Biblical References Of The Matrix In their film, The Matrix, Andy and Larry Wachowski have included many literary allusions and symbols to enhance the appeal of this groundbreaking science fiction film. As incredible as the special effects and cinematography are in this film, the Wachowski brothers have significantly bolstered the appeal of The Matrix by an elaborately constructed story spanning time and reality. These allusions and symbols include references from infamous writers such as Lewis Carol, Jung, John Bunyan and Descartes. However, the most meaningful and abundant references come from The Holy Bible.1 When the trailer for this film was first introduced to the public, many expected The Matrix to be just another science-fiction film with phenomenal special effects which lacked an intriguing plot. The majority of the reviews definitely put an end to this misconception.
Most of the reviews written on this film eloquently complement the Wachowski brothers on their excellent story line. The Biblical references of this film incorporated with the phenomenal cinematography distinguish The Matrix from all other science-fiction films in which the main characters are on a race to save humanity. The script, written by the Wachowski brothers is intelligent but carefully not geeky.2 The most obvious Biblical references of this film are that of the five main characters; Neo, Morpheus, Trinity, Cypher and Agent Smith. These characters are intended to represent the roles of Jesus Christ, John the Baptist, Mary Magdalene, Judas Iscariot and Pontius Pilate respectively. All of these biblical characters had major roles in the biblical story of Jesus sacrifice for humanity. The Wachowski brothers have done excellent work in incorporating dazzling cinematography to enhance these biblical references.
Cinematographic elements such as lighting, editing, camera lenses and angles, composition, costumes, sound and filters were all used to create a certain feeling or aura around these characters so that the Christian references would be more apparent to the viewers. The main plot of The Matrix is that Artificial Intelligence has taken over humanity. These human-created machines now harvest humans in crops in order to provide energy for them to survive. It is known that the human body cannot survive without the mind, so the Artificial Intelligence has designed a computer-generated world in which the human mind can live and survive. This computer-generated world is known as the Matrix. It is a computerized simulation of life as we know it, or we imagine we know it.
What the movies postulates is a version of virtual reality so vast and tentacular as to encompass the entire globe.3 The story line of this film suggests that humans are not really living a real life. It suggests that no human has every used their eyes, ears, muscles, or any other sense. As Laurence Fishburnes character, Morpheus, puts it; the matrix is a computer-generated dream world built to keep us under control, in order to change a human being into [a battery].4 Realizing that the main characters of this film are a few of the only humans functioning in the real world as we know it now, there must be some form of artificially created authority. These authority figures are known as agents and the main agent in The Matrix is Agent Smith. [The agents] resemble the Gnostic concepts of Archons or cosmic minions of a false Creator God, the agents are responsible for keeping order and submission to that reality. Morpheus says as much when he mentions how they guard all the doors, they hold all the keys.
It is a zoo, a prison to them and just like the Gnostic Archons, they are the guards, the wardens.5 Agent Smiths character is a direct reference to The Holy Bibles Pontius Pilate. 6 Whenever local rulers failed to keep the colonies in line, Rome appointed its own strongmen, called procurators or governors. Pontius Pilate served as the Roman procurator of Judea, a regional ruler for the most powerful empire in the history of the planet up to that time. 7 When Pilate met Jesus, he mainly saw one more sense of trouble and he felt that Jesus death would create order in Rome.8 This relationship between Jesus and Pontius Pilate is eloquently represented in the scene when Agent Smith arrests Neo, and he interrogates him about his knowledge of Morpheus and the other rebel forces. (This is the sixth chapter on the DVD.) The Wachowski brothers used green filters in this scene to represent the sickly, decaying world of the matrix.9 They also use normal lenses in this scene to create the feeling that the viewer is in the interrogation room with the agents and Neo.
It is mainly a still composition for the first part of this scene. Agent Smith and Neo are sitting across from one another. Later in the scene when Neo becomes threatened by the Agents, the composition begins to move more because Neo is attempting to fight off the agents. The composition is fairly flat for the entire scene because the room is so small. High key lighting is also used in this scene.
There is a lot of fill light to create a brighter scene. These bright lights put the viewer in Neos point of view. The abundance of fill lights make the viewer feel pressured and hot, as Neo must feel at this point in the plot. This scene marks the beginning of the ongoing battle between Neo and Agent Smith. Morpheus, the leader or father figure of the rebel forces, represents The Holy Bibles John the Baptist.10 John the Baptist is something new and he certainly stood out from his surroundings. This is comparable to Morpheus mysterious costume and mannerism.
The character of Morpheus is shocking to the audience at the first introduction. In The Holy Bible John the Baptist spreads the message that the Messiah is coming and when he first meets Jesus he recognizes him as the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.11 When Morpheus prophetizes that Neo is The One, it is a direct reference to this story of John the Baptist and Jesus. * This reference is most apparent in the scene when Morpheus tells Neo that he believes that Neo is the savior for all of humanity. (This is the thirteenth chapter on the DVD.) This scene has a distinctive sense of mystery. It is filmed entirely with normal to long lenses to provide the viewer with a sense of intimacy with these two characters.
These lenses make the viewer feel as if they are part of a very secret and meaningful conversation between Morpheus and Neo. The Wachowski brothers also used low key lighting for this scene to enhance the sense of mystery and secretiveness. The lighting seems to be coming from one main source in the right bottom corner of the screen. This light source seems to be representing a candle or a lamp by the bed. The colors of this scene are also very vivid, despite the low lighting, compared to the scenes within the matrix.
The directors wanted to present a sense of health within the Nebuchadnezzar in comparison with the green, sickly filters of the scenes shot in the matrix. This scene also has a very still composition. Neither of the characters moves in this scene. The Wachowski brothers also used classical editing in this particular scene, switching from Morpheus to Neo. Although it lacks the dazzling special effects and edge of your seat action, this scene is extremely important to the plot of The Matrix.
It is during this scene that the audience is first introduced to the biblical reference that Morpheus is intended to represent John the Baptist. The Matrix also includes many references to the popular Christian epic, The Pilgrims Progress. For example, Zion is the last human city outside of the matrix. It is found deep inside the earths core. Tank describes it with sentimentality and great pride in his voice.
Zion can be seen as the only place that the existing humans have left that is not destroyed or decaying. In The Pilgrims Progress, Christian is on a journey to discover a way to be relieved of his burden. He has been told that if he travels to Zion, the celestial city, he will be relieved of this burden.12 Zion is also noted in The Holy Bible as Heaven, the kingdom of God.13 Another reference to The Pilgrims Progress in The Matrix is that of the Oracle representing the Interpreter. Christian is told that the Interpreter will show [him] excellent things that will help [him] on [his] journey.14 This is exactly what the Oracle does for Neo. She tells him exactly what he needs to hear and nothing more.
The Oracle tells Neo that he …