Exposition | The Matrix

This year I’m finding the exposition in The Matrix clumsy and slow and clunky. But apparently in 2013 I didn’t think so, and I linked to an essay at AVClub about how well the Wachowskis handle exposition at the beginning of the Matrix — Morpheus explains without really explaining:

Right off the bat, this whole “nobody can be told” business. Of course they can be told. I can do it in two sentences: “Everything you think you experience, this entire world, is actually a computer program. In real life, it’s around 2199, and you’re lying in a vat with a dozen tubes sticking out of you, being used as a living battery by sentient computers, as you have been since the day you were born.” What Morpheus means is that nobody would believe it without being shown the evidence. More to the point, the Wachowskis know perfectly well that it’s much more exciting for the audience to share Neo’s intense bewilderment when he suddenly awakens inside his vat, bald and naked and with plugs sticking out of him. At the same time, though, Morpheus can’t just say, “Hey, wanna know what the Matrix is? Take this pill.” Neo might actually go for it—he seems beyond the point of no return before he even enters the room—but it’d be a damp squib from a dramatic standpoint. Hence the circuitous rigmarole, as Morpheus proceeds to describe the Matrix in detail (“when you pay your taxes”?!) without really saying anything at all.

There’s another element as well, though—one that has a significant bearing on the plot: At its heart,The Matrix is a movie about free will, which is to say, about choice. That’s best symbolized when Morpheus offers Neo a choice between the red pill and the blue pill, with red representing truth and freedom, and blue signifying illusion and denial

And for only $12.99, you can buy a paper explaining the film’s relationship to film noir: