The Matrix

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The Matrix is a film written and directed by the Wachowski brothers (Andy and Larry) in 1999, starring Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Hugo Weaving. The Matrix received Oscars for film editing, sound effects editing, visual effects and sound.

A computer software programmer named Thomas A. Anderson, who prefers his hacker name "Neo", is invited to enter the "real world", where he finds himself as the chosen one to save humankind from the kingdom of intelligent machines in the year of 2199 (approximately). The Matrix is an illusory construct of the world of 1999, developed by the machines to keep the human population docile as they are used by the machines as their primary energy source, after humanity blocked out the sun by contaminating the atmosphere.

The story makes numerous references to historical and literary myths, including Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Judeo-Christian imagery and the novels of William Gibson, especially Neuromancer (Gibson was the first to conceive of a world wide computer network with a virtual reality interface named "the matrix").

Students of Gnosticism will notice many of its themes touched upon. Other motifs include the free will vs. fate debate and the nature of reality, perception, enlightenment, and existence. There are also vauge references to Buddhism and Daoism.

The Matrix has many cinematic influences, ranging from explicit homage (which some might call "rip-off") to stylistic nuances. Its action scenes, with a physics-defying style also drawn directly from martial arts films, are notable. They integrate Hong Kong style kung fu hand-to-hand combat (under the skilled guidance of Yuen Wo Ping), the hyper-active gun fights of directors such as John Woo and Ringo Lam, and classic American action movie tropes, including a rooftop chase. The "psychic children" scene in the Oracle's waiting room is evocative of similar scenes from the anime Akira.

It should be noted that the reason given in the movie for computers enslaving humans is implausible from a thermodynamic point of view. The chemical energy required to keep a human being alive is vastly greater than the bio-electric energy that could be harvested. It would be vastly more effective to burn the organic matter and power a conventional electrical generator. (Physics-savvy fans have speculated that the machines were actually using the humans' brains as components in a massively parallel neural network computer, and that the characters were simply mistaken about the purpose. In fact, this was very close to the original explanation. Because they felt that non-technical viewers would have trouble understanding it, the writers abandoned it in favor of the current plot.)

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