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matrix (over)loaded

So watching Matrix Reloaded again was great (I had seen it once in the theater only). Many things seemed to fit much better, and there was none of the sense of unease that was there when I watched the first one (along with the amazement of course, with the brain going a mile a minute trying to figure out what the hell was going on). The freeway chase becomes a lot more spectacular in a second (and third!) viewings too. All in all, the movie becomes a lot better a second time around.

The DVD has some additional features but it's mostly garbage, except for two things: some of the "making of" stuff that deals with how things were done, how the movies + game + animatrix was done all in parallel, and the making of the freeway chase. We're so used to thinking that everything is done digitally that when we see amazing stuff on the screen it's not shocking anymore (not too much at any rate). Well, the freeway chase was actually done on a freeway they built for the movie (1.5 miles long), with mainly characters and additional traffic added digitally. But whenever a car blows up or starts flipping in mid-air, it's all real. The training for the fighting scenes was pretty impressive too--the main members of the cast had to train for eight months and then rehearse each sequence of coreography. Amazing.

Regarding plot-lines: two things became clear this time around, that both add to and clarify my previous musings.

One is that, assuming the Architect is not lying through his teeth, then this cycle is indeed different, since he says that previous Neos had chosen to save Zion and this time Neo chooses to save Trinity instead (it would also seem that the Neo/Trinity love affair didn't happen in earlier cycles, with Neo's attitude in them being more of a Messiah-kind of thing. Whether Smith is also a new occurrence or not... that's also up for grabs.

The second element that I thought was interesting is that listening to the Architect's explanation more closely, it's cool to note that "the anomaly" that created systemic instability within earlier versions of The Matrix was fixed by giving people a subconscious choice: accept the reality of the Matrix (fake) or not. 99% did accept it (some social commentary there too :)). The 1% that didn't had to be "rerouted" and controlled through Zion, the profecy, the rebellion, etc., ending with the rise of The One and the "reabsorption" of the Anomaly into the Source. Which means that the Matrix-within-Matrix theory would seem to gain more credibility.

Of course, if the Architect is lying, then this is the way it's always been in previous cycles, with the One thinking he's just doomed humanity to extinction and with the rest of the story to play out. This is possible, but doubtful.

A final point of interest is that Neo's conversation with The Oracle, which when I saw it seemed grandiose and unnecessarily overdone at the same time, actually does make a lot of sense (although I'd probably chosen a less convoluted way of saying the same thing).

Throughout their dialogue, (and aside from the end of their conversation, which is all about giving directions to the Keymaker) the Oracle essentially is telling Neo how the theory of space-time works when you mix it with human consciousness.

No, I'm not nuts. Just bear with me for a minute.

The Oracle keeps saying things like: "You're not here to find out what your choice is. You have already made the choice. You're here to find out why you made that choice."

In space-time, everything happens all at once. Space-time is four-dimensional, and just like we recognize the three spatial dimensions to already "exist" the fourth dimension (time!) already exists as well along its entire "axis". From our subjective experience, however, we see time differently since we experience reality through its axis, rather than any of the other axes of space. So we tend to think of time as "happening"--but that's just a trick of our consciousness. All time has already "happened," the moment the Universe showed up. (Currently physics understands spacetime as not present before the Big Bang, where the Universe was contained in a singularity). Given that, it's clear that every choice has already been made and every situation has already played out (a bit mindboggling isn't it). This does not preclude free will (or, more generically, choice). The choice existed in that moment when time was created. All choices at once. But from our personal, subjective experience, we still have to live through each moment and come to the point where we face each choice, that is we understand why we made that choice. The Oracle then (like Neo, who now has "the sight") simply sees the choices that have already been made, but can't tell you why they were made (since that's subjective to each person).

What is even more interesting about all this is the implication it has on Neo's "power" to see the future. In our real world, the only way you can see the future is if you're (somehow) outside of spacetime (which allows you to jump at any point on any axis). So far that seems to be impossible, at least until we find a way to manipulate wormholes (aka Einstein-Rosen bridges). But, in a simulated system like the Matrix, there's no reason for time to proceed normally (except to prevent people from going mad that is). Just like the laws of physics are simulated, the passage of time can be simulated as well. The whole of the simulation run (so to speak) can be done quickly, then allowing each person's senses to catch up and "understand the why" (there's a bit of a Platonic dissonance between mind and body going on there too--not too surprising since the references to Plato's The cave are pretty obvious). Then the ability of the Oracle and Neo to see the future is simply explained as accessing the main data banks of the Matrix for that particular point in time, which has yet to play out. No mysticism or magic required.

Cool eh?

Posted by diego on October 12, 2003 at 7:58 PM

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