'Matrix': a well-written review from Gnostic/philosophical perspective

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The story of The Matrix (1999)sprobably the most elaborately plotted action movie ever madesis authentically Gnostic. It is in fact, and way beyond lThe X-Files,n lGnosticism reborn.n(1) Wherever exactly Andy and Larry Wachowski hatched their demonically inspired and wickedly effective pop parable about the enslavement of modern man to the machine, they have come up with a genuine original. Itms an amazingly coherent blend of Philip K. Dick, H. P. Lovecraft, Jean Baudrillard, messianic prophecy, apocalyptic lore, martial arts mysticism, and technological paranoia. The Matrix may well be the outstanding American movie of the m90s. But it is both less and more than your average great movie. On the one hand, it is slick and vaguely soulless, with all the pumping adrenaline-charged violence that characterize the MTV movies of recent years (it is produced by Joel Silver, after all). On the other hand, it may just be the first fully-realized Surrealist work in mainstream cinema to date. The Matrix is a shamanic journey in dramatized form, fit to stand up alongside Alice in Wonderland and destined, perhaps, to someday overthrow The Wizard of Oz as the ultimate cult-psychedelic movie. The Matrix is all this and a fair bit more, but itms also undoubtedly not for everyone. Unless you are prepared to accept its premisesthat reality is a dream, controlled by secret forces to enslave us with, and that only through conscious dreaming can we escape our bondage and reclaim our divine nature (a truly Gnostic premise, as I say)sthen the movie will be so much hokum and mayhem and no more. Doubtless, millions saw it and enjoyed it as such. But The Matrix is considerably more than just a piece of first-class entertainment: itms a runaway artistic experiment, an experience that bends our concepts of what is real and what is not, and leaves us in a very tight spot indeed.

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-- scott (hma5_5@hotmail.com), February 08, 2000

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