The Matrix Movie Review and How Alienation is Portrayed in the Film

The Matrix Movie Summary

The Matrix is a science fiction action film released in 1999. The movie describes a future in which the reality perceived by humans is a simulated reality created by Machines to pacify and subdue the entire human population.  As humans remain pacified, heat and electrical activities from their bodies serve as an energy source for the Machines. The movie narrates the story of Thomas Anderson who lives a double life. Anderson is a computer programmer by day and a hacker by night known as Neo. For a long time, Neo has questioned his reality. One day while on his computer a stranger, Trinity, contacts Neo and leads him to the legendary hacker, Morpheus. Morpheus helps Neo see the truth, whereby he realizes the world he has known is an elaborate deception embodied in a simulated reality.

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Alienation as Portrayed in the Movie The Matrix

            The Matrix introduces the concept of alienation when Neo meets Morpheus who reveals to him the true real world. Morpheus explains to Neo that many years ago, humans developed artificial intelligence (AI) but lost control of it. In their desperation to control the AI, humans created a nuclear winter as they thought that by blocking the sun they could eliminate the solar power, which is essential for the robots’ survival. Contrarily, the robots adapted to the conditions and they ended up running the ravaged world. They harvested humans for bioelectric food. The robots create a computer-generated simulated world aimed to keep the humans under control. The computer-generated world is what is called the Matrix. In the Matrix, the robots keep the humans sedated where they effectively live a virtual life.

            The Matrix as described by Morpheus closely resembles the world described by Karl Marx’s Theory of Alienation. According to the theory, alienation takes place in a capitalist society. In general, alienation refers to the surrender of control through separation from an essential attribute of the self. According to Karl Marx, alienation entails four key aspects. The first aspect is the alienation of the agent from the product of labor. The second aspect is the alienation of the agent from the activity of labor; in laboring, the agent loses control over their life activity. The third aspect is the alienation of the agent from other agents. The agent, therefore, perform their tasks alone and repetitively. The fourth and last aspect is the alienation from sensuousness. The agent loses the capacity of expressing his/her human potential (Silva, 2017).

            In the Matrix, the robots keep humans pacified and subdued. In their sedated form, the humans serve as energy sources for the Machines. By keeping them in this state, the humans are alienated from the product of their labor. The Machines decide the productive activity that the humans are to engage in; energy generation. The Machines also alienate the humans from the activity of the labor. Once humans have generated the heat, they have no say in what becomes of them. Moreover, the Machines alienate the humans from each other. In the simulated world, the humans are living a lie while in the real true world they are performing tasks alone and repetitively. Lastly, the Machines alienate the humans from sensuousness. In their sedated form, humans are unable to express their human potential. Thus, although it is a fiction action film, the Matrix plausibly portrays the concept of alienation.

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