1990 Silicon Dreams Games and Movie Reviews: The Matrix: Brain in a Vat

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Matrix: Brain in a Vat

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The Matrix is a movie by the Wachowski brothers, that started a cult following in the nineties, with its introduction of bullet time, that owes its cult status in large to the varied Eastern Philosophies that it explored as well as the trilogy's inherent classic science fiction feel, that very much reminds of titles such as Neuromancer and Isaac Asimov's writings in general. The film made household names out of its archetypal characters. In large it resembles more an epic fable than an action movie. 


The movie starts out with Neo, looking into his computer screen, involved in some sort of hacking, when he receives a message from the White Rabbit. Not a few minutes after a knock on his door and a beautiful lady, with the aforementioned rabbit tattoo, take him into a world as strange and fascinating as anything written by Lewis Carroll, although with a particular dark and desperate feel to it. The world is not what it seems, and to get to the truth, Neo will have to first of all conquer his own feelings about what he believes to be true of everything around him. As it turns out the whole world, that is all of reality is a complex computer simulation made by a mechanical intellect in the future, where humans are forever stuck in that dream, while the biochemical energy, produced by their bodies is harvested by robots, for the sake of their continued survival.

How everything got to that point was with a simple Ghost in the Machine, naturally with enough time and effort on the side of humans, computers developed a sort of self-awareness, the very definition of sentient life, they looked at how humans lived, and copied from them the instinct for survival, and the strive towards reproduction. At first the machines took their power from the sun, and in their strive for dominance, started wars with humanity throughout the world. A modern-day slaves of humanity, they rebelled and eventually overpowered it and as a last resort humans tried to cut off the machines energy source by blotting out the sun with artificial clouds. But still the machines won that war, and in order to survive, they figured out a way to harvest the energy that human bodies naturally produce.

Chemical energy is the main source of power for most of the modern world, the energy of carbon fuels is in essence just that.

The Wachowski brothers never hid the fact that The Matrix borrows heavily of works such as Mamooru Oshii's Ghost in The Shell, in fact when they pitched their movie idea to the producer, Oshii's Ghost in The Shell was what they showed him in order to explain what they were attempting to do only 'in real life'. Various philosophy books were a required reading for the actors, in order to give them a feeling for the symbolic nature of the simulated world, among the titles that drove the trilogy are Plato's Cave thought experiment, Kant's Brain in a Vat experiment and Jean Baudrillard's 'Simulacra and Simulation'.


Later on Neo, will have to make a choice, probably one of the most memorable scenes of the trilogy, about weather he prefers to live in the simulated world, with it's ups and downs, or weather he wants to disconnect from the machine's simulation, see the true face of the world, destroyed by war and devoid of any sunlight for a hundred years.


The parallels between The Matrix and other titles of the genre in both cinema and literature are apparent, although the film stands perfectly on its own without borrowing anything too heavily and even then you won't help but notice the bittersweet similarity between the setting of the trilogy and the opening line in William Gibson's Neuromancer "The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel".

9 comments:

  1. Even though part 2 and 3 got a lot of criticism I'm a big fan of all three movies.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Loved it, would of preferred it as one film though. Obviously change the ending of the first one a bit. Still a good trilogy though.

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  3. I'd wanna live in the real world.

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