Directors of The Matrix trilogy Lilly and Lana Wachowski, sisters who underwent gender affirmation procedures shortly after finishing the movie, related a lot to the journey and message of their film. When they were making this film, the journey Neo takes as the main character in The Matrix was always meant to be an allegory for the transgender identity and experience.
Lilly Wachowski also revealed that the character Switch, a crewmember on the Zion hovercraft Nebuchadnezzar, was meant to originally be a man in the real world and a woman in the Matrix; Switch switches over, which coined the name. While talking to Netflix Film Club, she explained that it was a critical analysis of the “'residual self-image” idea. That was the idea until the studio stepped in.
"I'm glad that it has gotten out, that was the original intention. But the world wasn't quite ready yet at a corporate level. The corporate world wasn't ready for it. When you make movies and it's this public art form, I think any kind of art that you put into the universe there's a letting go process. Because it's entering into public dialogue. I like that there's an evolution process that we as human beings engage in art in a nonlinear way. We can always talk about something in new ways, and in new light." Wachowski said.
Lilly Wachowski also expressed joy that so many members of the transgender community resonated with the storyline. She said, "I'm glad that people are talking about the Matrix movies and the trans narrative. I love how meaningful those films are to trans people. The way that they come up to me and say, 'These movies saved my life,' because when you talk about transformation, specifically in the world of science fiction, which is just about imagination and world-building. The idea of the seemingly impossible becoming possible. I think that's why it speaks to them so much. And I'm grateful that I can be a part of throwing them a rope to help them along their journey."
Because The Matrix is such a polarizing film, it can tell multiple stories for different identities. It resonates with many people. Not only is the trans allegory important to recognize, but there is also a race allegory that is worth looking into, especially considering there is a rumor that the plot of The Matrix and The Terminator were written by a Black woman: Sophia Stewart.
This conversation was sparked because of interest in the upcoming Matrix 4. It’s going to be a continuation of the trilogy starring Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Jada Pinkett Smith, who will be reprising their roles. Directed by Lana Wachowski, The Matrix 4 is scheduled to be released April 1, 2022.
For more about The Matrix’s trans allegory, here is a video of Lilly Wachowski explaining it to Netflix:
Header image of character Switch from "The Matrix" via IMdB.
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Georgia is a journalism student at The New School in Manhattan who loves writing, watching cartoons and intersectional feminism. She is an avid napper and cat lover. Because she is behind on the times, follow her only recently made twitter @georgiagrdodd.