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Wake Up, Alice: Part 1

October 30, 2009

The following blog post will be better understood if the reader has watched and remembers the content of the movie The Matrix.  It identifies the more obvious plot similarities and references, particularly the ones referencing the white rabbit. This blog entry was influenced by this post.

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The movie The Matrix is absolutely full of references to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. When you look at both the movies closely, the overarching plot is exactly the same, where two protagonists are thrown into different worlds which they then have to understand.

Both The Matrix and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland have protagonists who are thrown into two different worlds as previously mentioned. For Alice, it is a dream world, or a wonderland, and for Thomas Anderson, or Neo, it is a separate world known as the matrix. This similarity sets the foundations for both works.

They both are summoned to these worlds via some form of a white rabbit. In The Matrix, Neo gets a message on a computer saying “follow the white rabbit”, a clear reference to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. In The Matrix the rabbit arrives in the form of a tattoo on a girl’s arm, while in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland she is thrown into a separate world by following an actual white rabbit.

There is another reference to the white rabbit in The Matrix via a character named Switch. In Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the rabbit was described as “a white rabbit with pink eyes”. The character Switch wears only white clothing and has faded hair, but the more obvious reference to the rabbit is how Switch has glasses that have a hint of pink.

One of the characters in The Matrix, Morpheus, actually tells Neo that he must be “feeling a bit like Alice, tumbling down a rabbit hole.” Another time Morpheus blatantly references Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is when he gives Neo a choice between taking a red pill and a blue pill. The red pill shows him the matrix and the blue pill sends him back to his normal life. Neo readily takes the red pill as Morpheus says “You take the red pill.. and I’ll show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.”

Another obvious reference is in a scene in a hotel in The Matrix. The hotel’s floor is checkered black and white in this scene, resembling what could be considered a chess board. During this same scene in the hotel, a black cat passes by once, and then once more. Checkerboards and cats play prominent roles in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and this is another blatantly obvious reference to Alice by the directors of The Matrix.

However, the most interesting thing that I have found isn’t necessarily an Alice reference but a quote that can be applied to both works. Morpheus says to Neo “Have you ever had a dream, Neo, that you were so sure was real? What if you were unable to wake from that dream? How would you know the difference between the dream world and the real world?”. I believe this quote perfectly describes the themes of both Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and The Matrix. It is a theme of questioning what is and what isn’t reality.

It’s interesting that Carroll’s tale has influenced a movie as successful as The Matrix in such an obvious way. The plots are strikingly similar, and its clear that The Matrix pays tribute to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. It can be safely assumed that The Matrix is somewhat of a modern day version of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland because thematically they are the very same story.

One comment

  1. I for one have always loved The Matrix and not only for it’s quality as an amazing action movie. The complex plot is what makes it stand out from the other entire gun slinging bad guy bashing films. But truly aside from the white rabbit and the “down the rabbit hole” quotes I never noticed how many parallels ran between the two. I am sure many more exist then the few listed here I’m sure that further research into their similarities might prove interesting for other Matrix lovers.



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