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The Matrix (religion Connections)

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The Matrix

What is the effect of so many allusions to religious themes/symbols/ideas in The Matrix?  Discuss them in detail.  How do these contribute to the movie's message?

    The Matrix is one of those movies that transcends time like the original Star Wars trilogy and every movie beginning with Harry Potter. Both Star Wars and Harry Potter had religious themes woven into them, but neither of them go to the same extreme as the Matrix. The Matrix draws a serious parallel to Christianity throughout the trilogy. Neo, who is named particularly well, is called, “The One” just as Jesus is referred to as the one messiah. Both Neo and Jesus are killed and rise back up from death as well. These are just a few examples of how the Matrix pulls century old themes from religion and repackages them. It then turns those themes into a complex story exploring our world as we know it and left audiences questioning their own realities. The original movie is so beloved that it still holds an outstanding 87% Fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes and an 85% Audience score delivered from fans over 18 long years of viewings (Rotten Tomatoes, 2017).

    The Matrix starts a lot of it’s similarities off by something as simple as it’s main character’s name. To start we find out our main character’s name is Thomas Anderson. Thomas, though a common name today, holds a special significance to within the Bible. The Apostle Thomas was also known as Doubting Thomas as he doubted Jesus saying he couldn’t believe what he could not see (John 20:24-29). This relates to our main character as Neo throughout the entire movie doubts himself and whether or not he truly is the one. This belief is further amplified when the Oracle tells Neo he isn’t the one. The realization on Neo’s face is proof he never truly believed in himself. The second half of his name is Anderson. Anderson means son of man according to old translations (Matrix as Messiah, 2017). Jesus is referred to as the son of man many times throughout the Bible and thus the comparison is easily made between Thomas Anderson as a name and the religious connections it bares. Neo is also the binary term for one, which is fitting as Jesus and Neo are both seen as “The One” and are both the savior of the respective worlds. It’s amazing something so simple as a name can mean so much when you look behind the curtains.

    Names aren’t the only thing that draw comparisons to religion in the Matrix. Many of the stories events and the character’s actions also draw strong comparisons. Starting with their birth, both came into their worlds without sexual reproduction. Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary and it is discovered that Neo was mechanically born. Jesus and Neo also foretold of the event of their own demise. The Bible says, “...just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28)  This is reminiscent of when the Oracle tells Neo in the Matrix, “"Morpheus believes in you, Neo. And no one, not you, not even me can convince him otherwise. He believes it so blindly that he's going to sacrifice his life to save yours. You're going to have to make a choice.....One of you is going to die. Which one will be up to you” (Matrix, 1999). Both of these statements acknowledge that “The One” knows that they will be killed. By Neo choosing to go after Morpheus, he makes that choice knowing it will kill him. Both world are in peril with Jesus’s world becoming consumed by sin and the Machines discovering Zion’s Mainframe codes and wiping away humanity. Yet both Neo and Jesus still choose to sacrifice themselves to save the world even though they know they will lost in the act. This is a great example of another parallel from the Matrix to Christianity. Neo also has a group of crew members (followers) will to do anything to help Neo save the world. Those crew members are a representation of the disciples that follow the Lord Jesus along his journey. One standout in the crew of the Nebakanezer is Cypher. Cypher is very clearly meant to be Judas. As Judas did with Jesus, Cypher wished for a life of luxury and was tired of the cruelty and fear following the Messiah entailed. The promised reward was physically different with Cypher receiving amnesia and a life of importance and luxury within the Matrix and Judas only a bag of 30 silver pieces, but it’s what both represented that is the same. It represented a better life without the burdens of their current one.

    Whereas there are many examples of symbolism throughout The Matrix, the most prominent examples of religious symbolism come at the end of the film. After Neo’s

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