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The Animatrix: Matriculated
Written By: Peter Chung
Directed By: Peter Chung
"To an artificial mind all reality is virtual."
One of the most original of the Animatrix episodes, Matriculated is also one of the most thought-provoking. It follows the story of a band of resistance fighters that attempt to convert captured machines to fight for humanity. Note that's "convert", not "re-program".
After identifying 2 incoming machines, Alexa captures one (let's call him Carl) with the assistance of Baby, an odd monkey-like creature with enhanced mental abilities. A previously converted machine also assists in the capture. Once captured, "Carl" undergoes some mechanical modifications so it can participate in a voluntary conversion process.
The process involves the humans and Carl plugging into a construct of the humans' design. The construct places Carl at a disadvantage and alters its perceived reality. Humans in the construct are shiny and metallic, yet display very human characteristics: love, humor, and playfulness.
In the construct, Carl's shell is stripped away, and it is replaced with an almost organic, humanoid shape. The stripped shell is then used to symbolize an immediate danger. Carl's former machinery is made threatening to it, and to the humans in the construct. Yet humans appear to risk themselves to save Carl from its former machinery.
The participants are brought out of the construct by alarms signaling approaching machines. One of the 2 original machines (Carl, possibly?) had dropped a locater before entering the human stronghold. The humans unplug, fight, and ultimately lose the battle. Alexa is the last to survive and pleads with Carl for help. Carl wakes up, assesses the situation, and destroys the last invading machine as it injures Alexa.
Carl picks Alexa up, gently carrying her to the circular area where the conversion had taken place. He places her carefully on the floor, picks up a cable and plugs it into the back of her head. She regains consciousness in the construct with the full realization that no humans are left alive, Carl has her, and his conversion was all too successful. The construct is the version of the world Carl wants now - it's his preferred reality, and he wants Alexa in it forever.
It's interesting to note that the humans argue about re-programming the machines - effectively making them slaves to humanity again. Rather than re-programming, they offer the machines a choice, but one that is weighted in their favor. The idea of offering the machines choice and hoping the correct one is made mirrors the choice that minds are offered in The Matrix. Ultimately, it doesn't work in Matriculated.
Matriculate \Ma*tric"u*late\, v. t. [from Late Latin matricula, list, diminutive of matrix] to enter or admit to membership in a body or society
Also by this director:
Reign: The Conqueror (writer & director)
Aeon Flux (writer & director)
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Did You Know?
Because of the man vs. machine similarity in storylines between 'The Matrix,' and the 'Terminator' movies, some have suggested they fit together sequentially. The 'Terminator' movies show the intensification of the war as a prequel to The Matrix story, which happens after the machines have found the ultimate way to control humans.