Movie Article

Finding God in ''The Matrix''

We break down the religious imagery in the Wachowski brother's sci-fi hit

So, you thought the only thing The Matrix had to offer was spectacular F/X and 136 minutes to ogle Keanu. Think again. The sci-fi thriller is a veritable Where's Waldo? of religious symbolism. Here is everything you need to decode The Matrix.

The One
In Christian theology: Jesus Christ is the Messiah who saves mankind from its sins. Christ translates from Hebrew into ''Anointed One.'' In the movie: Reeves is Neo, supposedly ''the One'' who will lead mankind out of computer-generated bondage. An anagram of Neo is One.

Morpheus
In Greek mythology: Morpheus is the god of dreams. In the movie: Morpheus is the leader of the rebel forces who fights to awaken enslaved masses from a dreamlike reality.

Zion
In the Book of Revelation: Zion is the kingdom of God where the righteous will be saved after the destruction of the earth. In the movie: With earth destroyed, Zion is the only city where humans are free.

Nebuchadnezzar
In the Bible: Nebuchadnezzar was a Babylonian king who searched for the meaning of his dreams. In the movie: Morpheus names his ship Nebuchadnezzar and visits an oracle to interpret reality — really a dream.

The Traitor
In the Bible: Judas, one of the 12 trusted Apostles, betrays Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. In the movie: The traitor is Cypher (think Lucifer), one of Morpheus' seven trusted crew members. He betrays Morpheus for a steak dinner.

The Resurrection
In the Bible: Jesus dies on the cross, but returns three days later, proving he is indeed ''the One.'' It's a miracle now celebrated as Easter. In the movie: Neo experiences a similar fate, but it's likely we'll celebrate it with a sequel.

Originally posted May 14, 1999 Published in issue #485 May 14, 1999 Order article reprints