Decent Films Mail > Mailbag #3

Re: The Matrix (1999)

I would just like to comment on your Moral/Spiritual Rating of The Matrix of -3. While I do not necessarily disagree with your critique, I just wanted to submit my own Christian connection with the film. As an Engineer, I have always struggled with the mechanics of the Christian/Biblical view of the world. Reconciling biblical topics/events such as creation, global flood, miracles, etc., etc. with observed experience has been a stumbling block to my faith.

What The Matrix did for me was to break down the barrier between spirit and flesh and see, potentially, how they could co-exist. I am referring to the the idea in the movie where their experience in the Matrix was entirely an illusion (to the not-yet-reborn), but at the same time, was complete reality to them. The real reality was the world of the machines.

For me, this opened up the idea that the realm of possibility is indeed infinite, and not limited by the physics of the known universe. While physics appeared to exist within the Matrix, they did not in reality, which is why those “in the know” could manipulate the Matrix (miracles?). In the Christian world, I imagine God’s Kingdom as sort of the real reality, and our earthly, fleshy experience as a pseudo-reality (sort of like the Matrix).

As a result, I know longer waste my time on the hows and whys of God’s Kingdom working on Earth, only that it clearly does. We cant fathom God and his methods, just as Neo could not fathom the “real” world before his “re-birth.” This has become an important part of my faith, and I have used this in communicating my faith to non-Christians (though to what avail, I do not know).

Thanks for writing. Your take on The Matrix is about as valid as any other, I think; the genius of the film is that it offers an evocative pastiche of imagery and allusions that can work as a metaphor for just about anything. The resonances you point to are real enough, and more or less consistent with the filmmakers’ intentions.

That said, our earthly, fleshly experience, though not the ultimate reality, is not a pseudo-reality, nor is it a prison. God created this world and declared it “very good.” To view this world as evil and illusory is the temptation of gnosticism or eastern religion. Of course, the most convincingly gnostic character in The Matrix is the evil Agent Smith!

Incidentally, did you read the articles associated with the review, particularly “Is The Matrix Gnostic or Christian?” and “Sculpting in Bullet Time: The Matrix Revisited” ? They get into these issues much more deeply than the intentionally brief review.

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