The Matrix Redux (cont'd)

Xenon Zi-Neng Yuan wenhuadageming at
Thu May 22 16:51:27 MDT 2003

definitely two of the positive aspects was the multi-racial cast, and the
critique of the salvation/messiah narrative.  i went to see it with a bunch
of youth of color, and the first aspect was obvious to most of us, and very
encouraging and life-affirming.  the bit about the messiah/religion
critique was a bit more difficult for folks however.  unfortunately most of
my peers seem fixated on the idealist philosophizing indulged by the "fate
vs. free will" theme.


At 01:13 PM 5/22/2003 -0400, you wrote:
>I saw it last night and enjoyed it, although not as much as the first Matrix.
>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
>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 Foster.)
>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 to:
>The Marxism list:

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