After reading “The Matrix, Marx, and the Coppertop’s Life,” I am able to see how the movie and the article can be seen as interrelated. However, I must object with the authors of the article in that I do not believe that the movie was strictly about human exploitation and the human nature to be obsessed with consumerism. To me, The Matrix is more of a religious journey that tests the mind through introspection in hopes of finding nirvana. In particular, this movie relates to the religion of Buddhism and even more closely with one of my favorite books, Siddhartha. Before I begin my reasoning behind my claim, I would like to try to relate some basic photographic themes that we have seen throughout the movies that we have seen in Cinema.
The theme of machines controlling the human existence is common between The Matrix, Brazil, and Blade Runner. In The Matrix machines control lives through the actual matrix itself. In Brazil the air ducts and the air conditioning system are clearly portrayed as obstructive “eye sores” throughout the movie. Finally, in Blade Runner machines control actual existence of these man-made sub human culture that Blade Runner himself is trying to obliterate. Another common theme amongst the movies that is portrayed through photography is a dystopic existence. Throughout all the movies there is a setting that is portrayed as futuristic, dark, gloomy, and technology dependent. What is ironic is that the very technology that they have come to rely on has essentially taken over their lives and their environment and have turned their society into these clearly dystopic atmospheres.
Returning back to the movie The Matrix, I can agree with where the authors of the article are coming from in their analysis of the movie and how they relate it to Marxism but I don’t believe that the director’s purpose. In the movie, the matrix has created these proverbial slaves to society to, as the authors of the article explain, express the social relations and seemingly alienation that is the product of capitalism. In my eyes, I believe that the matrix is Neo’s inner self. I believe that when he sees the matrix, he is using introspection to see his, along with the rest of humanity’s, meager existence because they have not found their true selves. In both The Matrix and Siddhartha (or the Buddhist religion in general), there is a man who is not satisfied with his existence in society. In the movie we see Neo staying up every night, looking for the matrix, waiting for Morpheus to find him, to guide him to something greater than himself. In Buddhism, a Brahmin becomes dissatisfied with his current, idyllic existence and looks for something greater through a religious journey.
Throughout the journey of both Neo and the Brahmin, they face adversities that try to take them off their path. In The Matrix the oracle tells Neo he is not the one, and in Siddhartha he becomes a rich business man and is temporarily distracted by the temptations of sins that society has to offer. However, both characters rise above and follow their inner voices, which in The Matrix the inner voice of Neo is personified into Morpheous, who keeps reinforcing that he is “the one.” As the authors of the article mention dialectical reflections as being an important visual theme of the movie, the book Siddhartha also expresses the importance of visualizing oneself through reflections in such things as rivers. The photographic theme of reflection is an important component into the overall search for nirvana through the journey that requires introspection.
Finally, at the end of the movie The Matrix, Neo has found his inner self or nirvana, proving that he in fact is “The One.” With this nirvana, Neo is able to create a proverbial forcefield around him that, as portrayed in the movie, stops bullets. This is an example of the power of mind over matter and the power of the mind itself once you have achieved a complete sense of self. Relating this to Buddhism is easy because at the end of the Brahmin’s journey he too becomes enlightened and in a sense becomes the chosen one, Buddha, and explains that he cannot teach the wisdom he has learned because not him or anyone else can communicate the complexity of enlightenment.
I agree that this movie can be portrayed in many different lights, including, with a stretch, Marxism, but I believe that the movie most directly correlates to religion, specifically Buddhism because of the journey, vast introspection, and the final product of enlightenment or Nirvana.