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Megan64's avatar

Is The Matrix a movie about Christianity, or Buddhism, or something else? Discuss.

Asked by Megan64 (5722 points ) September 7th, 2011

I was thinking about this on the BART today. What do you think and why?

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21 Answers

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

It is allegorical of both and much more. If you look closely enough, you’ll find many different philosophies and tensions running through the series. It’s not just about religion.

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

A lot of things, including what you have described in your detail section.

The key to understanding, I believe, is the masculine and feminine themes of the movie. Neo is all potential. Trinity is his muse.

Until Trinity motivates Neo, completes him, he is comfortable leading a hum drum life.

Blackberry's avatar

I just watched all three again for the first time in years, yesterday. I did see multiple messages that I thought were about religion, humanity, the universe and inevitability, and some other random crap. I don’t think there was just one message, though.

El_Cadejo's avatar

Its got a lot of other philosophies too. I remember in my intro to philosophy class I took a lot of the stuff we learned about was adapted into the Matrix movies. Putnam’s Brains in a Vat was definitely used as a big source IMO.

ddude1116's avatar

I don’t think religion was as much a factor in The Matrix as society in general was. There are references to multiple religions, most noticeably Buddhism “but first you must realize, there is no spoon, but I got the impression that it was about the fruitless virtues of being a selfless individual more than anything else. After all, the premise is mankind was taken over by their greatest invention and must now find a way to defeat it. But Neo does have aspects from various prophets and religious figures, but where he differs from them is in his love for Trinity, which adds a twist on a well-accepted theological formula, portraying him as a selfless, yet human character. However, he is told his endeavors won’t serve much purpose in the second movie with the old guy in the secret room thing, and his impact isn’t felt all that much at the end, so I got a much greater impression that mankind is pretty much fucked because individualism is such a scarcity and that cool action scenes make the point matter less. The closest religious concept I can relate to that is Judgement Day especially Michelangelo’s depiction of it in the Sistine Chapel because Jesus was fucking ripped, which is entirely possible, but it is my own personal opinion that the religious references were merely devices used to convey the point of the film more deeply in a way that its demographic would interpret or the second and third films were made for profit and the Wachowski Brothers didn’t put the effort into making much sense, I mean, the ending happens pretty much just because.

Pandora's avatar

I agree with @Blackberry.
For me it was just all a bit confusing but I think it had more to do with self awareness and seeing the big picture. I think it was more about pointing out how we live our lives like sheep to be herded instead of being aware of our fragile lives and living it. We are constantly either just going with the flow or fighting for something, or looking for something to save us, instead of breaking away from all of it and really living.
Least for me, that’s what I got.

Blackberry's avatar

@ddude1116 I used to think there was always a deliberate meaning to movies, but it totally makes more sense that some people would just throw some shit in for people to interpret themselves and only for themselves.

mazingerz88's avatar

After years of reflecting a lot and reading a ton of observations and interpretations about The Matrix, I’ve come to the conclusion that this was all about freakin much ado about nothing. It’s just a movie, it’s not a Hollywood bible nor any bible of anything at all, see? And the 2nd and 3rd suck big time! ( ok the second not so much but close )

ddude1116's avatar

There are movies out there that a lot of thought is put into and others that are just thrown together because why not? money!. The first Matrix was of the former, I thought, but the sequels didn’t seem as well thought out past the choreography. The way I figure it is if the fans have to think up a ridiculous theory in order to prove the film’s worth, then you have a problem.

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
Nullo's avatar

The Matrix is more about Gnosticism than anything else, religion-wise. I’m told that the films are rife with the imagery.

digitalimpression's avatar

I never thought the movie was that deep. If anything, all of its references were to computers. Viruses. That sort of thing. Perhaps, though, I simply watched the movie without taking notes.

Dr_C's avatar

Like any other film… it’s about what you want it to be about. Your perception and personal preference will shape whatever meaning the movie holds for you.

In my case it’s about Ted (sans Bill) messing with some mean-ass robots while Cowboy Curtis leads a bunch of half-naked people in dance.

I try not to find philosophy in films.

augustlan's avatar

[mod says] Coding error in @ddude1116‘s response corrected via internal edit.

Pandora's avatar

I think wiki explains it pretty well. Read the first paragraph and then the last line under plot.

iLove's avatar

The Matrix is my favorite movie. I have always been somewhat agnostic, and have been very much into higher consciousness.

I believe the theme of the movie is relative to the self-awareness of one’s consciousness, while the storyline about the people being “plugged” in is quite parallel to our society today. Everyone is somehow “plugged in” to the internet nowadays with the isolation of “social networking” and etc, how can this not be an allegory for the current state of many people’s minds? Not many people want to “take the red pill” and truly be aware – it takes a lot of work and there can be many unpleasant discoveries along the way. It’s much easier to take the blue pill, plug in, and let advertising, television, and the internet take over your brain.

With that in mind, I guess there are some Buddhist themes to consider since that is largely the point of Buddhism, to “free your mind” from it’s prison of thought.

I am really surprised that several of you thought that any themes in the movie were basically nonexistent. This film is wrought with thought-provoking matter aside from its beautifully executed action scenes.

kayATvitamins's avatar

What a question, one that I have discussed many a time but I have come to the conclusion it’s symbolic for the world we live in today.Have you heard of the Orwellian nightmare predicted by George Orwell ‘a conspiracy’ as one might say that one day we would live in a world where everything we do is watched and regulated, people laughed when he mentioned such a thing as an identity chip, digital money etc deeming him as crazy well low and behold we are there now. Look at it like this the matrix is the western world, goverened by media. People WOULD RATHER believe they are free thinkers when they are heavily influenced (controlled) by the media, even down to the concept of beauty! britney and blondes one day now tanned with black hair the next..kim kardashian! And Neo represents a free thinker as to why I can see you associate it with Buddhism.

YoBob's avatar

Gee… I thought it was a movie about aliens keeping humans in AI pods so they could use them as power cells.

But seriously, I don’t think that the symbology is tied to a particular religion, but rather to the age old notion that our perceived reality is a product of our mind and we really have no way of knowing whether we share a common true reality or if everything each of us perceives to be the real world is simply a grand illusion.

Megan64's avatar

Loving these responses.

Initially, I saw Neo as a messiah figure, but later, once he finds his strength and he can see the numbers running through everything, it really seemed more Buddhist – once you take all the attachment out of a thing, it becomes its essence. It’s not about that thing anymore it is, and always was, about whatever you were projecting on to it.

Dr_C's avatar

Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra.

Pandora's avatar

@kayATvitamins GA answer. Welcome to Fluther.

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