The Matrix
House Church Central Goes to the Movies

Warner Brothers, Village Roadshow Pictures, Groucho II Film Partnership, Silver Pictures. Produced by Joel Silver. Written and directed by The Wachowski Brothers.

It is 1999 and people are coming and going exactly as we expect them to do in a modern city like Sidney, where this movie was filmed. They go to work, they go to church (mentioned once in the otherwise godless and sterile world of this film), they party, and they go home. But all this is but an illusion maintained by a giant computer that holds all of humanity captive. That computer is the matrix; "the world that has been pulled over your eyes to hide the truth," as Morphius (Lawrance Fishbone) explains to Neo (Kenau Reeves) after he unplugs him from the matrix and brings him into the "real world."

One can spend hours discussing this film within the church because its authors have gone to a great deal of trouble to implant Christian allusions throughout. For one thing, the whole idea of a humanity enslaved on a world run by evil is the "cyberpunk" hypothesis that has gained recent popularity; everything that people sense, feel, accept, reject, and so on, is illusion because we are all separate threads in a gigantic computer program. The Matrix opens in the illusionary world and accompanies Neo as he escapes into the "real" world and adjusts to the shock of discontinuity. The last human city, called Zion, is hidden deep in the earth and the evil matrix is trying to eliminate it by obtaining the "access codes to its mainframe."

Of course the Christian analogy depends on finding the "chosen one," and whether Neo is that person or not is the center of this episode's plot. The "chosen one" was a man who was "born inside" the matrix when it was created. He alone had the ability to remake the matrix and, when he died, "the oracle had prophesied his return." Morphius dedicated his entire life to hacking the matrix to find the chosen one and bring him out, and believes he has found the chosen one in Neo.

Some of the Christian symbols to look for: the constant call for people presented with the opportunity to escape the matrix to make a binary decision, first seen in his choice of whether to take the red or the blue pill. The name of Morphius' ship is "Nebuchadnezzar." There is a Judas in Morphius' band of followers, played by Joe Pantoliano. The importance of women (the woman in this movie is Trinity, played by Carrie-Anne Moss). There are also clever Alice in Wonderland allusions--especially the white rabbit.

Much of The Matrix plays as a computer game. Since many of the people are illusions, I suppose that we are supposed to overlook the mayhem that occupies the main action sequence as Neo and Trinity invade the enemy stronghold, shooting probably more rounds per second than any prior movie. Many in the younger generation who saw this film had no interest in the Christian references, coming only to view such sequences and the ground-breaking Asian marshal arts and special effects that brought this film its Oscar.

So is Neo the chosen one? If you haven't seen this film, it is well worth watching it to find out. But take notes as you view the film and try to list the biblical touchpoints. There are many.

(Since this was written, there have been two sequels. I have viewed them both and have to say that they are each a mess -- at least from a Christian perspective. If you want Blu-Ray, you need to order the whole series of three movies.)

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