WHY ZION IS STILL NOT REAL…
Save the last reason, most of the reasons on this list are, admittedly, conjecture on my part. Take it with a grain of salt people.
In the first movie he can see while in the Matrix, but when he leaves the Matrix into Zion, his eyes won’t open initially because they hurt. Morpheus explains, “because you’ve never used them.” Morpheus suggests that while in the Matrix, Neo has been blind. Later, in Revolutions, he is blinded in the world of Zion, but can still see in the Matrix. This juxtaposition with the first movie suggests that perhaps Zion is a constructed world as well.
The color scheme of the trilogy
Borrowed by the Wachowskis from Alice in Wonderland, blue represents fake while red is real. In the first movie, they don’t even use these colors (except for the pills) because the audience is not meant to know what is or is not real. As we see the next 2 movies, more is understood. Neo wears blue while in Zion, as does Trinity and Bane, whereas Morpheus wears red. [* see Trinity, Neo and Smith below for their roles as programs *]. When Morpheus makes the big cave speech in Reloaded, he is in bright red while the elder Councilman Hamann who introduces him is in blue. This same councilman speaks to Neo when neither of them can sleep (note that this is right after Morpheus says “Goodnight Zion”, and that Neo is never really sleeping in any of the movies) and leads him to the engineering level where there are only machines and they feel more comfortable. Note the interesting and purposeful way red light is only seen on half of Neo’s face, as if he’s not completely human. In Revolutions, the color logic continues in spades. Look for it.
When Trinity breaks through the literal/figurative clouds of her world in Zion, she sees the bright blue sky above her. Right after this symbolic recognition of the limits of her world, she dies and knows that Neo cannot bring her back this time, because she no longer has a purpose, having finally guided Neo since the very beginning of The Matrix to the Source. As she says at the end of Revolutions, “You saved me once before, but this time you cannot bring me back Neo.” The sky is shown in the daylight with a moon in the background. It could have been any color: it didn’t actually have to be blue as it is a world the audience has never seen. Blue was chosen to represent its falsity. Obviously, something as abstract as color choice is wide open to interpretation by the audience, so don’t take this point too literally.
Morpheus’s last line in the film
The last shot of Morpheus shows him looking upwards toward the clouds and asking “Is this real?” Morpheus’s name is from the Greek god of dreams, and his ship is named after Nebuchadnezzar, a Babylonian king mentioned in the bible who is haunted by bad dreams.
There is a shuttle system between the two worlds, controlled by the Merovingian.
[* read more on this transport system below *]
Smith can transport himself to Zion through Bane.
As a program, and on at least this point there should be no debate, Smith would not be able to transport into Zion unless it were a computer construct as well. I have heard 2 unfounded possibilities how he can do this without Zion being simulated. First, he somehow “hacks the brain” of Bane and implants himself inside his head. This is unsubstantiated by the science fiction “rules” of the movie. Second, that he has gained the power from Neo as a result of their encounter in The Matrix. But then how does Neo get this power to go to Zion in the first place? There is no other explanation other than Zion being another matrix.
It would be highly improbable that Zion is physically being built over and over again after it is destroyed.
If Zion was real, then by the first time the machines had destroyed it, they would have likely dug through most of the world to reach it. How could another 5 Zions have been created under their noses unless they allowed it to be as a simulation to house those that would not accept their former construct of the matrix world. Furthermore, it is to the benefit of the machines that Zion be a simulation. When the Architect saw that certain matrix inhabitants didn’t accept their world, he had to put them somewhere where they would accept it. This way, the Architect and the machines could still harness Zion’s inhabitants as batteries.
Neo retains his powers in Zion
There are numerous examples of this. At the end of Reloaded, this phenomenon was first realized when he stopped the sentinels. As he says, “Wait… something is different.” He realizes that this world is not real as well, so its rules can be broken the same as in the Matrix. The shock of this connection collapses Neo who is sent to Limbo [* More on the reasons for this collapse later *]. Again, by the science fiction “rules” of the movie, it wouldn’t be reasonable to say he somehow can “bend reality.”
Programs die once they’ve served their purpose in Zion, just like in the Matrix.
Specifically, Trinity dies after guiding Neo to his destiny, and Neo dies after defeating Smith. But when both Neo and Trinity die earlier in the Matrix (at the end of The Matrix and Reloaded, respectively), they both come back to life because a program cannot be deleted until it completes its purpose. If they were real and Zion were real, when they die in the Matrix, that should be it. As Morpheus says, “the body cannot live without the mind.”
The architect reveals that all the previous Zions were created by the system
During the speech in Reloaded, the Architect tells Neo he is meant to rebuild Zion with 23 people from the Matrix. Why would the Architect along with Neo’s help bother to physically build Zion unless it was part of their plan? Having built Zion, the System would undoubtedly know its location, so the machines would never have to look for it. Indeed, Zion is built as a another simulated reality to house and continue to utilize all those who don’t accept the first Matrix.
The people of Zion are religious.
Architect: Hope. It is the quintessential human delusion… simultaneously the source of your greatest strength, and your greatest weakness.
It is interesting how people who are freed from the calculated world of the Matrix set up a Zion where religious belief is common and strong. The Wachowski brothers conclude the movie (as I’ll show by the end of this essay) with a very negative view of religion, and specifically of Christianity. When Neo goes to fight Seraph, there is a shot of different religious objects (frame of Jesus, statue of Buddha, etc.) being sold to the public. In Zion, as Neo and Trinity get off the elevator, Neo is bombarded by many religious figures that want his help. Some have brought gifts, a woman approaches him to cure her sick child as Jesus did, and there are even Buddhists in the background – but Neo cannot help any of them. The rave party is called the ‘temple gathering’ and Hamann’s speech ‘opening prayer’. During this Hedonistic party, you see women dressed in Muslim or Hindu (anyone specifically know?) religious dress – which is all blue. Further Hamann, the councilman of Zion, is named for the despot “Haman” who ruled over the ancient Jews and is today reviled during the Jewish holiday Purim. Councilor Hamann even says to Neo, “I think about all those people still plugged into the Matrix and when I look at these machines, I… I can’t help thinking that in a way, we are plugged into them.”
THE MOST CONCLUSIVE EVIDENCE: There is a picture of Neo in Zion on one of the monitors in the background during the speech with the Architect.
I’m trying to somehow take the picture from the DVD, but it is at 1:51:17 on the top left monitor in the frame. It is certainly brief, but you can definitely notice Neo’s blue sweater and shaved head – his costume attributes while in Zion. For the Architect to have a picture of this, that world must be another simulation constantly monitored by the Architect.
That Zion is not real doesn’t necessarily mean there is a world higher than it where humans still exist. Consider that in this highest world The Machines are God, who after a war with humans, have banished them all to both these lower worlds. In fact, the Source in Revolutions is named Deus Ex Machina in the credits, which is Latin for “god from the machine.” [Incidentally, it is also used to poke fun at the contrivances of all formulaic movies and this movie itself. In movie-speak, Deus Ex Machina refers to any resolution to a story which does not pay due regard to the story’s internal logic and is so unlikely it challenges suspension of disbelief, and presumably allows the author to end it in the way he or she wanted]. Despite what happens with Neo, humans may always be trapped here. This explains the phrase “perception defines reality”. Both of the worlds are constructs, created by the perceptions of its members. When one doesn’t accept the world they are in, they shuttle back to the other (i.e. Cypher back to the Matrix, Morpheus to Zion, and in the Animatrix The Kid goes directly from one to the other).
It is not necessarily a matrix-within-a-matrix. Think of it more like the bottom of a triangle. Both worlds are the bottom corners, connected to each other through the Train System. At the top is a world these humans have never seen, or rather have been banished from. Humans might have once existed on this top plane of reality, equal to the Machines and even the creator of those machines. After a war in that world, humans were forced into the first version of the Matrix, a Utopia designed to store them for their bioelectrical energy. [Or maybe there was no war, and humans themselves went willingly into the Matrix. They may have done it to create a perfect world to avoid the harsh reality of their physical world.] But in the end, they couldn’t get away from their base tendencies – when the utopian simulation failed, Zion was created to house any dissidents who wouldn’t accept their world as it was. These rebels, though, are not being wasted by the Machines: their natural energy is harnessed as well. The goal of the Machines is to keep as many people alive as they can. When those in Zion grow strong enough to disrupt both worlds, they must be destroyed and it is the role of Neo to recreate this world with 23 people from the Matrix, with 7 males and 16 females. As it says in Genesis 7:16 (NIV): “The animals going in were male and female of every living thing, as God had commanded Noah. Then the Lord shut him in.” [The movies often reference Bible verses with random numbers. See the license plate section for that]. Some will inevitably ask, “Why do they need humans, can’t they just use nuclear power?” One possible explanation is simply this: why not? Even if the power from humans is marginal, it is no harm to the real-world machines to run this illusion. The humans can never escape, or so The Machines think… [If the reason humans are in the Matrix is by their own accord, then maybe the higher-level machines are just following their program.]