'The Matrix defines me': Campus ready for 3rd film
by Zachary A. Goldfarb
After philosophy major J.W. Victor '05 practices his routine for Disiac, he sends a slew of online instant messages to friends at night. Every one includes a little picture of Morpheus.
Morpheus — played by Lawrence Fishburne in the third and final installment of "The Matrix" films, "The Matrix Revolutions," which comes out today — is Victor's favorite character and his IM icon.
"He is strong and confident," Victor, with a shaven head, said. "And he's bald."
Victor is one of scores of Princeton students, intoxicated with the films' philosophy and by its special effects, who are going to see "Revolutions" tonight, six months after the cliffhanger "The Matrix Reloaded" and four years since the original film.
"The Matrix defines me in a way. It's about philosophy and rage," said Victor, who saw the original film 20 times and the second 10 times. "It's wonderful that the film can teach people about philosophical questions, like purpose, meaning and essence."
Eating club TV rooms were packed this week with students watching the first two films, which tell how a small group of humans, led by a messiah-like Neo (Keanu Reeves), tries to destroy machines enslaving humanity in a computer-generated reality.
The clubs have also subsidized and distributed tickets to see the film tonight.
But Princetonians are not only fans of the films. One also partly inspired — and acted in — them.
Andy and Larry Wachowski, brothers who wrote and directed the films, found some themes in the work of religion professor Cornel West GS '80.
West appears in the second and third installments as Counselor West, who serves on the governing council of Zion, the last remaining human city under assault by machines.
At a party after the premiere of "Revolutions" a week ago, West stayed up until 4 a.m. philosophizing with Larry Wachowski.
"Larry is so deep," said West, who spent about three weeks in Australia for the film. "We talked about the differences between resignation, obedience and surrender" — themes he said underpinned the film.
When the Wachowskis asked him to have a part in the movies, West wanted to know if his character would have "dignity."
"Of course he has dignity," West recalled the Wachowskis saying.
Already a famous professor, West said his film exposure "brought it to a whole new level."
He added, "All sorts of fans come with hugs now."
West didn't want to give too many clues about the answers "Revolutions" might provide to the many questions left open in the last film.
But Victor made clear what he would do if someone spoiled those answers before he sees the film tonight.
"Then I wouldn't have the philosophy anymore, and I would have the rage," he said. "And I'd have to take that rage out."