Zion (The Matrix)
Zion is a fictional city in The Matrix films. It is the last human city on the planet Earth after a cataclysmic nuclear war between mankind and sentient machines, which resulted in artificial lifeforms dominating the world. It is actually a massive series of caverns deep under the ruined planet's surface, close to the planet's core, for warmth, power, and protection.
Stephen Faller writes in Beyond the Matrix that Christianity is the most dominant religious theme in the Matrix films and that "Zion is biblically regarded as the city of God". The book Philosophers Explore the Matrix writes that "The last remaining human city, Zion, [is] synonymous in Judaism and Christianity with (the heavenly) Jerusalem".
Faller says that Zion is presented as a contrast to the Matrix, "The racial constituency of Zion is much less European and Anglo than present-day America. We are shifting the paradigm from the racially charged medium of the Matrix, where the subtext is so clearly contrasted in the extremes of black and white, to the imagined world of Zion, which is dominated by people of color." One chapter in The Matrix Trilogy: Cyberpunk Reloaded writes, "Black spirituality is evoked in the Matrix films... by the use of Zion for the underground city of free humans populated primarily by black people, suggesting the dream of Christianised slaves to find a safe haven in 'the promised land' and the Rastafarian belief in an utopian society." Another chapter writes, "The Matrix Reloaded displays black 'life' in a scene reminiscent of countless Hollywood jungle melodramas when the predominantly black population of Zion engages in frenzied dancing to the pounding rhythm of drums. In Hollywood, the war between artifice and reality is drawn along racial lines." Adilifu Nama writes in Black Space: Imagining Race in Science Fiction Film, "The racial politics of Zion appears to be based on a multicultural model of racial equality and participation. In the Zion setting, a racial utopia is presented where blacks, whites, and other people of color live and work together, and in many cases whites are subordinate but not subservient to blacks."
Post-September 11 allegory
The Matrix in Theory writes that after the September 11 attacks, the narrative shifts from confronting in the 1999 film the Matrix to saving Zion in the 2003 sequels. It writes, "Reloaded and Revolutions plays out this conservative fantasy with Zion as the beleaguered site of humanist values and machines with their terrifying weapons of mass destruction threatening finally to destroy the last remnants of human independence."
- Faller, Stephen (2004). Beyond the Matrix. Chalice Press. pp. 26, 157. ISBN 978-0-8272-0261-0.
- Grau, Christopher, ed. (2005). Philosophers Explore the Matrix. Oxford University Press. p. 260. ISBN 978-0-19-518106-7.
- Gillis, Stacy, ed. (2005). The Matrix Trilogy: Cyberpunk Reloaded. Wallflower Press. p. 94, 98. ISBN 978-1-904764-32-8.
- Nama, Adilifu (2010). Black Space: Imagining Race in Science Fiction Film. University of Texas Press. p. 145. ISBN 978-0-292-77876-4.
- Díaz-Diocaretz, Myriam; Herbrechter, Stefan, eds. (2006). The Matrix in Theory. Rodopi. pp. 31, 33. ISBN 978-90-420-1639-2.