Phew. If I get this right, this essay will explain why The Matrix trilogy is the Michelangelo's David or the Mona Lisa of film: The pinnacle of human accomplishment in this medium, and a profound statement about life, humanity and the divine that sends shivers down my spine. Of course all this pretty much fucking guarantees that even the 2 people who read this blog regularly aren't going to read this. But fuck it, the fact that noone cares has never stopped me from doing anything before.
The relationship between Neo and Agent Smith in the films is very misunderstood, and since this figures so crucially into the amazing ending, this is a large part of the reason why the later movies get so critically panned. Neo (the apparent hero) and Agent Smith (the apparent villain) are the inevitable resultant of the Matrix's programming equations which produces anomalies in the system. Neo, or the One, exists, and thus Smith must exist as well as an inevitable product of the mathematical equations of the system attempting to balance themselves out. Hence Smith is Neo's opposite, the Yang to Neo's Yin.
It is about at this revelation where the audience sheep start bleating because this whole thing is getting disconcerting for their expectations. "But Smith is the BAD GUY! Neo has to BEAT HIM UP!!" Well, no. These movies are far deeper than that. And it's about to get deeper. Neo and Smith's journeys are a mirror of one another. Neo represents the spirit, encased in a body that is more self sacrificial, represented in his undying love for another (Trinity) which motivates him throughout the films. He is thus a sort of representative of the shallow archetypic hero who saves others. Smith represents the spirit, encased in a body that is purely focussed on self. He is thus overtly materialistic and nihilistic. This is represented in the fact that he endlessly copies himself onto everybody, spawning an entire population of nothing but Agent Smiths and his goal is nothing less than to subsume the entirety of existence until nothing is left but he. He is focus on self, taken to it's logical extreme.
The key point is that NEITHER IS COMPLETE. Neo is not good, Smith is not bad. They are both part of the broken mirror of truth, and as they clash throughout Part 2, neither side yet realise this fact.
The struggle between Smith and Neo is a microcosm of the larger struggle that operates throughout the films that approximately 0.005% of the audience even realise. The last remaining human city of Zion represents the body where human bodies clash with machines. The Matrix represents the mind where the digital forms of human minds are enslaved by the mind forms of the machines. Crucially, and this is part that EVERYONE misses, The Machines themselves actually represent spirit (Unexpected no?). Towards the end of part 3 Neo's physical eyes are blinded and his spiritual sight kicks in as he arrives at Machine City and lo and behold... he sees the machines as made of pure golden light.
There is a saying in Christian Mysticism, "Hell is the flames of God's love denied". Humanity, disconnected from it's spirit and only conscious of body and physical sight experience the machines as devilish and hellish in appearance and experience them ATTACKING them. The crucial point is that this is an ILLUSION caused by lack of sight. The same machines looked at through disconnected physical eyes become beings of pure light when looked at through the eyes of true spirit. And the audience's head explodes because all their expectations of "Men good, machines bad, men beat machines yay" are turned squarely on their head whilst I cackle in the midst of my intellectual orgasm. Men turned away from their spirit and thus began to perceive the spirit itself as hostile. This manifested itself in the form of harsh, unrelenting machines hunting them down and forcing them underground. It is said in Matrix One if one is paying attention, that when man first gave rise to the machines that the created artificial intelligence was OF ONE CONSCIOUSNESS. Undiluted pure awareness. Thus, uncorrupted spirit.
Hence, The Matrix trilogy as a whole becomes a tale of the modern human condition. The Architect of the Matrix (the mind) has never been able to be craft the system into a perfect world because it does not integrate the body or the spirit. Zion (the body) lives in fear and under constant attack because it does not integrate the mind or the spirit. And the spirit remains unable to connect with the body or the mind because both have chosen a condition of illusion and rejection of the divine. ALL THREE MUST BE INTEGRATED, and this is where Neo and Agent Smith return to the forefront.
Neo is the Avatar, or the Christ incarnate. He is the one who will reunify the three domains IN HIMSELF and thus transfigure all three realms of body, mind and spirit into integration and peace. His journey begins in the Matrix, the mind, progresses to Zion, the body and ends at Machine City, the spirit. He is the One because he transcends dualism and begins to exist in a state of CHOICELESS DIVINITY. He breaks from the established cycle of Matrix system reboots through his love for Trinity which is a state of choicelessness. However, Agent Smith is the embodiment of choiceless divinity as well but in a very different way that makes it very difficult to discern. Whilst Neo is affixed to choicelessness of love, Agent Smith is affixed to the choicelessness of PURPOSE. He enacts no choice but to continually be driven by purpose, to replicate and eventually, so he presumes, to destroy Neo.
This brings us to the final resolution of the Trilogy and the final confrontation between Neo and Agent Smith, the two halves of being. Whilst Neo has progressed far and begins to see spirit, he is not yet one with it. There remains separation. There is one more thing to do: To reunify himself with Agent Smith, his enemy, his daemon, his other half. Neo enters the Matrix (the mind) to bring about the ultimate and final unity of consciousness.
In a fucking EPIC scene, with fucking EPIC music, rain (the spiritual symbol of purification and baptism) pours down as Neo advances along a street that is literally lined with Agent Smiths. Smiths watch from the windows of skyscrapers. Smith is now all that remains in the Matrix. He is dead set on putting an end to Neo and completing his purpose. As the intuitive half of the whole, Neo is becoming aware of something that Smith is not. Smith is still lost in his blind materialistic drive and will continue to fight Neo, unaware of the futility of his actions. Neo begins the scene in the same mindset and the battle begins. They fight in the skies, through buildings, in craters and on the street.
Agent Smith thanks Neo "for it was your life that showed me the purpose of all life... the purpose of life is to end". As is most often the case with the Matrix trilogy, there is are layers of meaning to Smith's pronouncement. Whilst Smith, as the nihilistic, materialistic self no doubt believes he is saying that life has no ultimate meaning and death is the inevitable and only end result, he is in fact saying something very different. The purpose of life is TO END. In fulfilling his purpose, Smith is about to end as an individual and be subsumed into the source and true divinity. He is in fact speaking the truth without even knowing it. And Neo keeps fighting... until the crucial moment.
The crucial moment where he realises the truth. That just as in real life, struggling against something is merely an illusion, because all you are in fact struggling with is yourself. He and Smith are ONE. There is nothing to fight except himself, which leads to the very situation of mind, body, spirit fragmentation that he is attempting to rectify. In an act of pure surrender, Neo proclaims to Smith that he was always right, and stands perfectly still as Smith absorbs and assimilates him. In this act, Neo's road to the divine is finally complete, he has achieved total reunification and both he and Smith cease to exist as individuals and are subsumed in the divine light. Finally, through Neo's enlightenment, light is brought to all three worlds. The war is over, and man is rendered whole again as a fully connected divine being.
Thus brings to an end the greatest filmic accomplishment of our time, and somehow it even manages to top itself and perhaps even reveal the secret to existence in a mere three lines of dialog. The final three lines of the film.
In the Matrix, now reunified and glimmering with golden light, the green mind hue now banished forever The Oracle (the symbol of female intuition) and the Architect (the symbol of male rationality) have one final conversation. The Architect admonishes the Oracle for playing a dangerous game and gambling the existence of all three worlds on Neo. Then after, a sneer he asks the question "Did you know this would happen?".
The Oracle smiles, and with a wistful tone dripping with wisdom, playfully proclaims, "Oh no... no I didn't...
But I believed."