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"the Matrix" and Religion

Essay by review  •  November 11, 2010  •  Essay  •  1,755 Words (8 Pages)  •  1,577 Views

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In 1999, box office sales sky rocketed when the film Ð''The Matrix' was released. Filled with jaw dropping special effects and innovative kung-fu, the first film of Ð''The Matrix' trilogy was a must see for just about every teenage boy in the United States and many other countries as well. But it isn't just explosions and fighting that made this film special. The plot is one that leaves the viewer pondering and dreaming about the film for days after watching it. It involves almost the entire human race enslaved by machines that have tapped into their minds and placed them in a virtual reality world that they think is reality. Meanwhile, the machines use the energy from the bodies of the humans they control to survive. Mankind's only hope rests in the hands of one man. Sound like just another Sci-Fi film that would do horrible at the box-office? Guess again. Filled with intelligence and insight about questioning reality, the movie caught the attention of just about everybody. But perhaps the most talked about element of the film is its religious depictions and allusions. They are everywhere in the film, and hard to miss. But is The Matrix a religious film? What morals or lessons are the filmmakers, Larry and Andy Wachowski, trying to get across by using religious themes?

There is no denying that Christianity is symbolized in the film. In fact it would be difficult for any person familiar with Christian beliefs to overlook this, even on their first viewing. Christianity is one of the predominant religions in the United States, so it is not surprising that many discussions on the film relate to it. Many devout followers dismiss any idea that the film is not a Christian movie, and with good reason.

The main character of Ð''The Matrix', played by Keanu Reeves, is named Thomas Anderson. Many believe that this name may be an allusion to the bible's Doubting Thomas. Also, the name Anderson is derived from the Greek word andras, meaning "man." This gives us "son of man", a title that Jesus used in reference to himself (Burek). The main character is later called by his hacker name, Neo. Neo is an anagram for "one". "The One" is the title given to Neo in the film because he is believed to be the only person who can free mankind from the mind prison that they are trapped in. This role is paralleled to the role Jesus Christ played in the bible. He was sent to rid humanity of evil and free us from sin. Neo was awakened out of the matrix and then told that he is the only one that can save mankind from being enslaved by the machines. This was not easy for Neo to accept, just as it was not easy for Jesus to accept that he was the only one that could save mankind from being enslaved by the devil. The parallels continue throughout the film. At the end of the film, Neo actually dies. Then, after 72 seconds pass in the film (analogous to three days) he resurrects. At the very end of the film, Neo flies up into the sky. This symbolizes the story of Easter (Burek).

Early on in the movie, a character says to Neo "Hallelujah. You're my savior, man. My own personal Jesus Christ." Ð''The Matrix' is filled with quick depictions of Christianity like this. The plate on Morpheus's ship reads "Mark III No. 11." In the bible, Mark 3:11 reads, "Whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and shouted, Ð''You are the Son of God!'"

There are other characters in the film that are related to bible figures also. Most notably, the character Cypher is usually thought to represent Judas. Cypher betrays Neo in the film just as Judas betrays Jesus in the bible. Neo's love interest in the film, Trinity, can be interpreted in one of two ways. She may represent Jesus' love interest, Mary Magdalene. At many points in the film Trinity helps Neo through tough times in accepting his fate just as Mary did for Jesus. She may also represent the Holy Spirit. Although there is no person in the bible named Trinity, it is the name used to describe the Holy Spirit by Christians.

So there is no escaping the fact that Christianity plays some kind of role in The Matrix. But are there are other religions that have parallels to the film? Buddhism is probably the most evident one besides Christianity. Although, some say that it is equally obvious and meaningful.

In Buddhism, the world as we see it is Maya, meaning illusion(Ford). If one is to become enlightened, they must free there mind of this world. This coincides with the false reality that the matrix holds the humans within. If they wish to know the truth, they must realize that things in this world are not real. During the film, Neo is told by a young boy dressed in Buddhist monk attire that "there is no spoon." This explains to Neo that the things in the world are only real because our mind believes them to be.

The use of reflection in Ð''The Matrix' is very common, there is constant reflection in mirrors and in the trademark sunglasses the characters wear. This could be another symbolization of Buddhism. Mirrors are a frequent metaphor in Buddhist teachings, meaning that the world as we see it is a reflection of what is in our minds. You must free your mind in order to see what reality really is.

Although these Buddhist parallels are clearly undeniable, they do not seem to be quite as important to the film as the Christian elements. But the belief that The Matrix is simply a symbol of Christianity or Buddhism has flaws. So much in the film happens that contradicts both these religions. The use of violence is prominent in the film, and both Christianity and Buddhism preach against this. In fact, Neo may symbolize Jesus Christ, but he does not hesitate to

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