There are some movie experiences that are simply unforgettable.
No matter how many years pass, you can recall exactly how you felt as you sat on the sofa or in the cinema, immersed in a world unlike anything you had ever seen before.
When asking audiences about their most special first-time viewings, you often hear the likes of Avatar, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Avengers: Endgame, and others brought up as the speaker becomes increasingly wide-eyed, embracing nostalgia.
While these are great shouts, for many, nothing will compare to their first encounter with Lana and Lilly Wachowski’s The Matrix.
Arriving in 1999, it changed the game and influenced the landscape of action cinema forever. It was refreshing in so many ways, with many of its details swiftly flooding popular culture like a sea of sentinels.
One of The Matrix’s most iconic moments is the red pill or blue pill sequence, so let’s get it explained…
The Matrix’s red pill blue pill explained
The scene in question sees Neo (played by Keanu Reeves) offered the choice between a red or blue pill by Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne)
Each pill represents something, with the red pill as the path of finding out the truth behind the lies, providing the opportunity to forever change your knowledge and perception of reality.
Taking the blue pill instead, on the other hand, is to choose a life of ignorance, refusing to shatter the illusion you’re living in.
In the context of the film, taking the red pill means that Neo will discover he is basically a slave to a dream world sculpted by machines. Of course, there is no going back after learning something so shocking. If he were to take the blue pill, he would continue to live in this comfortable simulation, but ultimately, it’s a prison
Morpheus describes the choice in the film as follows:
“You take the blue pill…the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill…you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.”
With this in mind, and to those unfamiliar with The Matrix, it’s worth asking… did Neo take the red or the blue pill?
Which pill did Neo swallow?
Neo decides to take the red pill and venture deeper down the rabbit hole, rather than remaining clueless.
His actions mean that he learns all about the nature of the Matrix, lifting the veil on this fabricated “reality”. You probably guessed that he took the red pill though; perhaps it would’ve been a pretty boring film if he’d gone blue.
Recently, fans were given the same choice as Neo over on The Matrix Resurrections website. Users are presented with a red and blue pill, asked to choose one. By clicking on both, you can check out two teasers for the forthcoming fourth installment.
“The world wasn’t quite ready for it”
Over the years, many fans have suggested the theory that The Matrix movies are actually metaphors for transgender identity.
Essentially, some audiences believe that Neo’s alienation in the simulation is akin to gender dysphoria, with the red pill standing in for estrogen pills.
Lilly and Lana Wachowski came out as trans in 2012 and 2016, respectively, and Lilly Wachowski has since confirmed that this allegory was the directorial duo’s “original intention”.
In conversation with Netflix Film Club, she explained: “I’m glad that it has gotten out that that was the original intention. The world wasn’t quite ready for it. The corporate world wasn’t ready for it.”