Why The Wachowskis Keep Using One Horrifying Theme In Their Movies



  • The Wachowski sisters’ movies are known for their disturbing and off-beat themes, including cannibalism, which is used to highlight the endless cycle of consumption in their dystopian worlds.
  • The Matrix franchise famously explores the concept of humans being used as batteries by machines, with liquidized corpses being recycled to feed human babies in pods.
  • Other Wachowski movies like Cloud Atlas and Jupiter Ascending also incorporate cannibalism as a theme, portraying enslaved clones being recycled as food and powerful aliens drinking elixirs made from humans to stay young. Humans are depicted as mere resources in their nightmarish dystopias.



While Lilly and Lana Wachowski have been known to make use of disturbing themes in movies like The Matrix, one recurring motif is particularly stomach-churning. Several of the Wachowski sisters’ movies are set in dystopian worlds, saturated in surveillance, consumption, and AI. The filmmakers tend to weave specific themes such as cloning throughout their body of work which help their movies stand out from the regular sci-fi herd. Like their movies, these themes can be creative, off-beat and frequently disturbing.

Over the years, Wachowskis have been known to embrace outrageously out-there plotlines. Some of their franchises, such as The Matrix, which follows Keanu Reeves’ Neo as he finds out he is living in a simulation, have become classics.In contrast, Jupiter Ascending was a box office bomb, the space opera about a sinister, superhuman royal family being widely seen as badly executed. However, these two, as well as 2012’s time-hopping epic Cloud Atlas, are all high-concept stories — asking big questions and incorporating unexpected themes. One of these common themes is intriguing precisely because of how horrifying it is.

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The Wachowski Movies Keep Using Cannibalism As A PlotlineSomni is shown a slaughterhouse, with the bodies of clones hanging upside-down

Cannibalism is perhaps the ultimate taboo in many societies, but that hasn’t stopped characters facing the grisly fate of being eaten or turned into food in several Wachowski movies. The specter of people knowingly or unknowingly eating each other hovers over science fiction and horror, most famously in the 1970s cult classic Soylent Green. The Wachowskis’ best-known cannibal plotline comes from The Matrix, with humans used as batteries. After Neo wakes up, Morpheus famously tells him that humans are tapped for energy by the computers that now run the world — with the movie even showing liquidized corpses being recycled to feed human babies in pods.

However, the four Matrix movies are not the filmmakers’ only movies that explore cannibalism as a theme. David Mitchell adaptation Cloud Atlas portrayed a future version of Seoul in which enslaved clone Sonmi-451 discovers that her fellow clones — or “fabricants” — are secretly recycled into food for their peers, witnessing a conveyer belt of bodies. In 2015’s Jupiter Ascending, Mila Kunis’s Jupiter discovers that the powerful alien dynasty she has encountered drink an elixir made from humans in order to stay young. In fact, Earth itself is a huge farm — similar to how humans are farmed for energy in The Matrix — with the planet’s inhabitants due to be harvested.

Why The Wachowski Movies Feature So Much CannibalismEddie Redmayne lounges on a couch from Jupiter Ascending

Cannibalism is a potent symbol in the ultra-capitalist dystopias the Wachowskis paint, which look at what humanity might become if both tech advancement and greed are both left unchecked. An image as visceral as cannibalism, then, is a poignant way of showing the endless cycle of consumption in their movies. In both The Matrix and Cloud Atlas, a downtrodden class is forced or tricked into literally consuming each other. In Jupiter Ascending, an upper class harvests a lower class, leeching off them in horrific fashion. In the nightmarish dystopian worlds of Lilly and Lana Wachowski, humans are sadly reduced to nothing more than resources.


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