The Matrix isn’t just a groundbreaking sci-fi spectacular, it’s a dense parable about religion, philosophy, and societal corporatization. However, ever since the creative forces behind the franchise, the Wachowskis, came out as transgender, fans have started to see the movies as trans allegories as well. Now, filmmaker Lilly Wachowski has confirmed such parallels were always there.
In a video interview for Netflix, Wachowski said she’s “glad that it has gotten out that that was the original intention,” noting that “the world wasn’t quite ready, the corporate world wasn’t ready for it” when The Matrix was released in 1999. She continued,
“I’m glad that people are talking about The Matrix movies with a trans narrative. I love how meaningful those films are to trans people and 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 and the seemingly impossible becoming possible, I think that’s why it speaks to them so much. I’m grateful that I can be a part of throwing them a rope to help them along their journey.”
She explained that the very idea of the Matrix, a simulated reality crafted by machines, “was all about the desire for transformation, but it was all coming from a closeted point of view.” In fact, the character of Switch, played by Belinda McClory in the first film, was originally envisioned as being “a man in the real world and then a woman in the Matrix.” “Both were where our head-spaces were,” laughed Wachowski.
The filmmaker, who was not out when the movies were made, noted that she doesn’t “know how present my transness was in the background of my brain as we were writing it, but it all came from the same sort of fire that I’m talking about.” That’s because, as she put it, there wasn’t really a language for trans-identifying art in the late ’90s. That lack of real-world tools to address her identity is “why I gravitated toward sci-fi and fantasy and played Dungeons and Dragons. It was all about creating worlds.”
As you can see in the video below, she went on,
“It freed us up as filmmakers because we were able to imagine stuff at that time that you didn’t necessarily see onscreen. Or even the idea of how can we exist in as many genres as possible? One of our things that we really enjoyed doing was sort of genre bending, where you would have stuff that felt like kung fu movies, and like anime, and Westerns… And so I think in our transness and queerness, we were always trying to incorporate as many things as possible, visualize within a much larger infinite scope of the imagination.”
That scope will increase even further when Lilly’s sister, Lana Wachowski, restarts production on The Matrix 4. Production was shutdown on the upcoming sequel due to the pandemic, forcing its release date back to April 1st, 2022. Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss are returning for the movie, with Lana Wachowski directing from a script she co-wrote alongside Aleksandar Hemon and David Mitchell.
Editor’s Note: Brave the simulation that is 2020 with this Green Digital Rain face mask. All sales support Consequence of Sound, an independently owned company, and MusiCares’ COVID-19 Artist Relief Fund. You can also grab the full Matrix trilogy here.