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The Matrix

The Matrix is a 1999 film written and directed by the Wachowski brothers (Andy and Larry) and starring Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Hugo Weaving. The Matrix received Oscars for film editing, sound effects editing, visual effects and sound. The story is about a young hacker who learns about the true nature of his reality and gets involved with a band of rebels fighting against the computer masters of it.

Warning: Wikipedia contains spoilers

A computer software programmer named Thomas A. Anderson, who prefers his hacker name "Neo", is invited to enter the "real world", where he finds himself as the chosen one to save humankind from the kingdom of intelligent machines in the year of 2199 (approximately). The Matrix is an illusory simulated reality construct of the world of 1999, developed by the machines to keep the human population docile. This is because humans are now used by the machines as their primary energy source, after humanity blocked out the sun by contaminating the atmosphere.

The story makes numerous references to historical and literary myths, including Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Judeo-Christian imagery and the novels of William Gibson, especially Neuromancer. Gibson popularized the concept of a world wide computer network with a virtual reality interface, which was named "the matrix" in his Sprawl Trilogy, a concept which was also used with the same name in the British sci-fi series Doctor Who. The concept of artificial intelligence overthrowing or enslaving mankind had previously been touched on by hundreds of science fiction stories, cinematically most notably in James Cameron's 1984 film, The Terminator.

Students of Gnosticism will notice many of its themes touched upon. Other motifs include the free will vs. fate debate and the nature of reality, perception, enlightenment, and existence. In many ways The Matrix is about a kind of reality enforcement. There are also vague references to Buddhism and Daoism, with concepts of Enlightenment/Nirvana and rebirth.

The Matrix has many cinematic influences, ranging from explicit homage (which some might call "rip-off") to stylistic nuances. Its action scenes, with a physics-defying style also drawn directly from martial arts films, are notable. They integrate Hong Kong style kung fu hand-to-hand combat (under the skilled guidance of Yuen Wo Ping[?]), the hyper-active gun fights of directors such as John Woo and Ringo Lam, and classic American action movie tropes, including a rooftop chase.

Additionally, there are notable influences from Japanese animation (anime). Both a scene almost at the end of the movie, where Neo's breathing seems to buckle the fabric of reality in a corridor he is standing in, as well as the "psychic children" scene in the Oracle's waiting room are evocative of similar scenes from the 1980s anime classic Akira. The title sequence, the rooftop chase scene where an agent breaks a concrete tile on the roof when landing after a jump, the scene late in the movie where a character hides behind a column while pieces of it are blown away by bullets, and a chase scene in a fruit market where shots hit watermelons, are practically identical to shots in another anime science fiction classic, Ghost in the Shell.

There have been several books and websites written about the philosophy of The Matrix.

It should be noted that the reason given in the movie for computers enslaving humans is implausible from a thermodynamic point of view. The chemical energy required to keep a human being alive is vastly greater than the bio-electric energy that could be harvested. It would be vastly more effective to burn the organic matter and power a conventional electrical generator. (Physics-savvy fans have speculated that the machines were actually using the humans' brains as components in a massively parallel neural network computer, and that the characters were simply mistaken about the purpose. In fact, this was very close to the original explanation. Because they felt that non-technical viewers would have trouble understanding it, the writers abandoned it in favor of the "human power source" explanation.)

The sequels for the movies will be included in the overall Matrix Trilogy, and include:

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The Matrix is also a virtual reality created by Time Lords in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who.

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