"The Matrix," the Wachowski sisters' trans allegory
Free your mind, Neo.
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I remember going to watch The Matrix with my father when I was a child. When we left the theater, he, who is not much given to philosophical reflections, especially when they may seem crazy, said to my brother and me: "What if we lived inside a dog's head? What if everything here is just an illusion?". We were quite young but it is still fresh in my memory as one of the most ingenious and absurd things I have ever been told.
Few films have elicited as many and as varied interpretations as The Matrix — with the exception of David Lynch's films, of course, but he already plays that game. Now many of the saga's fans can finally say "See? I told you!"
Lilly Wachowski, half of the fabulous director's tandem, revealed last Tuesday in a talk with the Netflix Film Club about the latest film in the saga, which is currently being shot although she is not involved, that the point of the trilogy is that it should be interpreted as a trans allegory, since what they wanted to explore were questions of identity and transformation through science fiction.
"I'm glad it became known that this was the original intention," said Wachowski, who welcomed the significance of the films for trans people. "I love the way they come up to me and say, 'These movies saved my life.'"
As for some more radical and direct readings of the movies that have emerged in recent years, such as whether Neo's red pill is actually a hormone pill or whether the restlessness Neo feels all the time in his own mind is gender dysphoria, Wachowski was quite skeptical.
"I don't know how present my transsexuality was in my brain while we were writing it," the filmmaker said.
In fact, the character of Switch, played by Belinda McClory, specifically represented the transition process, since in the real world she was a man but in The Matrix she was a woman. So although they didn't have all the creative freedom they would have liked, the theme underlies the whole story.
This is not the first time Wachowski has talked about the layers of meaning in The Matrix. She once said that the film was "born out of anger at capitalism and the corporate structure and forms of oppression."
An oppression and a point made by both sisters during their transitions.
Lana was the first to make her trans identity known by bringing the issue to the forefront during the promotion of Cloud Atlas in 2013 as a way to support others who were going through the same process as well.
Lilly went through a slightly tougher process when a Daily Mail journalist forced her in 2016 to expose her trans identity when she was not ready.
All that remains is to wait for the last big release of the The Matrix franchise, which was delayed by the pandemic, but is scheduled for 2022.