For all its many faults – and advanced machines using human bodies as batteries is about as faulted an idea as you’ll get for ten bucks – THE MATRIX (1999) is more than just a brilliant piece of story and structure: it also has something priceless to say about the death of cats.
The Matrix trilogy is full of pseudo-philosophical psychobabble. It mixes hocus-pocus with out of focus to try to secure intellectual brownie points. Of course it fails miserably. At times the ramblings of Morpheus, The Merovingian, and The Architect are risible.
We endure this nonsense, however, because it’s, well, cool. People wear shades indoors. And while Matrix Reloaded and Matrix Revolutions descend into a morass of bad plotting and worse structure enlisted in the service of telling abominably bad stories, the first Matrix film is a masterpiece of cinematic narrative.
The hero (Neo) is woken from his Ordinary World by a seer/prophet (Morpheus). He is forced to abandon his ignorance and engage with the ways things really are – a bit like all of us, except most of us choose the blue pill and remain in a state of blissful woo-woo. Thus challenged, Neo (an anagram of One) fulfils his potential as a human being and becomes mighty in the process.
Except that, though we may argue that Morpheus cajoles him into it by challenging him, Neo isn’t forced to take the red pill. Neo chooses (and let’s leave discussions about the illusion of free will out of this; talking about Free Willy would be more fruitful) to take the red pill.
Curiosity drives Neo to learn the truth, however ugly and difficult is may be, and whatever the consequences.
I believe this single act is a source of inspiration for all of us. Any other species would only have assessed the different pills according to their nutritional value, their inedibility, or their possible toxicity. People, alone, will allow their curiosity to lead them down difficult paths in order to grow, attain self-knowledge, or die trying.
So here’s to the thing that killed the cat.