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It's been 22 years since The Matrix burst onto movie screens and changed science fiction blockbusters forever with its blend of action, philosophy, and very cool visual effects. Even before we knew that co-writer and co-director Lana Wachowski would reunite with stars Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss for a fourth film in the franchise — nearly 20 years after The Matrix Revolutions completed the original trilogy — we couldn't stop talking about these films and their many potential meanings.
What the fictional Matrix within the film series really means has been debated everywhere from college campuses to local bars, and that's not likely to stop anytime soon. For Lana Wachowski, that's how it should be.
Speaking to Entertainment Weekly about The Matrix Resurrections ahead of its much-anticipated release later this month, Wachowski noted that she's spent the last two decades receiving various interpretations from other people on what the Matrix — a machine-generated simulation designed to keep humanity docile in the world of the films — is really meant to represent. For some, it's a trans allegory (something co-creator Lilly Wachowski has previously endorsed), for others a metaphor for over-reliance on technology, and for many conservative groups it's a representation of taking the "red pill" to wake up to the political truth of the world, which Lana Wachowski has openly derided online.
Whatever your interpretation, Wachowski is pretty sure she's heard them all, and she's seen just how much some people let their own biases control their thinking on the subject.
"There have been some pretty funny moments over the past 20 years with people telling me or Lilly what The Matrix is really all about," Lana Wachowski said. "I tried to make light of these experiences in an early sequence in [Resurrections]. For some it is a very rigid almost ideological interpretation; they do not see the humor in the fact that their perspective is a more controlled system than the Matrix itself."
So, what does the Matrix really represent? Does Lana Wachowski also endorse a trans allegory? Will the new film provide more clarity? Even after all these years, and all the times other people have tried to explain it to her, Wachowski still wants to leave it up to you.
"I'm not interested in controlling people's experiences or interpretations," she said. "I'm grateful that people have taken the work seriously enough to engage in philosophical dialogue with the film and each other."
We'll get more philosophical dialogue just in time for the holidays when The Matrix Resurrections hits theaters and HBO Max on December 22.