Through the looking glass: The Matrix franchise and interpretation
This thesis analyses the reception of the Matrix trilogy by paying close attention to the work of film reviewers, and academic commentators who interpret the films from a religious perspective. The methodology of the project involves using a historical reception studies approach based on the work of Janet Staiger. The film reviews display an interest in the trilogy’s action sequences and its numerous cultural references. As the trilogy proceeds, the reviewers become increasingly concerned about the emphasis on spectacle. I argue that these interests can be understood in terms of debates in Film Studies around the 'cinema of attractions' and the tensions between narrative and spectacle in contemporary Hollywood cinema. The Christian, Buddhist and Gnostic religious academic commentaries all utilise an allegorical approach to the trilogy. As a result, they interpret the films through the prism of good versus evil. They also stress the importance of the acquisition of knowledge. In my opinion, the film reviews and religious interpretations share an interest in unity or singularity. This parallels the narrative of the trilogy, specifically the quest for 'the One'.