The Matrix Reloaded (I)
Author: Tony Watkins Keywords:
Film title: The Matrix Reloaded
Director: Andy & Larry Wachowski
Screenplay: Andy & Larry Wachowski
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving
Distributor: Warner Bros
Cinema Release Date: 23 May 2003 (UK)
This article by Tony Watkins was first published as a
Culture Vulture column
in Christian Herald on 23 May 2003
Some people just don't understand. I've been the object of a certain amount of mockery in a number of circles. The reason is simply that I've been very excitedly waiting for a film, due out on general release on 23 May.
The thing is, this isn't any old film. This is The Matrix Reloaded – first of two sequels to the most influential film of at least the last decade. By the time you read this, I'll have watched it three times at least.
The first in the trilogy, The Matrix, was a blockbuster that nobody expected. Made on a mere $63 million, it went on to make Warner Bros $456 million in its first year. Until Harry Potter came along, it was Warner's biggest ever box office success.
They've ploughed $300 million back into making The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions. I wouldn't be surprised if they become the most successful films ever. Within its first 72 hours online, the trailer for Reloaded was downloaded an extraordinary two million times.
And this isn't due to a lot of hype as with Star Wars Episode I. It's because The Matrix was a defining moment in cinematic history – and the writers/directors, Andy and Larry Wachowski, imply they were just warming up.
The Matrix is more than just a very well-made sci-fi film with amazing special effects. It's a deeply thoughtful film, interweaving ideas from Christianity, Gnosticism, Buddhism and postmodernism.
Some people have made too much of the Christian parallels and argued that the message of The Matrix is essentially Christian. It's true that the film's creators, Andy and Larry Wachowski, use the Christian elements in remarkably sympathetic ways.
But they focus much more on the thinking of French intellectual, Jean Baudrillard. He argues that, thanks to the media, we can no longer know what is real. If we can't tell what's real, we don't know what to trust.
The Christian view is that nothing is totally trustworthy apart from God himself. Many people may go through life unaware of this other level of reality – much like people within the Matrix – but he IS there and he is not silent. He has spoken into our world, revealing himself and in doing so has given us reliable knowledge.
The Matrix is far from being Christian. But it contains such powerful metaphors of Christian truth, and stimulates people to think so deeply about some of life's most important questions, that the sequels will provide fabulous opportunities for engaging with our culture. This is not a film we can afford to ignore.
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Author: Tony Watkins
© Copyright: Tony Watkins 2003
Unless stated otherwise, Bible quotations are from the New Living Translation (NLT) copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.