The major motion picture The Matrix premiered 20 years ago, in the year 1999. There are those who contend we are in the Matrix, with no “Red Pill” to show us the way out of humanity’s shared somnambulant state of subjugation and complacency.
MORPHEUS: “You believe it’s the year 1999, when in fact, it’s closer to 2199.”
Maybe it is, in The Matrix, but we are not in The Matrix, and we are not in the Matrix, we’re sure of it. The year 1999 was a long time ago. Take your knowledge of our world, stored up inside your head, and carry it into The Matrix. Look at the gear: landlines, rotary-dial and pushbutton; telephone handset-cradle modems.
Stylish, weapons-grade, state-of-the-art, spring-loaded candybar/slider form factor cellular phones.
Phones—not “smart phones,” simply telephony, the technology associated with the electronic transmission of voice.
A sound-bearing connection is all that is necessary in the The Matrix and the Matrix, where communication is survival and is dependent upon these telephones.
The vintage gear in The Matrix is too modern to be steampunk but too functional to be anachronistic.
Cathode-ray tubes provide television pictures and are plausibly operational.
CRT monitors play perfectly in the conceits of reality shown in the Matrix.
Obscure formats of digital media serve vital purposes.
Old ovens still bake delicious and satisfying cookies.
Analog switches can still deliver weapon strikes.
Nothing is truly anachronistic, then; nothing does not exist at a level of full functionality in the Matrix. The idea of what a cellphone can do beyond carrying a voice signal is not in the reality of The Matrix. In the Matrix, a cellphone is a telephone, and a phone—
is a phone—
is a phone.
The loneliest moment for Thomas Anderson, aka Neo, is when he is released. For this one moment, he is without access to the Matrix, suffering, in the real world, without purpose, without a phone.
SIDEBAR: Unlike in the real world, guns are very important in the Matrix:
The most anachronistic thing in The Matrix might be the green cathode-ray cursor described in a terminal’s monitor—
—but the phones in The Matrix are perfect, and serve only one purpose; ingress to and egress from the Matrix.
There’s no such thing as the Matrix. Go back to sleep.
We were going to let you know you could watch The Matrix on Amazon Prime, but as of today, April 1, 2019, it is no longer available.