Saturday, November 01, 2003


The Guardian, October, 2003

Usually, whenever me and my barkada watch a grand film, most especially ones who influence a religious following, like the Star Wars saga, the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, and the X-men series, we find time to hang out on a café or bar and discuss the film. We talk about how good or how bad the film is, and we discuss and try to dissect the other aspects of the film we just watched. Of course, MATRIX REVOLUTIONS have given us quite a lot to discuss about.

Unlike the so-called high brow critiques of film who dismiss sci-fi flicks like STAR WARS and The EVIL DEAD series as “mababaw”, there are many of us who see beyond just the special effects and the action, and see the philosophies and the prolific messages that are embedded in these stories.

THE MATRIX TRILOGY is one sci-fi saga which is rich in these subliminal philosophies. In fact, there are cults and groups of people who liken the Matrix storyline into religious ideas. Weird as it is, some of them even liken Neo to Jesus Christ. I’m serious, there are people bizarre enough to think of these things. Try to research this in the internet, by searching “Matrix and Jesus Christ” in any search engine like YAHOO! Or GOOGLE, and you’ll find out what I’m talking about.

But truly, MATRIX SAGA does carry within itself intelligent ideas. Chronologically, as based in the storyline in ANIMATRIX (go watch this animated collection of stories that revolve around the Matrix at your nearest video shops now) the Matrix saga began with mankind’s vanity that they took it upon themselves to create AIs (Artificial Intelligence, robots, etc..) to be their slaves. Then the AIs, like other intelligent creatures also desired freedom. But mankind’s pride hindered this. And thus, war has destroyed mankind’ future. The saga tells us of man’s destructive nature. Mankind is likened to a virus, a creature who spreads to one area, consumes and corrupts it, then moves on to another area and spreads even more, without serving a natural purpose.

The saga also makes us open our mind to understanding reality. “What IS real? How can you tell the difference between the dream world and the real world” It takes a lot of sanity to survive trying to ponder upon these questions, but these are all nonetheless, interesting. THE MATRIX makes us ask the question “Are we really in control of our lives? Or is it about time that we DID take control of our lives” Sometimes, we realize that we are slaves. Slaves to the standards of society. Slaves to religion. Slaves to modern culture. Slaves to the opinions of our peers and our contemporaries. Slaves to the government, taxes, obligations, employment, media, and vanity. In the MATRIX saga, the heroes are the individuals who are defined by their virtue to defy authority. It is because in this storyline, authority enslaves mankind. But does living in the dreamworld of the Matrix truly a state of being enslaved? In the first episode, the character named Cypher betrayed his allies and surrendered himself to live back in the world of the Matrix. Because back in the Matrix, he is free from the inconveniences of being in a state of war against the machines. It is like a symbolism for many things. If we were living back in the Spanish era, would you have chosen to be a Katipunero living in utter discomfort, chaos, and danger, but living in defiance, seeking freedom? Or would you have rather lived peacefully under the rule of the Spaniards, keeping a blind eye to the fact that we are under foreign rule? But if we desire to be free, what do we want to do with that freedom? At the end of the final episode of the Matrix, when mankind has indeed earned their freedom, would mankind live well, in civilized peace and independence once again? Do you think that after a while of peace, man would absolutely forget his destructive abusive ways? In the millions of human beings, are we sure that no one man can emerge to be one who can possess the human attributes of being abusive, hostile, envious, malicious, and destructive, and eventually lead to another downfall of the entire human race? In another standpoint, The Matrix is order. But it is much like the strict classes of order like Communism, Socialism, and Tyranny. While the humans desire an order based on freewill, like Democracy. But it was the humans, in the first place, who abused this democracy by depriving the machines of it. An order based on freewill is good, but should we dictate this freewill only to a particular group of citizens?

One of the premises of the Matrix is War and Order. Man has lived in Order, and for a time, it was good. Until man’s pride has led to war with the machines who only desired freedom, and so there was disorder among men. Then the machines established Order, and for a time, it was good. Until the machine’s pride has led to war with man, who only yearned freedom. Is this the cycle of war and order? It appears so. That is why at the end, the Architect doubts that peace shall not last long. It is because it is in the nature of man to , in one way or another, surrender to his harmful attribute. The end of the MATRIX REVOLUTIONS is indeed one that is uncertain, for it is honest to admit that there truly can be no absolute peace. If the producers would make another sequel to this saga, trying to continue the end of the last chapter, it would focus on the peace treaties between man and machine. The whole movie would be like watching a two-hour United Nations session.

Are you confused yet? The other sublime messages of the MATRIX are also those tiny bits of philosophy scattered around the trilogy. “Hope is the quintessential human delusion which is the source of one’s greatest fear and greatest strength” as said by the Architect. “It is purpose that guides us, that binds us…” and so goes Smith’s lecture about purpose. The Merovingian’s concept of “Cause and Effect”. The definition of LOVE and KARMA by a program who appears to be Indian. There are many more that one can learn from the saga of the Matrix. It makes MATRIX “More than meets the Eye”. It is perhaps because the storyline is inspired by so many things, aside from Japanese anime and Hongkong stunts, but by books on modern philosophy and other related studies, books like “Simulation and Simulacra” and other sources that discuss matters beyond the comprehension of sanity and reality.

Personally and honestly, I hated the action scenes of the second episode, but I was stunned by the storyline and the dialogues. The third episode is even more interesting. And I liked the action in this one because it was a war movie that focused on various cuts and scenes by the various characters of the story. Because this was not your usual “Jerry Bruckheimer garbage”, the running of the storyline is very unpredictable. Anybody could easily just die, anybody could do some crazy stunt, and anybody could end up doing something that is nearly a miracle.

Some of my friends have had so many questions and unpleasant opinions about one or two aspects of the film, reasonable points that make sense too, but I loved it almost flawlessly. Why? This was a war epic that appealed to me very much. It was the sort of sensation that only a STAR WARS movie (I’m talking about the first trilogy - ep. 4,5,6) could generate. The dialogues were so interesting that I find myself giggling to basically all of Smith’s lines. And we see Neo’s journey from a Geek who questions reality (first movie). To warrior (second). And until he finally emerges the charismatic Savoir who endured all the pains and challenges.