Analysis: “The Matrix Trilogy”

The Matrix Trilogy has been chosen for analysis because of its powerful influence on 21st century Western conceptualizing of Reality—The Matrix was the very first DVD to sell more than three-million copies—and the fact that it has been perceived as confusing to many viewers. If the intention was to awaken the audience, the trilogy’s success has been incomplete, and no source of commentary has adequately informed those seeking resolution of the Matrix enigma. Although not necessarily “wrong” in their reports, some sources over-rely on references to past philosophers and miss the neo. 

The Matrix (1999), The Matrix Reloaded (2003), and The Matrix Revolutions (2003) are action-packed cinematic creations of Andy and Larry Wachowski. Their three-part science fiction story presents a post-apocalyptic vision of the future, where humans are dominated by sentient machines. In this imagined future, the machines farm humanity, using its collective bio-energy as a fuel source. The humans are kept alive but unawake, immobilized, and in a dreamlike state, their personal and shared consciousness trapped inside a simulated reality that occupies them mentally and emotionally. 

The perspective we offer, found nowhere else, is this: 

Everything in the trilogy, from the first scene of The Matrix through the last scene of The Matrix Revolutions is one nearly complete loop of a repetitive virtual-reality mind-game designed by the AI machines to engage the imprisoned collective unconscious of a vast array of fuel-cell humans. The characters seen throughout the trilogy are members of the sixth cast of characters in the sixth “season” of the archetypal game—none are real. 

Within this entirely simulated reality, one underground city, Zion, is all that remains of the unharnessed human race outside of a jack-in Matrix simulation (“dream” within a “dream”). Some of the cloistered sim-humans (our term) are free-born and some have been reclaimed from the jack-in level. The game consists of these free-ranging sim-humans attempting to liberate their tethered brethren and destroy the system created by the machines. Their ultimate goal is achievement of a world where humans and machines live together symbiotically, in peace and harmony—a happy dream within a nightmare within a larger living nightmare (the energy farm). 

The free-born sim-humans are unaware that “the desert of the real” in which they reside is just the outer zone of a larger simulation. These two sim-levels (states of consciousness) are interlocked and engaged in an archetypal epic adventure. The myth is essentially repetitive, cyclical. Five times it has ended with the death of the hoped-for Messiah— “the One”—and Zion’s subsequent destruction. The sixth version of Neo learns this from the Architect, the administrator program of the Matrix, who also tells Neo that the One is predestined to return to the Source and reset the Matrix. But Neo VI cannot accept this apparent inevitability. He perseveres in seeking a solution, in finding a way to break away from the preordained script. His hope is useless—he’s a sim-human. 

After Neo returns to the hovercraft in “the desert of the real,” he uses powers he had exhibited in the jack-in level of the Matrix—powers that violate the laws of physics—then drops into a coma (a third state of consciousness). Later, again in “the real,” as they approach Machine City, he exhibits super powers to an even greater degree. He meets the Source, and succeeds in engineering a truce. Zion’s people seem to have won the war, as prophesied. However, Neo has done exactly what he was programmed to do: reset the Matrix. The human fuel-cell farm will trundle on without interruption.


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14 Responses to “Analysis: “The Matrix Trilogy””

  1. PeaceTrainer Says:

    But in the final film, The Matrix Revolutions, the story ends with the Architect and Oracle talking and the Architect says he’s going to unplug the human batteries, which will obviously stop the operation of the Matrix. There is also a clearing of the skies, which would allow the machines to return to using solar energy.

  2. PluribusOne™ Says:

    In that final scene, the Oracle says that peace will last “as long as it can.” And it WILL last, but only until the archetypal script moves on to the next programmed chapter where Zion is demolished again except for a tiny remnant of survivors.

    To unplug the humans and stop the Matrix means eliminating the machines’ energy source—illogical. If nothing else, human bio-energy is a valuable back-up system and we have seen that the machines like to have backup systems.

    Reflecting the fact that the whole game must run again, the Oracle, in response to the question of whether dead Neo will ever be seen again, says that she thinks so. Yet Neo—as human and avatar—is dead, as dead as his five predecessors (which are all past versions of him). Throughout the trilogy the Oracle knows yet doesn’t know, because she’s just another programmed character invented and installed there to parrot her lines in a repetitive myth, playing her role as influencer of actions of other characters. Her programming can only expect that Neo VII will appear at the appointed time.

    Outside of the tri-level Matrix, the machines’ Source has every reason to keep the home-grown humans plugged into the Matrix and no compelling reason to release them. The Architect, like the Oracle, is a program and virtual functionary of the Source. His purpose is to write and revise programs to maintain the human hope-generating Matrix grail-quest in perpetuity. Note that the clearing of the skies is occurring in the jack-in Matrix, not in the “desert of the real” and not outside the whole machine-constructed Matrix where the machines actually reside.

    Human beings need to feel hope to stay alive. The sentient machines give them a tri-level dream-world, a Matrix, within which to play and replay an archetypal myth that is partly rooted in the religious history of the humans. In the REAL real world, the humans were completely conquered and there is no hope for the enslaved human race, no Zion, no coming Savior, no final conflict, no defeat of the machines, and no eventual paradise. That’s the way we interpret the trilogy.

    Is our take on the trilogy the understanding that the Wachowski brothers intended? If not, then the whole story is, in our opinion, too irrational to merit attention as serious science fiction, nothing more than a potpourri of philosophical hoopla dispensed via a flawed science-fantasy plot. We like to think that is not the case.

    Perhaps the best validation of our explanation of the trilogy is that, in 2004, The Matrix Online was established and its stated purpose was to serve as a continuation of the trilogy—an extension of the myth beyond The Matrix Revolutions. In that extended environment, the conflict was intended to continue, including the original cast of characters. It was referred to by its creators as an ever-expanding “game world.” See disc #2 of The Matrix Revelations two-disc edition.

  3. Sandi Says:

    How do you know that the world outside the jack-in Matrix is part of a larger machine-built Matrix?

  4. PluribusOne™ Says:

    One big clue is when Trinity dies, yet in violation of the laws of the local universe she returns to life and functions like nothing ever happened. Another big clue is presented when Neo is un-jacked and escaping from the scene of the hovercraft’s destruction, and he defies the laws of physics in the same way that he did inside the jack-in Matrix where the Architect resides. He does it again, on grander scale, when approaching Machine City. Also, Agent Smith, after becoming a rogue program within the jack-in Matrix, is able to take over Bane’s body and operate in the world outside the jack-in Matrix—even threaten (the simulated) Machine City.

    There are other clues as well. For example, when Neo is trapped in the train station his brainwave patterns are the same as when jacked-in to the Matrix (as the sim-humans understand the Matrix), yet it is confirmed that he is not jacked-in. This is an apparent oversight of the machines which should have programmed the sim-humans to display some unique brainwave frequency for that state of consciousness (e.g., Theta versus Alpha). The characters discuss this anomaly, so it is not an oversight on the part of the Wachowski brothers.

    The characters operate among three levels of a master all-encompassing simulation.

  5. Valiant Says:

    You’re saying that the boundaries between the “desert of the real” and the “matrix” are confusingly blurred because the two (plus the Trainman’s prison within the prison) are all part of one larger Matrix. Is there anything more that evidences this?

  6. PluribusOne™ Says:

    Yes. In early scenes of the first film, Morpheus takes Neo into “the construct,” the “loading program,” where we see that this construct has attributes almost identical to the Matrix. They even jack-in to this construct exactly the way they jack-in to the Matrix. They can program anything to appear real within the construct. There is little difference between their training construct and the Matrix construct because all of the states of being experienced by the characters are parts of a multi-level machine-made simulation of reality and subject to the rules for that master construct.

    Those who use the training construct to develop laws-of-physics-defying “navigational skills” are able to expand and refine those skills while inside the Matrix and—this is the clue—bring those skills back into the “desert of the real.” This portability of power is possible because all of those states of consciousness are part of the same master simulation. The Machine City that Neo invades to meet the Source is only a symbolic representation of the world-scale network of AI machines in the Real world where every human is part of the bio-energy farm.

    A fourth Matrix movie should be made to tie-up these loose ends left by the trilogy—a sequel that serves as a prequel by showing the initial spread of the AI civilization, its creation of the “farm,” its designing of a Matrix-generating computer system that accommodates the various states of human consciousness, its absorption of libraries on religion and philosophy, its scripting of the myth for deployment in the Matrix, and, in the final scenes, reveals that there is no a real Zion. That movie might have enough impact on its audience to wake them up to the fact that 99% of human beings in our real world are basically batteries feeding energy to a parasitic 1%. The core story is allegorical.

  7. Stark Raven Says:

    Many people believe that they see the teachings of Carlos Castaneda reflected in this movie. Do you think that’s true?

  8. PluribusOne™ Says:

    Having read all of Castaneda’s books, it seems certain that the movie is, at least in part, attempting to express his metaphysical teachings. We see our interpretation of the Matrix Trilogy as being consistent with Castaneda. The connections are many, like Source and sorcery, combat within a controlled lucid dream-state, “stopping the world,” a “second ring of power,” a “separate reality,” “double beings,” “flyers,” etc. And, although it may be entirely coincidental, one of Castaneda’s favorite songs was a tango titled: “Esperanza Inutil”—Useless Hope.

  9. Stark Raven Says:

    Your thesis is very interesting but other things said among the characters in the Matrix story seem to contradict your interpretation.

  10. PluribusOne™ Says:

    That is because the characters residing in “the desert of the real” do not know that they are also sim-humans whose actual bodies are plugged into a power station.

  11. Sara B. Good Says:

    Why don’t the humans in the desert of the real recognize that the story they’re living keeps replaying?

  12. PluribusOne™ Says:

    Because each cycle of the story lasts one generation (about 30 years in today’s real world), and because the machines would be running parallel matrixes, and because it is unlikely that the humans would be kept alive after prime energy-producing years. Six generations have passed by the year 2199. Obviously, the machines control the rate of reproduction and, via the Architect, the machines can make any necessary adjustments to run-time.

  13. Stark Raven Says:

    In your third comment you mentioned that the core story is allegorical. What did you mean? I assume you mean the mythology of the Fall of Man and Salvation through the Coming of Christ. Right?

  14. PluribusOne™ Says:

    That the film was released on an Easter weekend appears to indicate an intention to urge viewers to make a related connection. However, the filmmakers’ larger intent in this is unknown to us. Their intention may have been to suggest adoption of a new “Fall and Salvation” myth, or at least to see beyond the one that is culturally dominant.

    In any case, The Matrix cannot be called a retelling of the Bible story using different imagery, despite the presence of the easily identifiable archetypes.

    The “core allegory” we alluded to is the story told in Plato’s “Republic,” his allegory of the cave. That core allegory encourages realization that humans are dwellers in a matrix of illusion, that most people are “asleep” most of the time and manipulated by forces in the shadows.

    Like Socrates and Plato and other philosophers, the core purpose—job one—of PluribusOne™ is to help people to wake up and smell the real. We are not in the position to make movies, but we can provide thought-provoking commentary.

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