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Warner Bros. Wins Lawsuit Claiming It Stole 'The Matrix'

The judge notes that allusions to Christ are generally not protected by copyright.

"The Matrix"
'The Matrix'

It's official: The Matrix trilogy had nothing to do with Nazis.

On Monday, Warner Bros., Andy and Lana Wachowski and Joel Silver won summary judgment in defense of a lawsuit that contended that the Keanu Reeves starrer was stolen.

The lawsuit came from Thomas Althouse in California federal court in 2013. Why so late? The plaintiff said that it was not until 2010 that he had watched The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions and began investigating the possibility that those films released way back in 2003 had possible similarities to his own script, The Immortals. Althouse said he had submitted his script to Warner Bros in 1993.

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What Althouse had tried to get made into a film concerned a CIA agent who gains immortality from a drug and finds himself in the year 2235, where Adolph Hitler and some Nazis have been reanimated from cryopreservation. In the script, the spy protagonist is now fighting with those now immortal Nazis who seek to oppress and destroy all "short-lifers."

"The basic premises of The Matrix Trilogy and The Immortals are so different that it would be unreasonable to find their plots substantially similar," writes Judge R. Gary Klausner in Monday's ruling.

So no similarity in plot, but how about themes? For this, we turn beyond Nazis to examine Jesus Christ.

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"Plaintiff alleges that both stories have allusions to Christ," notes the judge. "However, allusions to Christianity in literature date back hundreds of years and are not generally protectible. Looking at the details of the works, the two works express these themes very differently. The Christian allusions in The Immortals concludes with the literal Second Coming of Christ, whereas The Matrix Trilogy concludes with a metaphorical reference to Christ, as Neo sacrifices himself to save others."

Alas, the lawsuit proves mortal, just like the rest of us short-lifers.

E-mail: Eriq.Gardner@THR.com

Twitter: @eriqgardner