Almost Nobody Understood the Matrix, Except Morpheus

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A little known fact about The Matrix is that every member of the cast had to prove to the Wachowskis that they understood the concept of the film before they were allowed to appear in it. Apparently the only person to grasp the film and its nuances on their first try was Laurence Fishburne. 

Now we’re not going to make ourselves look stupid by even trying to explain The Matrix on anything more than a superficial level because, fuck does this film draw on some abstract philosophic concepts. In a nutshell, the film’s main influence is Simulacra and Simulation, a dense philosophical text written by French author, Jean Baudrillard. The text itself is rather interesting, discussing things like hyperreality (the idea that fiction is sometimes imperceptible from reality) and we recommend giving it a read if you want to feel like someone’s punching your brain into submission with words.

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One of the very first things every member of the principle cast had to do was read a copy of Simulacra and Simulation and then prove that they understood it to the Wachowskis. In the case of Keanu Reeves he had to read three books Goblet of Fire thick philosophy books and prove that he’d understood all of the subtleties contained therein before he was even allowed to open the script. According to people who’ve seen Reeves speak about the film’s themes and influences in person, he’s still able to speak very competently about the subtle “philosophical nuances” of the film years after its release.

The Matrix is a movie praised for its subtlety.
The Matrix is a movie praised for its subtlety.

Every member of the cast (and quite a few members of the crew) had to go through a similar experience to this to prove to the Wachowskis that they committed to making the film and every single one of them noted that it was a very difficult experience, except for Laurence Fishburne. Fishburne reportedly understood the entire concept of the film on his very first reading even commenting that he didn’t understood why other people found the plot or its undertones confusing. Which kind of makes Fishburne seems like the smuggest motherfucker when you realise that he also once said that The Matrix is the “most intelligent action movie” ever made. Remember this is a film that contains images like this …

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And this …

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This is a film that was advertised with the promise of seeing a woman in tight leather pants cartwheel through a hotel lobby with a machinegun in between punch-slapping police officers right in the fucking neck …

Of course, it's so obviously an allegory for religion.

And the Wachowskis made every actor who appeared in it read a textbook thicker than a boxset of Lord of the Rings so that they could talk about the the film’s themes and undertones to interviewers who just wanted to know how bitchin’ it felt firing two guns in slow motion.

If you think we’re making fun of the film, we’re really not, we love The Matrix, we just think it’s kind of hilarious that the people who brought the movie to life spent so much effort making sure that all of the cast and crew understood some really interesting philosophical concepts and the end result is mostly remembered for that once scene where Keanu Reeves tries to slap infinite Hugo Weavings to death in an alleyway. 

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