Part 4: MATRIX Philosophy and Cinematography

Continuing our MATRIX series, what happens when you free your mind, and stop doubting yourself?

The prior scene (Matrix part 3) Morpheus says

I’m trying to free your mind, Neo, but all I can do is show you the door. You’re the one that has to step through. Tank, load the jump program.

I love this philosophy because it’s the best way to teach — show others the door, but don’t super impose the choice onto them.

Jump program

Loading the jump program: you free your mind, because in the Matrix, laws like gravity aren’t real.

To make the jump, you must commit 100% to it. And not to just ‘believe in yourself’, but to know you can do it.

Kind of like the metaphor of “burning your ships”; all or nothing.

But if you even have an ounce of doubt, you’re not gonna make the jump.

Neo doesn’t make the jump the first time, and falls flat onto the concrete.

He then gets unplugged from the Matrix, and finds he is bleeding from the mouth. He’s confused and asks, ‘Why am I bleeding? I thought it wasn’t real’. Then Morpheus says, ‘Your mind makes it real. The body cannot exist without the mind.’

Lesson: In life, it’s often fear and self doubt which holds us back. But recognize, it’s usually our own self doubt and fears which hold us back, not others! In other words, our own mind is the only thing holding us back.

Most people aren’t ready to be unplugged from the Matrix (or perhaps, don’t want to be)

Or getting unplugged from the Matrix might be too traumatic for most people.

I like the cinematography here, especially the contrast of red vs green colors.

Nice low shot of Morpheus with Neo reflected.

Why do people live for their stomachs?

The next scene you see Cypher (bad guy, traitor) talking to Agent Smith saying how he knows the steak isn’t real, but it’s still so delicious — and he doesn’t care whether it’s real or not. He just cares about the taste.

Which makes me wonder about real life as well –we optimize so much of our lives around food. But why?

My philosophy: food is obviously essential for survival. More-so in today’s world, the best part of food is just bringing people together — for us to have the chance to socialize and share our soul with others.

But I still mirror Socrates sentiment:

Others live to eat, I eat to live.

But then you see the “real world” with the crew eating this snotty goop. Obviously we wouldn’t want to eat this — even if it did have all the nutrients to sustain us.

But still — despite how shitty the food is, the crew is loyal to one another and unified. Almost looks like a scene from the last supper with Jesus. And it’s kind of true — most of the crew gets betrayed by Cypher (who is Judas):

Meeting the oracle for the first time

Love the minimalist and simple, yet effective cinematography here.

First, closeup on Neo looking worried.

Then pan out, Neo on left of the frame, and Morpheus on the right of the frame.

Then the camera totally turns around, they switch spots. You see from Neos perspective, now looking at the back of Morpheus head:

Elevator opens, they walk out. Then a nice hallway shot with leading lines, from the opposite side:

Then the camera is on the left of the corridor, leading lines to the door about to open:

There is no spoon

Then one of the greatest and most memorable parts of the film — there is no spoon!

The concept is the kid says something like:

You think you’re bending the spoon, but you’re just bending yourself. There is no spoon!

Now this philosophy is super interesting to me because it signifies that in reality, we shouldn’t only change the external world, we must seek to change and bend ourselves!

Time to see the oracle

Neo then sees the oracle, and finds out that he’s not “the one”. Interesting that Neo is an anagram of the word, “oNe”.

I love the palette of the room with the oracle: the lovely orange and greens. Also surprising to see the Oracle was an old black lady:

The scene I found quite significant was this idea of “temet nosce”, which means “know yourself” in Latin. The idea that true wisdom isn’t knowing others, but truly understanding ourselves — our own desires, our own tastes, our own worldview, our own biases, and our own life philosophy and beliefs. The idea that we can dictate our own beliefs.

Neo is a bit disappointed to hear he’s not the one, but Morpheus encourages Neo to keep what he heard from the Oracle to himself. My interpretation is that Morpheus believes so strongly that Neo is the one, that he doesn’t even care if the Oracle told Neo otherwise:

The betrayal

Then the betrayal by Cypher:

First, there’s a glitch in the matrix as shown above by the “deja vu” of the two black cats:

Then Cypher unplugs and kills the crew one by one. I especially found the lighting in the eyes of Trinity absolutely beautiful — as she still believed that Neo was “the one”.

Neo and Trinity are the last ones alive, and they then are planning to save Morpheus (who gets kidnapped by Agent Smith).

Camera panning up, reflection of helicopter

Nice cinematography:

Agent Smith trying to hack the mind of Morpheus

Morpheus in the real world

They’re not sure whether to unplug him and kill Morpheus, because if they hack his mind, the robots will have the access codes to Zion, the last living human city:

I find this framing absolutely beautiful — perfect balance, spacing, and different placement of the subjects:

Tip: When you see shots like this, first of all, see where the subjects are placed, and what directions they are also facing/looking! See how all the arrows are dynamic, point in different directions, yet balance themselves out!

Anyways, note the crew is dead. I like this shot, with trinity in the far left, and the dead bodies in the background, covered:

Then a simple cinematography technique I liked: the shift of Trinity from the far left of the frame, moving to the center, then to the right of the frame:

Tank is about to unplug and therefore, kill Morpheus, but Neo stops him.

How are they gonna save Morpheus? It’s simple —

“We need guns, lots of guns.”- Keanu Reeves

Dynamic Composition

Really good and dynamic compositions here:

First, the triangle composition here:

Then, the beautiful and minimalist side silhouette of Morpheus face, with the soft blue edge lighting around his face:

Part 5 coming soon…


MATRIX Philosophy and Cinematography:



matrix notes

  • you are special.. the rules don’t apply to you.
  • ‘i can’t do this’ // gets caught.
  • ‘you are the one, neo’
  • i don’t like the idea that I’m not in control of my life
  • the world pulled over your eyes….to blind you from the truth
  • truth:’you are a slave’
  • you were born into bondage
  • prison…for your mind
  • you have to see it for yourself (truth)
  • how deep doe the rabbit hole go? —truth/philosophy? seeking truth?
  • ’time is always against us’
  • dream world vs real world?

‘welcome to the real world’
‘why do my eyes hurt? because you’ve never used them before’

what is real? how do you define what is real?

real is just electrical signals interpreted by your brain…if we don’t perceive something… is it not real? does it not exist?

‘you’ve been living in a dream world’

built to keep us under control

turn a human into battery?

not easy, but the truth.
– once you go find the truth…u can’t go back. but would you even want to?

‘the mind has trouble letting go’

change whatever you want inside matrix; whatever you see fit!

human race needs to be free.

we need training.

‘you want some more? hell yeah!’

’10 hours straight; he’s a machine’

what rules can be broken…besides physical laws like gravity?

what rules in life can we break…what social rules can we break?

what are you waiting for? you’re faster than this. you’re stronger than this!

don’t think you are; know you are!

stop trying; just do it.

‘I’m trying to free your mind, neo’

how to free your mind // but i can only show you the door–youre the one who has to walk through it

you have to let it all go; fear, doubt, and disbelief. free your mind.

‘i thought it wasn’t real. your mind makes it real’

The body cannot live without the mind.

The system is our enemy

Most people not ready to be unplugged.

Fight the gatekeepers.

Agents; based on rules…break from the rules! The rules don’t apply to you!

Agents will never be as strong or fast as you an be // because others are held down by rules!

You can dodge bullets//you won’t have to dodge bullets!

Bullets can’t harm you! ***

Don’t run against agents; stand your ground and fight!

‘Ignorance is bliss’

What does food really taste like…and why?

‘To deny our very impulses…is to deny the very thing which makes us human’


Are you your memories? What if your memories aren’t real? // or what if you mis-remembered?

Try not to think of right or wrong; she’s a guide.

Help find the path; but there is no right and wrong

I can only show you the door; you must walk through it ***

The truth: ‘there is no spoon’

It isn’t the spoon that bends; only yourself! ***

Do you think you’re the one?

Temet nosce: know thyself (latin)

Without him,…were lost.

Im a guide; keep helping guide others *** // but others must find their own way , only show them the door.


Film as a more engaging philosophy ?

Make films that have philosophy?

FIRST MATRIX supposed to be perfect human world

How to direct your own evolution

‘I believe in something’ — we all need something to believe in!

Neo; Nobody has anyone done anything like this… ‘thats why its gonna work’

Agent smith: I need to get out of here…I need to become free!

Can you fly that thing? Not yet. [not yet!] ***

Symbolism of breaking chains?

I knew it; he’s the one!

You’re the one!

Theres a difference between knowing the path and walking the path

Everything the oracle has told me has become true; except this!

What is he doing? He’s beginning to believe!

My name…is Neo!

‘Neo; im not afraid anymore’

See everything is just green code???

‘You’re afraid of change ‘ // why be afraid of change?

A world without controls or borders or boundaries. ‘A world where anything is possible’

Where we go from there, is a choice I leave to you.


‘you have to focus, trinity’

‘thats impossible’


‘follow the white rabbit’

‘simulacra + simulation ‘ – ON NIHILISM
‘yours my savior; my own jesus christ’

‘are you ever sure if you’re not awake or dreaming?’

all the time — MESCALINE — its the only way to fly.

‘it sounds to me like you need to unplug’

My name is trinity — THE trinity?

‘you’re looking for morpheus?’

‘i was once looking for the same thing’

I was looking for an answer; it is the question that drives us.

Window wiper; false reality?

‘You have a problem with authority=- you believe you are special and the rules do not apply to you’

Cubicle hell.

‘You take a chance either way — I leave it to you’


‘What good is a phone call if you’re unable to speak?’

prison for your mind//born into bondage into a slave?

when pay taxes, etc?

nobody can be told what matrix is; you have to experience it for yourself

all i’m offering is the truth; nothing more.

‘welcome to the real world’

‘why do my eyes hurt? you’ve never used them before’

‘see for yourself’


‘real’ — what is real? just electric signals to your brain?

‘you’ve been living in a dream world’

what is the matrix? CONTROL!

keep humans under CONTROL//for battery

the mind has trouble letting go

man can remake the matrix as he sees fit!


10 hours straight training!

some rules can be bent..some broken.

do you believe me being faster or stronger has anything to do with muscles in this place?

‘you think you’re breathing air?’

‘what are you waiting for? you’re faster than this.’

don’t think you are faster than this— know you’re faster than this.

‘i don’t believe it’

‘I’m trying to FREE YOUR MIND neo’

but i can show you the door— you need to walk through it.


‘you have to let it all go neo—fear, doubt, and disbelief’

don’t fear, don’t doubt yourself, don’t have disbelief!

‘free your mind’

‘i thought it wasn’t real’ — your mind makes it real’

‘The body cannot live without the mind’

save the minds of the people

‘most of these people are not ready to be unplugged’

so many people are dependent on the system; they will fight to remain part of the system

‘i am not going to lie to you’

‘where they have failed; you will succeed’

agents; their strength and speed is based on a world built on rules. because of that— they will never be as strong or as fast as you can be.


‘when you’re ready— you won’t have to dodge bullets’

‘You’ve been down that road; you know where it ends’

one piece of advice— be honest.

Dont believe in fate; because I like to think I can control my life!

Why didn’t I take the blue pill?

‘So you’re here to save the world’

‘I know this steak doesn’t exist. The matrix tells my mind that it is juicy.’

After 9 years— ignorance is bliss.

’To deny our impulses— is to deny the very thing that makes us human’ — don’t deny my impulses?

‘I have all these memories from my life— none of them happened’

your memories cannot tell you who you are.

Symbolism for blind man?

I can only show you the door; you need to walk through it.

‘You are right on time’

There is no spoon

‘Do not try to bend the spoon’

Dont try to bend the spoon— thats impossible. Instead, only try to realize the truth.

Truth: there is no spoon

Not the spoon that bends; only yourself.

**Dont try to bend reality; bend myself! **

Change myself; not reality?

Temet nosce—know yourself

Without morpheus were lost.

You have a good soul

‘What was said was for you; and for you alone’

Im tired of being cold and eating the same goop everyday.

‘He set us free’ — you call this free?

Human beings define reality through misery?

‘The peak of your civilization?’

Give my life in what I believe in.

Humans are VIRUS

No-one has ever tried anything like this; that is why it will work.

Who can I save?

‘Can you fly that thing? Not yet’—

Know that I (yet) cannot do things; but I can do anything!!!

Break the chains of oppression!

‘I knew it; he’s the one’

‘Theres a difference between knowing the path, and walking the path’


‘Hes beginning to believe’


Rewatch old boy and snow piercer— I can be a director like him!

‘My name is Neo’ (new)

‘Neo—I’m not afraid anymore.’

Id fall in love; and the person I fall in love with is the one.

You can’t be dead; because I love you.


To bulletS: “No.”

Dont be afraid of the future.

A world where anything is possible

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