“Did you ever have that feeling where you’re not sure if you’re awake or still dreaming? What if you were unable to wake from that dream? How would you know the difference between the dream world & the real world?” The Wachowski Brothers’ 1999 dreaming as reality grouundbreaker, The Matrix, stars Keanu Reeves as Neo, a computer hacker who finds himself thrown into a battle against a Big Brother-like government of control & surveillance. His resistance to be part of the opposition reminds us of a film noir, a French phrase that means ‘black movie’. A more accurate translation is ‘dark movie’. In classic film noir, the protagonist is a normal, law-abiding male who, through circumstances that are brought about by his femme fatale, finds he is involved in a serious crime. Neo, however, is neither normal nor law-abiding. He supplements his day job as a computer programmer by selling illegal software out of his apartment. One day, he’s contacted by a famous hacker, the beautiful Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) who tells him that she can help him find the answer to that question that haunts him: What is The Matrix? She also implies that she can introduce him a mysterious man he admires who we later find out is Morpheus (Laurence Fishburn).
Andy & Larry Wachowski, as the The Wachowski Brothers, wrote & directed: The Matrix; its inferior sequels, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions; their first piece, 1996’s Bound; and Speed Racer. However, by 2012 when they wrote & directed Cloud Atlas in collaboration with Tom Tykwer, they were no longer the Wachowski Brothers. Larry, shortly after Speed Racer’s release in 2008, became Lana – fully transgendered.
The Matrix was nominated for & won 4 Oscars in 2000 at the 72nd Academy Awards: Editing; Sound; Sound Effects; and Visual Effects. More than just entertainment, it’s an important piece with references, both blatant & masked to mythology, religion, literature & film that include: A post-apocalyptic world & a character named Apoc (Julian Arahanga); Trinity & a God-like savior; the writings of Carlos Castaneda; martial arts films; Nebuchadnezzar; Alice in Wonderland; Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 – A Space Odyssey; and The Oracle & Morpheus (in Greek mythology, a demigod prophet & the god of dreams, respectively)!
Directors have considered dreaming as reality an interesting topic since the earliest days of the art form. George Albert Smith’s 1 minute short from 1900, Let Me Dream Again, is thought to be the first. In it, a middle-aged man flirts with a hottie in clown suit then wakes up next to his wife bitching at him. There are 23 movies & short versions of Alice in Wonderland. Other excellent dreaming as reality movies include: David Cronenberg’s altogether bizarre Naked Lunch; Ken Russell’s Altered States; The Wizard of Oz; Kubrick’s 2001 and The Shining are both dreamlike in many ways; the mathematical dreams, A Beautiful Mind and John Madden’s Proof; Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life; Groundhog Day; Christopher Nolan has 2 dream films – Inception, and Memento, which compares amnesia to dreaming; and my favorite movie ever, Adrian Lyne’s Jacob’s Ladder. So now it’s time for you to decide: Is The Matrix real, or just a 4-star movie?