This study explores the representation of the hero in Lawrence and Andrew Wachowski’s Matrix film trilogy, which comprises The Matrix (Wachowski, Wachowski&Silver 1999), Matrix Reloaded (Wachowski, Wachowski&Silver 2003a) and The Matrix Revolutions (Wachowski, Wachowski&Silver 2003b). Special reference is made to how Neo embodies a postmodern view of heroism. This implies an exploration into the relationship between Neo, the protagonist and hero in the Matrix trilogy, and his mythological predecessors, as well as the relationship between the representation of Neo and ideas concerning heroism. In order to further understand the nature of heroism in the Matrix trilogy, the ideas of two philosophers, namely Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) and Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936), are explored and compared. It is argued in this study that the heroism presented to the viewer by the Matrix trilogy can be interpreted as being representative of the meeting of the apparently contradictory ideas of these two philosophers. Both of these philosophers, though striving for a heroic ideal, arrived at vastly different conclusions. This study, whilst considering the nature of heroism in these two views, also seeks offer an examination of the relationship that Nietzsche’s and Chesterton’s writings have to one another. This examination is not an attempt to take sides with either of these philosophers, but merely to point out certain aspects of their two distinctive viewpoints as they relate to the films in question. This study especially seeks to investigate the claim that Neo is the embodiment of the Übermensch, the figure that most clearly resembles Nietzsche’s heroic ideal. Chesterton’s views of heroism are referred to in order to counter-balance and contextualise Nietzsche’s views on this. Mainly ethical aspects of the character and narrative of the hero are focused on in this study in order to show, firstly, that these more abstract aspects are implicit in the representation of the hero in the Matrix trilogy, and secondly, that the hero belongs to a moral taxonomy. The final aim of this study is to present a coherent view of the many facets of heroism that incorporates an assessment of how philosophy, ideology and semiology underpin the visual.
Dissertation (MA (Visual Studies))--University of Pretoria, 2008.