Matrix: In 1999, I had a very unusual experience. A friend invited me to watch a new movie that was making waves. I brought a VHS copy to my house (at the time, we used a kind of vintage device called a VCR to watch movies) so we could watch the feeling of the moment together.
The movie’s name was The Matrix. The experience I’m referring to was the way we saw the film: every five minutes, he would pause the tape and give long explanations about what, in fact, the work was saying or what it was referring to. The film, which lasted 2 hours and 15 minutes, took a total of 5 hours.
I cite this episode because I consider it quite emblematic: it helps to explain what impact the emergence of the first Matrix movie by Lana and Lilly Wachowski had on culture. Released as a single film, the work would be so successful that it would become a franchise composed of multiple products: a trilogy (which this year won the fourth film, Matrix: Resurrections), games, animations, books, clothes, action figures, among many others .
The fact that my friend paused the film to explain the concepts showed that this was not just any cinematographic work, that it was exhausted in the experience of watching it. We were in front of a film that was intended to be a dive into a specific universe, supported by the thinking of philosophers whose ideas resonated a lot at that time. The main one, certainly, was the Frenchman Jean Baudrillard, whose book “Simulacros and Simulations” inspired part of the discussions present in that first film. But there was also influence from science fiction classics, like “Neuromancer”, by William Gibson, and even from animes like Akira.
Anyone who watched the first Matrix, or consumed the entire trilogy, knows that the film’s essential premise is the idea that there is a life beyond that accessible through our “concrete” reality – and that it can itself be an illusion, articulated so that we fit into a great “matrix”, in which we (survive) live without questioning. This is the metaphor that is built from the element of choosing between the blue and the red pill: we could choose to accept “blindness” or to see “real life”.