The wildly popular film, The Matrix, is often regarded as being very "deep" as it tackles subjects not normally seen in Hollywood productions. Parallels are commonly drawn between Christianity and Buddhism, leading to the assumption that The Matrix is a religious film. However, behind this veneer lie themes that are more closely related to significant philosophical forces in human thinking than religion. Themes relating to the metaphysical, fate and knowledge vs. ignorance permeate The Matrix, yet are masked by superficial religious parallels. Quite simply, The Matrix is a philosophical film in religious clothing.
One of the most important themes within The Matrix is metaphysical, questioning the very nature of reality around us . What is real rather than unreal? Where does "reality" come from, and how are we supposed to relate to it? These are central questions to many of the world's religions; however, those religions tend to answer such questions in terms of gods .
In The Matrix reality for most humans is constructed by a computer system, is dependent upon that computer system, and we exist in that reality for the purpose of serving the system's needs. The very concept of a person being deceived by computers in regards to what is and is not real stems more from modern philosophy rather than from religious doctrines2.
In Plato's Allegory of the Cave he describes a cave in which people are born and are deceived by puppeteers who cast shadows using fires above and behind those in the cave. They are chained down so they cannot move nor turn their heads towards the exit of the cave where a true reality exists. To them, this is the true reality. They know of no other and will not accept it unless they were forced to meet it. Anyone who is...