The Matrix Redux (cont'd)

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Thu May 22 11:13:13 MDT 2003

> The Right-wingers are getting worked up because "The Matrix" sequel
> juxtaposes an image of G.W. Bush with Hitler.  Goodie!
> jay

I saw it last night and enjoyed it, although not as much as the first

I wouldn't try to overload what is essentially a summer movie with
Marxist hermeneutics, but there are a couple of things that sprang to mind.

One, there seemed to be a calculated casting decision to feature lots of
African-American actors, including big-time post-Marxist Cornel West as
one of the high council members in the underground city of Zion, where
the resistance was based. West is profiled in the LA Times:

West (who will turn 50 on June 2) became a kind of muse for the
brothers, called "college dropout comic book artists" by William Irwin,
editor of the book "The Matrix and Philosophy." West offered a focal
point for the film, in which various academics and others find bits of
Buddhism and Christianity as well as feminism, Marxism and nihilism.

 >>At the core of the "Matrix" trilogy lies the disturbing notion that
the world is nothing but perceptions controlled by malevolent forces.
While the films repeatedly ask questions about the nature of truth and
reality, the possibilities of choice and free will, the meaning of life
and love, they offer no answers.

"They [the Wachowskis] want the audience to wrestle with it," West said.

In "The Matrix Reloaded," the citizens of Zion pin their hopes on
computer hacker Neo (Keanu Reeves), who struggles with his role as their
savior. West says the film has a "fascinating," if subtle, critique of
"salvation narratives."

Themes in the sequel undercut those in the original, he said. "The first
was all about Neo as a salvation figure, saving the globe. The second is
a devastating critique of all salvation stories. It has political
implications. It has religious implications."

The most fundamental parallel, however, between his work and the
"Matrix" movies, West said, is found in the films' multiracial casting.
In the city of Zion, most citizens are people of color and many of the
movie's leading actors are black (Laurence Fishburne, Jada Pinkett
Smith, Nona Gaye, Harry Lennix, Harold Perrineau Jr. and the late Gloria

People of color outnumber whites in the world's population, he noted.
"It's not just the representation in numbers but the humanity
displayed," said West, whose writings urge cross-cultural tolerance and
a recognition of the power of diversity. "The acknowledgment of the
full-fledged and complex humanity of black people is a new idea in
Hollywood, given all the stereotypes and distortions," he said.<<


The other thing that struck me is the resonance with Fritz Lang's
"Metropolis", the original inspiration for a kind of Luddite rebellion.
Zion is filmed from the same kind of dizzying, eagle's eye perspective
as Lang's underground city.

My biggest problem with the film is that several of the scenes where the
characters discuss fate, free will, etc. seem to go on forever. I guess
that because the Wachowski's made so much money with the first movie,
the studios gave them free rein. Thus, a certain amount of
self-indulgence was nearly impossible to restrain.

For a somewhat distaff view of Hollywood summer movie blockbusters, go


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