The Matrix is one of my most very favorite films. Released in 1999, the original action-sci-fi-cyberpunk extravaganza introduced Western audiences to Eastern philosophies and filmmaking styles, revolutionized what we can expect in our blockbuster’s action sequences and narrative complexities, and cemented the wondrous mystique of Keanu Reeves. Since its release, the film’s directors, Lilly and Lana Wachowski, have come out as trans, leaving many to wonder if the film subconsciously communicates a trans and/or queer narrative throughout. Now, in a Netflix Film Club discussion, Lilly Wachowski gets into what’s going on under the hood of her masterpiece.
While Lilly Wachowski says that she doesn’t “know how present my transess was in the background of my brain as we were writing” The Matrix, she readily reveals this identity’s subconscious influence through all components of the film. Wachowski’s predilection for fantasy, sci-fi, and being a filmmaker in general all come from her being trans; what is creating and playing in a world if not using your imagination to escape from a real world you don’t fit into? The film’s genre-bending of kung-fu, anime, Western, science fiction, and cyberpunk genres also come from the Wachowskis’ transness and queerness, its restlessness and playfulness sparking from their “fire.” And in perhaps the film’s most explicit expression of transness, Wachowski revealed the original plan for Switch (Belinda McClory) was for her to be a man in the Matrix and a woman in the real world.
Wachowski’s discussion on her work is fascinating, illuminating, and illustrating just how startling of a vision The Matrix remains. It’s well worth your time, and embedded below. For more on the Matrix-verse, here’s Reeves on returning for number 4.