The Matrix: Resurrections trailer officially landed on the internet today, setting off a wave of conversations about Keanu Reeves‘ Neo, Laurence Fishburne, and “White Rabbit.” Set to the backdrop of a hauntingly relevant tune, the sequence reintroduces the red and blue pills, a rabbit tattoo, and a confused Neo. For those who aren’t familiar with the song’s origin and the artists who recorded it, it has a funky backstory that makes it a perfect match for The Matrix 4 movie.
‘White Rabbit’ complements ‘The Matrix: Resurrections’ trailer
Back in the ‘60s, singer-songwriter Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane composed “White Rabbit,” a song inspired by her environment and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Specifically, Alice’s independent journey in a place that required her to embrace curiosity and a different space felt relatable.
During an interview with The Guardian, Slick explained how she wrote the song and how several lines reference psychedelics. She penned it in 1966 after an acid trip.
“The 1960s resembled Wonderland for me. Like Alice, I met all kinds of strange characters, but I was comfortable with it. I wrote White Rabbit on a red upright piano that cost me about $50. It had eight or 10 keys missing, but that was OK because I could hear in my head the notes that weren’t there,” she said.
Slick added that marijuana, shrooms, and her psychedelic experiences influenced the track, and Ravel’s “Bolero” inspired the melody. “The line in the song ‘feed your head’ is both about reading and psychedelics. I was talking about feeding your head by paying attention: read some books, pay attention.”
Further, she explained how lyrics about the Red Queen and White Knight represent social commentary on the powers that be. Jefferson Airplane caught Slick performing “White Rabbit” at a show with her old band, The Great Society, and invited her to join their crew.
‘White Rabbit’ has been in TV shows and films
While “White Rabbit” feels eerily fitting for The Matrix, it’s not the first time the record’s been queued up on the big or small screen. It’s been used in a season 10 episode of The Simpsons (hallucinogens are involved), The Sopranos, Supernatural, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Platoon, The Handmaid’s Tale, and more.
Slick and her bandmate Jack Casady told The Guardian they love that the song is used on screen. “It’s always a compliment to see how much the song has been used in films. It’s because you hear White Rabbit and right away you’re sucked into her world – it is like you’re Alice falling through the looking glass,” said Casady. Additionally, they’ve been raking in royalties for decades.
The white rabbit is a callback to earlier Matrix films
Throughout the Matrix franchise, there are references to the rabbit hole, the white rabbit, and mirrors from Alice in Wonderland. The rabbit became symbolic of a crossroads decision for Neo to step through the looking glass and learn the truth, just like Alice. Coincidentally, her adventure had her return to Wonderland more than once too.
The Matrix: Resurrections revives Neo and Trinity for another part of the saga that will either provide final closure or perhaps jumpstart a new future for the franchise. Look for it in theaters and HBO Max on Dec. 22.