his muscles. After asking Morpheus, why his eyes hurt so much, he is told, that he never used them before. After his physical abilities are fully recovered, he is told by Morpheus, that the actual year is rather 2199 than 1999 and that they are currently on Morpheus futuristic hovercraft ship, the Nebuchadnezzar. He reintroduces his crew to Neo, which consists of Trinity, several other members he saw before and a few new ones.

To finally explain to him what the Matrix is, Neo is sit down in a dentist like stool where he gets jacked to a machine into a plug in the back of his head. Immediately after that he finds himself in a completely empty room with Morpheus, who tells him, that they are currently in a computer program. Neo’s clothing and hair is different than before and he lacks his plugs and he struggles over the question whether some of the newly spawned furniture is real or not, which is not. Morpheus tells Neo that the world that he knew as the world in 1999 is only a computer simulation called the Matrix and the real world is a dark post-apocalyptic desert full of ruins somewhere around the end of the 22nd century.

Early in the 21st century, mankind was able to create Artificial Intelligence, which resulted in the creation of a race of machines. Soon a war between humans and machines began and the human race obscured the sky to defeat the machines, who relied on solar power at that point. To survive, the machines started to use humans as their energy source and used them as a form of battery, where also Neo was seen after awaking from the Matrix previously. They began cultivating humans in large fields and invented the Matrix to make them believe, that they were living a normal live while they were used as batteries. Neo refuses to believe all of this and wakes up on the stool back in the Nebuchadnezzar, where he panics and pukes before blacking out once again.

Being fully aware of his situation, Neo is told by Morpheus of a man who was born inside the Matrix, “who had the ability to change whatever he wanted, [...] it was he, who freed the first of us, who taught us the truth. [...] After he died, the Oracle prophesied his return and that his coming would hail the destruction of the Matrix, end the war (and) bring freedom to our people...”(min 43). He tells Neo that he and others searched their entire lives for his reincarnation within the Matrix and that he freed Neo from it, because he thinks that he is “the One”.



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Interpretation Intertextuality of The Matrix 1999



Title: Interpretation and Intertextuality of the film “The Matrix”