The legend of Faust was a legend that occurred in the 1500's in Europe. Over time, as the story was told and passed on through generations, many different ideas on what happened were brought up, but the main idea of the story is the same in most cases. One of the most interesting things about this legend is the fact that though this story is more than four hundred years old, it is still told in some contemporary films to this day. All though it is not always as direct as a deal with the actual devil, the same basis of the story can be seen in present day films. In one of the most successful movies of the year 2000, The Matrix, a Faustian theme is evident. The Matrix is a science fiction movie directed by the Wachowski brothers.
The old legend of Faust is, in short, about a young scholar who made a deal with Mephistopheles, the devil. Faust was seeking ultimate knowledge and in the deal the devil said he would grant Faust ultimate knowledge in return for his soul. Faust agrees to the deal and after a certain time period of possessing ultimate knowledge Faust suddenly dies. There are many different versions of the story as to exactly how he died, and some versions of the story go into more detail than others. As time passed, Faustian legends were being told in many different stories, many different ways. To have a Faust story, four basic elements should be present: a Faust figure, a devil figure, some sort of temptation, and a price.
The Matrix is about a man, called Neo, who was living an average life, and was heavily into computer hacking. One day he receives messages appearing on his computer leading him towards a meeting with a powerful man named Morphius. Morphius alerts Neo that the reason that the reason that all of federal agents were chasing him and all of these other things were happening to him because he was "the one". He was searches for a greater truth in the world than what was just there in his face, and Morphius says that he could show Neo that truth. Morphius then holds two pills in his hands, one pill would lead him to the truth, the other would just take him back to his regular life as if nothing ever happened. Neo wanted the truth about the world so Morphius explained it. He said that the perception is that our day-in, day-out world is real; in reality, that world is a hoax, an elaborate deception spun by all-powerful machines of artificial intelligence that controls us to hide the truth. This artificial world is called the matrix. The movie goes on with high-tech stunts, graphics and visuals about a struggle between a chosen few humans that know about the matrix, and a group of human-like robots trying to keep the matrix secret.
The Matrix is a variation of the legend of Faust because it deals with the same basic idea. There is a deal made in which someone tries to seek some sort of personal gain and the deal goes bad. The reason that this is a Faustian story is because it has all of the four basic elements needed. The Faust figure is Neo, the devil figure is Morphius, the temptation is the truth, and the price is his regular life and his perception of the real world.
The Faust figure in the Matrix is Neo. The Faust figure is the main character, the one who is the recipient of most of the action in the story, and the one who is tragedy stricken at the end. Neo made a choice to leave the real world and his perception of reality to learn of the truth. When he made that decision he basically sold his regular life just as Faust sold his soul. When Neo found out the truth about the world he did not want to believe it and he got angry and even though he did not die at the end, it is not always a positive thing to know too much about something when everyone else knows nothing about it. Other people would probably not believe him and some may even get angry just as he did if he tried to explain the truth to the world.
The devil figure in the Matrix is Morphius. The devil figure is the character who cuts the Faust figure the deal. He is usually evil and out to trick the Faust figure, though in the Matrix, that is not the case. Morphius is actually on the same side with Neo in the movie. The devil, Mephistopheles, and Morphius do have one thing in common, that is that they both are looking to make some sort of personal gain in the deal that they make. While Mephistopheles is gaining Faust's soul, Morphius is gaining Neo's help because he needs Neo in the battle with the robot-agents in the Matrix. The differences in the two are that Morphius is not trying to con Neo into something bad, he is actually trying to persuade him to join his crew.
The temptation in the Matrix is the truth. The temptation is the element that the Faust figure is to gain in the deal. In the film, Morphius says that the reason that Neo is the chosen one is because all of his life he has had a feeling, some sort of sense that something is wrong with the world.
He is not sure what exactly it is, but he knows it exists. He says this feeling sits in his mind like a splinter in his brain, and that it is that feeling that brought Neo to Morphius. This is the reason why he chooses to seek the truth, because all of his life he has wondered about it, and now is his chance to find it.
Morphius goes on to say that all he offers is the truth and he says "if you take the blue pill, the story ends and you wake up in your bed and believe what ever you want to believe. If you take the red pill, you stay in wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes."
The price in the film is Neo's regular, everyday life. The price element is anything that the devil is seeking in the deal or whatever the deal will cost the Faust figure in return for the temptation. The price of Neo losing his everyday life and identity is not as serious as in the Faust legend where the price was the soul, but the idea still remains in effect. The main difference in the movie is that at the end, Neo is still alive and still has what he got in the deal that was made, which is the truth.
Though the Matrix is indeed a Faustian story, overall there are many differences. These differences do indeed make a statement about our present day society and changing times. When the Faust legend occurred, something that would have been of great value at that time was ultimate knowledge. It makes sense at a time when technology was minimal and the world was searching for knowledge, ultimate knowledge would be something that one would wish for.
As times change so do the stories from those times, and though ultimate knowledge would be of great value in present times also, it seems like something that is old fashioned in our present society. In a world of technology and computers, something like the theme in the Matrix is more exciting to see than the old Faust legend. If they recreated the Faust legend and made a movie of it, nowadays it would probably seem boring compared to something like the Matrix where computerized special effects and digital sound technology can be put to use in a reasonable story about the future and technology. That is how much society has changed since the Faust legend, no longer is selling your soul for knowledge popular and important as it was in those times. People would rather see Keanu Reeves dodge bullets in slow motion, and fly through the air throwing martial arts kicks that he learned by having it programmed into his brain by computers.
These changes that have occurred from the original Faust legend to the modern versions send a message about how our society is always changing. For example in the original tale of the Faust legend, Dr. Faust is known as an outcast in some versions and almost as if he is sort of a villain, in the Matrix the Faust figure, Neo, is made out to be a hero and he is given super, non-human powers that are impossible. He is portrayed as a hero because of his role in the movie as "the good guy" who kills all of "the bad guys" when it seemed as if they were indestructible. Though these powers are made to seem as if they really are possible with certain types of technology. This explains how in today's contemporary films, there needs to be a hero of some sort. Our society makes it vital. If filmmakers made a movie of the exact Faust legend in its original form today, they would probably want to make Faust a hero of some sort.
If someone could go back in time and show this film to people that know of the Faust legend back in around the 1700's, it would make absolutely no sense. It would seem like a whole lot of unrealistic garbage to those people, but in present times, though the Matrix is very futuristic, it almost seems as if it could be possible. The whole idea of the movie plot seems brilliant and makes people question themselves to whether or not this concept could actually be possible.
The links between the Matrix and the Faust legend can be seen throughout the entire film. Even though the storyline of the legend has gone through a number of changes over time, it is truly amazing how a story that probably is not even true still comes into use in society today. The Faust legend is used in other situations besides just films, stories, or plays; it is also seen in everyday situations for people. There are many ways in which a Faustian theme can come into play in everyday life. For example, any one who has ever sold themselves out for something, gambled, or done drugs has been in a Faustian situation.

Faust 9.4 of 10 on the basis of 2565 Review.