There are many stand-out movies in the world of the cinema: no matter how many years pass, they are watched and spoken by huge audiences worldwide. The Matrix is one of those movies, and much has been said about this cult classic. This may be in part because the Matrix has a story that can be drawn to different places, themes and ideas. It is a film that uses symbolism, especially religious symbolism. Many people have tried to associate the movie with Hinduism, Buddhism, Agnosticism, Christianity, Judaism. These associations are likely to be correct; The Wachowski sisters, the directors of the Matrix, accepted that the religious symbolism in the movie was not a coincidence. In a further significant detail, the movie was released on Easter. One of the talking points regarding symbolism in the Matrix are the references to Jesus, through the character of Neo. So, how exactly do these references appear in the movie? Let’s take a look.
The most popular theory is that the protagonist, Neo, functions as a Jesus figure. There are a plethora of symbols and scenes in the film that support this assumption. For example; Neo is an anagram of the word “One”. Also, the full name of Neo is Thomas Anderson which reminds one of Doubting Thomas, one of the disciples of Jesus. Another “coincidence” is that the name Anderson means “Son of Man” in Greek. This definition is usually used for Jesus in the Bible. Of course, besides all these, the most striking similarity is that Neo does not have a father – this is a direct reference, no doubt.
“When the Matrix was first built, there was a man born inside who had the ability to change whatever he wanted, to remake the Matrix as he saw fit. It was he who freed the first of us, taught us the truth. As long as the Matrix exists the human race will never be free. After he died, the Oracle prophesized his return and that his coming would hail the destruction of the Matrix, end the war, bring freedom to our people. That is why there are those of us who have spent our entire lives searching the Matrix looking for him. I did what I did because I believe that search is over.” – Morpheus
While Neo is inside the Matrix, someone says, “Hallelujah. You’re my savior, man. My own personal Jesus Christ”. Throughout the movie, Morpheus and his crew refer to Neo as “the One”.
There is a scene in which Morpheus is kidnapped by agents and it is impossible to rescue him from the swarmed building. Neo comes to the building by helicopter to save Morpheus and calls out to Morpheus, who he sees unconscious, “Get up, Morpheus, get up”. This quote closely reflects the words Jesus used when resurrecting Lazarus. According to the Bible, Lazarus is a beloved disciple of Jesus. Jesus hearing that Lazarus had died, goes to the cave, and calls out “Lazarus, come out!” upon which Lazarus walks out of the cave, alive. In the scene, Neo calls out Morpheus “Get up, Morpheus, get up” and Morpheus starts walking towards Neo like Lazarus did. Neo also resurrects Trinity after she dies. This is a direct reference to Jesus’ miracle of resurrection. According to Christian belief, Jesus was resurrected 3 days after he was crucified, and he first saw a woman and ran to hug her. After his resurrection, he became much stronger than before. After Neo’s resurrection, the person next to him is a woman and he hugs the woman. And, again, after Neo is resurrected, he becomes much stronger: he suddenly has abilities such as fighting with one hand, flying, and stopping bullets.
There are two specific numbers that appear frequently in the movie which are 101 and 303:
Neo was killed and resurrected in front of room 303, where Trinity stays. The name Trinity suggests the holy trinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, which represents the divine nature of God. In the Matrix films, Morpheus, Neo, and Trinity form their own trinity, as do Agents Smith, Brown, and Jones. 101 on the other hand, appears as the following: as Neo’s door number, in a scene which takes place on the highway 101, and a savior which comes to the Matrix every 101 years. Neo is the One (an anagram for Neo) and “0” represents death. Another element is the light coming out of Neo’s chest is in the shape of a cross – in a direct reference to the Bible, Jesus and Christianity. In the same scene, Neo lies on the ground in a position reminiscent of the crucifixion of Christ.
Many scenes and elements in the Matrix can be directly associated with religion; there are many hidden meanings in the movie which go deeper than at first glance. The Matrix isn’t the only movie that makes religious references, dozens of other movies do the same, but it is not always so easy to spot.
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References: Religion in Popular Movies / Bilal Yorulmaz