A birthday celebration: Into the Matrix with Keanu Reeves

Is it possible we’re living in a world that isn’t what we think it is?

That’s the big question posed by The Matrix movie trilogy, one of Sarah’s favorite series and the reason she’s decided she wants to study philosophy this year, in large part thanks to its compelling star.

That’s why we’re celebrating Keanu Reeves on his 50th birthday, Sept. 2, 2014, as part of the iHomeschool Network’s celebration of September birthdays.

Keanu Reeves unit study from Unschool Rules

All about Keanu Reeves

Keanu Reeves was born in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1964 and raised around the world before becoming a naturalized Canadian citizen.

Disclosure: This post has some affiliate links, which will make me a little bit of money if you choose to purchase any of the products I’ve mentioned through them. I only link to things we legitimately use and recommend, so if you see such a link, it’s because we really do believe in the book or item!

His father was Hawaiian-American, and Keanu means “cool breeze over mountains” in Hawaiian. It’s derived from his great-great-uncle’s name, Keaweaheulu, which means “cool breeze raising.”

Keanu dropped out of high school (in fact, he attended four high schools in five years and was expelled from one of them). However, he’d been acting since he was 9 years old, and after he dropped out, he pursued acting. He had several roles in the mid-1980s and early 1990s, and he was in a band called Dogstar, where he played bass guitar, in the 1990s.

In 1992, he played Jonathan Harker in the Francis Ford Coppola version of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, which we’re hoping to watch since that’s one of the classics Sarah is reading this year, and in 1994 starred in Speed, which we’ve seen most of as well and want to catch the rest of soon!

But it was the Matrix trilogy – The Matrix, in 1999, and The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, both in 2003 – that brought him arguably the most fame generally as well as in our family.

(Sarah also recommends Reeves’ 2013 movie Man of Tai Chi, which she watched on Netflix. “It’s mostly a fighting movie,” she said.)

Reeves has his own star on the Walk of Fame in Hollywood. He gave $50 million of the $70 million he made for the last two Matrix movies – or maybe more, some accounts say as much as $75 million – to the makeup and special effects crews for the movies. That floored us when we found out about it – pretty cool!

He’s also a huge motorcycle rider, and has been in a huge number of fairly serious accidents. He’s still alive, but he’s got a lot of scars, fake teeth, a plate in his neck… it’s been pretty bad!

Read more about Keanu Reeves

Books and movies related to The Matrix

A cool behind-the-scenes video

Special effects were one of the highlights of The Matrix. Here’s a look at how “flying” happened in The Matrix.

Some of the best clips from The Matrix

This nine-clip series shows some of the best scenes from the original film. If you haven’t seen it, there’s a lot of cool action and food for thought to check out!

However, the very first clip there starts just after Sarah’s favorite line, about the splinter in your mind. She was adamant that we needed to include that too! You can check that out here.

Ideas for discussion

  • What is “reality”? While most of us can be pretty sure we’re not living in an entirely fabricated “Matrix” world, what about the special effects in the movies above? What about Photoshopped celebrity pictures? Where are we kind of intersecting with a reality that isn’t quite what it seems? This topic fascinates me.
  • What are the comparative religious influences of The Matrix? If you’ve seen The Matrix, you know there are a lot of religious references and parallels in it, to Christianity, Buddhism and more. Can you spot some of these references? Do you know where they come from? Sarah has been reading about some of the problems inherent in the religious structure in The Matrix, where Neo is worshipped as a savior, as “The One.” But it makes you think about our desire as humans, especially during bad times, to have a savior figure or a deliverer who will take away all their problems.
  • What are the splinters in your mind? What are those things that you know but you can’t quite grasp or explain? Sarah’s example is that Neo, when he’s “Mr. Anderson” in the Matrix, is able to grasp the idea of the Matrix, even without being outside of it. I think all of us have things like this – things we “just know” or grasp or feel intuitively that go beyond rational thought. Some of them are good understandings, and some of these “splinters” are bad, like things we know just aren’t right but can’t quite figure out why. But if you can identify them, it’s a way to take that splinter out, as Sarah put it.

Join the birthday party

If you’re interested, there are many more cool “September birthday” lessons from my fellow iHomeschool Network bloggers. Click the image below to check them out!

September birthday unit studies
And thanks for stopping by to help me wish Keanu Reeves a happy birthday!

You can check out more posts in our Learning Party series here!

Many thanks to Jamie Zawinski, creator of the background I used for our Matrix collage image!

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