What I understood in The Matrix Trilogy

(this is the translation of a French post I wrote in November 2004)

This is just a personal interpretation. There are others, and it's probably nothing other people didn't think about. For example, Matrix Happening explains the narration more than it tries to give a theory about the meaning of the events in the trilogy but it's a very good read if you understand French.

One thing that should have cought the attention of everyone and hint them that the real story wasn't as simple as the Wachowski would have you believe was the moment in Reloaded when Neo fights a sentinel in the "real world" with only the power of his mind. From this moment on, it becomes inconsistent to believe that the "real world" is just the future of our own. Neo's powers are supposed to come from his mastering the inner workings of the Matrix. How then could he have the same powers in the "real world" except if that world is itself a super-matrix? This is very explicitly confirmed later by the Architect, as well as by the infiltration of the real world by agent Smith (an agent in computers is of course an independant program that is devoted to a specific task and can sometimes propagate like a virus, and if Smith is a virus, Neo is the anti-virus in both worlds). One could also notice that this world is not called "real world" any more, but is now the "machine world". Neo sees the real nature of this world in the third episode under a form that looks very much like the Matrix itself and its trademark Kanji character rain (which was actually one of the things the Wachowskis took from Ghost in the Shell). Only the color changes from the green we've been used to to a flaming yellow that evokes hell. Finally, entities that are clearly defined as programs are now able to go from one world to the other through a train station.

Another clue is the Oracle's ability to foresee the actions of supposedly human beings. In the Matrix, only the machines should behave in a predictible fashion. It should thus be clear from the first episode that Neo is not human. The Architect confirms it in the second episode, Neo is just a program whose function he defined.

I don't hesitate to go further and conclude that there is not a single human being in all three movies, but only programs: all characters have names that indicate more function than personnality (Mouse, Link, Lock, Cypher, Oracle, Architect are all names that have a clear meaning in the computer world).

The keys to understanding Neo's name are given by the Oracle and the Architect. In the first movie, the Oracle tells Neo that he is not "the One". In the second movie, the Architect tells him that he is actually the sixth one to fulfill that function. All you have to do with this information is notice that One and Neo share the same three letters and count the different ways in which you can order three letters and you'll understand exactly what the Oracle and the Architect meant. One was just the first one, not some sort of messiah. Neo is the last one. Between them, the others were Oen, Eon, Eno and Noe. Furthermore, Neo means "new", which is its ultimate function for the Oracle. His previous name was Anderson, which means "the son of the man".

I think the human race has been wiped out during the war and only machines and programs remain. Some fulfill their tasks while perfectly knowing their nature while others believe they're human. The Architect's function is to make the Matrix last, to stabilize it, for example by deporting the perturbing elements to Zion.

The Oracle, according to its name, is the Matrix's database (I guess Sql Server would have been too obvious ;), but her goal seems to create something she can't predict (Neo and the little girl in the third episode?). In other words she's trying to recreate the human nature. Maybe that's what the Matrix was built for, and once again this is confirmed by the name of the Matrix and some troubling images such as spermatozoid-like sentinels penetrating Zion using giant drills... 

The Wachowski brothers have been very litteral about almost everything but what's in plain view is often the most difficult to see.


  • Does'nt explain why smith and neo was suddenly able to cross both worlds if they are were so predictable and why neo was granted a deal in return for destroying smith. My theory is that the real world was another Matrix but populated by machines and humans, it took six attempts to see if the boundary could be crossed but the machines never counted on Smith and in return for his destruction Neo was granted his freedom.

  • Well Mr. Bertrand Le Roy,

    I am a huge fan of the matrix and I can't deny that everytime I watch I figure out things I didn't knew or noticed before.

    The Architect did declare that five previous versions of the matrix existed. well let's try to think of it as a computer program where u install the first release then you install another pacth and another and another then u do the update then an upgrade probably.
    What u said about a super-matrix is not exactly what I had in mind but close ot it. What if the real world which the Neo, Morpheus, Trinity and Zion think they exist in is nothing but a previous version of the matrix. What happened is that simply when quit the 6th version they woke up in the 5th... think of it as a hierarchical structure whee Matrix version 1 comes first then second then third.etc...etc..

    As for forseeing some1's actions... well if I make you choose between say (for the sake of the example): dying a very painfull death or maybe running a 100 meters... then I am sure you'll go for the 100 meters. after all it wasnt really a choice.

    Concerning Neo's name... I also thought of that, but then again it doesn't mean it's true.

    Lastely, if as you said. The human race was wiped and some programs are running to make the machine working. then I think the agents & the so called humans (neo, trinity, morpheus) could be canceled without impacting the operation of the whole system... they will even free system resources ;-)

    That's all i have to say for now. I realize I may not have the best answers. But I guess the thrill of everyone believing what they want to believe is what count.

  • Good write up.
    I liked the writing skill

  • Why is this an "Atlas Blog" ?????

  • "The Oracle, according to its name, is the Matrix's database (I guess Sql Server would have been too obvious )"

    Now you mention it, its funny !

  • wait wait wait, from what i understood is that the oracle beleived that there was someone ( or should i put it a program )in the matrix(i.e. Neo ) who could come to the real world and be more human than the previuos 7 or 8 ( cnat remember the exact number ) versions.

    the Oracle had seen previous versions before Neo and that is why she new what was happening. She wanted everythign Neo did to be based on his CHOICE. ( i.e to see whether his decisions will be more human )....

    Personally i think it was something like a bet between the Oracle and the Architect. Coz at the end of 3 when the Architect walked to the Oracle , the little agirl and the chinese guy, the chinese guy asked her how did she know, and shes goes "Because I Beleived"

  • When you realize that all the machines had to do was to build nuclear reactors for power instead of using humans for it, you realize the whole thing unfortunately falls apart. From seeing what they were able to accomplish in their city, there's no way they couldn't have throw some reactors together. :) Still some of my favorite movies of all time though.

  • This is very dangerous territory for you to be covering Bertrand - people are quite opinionated on this.

    I think that we all watched the Matrix; loved the first; loved the second....then we all had time to think about what the 3rd would be.

    Then it was a total let down to the point of not making sense or being consistent.

    Thus people like yourself, in their frustration try to give the Wachowski more credit then they deserve by coming up with very imaginative plots to make it a good movie when it wasnt.

  • Huge fan of the movie.

    I think it is same as Microsoft (Architect & Oracle) inviting hackers (Neo) or creating automated tests (Smith) to break vista (The Matrix) security so they can fix the flaws and make it a better OS that will make more cash(energy). The programers have access to all the versions (Matrix or real world) of application(The matrix) through backdoors(Trains).

    well it might not be very good review but more later i guess.

  • It was my understanding that the 2nd and 3rd movies were filmed in conjunction, as one long movie, a la "lord of the rings". I for one felt that both movies were similarly lacking in substance compared to the first which I found to be brilliant. But both do seem to act as foder for mind games to be played on ourselves for and indefinate amount of time, so i guess they've done their job.

  • You guys do realise that ITS NOT REAL!!!!!

  • Errrrr... Sure... No need to shout. You?

  • Again, why is this an 'Atlas Blog'???

  • lukerk: This is my blog and I get to choose the contents. The most common contents you'll find here is Atlas because that's what I'm working on currently but there will be other topics too. Feel free to ignore them.

  • I really like your view. Never thought in that way. great thinking.... n yeh matrix trilogy is great sci fi movie

  • When I watch de 3rd film, I thought just like you Bertrand. But after checking out the 1st film I easely changed my mine. Now I'm think that it was meant to be only one film, but with the 1st film's success they tryed to continue the idea. To my disapoint it was a failure. Aldo the 2nd was very nice whit that martial arts.

    (Sorry, my english is not so good)

  • @David Taylor,

    I think people are a bit confused when it comes to the Trilogy. It's not a Trilogy in the sense of one. Matrix 1 was great, Matrix 2 was cool, Matrix three was confusing, Animatrix hey wait lets watch Matrix three again, Matrix three NOW it makes sense.

    The Animatrix has a lot of information that clearifies things in the third one.

    But still how does this relate to Atlas?

  • Xander: it doesn't have anything to do with Atlas but see above comments.

  • Just writing a test message to see how Atlas is being used.

  • I've had similar thoughts, although yours I think are better formed. The best I'd come up with was that Zion was exception handling like a try...catch block. Rogue 'programs' (in my concept still of human origin, but I like your take that nothing was human) would be 'handled' by getting sent to the error trap of zion and then later cleaned up by garbage collection. . .

    To this day my Exception object names are all called 'zion'. :D

    catch (Exception zion)
    //handle zion


  • Suneil: ooooh, do you mean that all the comments about this not being about Atlas are really wondering how Atlas is being *used* by/in this blog?
    Well, writing a blogging engine is serious business (it's so much more than Post 1 * n Comments) that I leave to others who do it much better than I would. Me, I have enough work developing Atlas itself, and working on my own private projects.
    In the same way that I did not write the word processor or the OS I use everyday, I did not write this blog engine (if you have to know it's Community Server which is built by the smart people at Telligent on top of ASP.NET 2.0).
    I hope this clarifies.

  • No, no, no... the Oracle is just error-handling and Neo is exception. :O

  • i was watching a sientific show on tv long time ago , about going back to the past and forword in to the future , they sead the only way to acive that task is to use computer emulation,also that will be possible in to the future,with the atvancment of our computer technology. Then one ask the guestion"if we are in a program that simulate the past,how we know who is real and who is not (The Matrix)?

    Dream on , we still sleeping.

  • Zois: wow, I wonder where they got that from, but that certainly wasn't a scientific show ;)

  • The crew actually being programs in a supermatrix is what I always suspected. The whole notion of "the body cannot live without the mind" is kind of a stretch -- I mean, you fall in the matrix and it makes your lip bleed? The mind is tricky and powerful but it's not THAT accurate! But if you think of them as programs in a supermatrix you can attribute this behavior to the rules programmed in the supermatrix. Also, their program is transfered into the sub-matrix while they are plugged in (or at least interfacing with it at some level), and not disconnecting it properly (pulling the plug out of their heads) causes it to enter an unsupported state. I guess they dont implement IDisposable, pitty.

  • Interesting ideas here. I always thought the "Machine World" and the "Real World" were two different places. I imagined the Matrix as a section of a huge network that was partitioned off to seperate the humans from the programs. The train station is the only link accross the partition. As for the "real world" I always thought was just that. The fact that Neo could control objects with his mind and see while he was blind I thought was the writers trying to open the audience's minds into metaphysical philosophies. And to alos point out that in a story where computer programs are Gods, even God can't know everything. Or perhaps God himself is watching over the whole war and is helping Neo resolve everything for the fate of Earth.

  • Pynner: I don't know about that, I guess the authors are the only ones who really know what they had in mind, but I don't remember seeing any references to God. But the HD-DVDs are out at the end of the month. Perfect excuse to re-watch the trilogy.

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