Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Choose Life Part 3: The Matrix (1999)

     Before there was “Inception”, there was “The Matrix”, a film with not only some groundbreaking special effects, but also a complex story based on a lot of philosophical and religious ideas. The idea that this world is not the “real” world. The idea that there is no such thing as fate. The idea that one is in control of his or her own life. That puts kind of a damper on people who may not believe that, doesn’t it? But “The Matrix” challenges its characters and the audience with the idea that there is a world beyond this one, and we have to choose to enter it ourselves.

     Thomas A. Anderson (Keanu Reeves) is a computer programmer by day, but a computer hacker nicknamed “Neo” by night. He keeps seeing references to a “Matrix” on his computer and is curious. And one day, another hacker named Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) comes to him in a “dream” and tells that she has been looking for him for a long time, along with her boss Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne). Neo, confused why he should be the one looked for, lets himself be arrested one day by sinister agents including villain Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving), instead of going to find Morpheus.

     But Neo eventually finds him and meets with him one night. Morpheus questions him about what he believes:

MORPHEUS: Do you believe in fate, Neo?

NEO: No.

MORPHEUS: Why not?

NEO: Because I don’t like the idea that I’m not in control of my life.

MORPHEUS: Let me tell you why you’re here. You’re here because you know something. What you know, you can’t explain, but you feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life, that’s there something wrong with the world, but it’s there… Do you know what I’m talking about?

NEO: The Matrix?

MORPHEUS: The Matrix is everywhere. It is all around us. Even now in this very room. …It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.

NEO: What truth?

MORPHEUS: That you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else, you were born into bondage, born into a prison that you cannot smell or taste or touch. A prison for your mind. Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself.

     And in an iconic scene, Morpheus gives Neo the choice of taking either a blue pill or red pill. If he takes the blue pill, he goes back to the world—the “prison”. If he takes the red pill, he will be in the Matrix. Neo takes the red pill, and his adventure begins. The rest of the movie, however, I won’t dwell on as much, only because this scene sort of sums up the movie and the point I want to make with it.

     The last couple weeks, we’ve seen movies about people who have found themselves on what seems like a written, destined path. “The Matrix” teaches the opposite: you make your own choice to live in either a world that is, in the words of 1 Corinthians 13, “a reflection in a mirror”, or in some translations, “a mirror dimly” or “a glass darkly”; or we can choose to uncover that veil and see the world as it really is. As a Christian, perhaps this choice is to either live in this world ignoring the presence of God, or realizing that this world is only temporary and that there is indeed an eternal realm awaiting us.

     Deuteronomy 30:19-20: “‘This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.’”

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