Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Movie and DVD Reviews: The best and not-so-best movies available on DVD, and whatever else catches my eye.

A savior, for people who don’t want to be saved

Jerry Stratton, September 7, 2010

I was watching The Matrix a few nights ago, and it struck me that the problem the Wachowski brothers had with the Matrix sequels is the same one they had with V for Vendetta: if they had done them right, they would have been movies about a savior among people who didn’t necessarily want to be saved.

Take a look at the ending of The Matrix. What’s the next movie? Neo trying to set the slaves of the matrix free. Imagine how you would feel about a man with miraculous powers who claimed that the world we live in is just a computer simulation, that we were, in fact, slaves to our computers in the most literal sense, that the real world was a desolate wasteland, and that he could free you from slavery to live in that desolate waste.

Imagine that this savior can even prove it, up to but not including seeing the rows of pods. Anyone who goes to see the pods either doesn’t see them, or dies. He, of course, claims that they didn’t die: they were set free.

Free to live in a desolate waste. Where all he can offer is pain and dreary toil as you rebuild the world of the real.

What would your choice be?

That’s a hard movie to make, so, instead, they just went with car chases, explosions, and some patched-up Jesus symbolism at the end.

V for Vendetta was the same thing: a story about a world where everything was controlled, in this case, by the government1. Destroying the dictatorship and taking their freedom meant destroying everything that made their life comfortable. The movie never touched on that; it cut out the most important parts of V’s speeches and it cut out the ending that made it clear what V’s promise for the future, in the short term, was.2

It’s no good blaming the drop in work standards upon bad management… though, to be sure, the management is very bad… But who elected them? It was you! You who appointed these people! You who gave them the power to make your decisions for you! While I’ll admit that anyone can make a mistake once, to go on making the same lethal errors century after century seems to me nothing short of deliberate… You could have stopped them. All you had to do was say “no.”

What happens when all of those people watching fireworks as the government buildings explode go home, and discover that all communications are dead? Phones are dead. Television is dead. Cable is dead. The Internet is dead3. There is no government. The police have gone home—or are hiring out to the highest bidder. It wasn’t just their corrupt government that they were throwing out. It was every worldly thing that ever mattered to them. All they have left now are their freedoms and their friends—and they’re going to find out who their friends really are.

Freedom’s a tough thing to offer in the real world.

  1. A government which, in the book, was freely chosen without trickery in order to maintain comfort. That was the most egregious change from book to movie.

  2. I still don’t know if the book’s ending was meant to be a “happy” ending in the context of the story.

  3. There aren’t even many cars. Only the most powerful or connected people in the book are shown in cars. Cars are freedom, and were probably one of the freedoms people had to give up in exchange for comfort. Throughout the entire 257 pages of the book I see only four or five private cars. One was unidentified, but looked just like Adam Susan’s vehicle later. Three were outside of the church attended by the number two men just beneath Adam Susan. There are potentially two more chauffeured vehicles, and there’s one cab, used, again, by one of the number two people. Even the Voice of Fate rides the subway.

  1. <- Remington Steele
  2. The Sleeping Car ->