The Matrix – Inspiration for The Between

“Let me tell you why you’re here. You’re here because you know something. What you know you can’t explain. But you feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life. That there’s something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is, but it’s there, like a splinter in your mind driving you mad. It is this feeling that has brought you to me. Do you know what I’m talking about?”

The Matrix. A film that exploded into our consciousness in glorious CGI madness back in 1999, right on the cusp of the Millennium. It seems a little crazy now, but back then Y2K was a major threat to the world. A fear that our computer systems were on the brink of global implosion. So the idea that humanity might be trapped inside a simulated reality is a fascinating one, but it was especially captivating in 1999.

It’s also a feeling that’s part of the fabric of being human.

Whether it’s displacement, a subliminal sense of things being off-kilter, or just a feeling of uneasiness, at one time or another we all feel something akin to this. That the world, and everything in it, is somehow not real. A construct. An imagining. This, I think, is innately human. A feeling that something ‘other’ must exist. Can our lives be just this? I suppose it’s why we turn to religion and delight in the supernatural. In a way, we yearn for that otherness. Another life. Another world. A Wonderland.

The Matrix played into this yearning. And I was hooked. The tone, the cipher-like Keanu Reeves as Neo, and the mind-boggling set-pieces. Slow-motion fight sequences. A ballet of bullets moving through the air like torpedoes through water. The black cloaks and mirror sunglasses. So much for the eye to feast on. But it was the premise of the story that held me in thrall. The idea that the world we know, might be an illusion.

The feeling of watching the film for the first time stays with me. And there is so much I’ve taken as inspiration for The Between. A small cadre of warriors fighting an oppressive force. Stylistic battles. Mind-bending shifts in reality. The dark and the light. I hope my readers might feel similar joy reading The Between that I felt first watching The Matrix.

Most of all, I hope it will transport them to worlds beyond the known.

David Hofmeyr