In Gnostic cosmology, the alien God creates the prototypical human as a male/female androgyne- the world soul, Sophia, and Christ, the messiah. The material universe is an evil creation by Yaldabaoth, a pseudo-God who entraps the souls of men in sleep. The forces of sleep are so overwhelming, they can only be overcome by means of special insight (Gnosis), which forces one to realize the truth and awaken. Sophia is responsible for sending the serpent to enlighten the inhabitants of the Garden to the nature of their enslavement. These twin messengers continually manifest in the material world to alert its inhabitants of their inherently divine nature.
But what does all of this arcane and outdated theology have to do with the movies? Over the last decade, movies have frequently dealt with apocalyptic themes- but now that the millennium has turned without the fiery destruction of the universe, moviemakers are exploring more subtle ideas. Recent technological and scientific advances have led many to question our perception of reality, and movies have followed suit. Recent films exploring virtual worlds and false perception include Vanilla Sky, the Matrix, The Truman Show, Pleasantville, and the Thirteenth floor.
Likewise, there has been a resurgence of interest in the stories of Phillip K. Dick; directors revisiting his stories have produced this year's Minority Report, and Impostor, mimicking themes from earlier films Total Recall and Bladerunner. Dick's stories are ripe with intentional Gnostic emblems, psychological symbols that profoundly affect the emotions on a subconscious level. (Take, for example, the unicorn that romps through Decker's dreams in Bladerunner, a secret clue to his own artificial existence. The Unicorn is also a symbol of the messiah, or intellect, which provides the knowledge necessary for awakening.)
A common theme in these movies is the existence of a manufactured world, a virtual reality in which the participants don't realize they are trapped. In the Matrix, humans exist in a forced dream state so that machines can harvest their bio-electric energy. When hero Neo Anderson (literally 'son of man') inquires why the world is not perfect, the computer agent responds that were the artificial world to be without suffering, the sleepers would awaken too quickly- better to keep them in continual struggle. (This is nearly identical to the ages old Gnostic belief that human souls are trapped on earth so that our psychic energy can be consumed.) The sequel explores these themes even more, with rogue computer programs fulfilling roles of luciferian liberators, and the manifestation of the Demiurge as the architect of the prison world.
The hero of Vanilla Sky is a dead man living unknowingly in a fantasy life of someone else's creation. Who redeems him, but the lovely Sophia: "Open your eyes," she exhorts, until he does. He ultimately awakens with the help of a guide sent from the 'real' world, and leaps into the abyss. This scene is paralleled in the Michael Douglas film The Game, where the character takes a leap after a rebirth experience, and again in the Matrix, when Neo walks off a skyscraper, awakening with the ability to manipulate the matrix code. In every case, the jump into the unknown is only taken after the character casts off his false perceptions- the ultimate test of one's understanding of the nature of illusion.
In the Thirteenth Floor, virtual reality programmers are concerned that their creation is taking on a life of its own. They discover to their horror that they are simply creations themselves, with imperfect creators.
The Truman Show follows the self discovery of Truman, a man raised in a fully artificial environment, who eventually uncovers the deception. In Pleasantville, townspeople in a sanitized fifties-style sitcom utopia awaken from artificiality when 'infected' by outsiders...ultimately liberating the townspeople from their drab and lifeless existence. The symbol of their liberation, incidentally, is single red apple shared by a couple, bringing a new twist to the fable of Adam and Eve. (Many Gnostics believed the serpent to be the true hero of Genesis.)
The overwhelming Message is "Wake up." Is there a larger world outside of this one? Open your eyes and see.http://altreligion.about.com/library/weekly/aa072302a.htm