This is an analysis I wrote for my survey of world views class about The Matrix and how it relates to post-modernism.
The Matrix portrays the worldview of post-modernism concluding that normal rules and laws that apply to humans can be broken. The movie is centered on Tom Anderson, more commonly known as his hacker alias, Neo.
The movie begins with Trinity, a famous hacker and member of Morpheus crew, trying to track Neo. However, Agents thwart her plan. Trinity hacks into Neo’s Computer and leads him to a dance club, where Neo and Trinity meet for the first time. This meeting causes Neo to be late for work the next day. Neo receives a package containing a phone and when it rings, it is Morpheus. Agents arrive at his workplace to capture him to utilize his skill set in hacking. Morpheus instructs Neo with escape techniques and gives Neo a choice to climb on the scaffolding to the roof or to be captured. Neo chooses to be captured by the Agents.
In the Agents’ captivity, Neo is given a choice to help them; and in return, his criminal record will be wiped clean. Neo refuses their offer and demands his phone call. The Agent replies, “What good is a phone call when you can’t speak,” and Neo’s mouth seals shut. To keep a close watch on Neo, the Agents place a tracing program in him, which Trinity removes later.
Trinity arranges a meeting for Neo to meet Morpheus, where Neo chooses to have his mind free from the matrix. Neo is reborn into the real world and begins his training. He begins to learn martial arts, and is learning about the rules or the lack of them within the matrix. The exceptional rate at which Neo absorbs the training confirms the idea that he will be the one to save humanity.
The main antagonists in the film are Agents, rouge computer programs that can move within the matrix as they please. The Agents capture Morpheus to find the key to Zion, which is locked away in his brain. Neo decides to do what no one has done before and enter the matrix to save Morpheus. Upon succeeding, Neo realizes his potential and begins to believe in himself. Neo, instead of running from the Agents, decides to turn and face them. He is shot and is left for dead. Trinity, back on Morpheus ship, declares her love for Neo. Then he comes back to life and defeats the Agents.
The first idea of post-modernism, which is portrayed in the movie, occurs when the Agents capture Neo and his mouth seals shut. To Neo this appears as a dream, but is the first demonstration of rules being broken. When Neo and Morpheus spar, Morpheus is teaching Neo that rules can be bent and broken. Gravity is one of the fundamental laws that can be broken in the matrix. If one is fast enough, he is able to dodge bullets. Morpheus tells him, “Someday he will not have to dodge bullets.” This is demonstrated at the end of the movie when he kills the Agents. A child at the Oracle tells Neo, “Do not try and bend the spoon. That is impossible. Instead, only try to realize the truth.” The truth is that there is no spoon. Once Neo realizes this, he is bending, not the spoon. This is the same idea when Neo stops the bullets, he realizes that they do not exist thus the bullets cannot harm him.
Another idea of post-modernism is the making of choices. Before Neo was aware of the matrix, he was trying to define himself with his job. Neo meets with the Oracle who tells him that his personal choice and what he believes is what matters. It does not matter what Morpheus believes. If Neo does not believe in himself, it will not happen. In post-modernism, one can believe whatever they choose. Everyone’s personal choice is right if they believe in it.
Post-modernism is subtlety seen in the movie especially when Neo hides his software in a book titled, Simulacra and Simulation by Jean Baudrillard which has ideals associated with post-modernism. Morpheus tells Neo, “There is a difference between knowing the path and walking the path.” Neo did not believe that he was the one but he was walking the path of the one, which made him the one because he believed.
Neo sums up the idea of postmodernism at the end of the movie, “I know you’re out there. I can feel you now. I know that you’re afraid. You’re afraid of us. You’re afraid of change. I don’t know the future. I didn’t come here to tell you how this is going to end. I came here to tell you how it’s going to begin. I’m going to hang up this phone and then I’m going to show these people what you don’t want them to see. I’m going to show them a world without you, a world without rules and controls, without borders or boundaries, a world where anything is possible. Where we go from there is a choice I leave to you.”