I pitched this article half-jokingly thinking I was “born to write it.” A love letter to The Matrix Trilogy? Piece of cake. I love this movie series the way some people love Harry Potter or their favorite sports team. I watch Reloaded, the second installment, the way some people watch Pride & Prejudice. I maintain that the first movie is a flawlessly executed sci-fi take on the archetypal hero’s journey, and the sequels? Don’t get me started on how utterly brilliant the writing is, from the series’ fantastical technology to the love story to the badass characters. (You’re still complaining that it ends with a rainbow? Fuck off.)
So, then, when I love this trilogy more than I love my favorite pizza (this is no small measure, I assure you), why is it so goshdang difficult to write about? Maybe I’m like Basil painting Dorian Gray and bearing my soul—worried that I can’t let the world see my heart under the microscope. Or maybe not. The truth is, I honestly don’t know why this is so difficult for me to write.
Therefore, to make this easier on myself, I’m going to tackle this series one movie at a time, with individual love letters for all three. Buckle your seatbelt, Dorothy, ‘cause Kansas is going bye-bye.
The Matrix (1999)
Hello, my love. It’s been a long time, but not a day goes by that I don’t think of how stunning and clever you are and smile to myself. I know a lot of other people adore you, and of course they do, but what we have is special. I know you’re more than bullet time and cool sunglasses. You are simply the best there is, and you blow my mind all over again any time we’re together. I can’t imagine my life without you.
Someone mentioned you at a party not long ago. It’s true! I’m sure my eyes lit up when a friend’s husband asked me the most interesting question: He wanted to know what I thought most people overlooked about you. You must already know that I answered by sharing my favorite theory! Well, just in case, I’ll tell you again: In the midst of all the brilliant storytelling you have to offer—incredible foreshadowing, character development, and awesome visuals, to name a few—people seem to miss a stroke of genius about the Matrix itself. I believe we can reasonably infer that the “dreamworld” was created by the machines because they felt sympathy for humans and wanted to give us what we desired all along: a world without them. In doing so, the machines also got exactly what they wanted: a symbiotic coexistence with humans. To a “machine mind,” this makes logical sense as a solution. To human beings who learn that their bodies are being used as fuel without their consent, though, it’s not so simple. The clues may be subtle, but they’re there! Gosh, now I have chills! Do you know what you do to me?
The Matrix Reloaded (2003)
My darling, your beauty is truly ageless. You’ve taught me so much about love, about life. I know some people talk shit about you, but please ignore them. Without you, we wouldn’t have the continuation of Trinity and Neo’s beautiful love story. Unlike all the other “ones” before him, Neo is able to refuse the Architect’s deal because of his love for Trinity. Loving each other makes them both stronger—I couldn’t have written it better myself. You are simply poetic.
Without you, we wouldn’t have met Niobe, Zee, Link, Persephone, or The Merovingian, just to name a few. Without you, we would never see Zion or get glimpses into the lives of the people who live there. The first movie introduced us to a rich, expansive universe, but it only touched the surface. I don’t care what anyone else thinks—I’m so grateful you showed me just how deep the rabbit hole goes. Without you? No. I refuse to consider!
Lots of people don’t understand you, but that’s okay. You’re unconventional in so many wonderful ways. Where the first movie follows the Monomyth like a map, you subvert it—repeatedly—and that makes some people uncomfortable. Forget them. Let’s just get milkshakes and talk about what a cool badass Niobe is and the masterful worldbuilding in Zion. No one could ever convince me that this story should have stopped after one film. . . . Or even after two, for that matter.
The Matrix Revolutions (2003)
Hello, it’s me. I was wondering if, after all these years, you’d like to meet. It’s no secret that you broke my heart when we were young. But, after some reflection, and many repeated viewings, I recognized the brilliant poetry in the story and knew it could be no other way. The symmetry of the films’ conclusions, while ultimately tragic, is masterful. In the first movie, Neo dies and is rescued by Trinity, and then in the second, she dies and is rescued by Neo, and finally, as you reveal, they both die (for real) to save Zion. What’s more, in the wake of such tragedy, you have so much joy to offer. Zee’s love for Link drives her to fight—to see him again—and she repeatedly claims her spot as one of the strongest and bravest characters in the whole fucking story. Trinity and Neo may forever be my favorite love story, and Zee and Link’s journey is an exceptional treasure as a sci-fi subplot. Plus, they get a happy ending! Along with their friends in Zion! All thanks to Neo’s sacrifice! Also? I love rainbows, and ending with Sati’s innocent optimism is beautiful. Sati, a program who exists because of love, gives us reason to hope for the future of her world.
Sure, some people call you “weird” and “confusing,” but many have used the same words to describe me, I’m certain. And really, what’s so confusing about Neo being able to stop sentinels in the real world and then inadvertently uploading himself to the Matrix without jacking in? It’s pretty apparent that this ability is analogous to wi-fi. Plus, as if it weren’t clear enough, Neo’s antithesis Smith has gone through the opposite experience by downloading himself into a human body. How did so many people miss this genius storytelling? I’m not sure, but forget about them! All we need is each other.
Well, there you have it. Thank you for coming on this emotional journey with me. Seriously though, if there’s a movie or book or show or SOMETHING that you love more than air, just try writing a letter to it. Try, so that you may know my own struggle.
Of course, The Matrix Trilogy isn’t my only oddly intense cinematic love—there are others, I assure you. But it will always hold a very special place in my heart. To date, nothing has ever topped it for me, and I suspect nothing will. (But I’ll be willing to admit it, if it happens!)