The Matrix is a 1999 science fiction action film written and directed by the Wachowski brothers. It depicts a dystopian future in which reality perceived by humans is actually the Matrix: an illusion created by sentient machines to pacify and subdue the human population while their bodies’ heat and electrical activity are used as an energy source.
Computer programmer “Neo” learns this truth and is drawn into a rebellion against the machines, which involves other people who have been freed from the Matrix.
The Allegory of the Cave (also known as Plato’s Cave, analogy of the cave, metaphor of the prison) illustrates his idea that people accept as reality what they see with their senses rather than what might be true according to reason alone. He maintained that sight is not inherently superior to reason in judging forms and truths; therefore if one perceives sensible things more clearly than rational things it follows that one must trust one’s perceptions and inclinations over reasoning concerning those things. This concept became known as The Theory Of Forms (“Forms” with an initial capital letter), or simply “Platonism”, and was the basis of The Allegory Of The Cave.
The Allegory Of The Cave is presented as a dialogue between Plato’s brother Glaucon and his mentor Socrates. It is written in the format of a Socratic dialogue, which are debates between characters or philosophical ideas rather than people (which is where the term “platonic love” came from, to refer to the deep affection shared by two people who consider each other their soulmate – i.e., Platonic because it transcends carnal desire).
The people in the cave have been able to see these shadows for so long that they have come to accept them as real things. When a prisoner escapes from his chains and sees what truly caused the shadows he is forced back into the cave because the others do not believe him about something so much more real than they could ever imagine. The movie The Matrix can be viewed in a similar way with people totally unaware of what is going on around them, only vaguely knowing it exists from what they see from their own limited perspective.
In both stories characters escape from their confinements and are then taken out into the “world” where they realize there is a bigger picture to everything. This realization causes some unrest amongst those who remain behind in ignorance. The Allegory of the Cave is a story in which someone escapes from “ignorance” and comes to realize the truth, but since it’s not what his society has conditioned him to believe, he can’t really do much with this knowledge except share it with others, who are more or less ready to hear it.
The movie The Matrix expounds on this idea when Neo discovers that nobody knows they’re living in an artificially created world. This discovery will change everything when Morpheus manages to free him from the dominant system of control. When Neo tells people about what he knows, they don’t always believe him for various reasons. Some have been predisposed by society never to question their reality so they know something is wrong somewhere but give in to the status quo because it is easier than trying to fix what could be wrong with their reality.
The concept of The Matrix goes beyond just a movie, but also functions as an allegory for the “real world” in which we live in today. We are all under some form of control where our knowledge about the world around us is only limited to what we have been conditioned through society and/or religion to believe is true. There may be more to this reality that meets the eye but if nobody believes you when you tell them there is something wrong or that there might be a bigger picture they will never know for sure unless they figure out life for themselves by their own means.
There were several times during The Matrix where Morpheus was able to show Neo something that would change the way he perceived reality, such as when Morpheus took him out of his cramped and uninhabitable cubicle and showed him the vast world around them where people were living in an artificial environment without even knowing it. This is similar to The Allegory of the Cave where Plato shows how we can all be conditioned by society and not really know what we’re missing out on.
Morpheus also tells Neo that there is no spoon (simply put: that words and objects do not have an inherent or absolute meaning, but rather derive their meaning from an interplay with other words/objects), which ties back into The Allegory of the Cave because stories say basically the same thing. They tell us that anything can mean anything to anyone depending on their perception of what they’re seeing. The only difference is the way Plato tells his story and the way The Wachowski brothers (the directors) tell theirs.
When Morpheus takes Neo out of the Matrix for the first time, he describes it as “a prison for your mind. ” This is similar to The Allegory of the Cave because both are intended to show how people could be controlled by something without even knowing it. Both stories also describe how some people escape this form of control and then try to inform others about what they’ve learned but not everyone accepts or believes them.
Some will never believe you because they’re conditioned not to, while other may need proof before they believe you. The Wachowski brothers do a good job of tying all these ideas together and give life to Plato’s Allegory of the Cave through the actions and dialogue in The Matrix, which makes it easy for viewers to see what they’re trying to say (which is basically that we should free our minds).