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Someone finally fact-checked Morpheus’ red or blue pill monologue

Screenshot: The Matrix

At its core, the first Matrix film is about waking up. In the first act we see Neo repeatedly wake from sleep, then quite literally wake up from a computerized illusion; by the end of the film, he metaphorically wakes up to the realization that he is the One. The dichotomy between waking and choosing to stay asleep is succinctly laid out in the scene when Neo (Keanu Reeves) first meets with Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), in which Morpheus offers him a choice between a red or blue pill, a choice that kicks off Neo’s adventures in the real world. But how real is Morpheus being in this scene? Is he giving Neo that straight business or just feeding him another fantasy, like the Matrix itself? Luckily, The Ringer is here to fact-check this monologue with the scrutiny generally reserved for presidential debates.

It doesn’t take long to realize that the folks at The Ringer are being a bit tongue-in-cheek with their thoroughness, just as they were with their analysis of Alec Baldwin’s speech in Glengarry Glen Ross and Denzel Washington’s final moments in Training Day. After all, we don’t really need to fact-check Trinity’s (Carrie-Anne Moss) assertion that, “This is it,” when she brings Neo to the meeting with Morpheus. But there are certain lines that are worthy of dissection. For example: When Morpheus tells Neo that he is “a slave” who was “born into bondage,” he’s telling the truth, though whether or not the Matrix is “a prison for your mind” is more a matter of perspective. Surely, Cypher would gladly take the hedonistic pleasure of the Matrix over the bleak reality of the world outside. That doesn’t sound like much of a prison.


Despite his minor editorializing, Morpheus’ monologue is deemed very accurate, which is no doubt why Neo takes the red pill and chooses to wake up. That’s lucky for us, as the movie would have been a lot shorter had he chosen otherwise. See The Ringer’s full analysis here, including some links to a fun theory about Neo not actually being the One.

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About the author

Dan Neilan

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Have Fun — Will Travel.