The first unmistakable bass notes of “White Rabbit” begin to play in the trailer for Matrix Resurrections right after the intro scene, as the greenish logos of Warner and Village Roadshow appear on the screen.
The mystique of the 1967 song, one of the experimental band’s rare mainstream hits Jefferson Airplane, has been conquering Hollywood for decades, appearing in productions ranging from Platoon (1986) to Kong: Skull Island (2017), through TV series such as Big Little Lies and The Handmaid’s Tale – but her connection to the bedroom matrix seems to be special.
During the trailer, the lyrics composed by the singer of Airplane, Grace Slick, closely echoes what we see in the scenes. For example: when Slick sings about pills that make you bigger or smaller, and despises “the ones your mother gives you” for “they don’t do too much”, we see Neo (Keanu Reeves) throwing away his stash of blue pills, which keep him unaware of the Matrix’s existence.
It’s all a reference game to Alice in Wonderland, of course. An intriguing new character shows our protagonist a copy of the children’s classic from Lewis Carroll and, shortly thereafter, we see him grappling with defective mirrors that he eventually passes through – like Alice in sequel Through the mirror – to discover another reality.
According to Grace Slick herself, “White Rabbit” is a song about curiosity, which cites the book’s White Rabbit as a symbol of the human impulse to discover and explore new things and challenge traditional wisdom. In the mid-1960s, of course, the musician was talking about trying psychedelic drugs and “expanding your mind,” but the message is universal.
For a franchise like matrix, which has at its very foundation the text contesting the current social order – this is a story, after all, about a group of people who rebel against an artificial reality and fight for the survival of the “real” world – and which uses pills and body horror to symbolize this contestation, Alice it’s an obvious reference, it’s so appropriate.
Hear Slick’s voice can chant “logic and proportion collapsed dead to the ground” while The Chosen One and his companions use the unreality of the Matrix to defy the laws of physics is a key part of the impact of the new trailer for Resurrections. Without the ingenious choice of “White Rabbit”, it wouldn’t work as well as it does.
Oh, and the singer’s final message couldn’t be more appropriate: “Feed your head”. She might as well have told us to take the red pill.