A Glitch In The Matrix

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A Glitch In The Matrix is a radical, uniquely presented look at simulation theory in the digital age, how those who prescribe to the notion that we’re all living in a simulation came to those beliefs and how it affects their outlook going forward. Dense, but accessible, directed by Rodney Ascher, it’s the rare documentary that asks a question it knows it can’t answer.


In the late 1970s, famed author Phillip K Dick, known for his sci-fi stories, gave a talk where he laid out his theory that we are living in a simulation. This becomes the entry point to dive into the maw of simulation theory, its depth only outmatched by its complexity. Similar to another Rodney Ascher joint Room 237, which mined the Stanley Kubrick film The Shining for its hidden meanings, A Glitch In The Matrix utilizes a famed and celebrated movie as its main frame of reference in exploring its theme, as it pertains to simulation theory, that film or masterpiece rather is the 1999 Keanu Reeves-led sci-fi wonder The Matrix, the point at which simulation theory went fully mainstream. Ascher’s film investigates where stimulation theory stemmed from, how its tenets and principles have been echoed throughout history by everyone from Plato to Elon Musk and how it’s looked at in this day and age.


I’m so glad I went into this movie knowing as little as I did and frankly, I’m not sure how much any research pre-watch could prepare you for what this film is. Initially, my interest peaked at the possibility of exploring the making of The Matrix in a documentary format, which, for the sake of forwarning this is very much not, but I soon realized that this was about simulation theory and after a short explanation from a friend about what that even means, I sat down and watched the film. Rodney Ascher’s film subverts a lot of documentary trappings. The conceit of A Glitch In The Matrix can’t so much be explored as marveled at and the possibilities of a simulated reality tinkered with and so that’s exactly what it does, boldly depicting this proposed reality entirely through CG animation that brings it to life and clips from popular culture that has dealt with similar ideas. I respect that a film about simulations indulges so heavily in the same thing, even many of the people’s identities it seeks out to discuss the topic with are shielded by these heightened virtual avatars that their perspectives are filtered through. More simulation-like choices. It gets very meta, but in a way that tries to adhere to and honor the film’s focus and not in a way where it’s constantly tapping you on the shoulder trying to see if you got what it was going for. 


The movie even interrogates its existence and whether or not it is a tool of the simulation it’s circling and what impact will it have, but on a different level, not will it change hearts and minds, but how will it warp its viewer’s sense of reality? And while mine didn’t feel shattered by the film’s conclusion, I don’t think that’s what’s A Glitch In The Matrix is going for. I have respect for any movie that seeks to make you question the world you live in, socially, politically, A Glitch In The Matrix does that quite literally. If you’re looking for a documentary that finds the key to its main topic and deconstructs it bit by bit, this isn’t that, but if you’re willing to go on a bit of a journey through a school of thought via the lens of a capable filmmaker that challenges what you think about your reality, sit down, give this a chance and I think you’ll enjoy it. A Glitch In The Matrix is left incomplete almost by design, but somehow that works to its charm.  It just premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and it will be available in theaters and at home on February 5th.

Image result for a glitch in the matrix movie

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