The Matrix Turns Twenty

One of the awesomest sci-fi movies ever came out in my life-time; it literally had people saying, “Whoa!” Yeah, it was influential. But the kinda scary/crazy thing that gets me now is this: it came out 20 years ago!

On March 31, 1999, The Matrix hacked its way into our psyches and astonished us with its genre pushing sci-fi dystopian imagery and special-effects. And besides the eye-candy, this cinema-scape was packed with mind-candy. It should have been called “sci-phi” for its mix of science and philosophy.

It was a milestone in cinema and even our culture since it sorta became an icon. I still wear dark sunglasses at night to this day (ok, just kidding). For me, it definitely was a big marker along my life’s path while I was in college.

I remember how I ended up seeing the movie under unique circumstances, being mostly unaware of it arriving in theaters. I don’t even recall much movie hype. In fact, I never saw it at the theater. Somehow it eluded my radar for a while.

One day at work, after The Matrix was on DVD (!), my co-worker started talking about it, telling me how cool it was. He asked me if I’d seen it. When I told him I hadn’t, he was quite surprised and was like, “You gotta see it!”

He had the DVD and invited me to his upstairs garage apartment to watch it on like a small 24″ TV – it was not even a widescreen! This was 1999. HDTV was not even out yet. Standard def square screen all the way. At least it was not on VHS!

Now that we’re coming upon 20 years since Neo followed the white rabbit, it makes me step back and wonder: has it really been two whole decades already? My mind has a hard time coming to grips with this reality. Looking backward at the movie through 20 years of time is like peering through warped bullet-time itself. Two decades!? Whoa!

How is it that something so big can so easily become but a distant memory? Merely a point on a time-line that seems to grow shorter with more time? It’s an uncomfortable paradox of sorts.

In any case, I plan to celebrate the 20th anniversary of The Matrix. I’ve got all the movies on Blu-ray, and I’d like to sit down with some popcorn and a coke, and get jacked into the matrix again, just to re-feel how impactful it was. It’s time for me to take the red pill again. See how deep the rabbit hole goes.

After all these years, the special-effects are not too dated. And although I know the plot, it’s still enjoyable. The Wachowski cinematography is like a blended anime/manga style with live action. The green tint to the matrix world itself is subtle yet defining. The movie is the coolest American cyberpunk ever. I love it when Neo learns kung-fu! And the mind-popping philosophy is still fun and intriguing.

Most people can identify with some of the existential and epistemological stuff in the Matrix. Like, something about the world seems off. You know it, but you can’t tell what it is exactly. Maybe it’s monotony or conformity that bugs you. Maybe it’s want of control. Who knows. It’s like an itch you can’t scratch.

Don’t overthink it though. If you can, especially if you have not seen it, go watch The Matrix. Don’t think you will; know you will.

Where were you when the Matrix came out?