Interpretation of the Architect from The Matrix Reloaded
Matrix Reloaded is filled with information, ideas, and amazing visuals that all have a reason for being there. Some ideas are new, some conflict with information from The Matrix, and some are just confusing as hell. We’ve seen it a bunch of times (and on IMAX too – wow!), and there’s still plenty of room for multiple interpretations of what’s on the screen. Though these interpretations are still fairly fresh, we wanted to start publishing some of our ideas.
For a lot of people one of the most confusing scenes in Reloaded is Neo’s discussion with The Architect. Coincidentally, this is probably the most critical scene in the movie. Everything that’s come before is put into question by what the Architect says, and everything yet to come in Revolutions will be influenced by his message. Keep in mind that The Architect may be deliberately misleading Neo. We don’t buy that. We’re assuming he has no reason to mislead Neo, and are taking what he says as truth.
The Architect is the ‘father’ of the Matrix. He’s an entity from the machine world and he designed the original ‘failed’ Matrix and the current ‘successful’ one. The first Matrix failed because it was too perfect. It was a virtual paradise, a utopia for humanity. Unfortunately, humans are not accustomed to living in a perfect world, and the test subjects rejected the simulation because it just wasn’t right. The second Matrix he designed more closely resembled the ‘real world’ of 1999: it was hard, it was dirty, it had death, violence, war, atrocities, and everything else a flawed species would likely create for itself. This one also failed, but for reasons that the Architect couldn’t figure out. Another machine program (one created to investigate aspects of the human psyche) stumbled upon the reason for the second failure: a lack of choice. If humans were offered a choice, even one felt at an unconscious level, then over 99% would accept the Matrix and live in the virtual world, unknowingly powering the machines. The remaining percentage would choose the other option, becoming a ‘free mind’ destined to become part of the human resistance based in Zion.
Neo is understandably floored by this revelation. Zion is another level of control by the machines over humanity. It was designed by the machines as a destination for the malcontents that reject the Matrix – a place for them to believe they are free, and deceive them into thinking they have an opportunity to free the world. In fact, the machines have a necessary cycle, one that’s been played out five previous times: Zion is built up by those who free themselves from the Matrix, the war intensifies, the One is located, trained, and directed by the prophecy to the Source, the machines destroy Zion, the One picks 23 people to free from the Matrix to begin rebuilding Zion (with no prior knowledge that Zion ever existed), and the cycle begins anew. This is the sixth time this has happened. Neo is the sixth One. The machines have destroyed Zion five times before. This cycle is likely what the movie’s title refers to – each time the cycle begins again, the Matrix is reloaded. It’s also a necessary evil for the Matrix – until the Architect can achieve 100% acceptance of the Matrix and eliminate the need for the One, this cycle must play out as described or the system will become unstable and crash.
The Architect offers each One a choice: behind door number one is the continued existence of humanity. Behind this door the current version of Zion is destroyed, but the One selects 23 people to build the next version. Humanity lives on in a cycle of controlled futility as the machines allow them their ‘rebellion’. Prior Ones were chosen because of their deep connection to humanity – this connection ensures that they choose the door that leads to the continued existence of humanity. The other door leads to continued resistance, which ensures a massive system crash of the Matrix killing everyone in it. Since Zion is about to be destroyed either way, this choice results in the extermination of mankind.
The key difference this time around is that Neo loves Trinity – his connection to fellow humans is there, but its intensity and focus is stronger than any previous One. This leads Neo to an unexpected (by the machines) choice – he doesn’t choose the door to ‘save’ Zion, he chooses the other door and he’s the first to do so. In making this choice, all bets are off. Everything changes. This is not a path the machines expect, and it may not be one they are fully prepared for. Ultimately, making this choice to reject the cycle of machine control is likely the one chance humanity actually has to break free of the machines and overthrow their masters.
These revelations throw into question everything we (and Neo) learned in the first movie. The prophecy isn’t true: the One is not meant to free mankind, just to further ensure their servitude to the machines. This will have a profound impact on Morpheus, as his whole existence is based on the prophecy. His entire purpose is to find and train the One. We’ll have to see how he handles it in Revolutions.
Also, it’s very likely that the path of the One is meant to end with him/her becoming the beginning of the prophecy in each version of the Matrix. The end IS the beginning. Consider what Morpheus tells Neo in the first Matrix: “When the Matrix was first built there was a man born inside that had the ability to change what he wanted, to remake the Matrix as he saw fit. It was this man who freed the first of us and taught us the truth – When he died, the Oracle prophesied his return and envisioned that his coming would hail the destruction of the Matrix.” It seems likely that this “man born inside” is simply the previous One, fulfilling his last duty to the cycle, before it begins anew.
Some side notes regarding The Architect: his wall of video monitors actually appears briefly in the first movie! Immediately after Neo is apprehended at MetaCorTechs, and before he is interrogated by Agent Smith, the camera slowly zooms in on several video monitors showing Neo sitting in the interrogation room. The Architect was watching Neo even before he was awakened by Morpheus and his crew. Also, I believe the encounter with The Architect, or the close proximity to the Source, produced a change in Neo – I believe this encounter is responsible for Neo’s newfound ability in the ‘real world’ when he stops the sentinels near the end of Reloaded. But not all believe as I do…