The Matrix 101: Your Guide to Understanding The MatrixThe Matrix 101: Your Guide to Understanding The Matrix
The Matrix Reloaded Revolutions The Animatrix The Games The Books Get Stuff! Contributions
Reader Essays         Matrix Reader Theories         Reloaded Reader Theories         Revolutions Reader Theories
The Questions Theory of the Matrix Trilogy
by Phil Brown

I initially proposed this theory about a week after the release of Reloaded: that each film has a central question that forms its theme. In the first two films, this question is vocalized within the early portion of the movie. In the third, it is implied, but not actually vocalized. The remaining 2/3 of all three films are spent giving tentative answers to their respective questions, culminating in a final, supreme answer. I believe it is more or less correct, and shows the trilogy to be more straightforward and cohesive than it is often taken to be.

The Matrix
In the original film, the more minor question What is the Matrix? is posed very early. But we quickly find that this is not the central question of the film; it is only a precursor. Once we begin to get an idea of what the Matrix is, we are introduced to the real question: What is real? The remainder of the film is dedicated to answering this question. Morpheus gives an immediate, possible, answer. Cypher tells Trinity that he believes the Matrix can be more real than the real world. The ultimate answer? It may be that reality is subjective, and for each character, the answer is different. Perhaps, in this case, the viewer is left to decide what is real.

The Matrix: Reloaded
As in the first film, we get part of the way into the main story when we are introduced to the question: What is control? No sooner is the question posed than it is given one answer. Like Morpheus' initial answer to What is Real?, it is somewhat dissatisfying and begs further thought from both Neo and the audience. The rest of the film brings up many sub-questions about control: over our environment, over other people, over our own creation, over the future, over one's own destiny, over life and death. The Oracle seems to give us the biggest clues, and Neo, naturally, seems to understand by the end of the film. The ultimate answer, it seems, is that control is in accepting the consequences of our actions. Perhaps there is still a greater answer lurking within. ...continued in the second column...

The Matrix: Revolutions
Having trod over some very fundamental and yet very challenging philosophical questions already, the final installment of the Matrix trilogy does not disappoint. I was initially confused by the fact that the question was not given in an explicit manner, but more or less implied in conversation. Very near the beginning of the film, the question seems to arise in Neo's conversation with Rama-Kandra in the subway. The question appears to be What is love? As usual, we are treated to varying definitions immediately, but given other answers throughout the film. Neo and Trinity provide our obvious answers, but there are many more entangled in the various sub-plots. The ultimate answer is foreshadowed in the self-sacrifice of several characters and manifested in Neo's final messianic act. As the conclusion of this film seems to be particularly dependent on Christian symbolism, the answer to the central question could be quite biblical: "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13, NIV)."

The Matrix Revolutions: Sunrise in The Matrix

While I obviously have not conclusively identified all of the answers, it is hard to say whether or not it was the intention of the Wachowskis to emphasize these three questions. However, it is obvious that great effort was made not just to answer these basic philosophical questions, but to provoke thought in the viewer. To that end, the Matrix trilogy is a great success. The Matrix 101: The End of this essay

Did You Know?

The Architect's wall of video monitors in 'Reloaded' appears briefly in 'The Matrix': Immediately after Neo is apprehended at MetaCorTechs, and before he is interrogated by Agent Smith, the camera slowly zooms in on several video monitors showing Neo sitting in the interrogation room. Many people assumed the monitors were connected to interrogation room cameras in the police station, but curiously, they all showed the same image of Neo in his room. The Architect was watching Neo even before he was awakened by Morpheus and his crew.
Main Character from The Matrix

The Matrix copyright © 1999 - 2015, Warner Bros. Warner Bros. is the owner of all copyrights and trademark rights in The Matrix.
Website content copyright © 2003 - 2015, The Matrix 101. All rights reserved.