The Matrix Trilogy: The Perception of Choice

The Wachowskis rose to fame with The Matrix and since it has been regarded as one of the best science fiction trilogies of all time. It’s amazing use of slow motion, carefully constructed fight sequences, and its complex philosophical storyline worked to solidify the Matrix Trilogy and the Wachowskis as household names.

A central theme that is repeated throughout the series is the element of choice or free will. How much of our lives is under our direct control? We make choices every day, or at least we think we do. Perhaps our lives have been predetermined or manipulated by a larger force, or maybe our lives is a combination of both choice and predetermined events. I chose to eat cereal for breakfast over waffles, but if I were to die today, maybe that is a predetermined factor of my life. The perception and belief in the ability to choose are something that is widely used with the Matrix universe to motivate and manipulate the characters.

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Morpheus believes in the One, he believes in the prophecy. His entire life has been directed towards finding and training who he believes to be the One. Just like Neo who while skeptical at first of his abilities, comes to believe that he is indeed the One. Trinity believes she is supposed to fall in love with the One. Agent Smith believes he must destroy Neo, the Matrix, and everything else in his path.

Everyone made a series of choices because of what they believe to be true about themselves or the world. Yet all those choices were manipulated by the Oracle. She needed them to have the perception of choice to lead them to believe something, not the ability to make decisions for themselves. Especially since their choices before resulted in history being repeated in unfavourable ways. She, in fact, is the key element to all the events in the films because of how she manipulated the “choices” of the characters. Everything every character believed, every choice they made was because the Oracle planted ideas, thoughts, and beliefs that would lead to the best outcome – the end of the war. Telling someone what to do doesn’t seem to work out well, most of us end up doing the opposite, whether it’s out of stupidity, rebellion, or the want to choose. We as humans need to believe we have a choice in our lives (regardless of if we do or not) for the sake of our sanity. But when you get someone to believe they made the choice themselves, that is where true motivation and determination stems from.

Although in the end, fate in inescapable. Both choice and fate were factors that influenced the events of the film, specifically for Neo. No matter what choices are made, Neo ends up dying and the Matrix resets. That is the predetermined factor (perhaps the only predetermined factor) of his life. Somethings can’t be escaped, we are destined (or doomed) to repeat events.

The Wachowskis have been able to use elements of choice in the Matrix Trilogy to masterfully create a narrative that doesn’t spoon feed the audience all the answers. At the end, you’re left wondering what exactly happened, it’s left open to interpretation. What role did the Oracle actually play? Does the One exist, or does the person just have to believe? It’s this type of questioning or wondering that some films forego in exchange for direct answers. Sometimes leaving the audience speculating is the best approach, but it takes skill to do it in a way that is mindful instead of utterly mind boggling, a skill the Wachowskis did an excellent job perfecting in the Matrix trilogy.

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