The Matrix is one of my favourite movies, full of action, awesome animation, gorgeous costumes, sci-fi scenes, meaningful dialogues, impressive characters and what not!
But the mere reason of writing about it is one of the scenes from the first part of The Matrix.
The scene in which the hero of the movie, Neo has a conversation with the rather mysterious character Morpheus, who explains that what Neo has always perceived as “reality,” including his home, his friends, his job, and his entire existence in 20th century America, is actually a simulation caused by a race of computers that has taken over earth long ago and has enslaved human beings.
To be precise he explains Reality in these words:
“If real is what you can feel, smell, taste and see, the ‘real’ is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain.”
Our brains, according to Morpheus, are simply kept alive in a fantasy world so that we can provide electricity to the machines. But a few individuals are occasionally able to disconnect themselves from this matrix of fantasy and regain control of their body, thus combating a desperate battle for supremacy on the planet.
The Matrix is a film filled with religious notions and philosophical symbolism besides action and some marvelous animation.
When Morpheus and Neo meet, Morpheus offers Neo two pills. The red pill will answer the question “what is the Matrix?” (by removing him from it) and the blue pill simply for life to carry on as before. As Neo reaches for the red pill Morpheus warns Neo “Remember, all I’m offering is the truth. Nothing more.”
written by Andy Wachowski & Larry Wachowski
Morpheus: I imagine that right now you’re feeling a bit like Alice. Tumbling down the rabbit hole?
Neo: You could say that.
Morpheus: I can see it in your eyes. You have the look of a man who accepts what he sees because he’s expecting to wake up. Ironically, this is not far from the truth. Do you believe in fate, Neo?
Morpheus: Why not?
Neo: ‘Cause I don’t like the idea that I’m not in control of my life.
Morpheus: I know exactly what you mean. Let me tell you why you’re here. You’re here because you know something. What you know, you can’t explain. But you feel it. You felt it your entire life. That there’s something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is, but it’s there. Like a splinter in your mind — driving you mad. It is this feeling that has brought you to me. Do you know what I’m talking about?
Neo: The Matrix?
Morpheus: Do you want to know what it is?
(Neo nods his head.)
Morpheus: The Matrix is everywhere, it is all around us. Even now, in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window, or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work, or when go to church or when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.
Neo: What truth?
Morpheus: That you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else, you were born into bondage, born inside a prison that you cannot smell, taste, or touch. A prison for your mind. (long pause, sighs) Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself. This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back.
(In his left hand, Morpheus shows a blue pill.)
Morpheus: You take the blue pill and the story ends. You wake in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. (a red pill is shown in his other hand) You take the red pill and you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes. (Long pause; Neo begins to reach for the red pill) Remember — all I am offering is the truth, nothing more.
(Neo takes the red pill and swallows it with a glass of water)
The Big Question-
The question of which pill to take here in the movie has more to do with philosophy rather than any other subject.
The question is-
Do you want to live on in ignorance (and potentially bliss) or do you want to lead what Aristotle called ‘the examined life’?
Symbolism of the pills:
The question here is not actually about pills, but what they stand for in these circumstances. The question is asking us whether reality, truth, is worth pursuing.
Is it better to live a harsh reality or a comfortable fantasy? And why?
The blue pill will leave us as we are, in a life consisting of habit, of things we believe we know. We are comfortable in our lives and do not need truth to live. The blue pill symbolises our daily chores I regular lives like going to work every day, or brushing your teeth, watching TV etc.
The red pill is an unknown quantity. We are told that it can help us to find the truth. But we don’t know what that truth is, or even that the pill will help us to find it. The red pill symbolises risk, doubt and questioning.
The eternal Question:
It is believed that in the movie The Matrix, The Wachowski brothers have put in front of us some of the eternal question philosophical questions such as,
Who are we?
Why are we here?
Where do we come from and where do we go from here?
What is the meaning of life?
What is the truth? What is consciousness?
Do we have a free will or bound by fate?
Many of us are still rummaging through the pages of different books in order to get an answer while others simply don’t care.
Though the movie does not respond to this eternal question of ours but it presents to us so many different aspects of life that some of us have never imagined about.
However this should be kept in mind that the choice over the red or blue pills is not solely a choice between whether to seek truth or not, it symbolises a personal choice that all of us make on same path of our journey towards discovering the truth.
As conscious minds always seek the truth since philosophically we are driven to seek the truth and the act of questioning so let us continue that quest.