Thursday, September 27, 2007

Doing Theology over Popcorn: The Matrix

In week 6 we will be exploring the interaction between Theology/Religion and film. For the case study we will be discussing the movie The Matrix (1999) The Matrix trilogy was a box office smash and teh first film quickly became pop cultural icon for its critique of technology, authority and its religious undertones. It has the subject of numerous books dealing with Philosophy, theology and popular religion.

The film's creator's, the Wachowski brothers, consciously set out to create a postmodern spiritual narrative in which they weave images, metaphors and themes from Christianity/ Western Spirituality, Buddhism /Eastern Spirituality and Myth/ Greek Mythology into a deep, reflective story illustrating their own pic-n-mix spirituality. It also offers interesting conglomeration of competing interpretations of ideas related to human identity, existence and transcendence/the afterlife.
Consider the different ways the Matirx has been interpreted by people from different faith traditions and metaphysical positions. What story about religion being told through the Matrix? What does the film show us about how media producers may construct or portray popular religion? What implications might this have for perceptions of religion in popular culture?


lizbell said...

Only about half of the members in our group had seen the Matrix before Thursday, and those who had, had only ever watched the movie as a form of science-fiction entertainment. That's why it was surprising to us that we were able to find so many religious symbols and metaphors in the clip. Afterwards, we decided that we were able to spot the symbolism so easily is because we were implementing tactics used in Steve Nolan's form of film criticism. The symbols that we saw in the clip were all based in part on the religious experiences that we had. Our own personal experiences led us to give different meanings to each of the sensory and emotive images. One picture that stood out the most to us was the blank room that Neo and Morpheus were in whenever Neo was first being introduced to the Matrix. We thought it was telling that this blank room was the place in which the real world was revealed. It was suggested that by leaving the room blank, the director allowed the audience to interpret the images in their own way. In other words, our own personal experiences and emotions determined what each of us saw in the blank room.

Elisabeth Bell

Nyomi said...

This was the first time I viewed the Matrix for religious education. The first time I saw the movie I mainly tried to understand what was going on. This time I found so mnay religious symbols is was hard to narrow it down. Although the website we used for reference to Christiany says the movie provides no reference to God and I disagree. I think calling Neo "the One" is an obvious reference to God our savior and that he is coming again to save us. Another reference is the Oracle, she tells you what you are going to do with your life. But really it is what you want to hear and then you do with it as you wish. In christianity we believe everyone has a "calling" in life and we have to learn through experiences and faith to find out what that is. I do agree with the point that the movie most agree's with Buddism. It was very apparent that reality is an allusion in both the practice and the movie. Overall this movie was even better when I could evaluate not only science fiction but also religion. It is another support for the concept that media can be used for education purposes and promotes social conversation.

-Nyomi Villafranca
Group 5

Patrick Roberts said...

yes, matrix is one of those movies you've got to watch a few times, I ended up thinking about the movie's themes better in retrospect