Inception – A Review

August 30, 2010 at 12:44 pm (Uncategorized)

 A friend of mine wrote to me that after she saw Inception, it felt as if she were waking from a nap. The move has just that effect.

Inception was the sleeper (ouch) hit of the summer. With very little advertising (how could you should a 30-second trailer for this film that makes any sense?), just word of mouth buzz

The story is this. Leonardo Di Caprio is Dom Cobb, a dream thief. That is, he breaks into people’s heads when they are sleeping to steal information from them. This is called extraction. however, this time the job is a little different. Cobb is hired by businessman Saito (Ken Watanabe) to put an idea into someone else’s head, inception.

Needless to say this is much more difficult.

Cobb assembles his team which includes among others, an architect (Ellen Page as Ariadne – also the name of the woman who helps Theseus in his battle with the minotaur in the labyrinth), and a point man (Joseph Gorden-Levitt as Arthur). What Cobb doesn’t tell his team  is that he had a bad experience with dreaming, and his late wife Mal is, well, haunting his dreams.

Cobb and his His wife Mal and he lived in a constructed dream world for years, but after they awoke, Mal became convinced that they were still dreaming.  As one way to awake from a dream is to die, Mal committed suicide in order to wake, and in his dreams Mal now pursues Cobb.

During the operation, the team goes deeper and deeper into dreams, until they reach limbo, a longterm dream state from which escape becomes near impossible. 

One of the essentials in any film is the audiences’ suspension of disbelief;  the point at which the audience accepts the film as reality rather than snorting, “Huh, that couldn’t happen.” At that point, the spell is broken. But until then, we sink deeper and deeper into the mythology of the film.   

Certainly Inception has that effect. The pacing of the film has a very dream like quality: Shifting exotic locations (North African, Asia, the Pacific), bends in reality (moving landscapes), borrowings from other films and memory (Arthur’s crawling along the ceiling reminded me of similar scenes in Aliens).

As we suspend our disbelief , director Christopher Nolan builds layer upon layer, unreality upon unreality, until we the audience begin to lose our touch with reality, because, after all, this is just a dream, right?

Dreams fascinate us. The Greeks had a God of Dreams, Morpheus (also the central character is Neil Gaiman’s Sandman book, then borrowed as the name of Laurence Fishburne’s character in the Matrix).  If, as Freud contended, a dream is an unfulfilled wish, then we have some very strange wishes.

The idea of breaking down the barriers between dreams and “reality” is not new; Films such Waking Life, and to a lesser extent Last Year at Marienbad  (which Inception was accused of copying) have explored these themes.

But the point about a dream is when to wake up.

Inception is in some ways reminiscent of the puzzle posed in The Usual Suspects, if  you can’t trust the narrator, how can I trust anything he tells me in his story? And this time, we are a part of the story. In Inception, Cobb carries a spinning top to test whether or not he is dreaming: If the top refuses to stop spinning, he is still dreaming. At the end of the film, we wish we too had a top.  (and yes, I’m a supporter of the un-happy ending theory)

A few days after I saw the movie Inception, I had a dream where I realised I was dreaming. I was a talking to a woman and told her we were dreaming. To prove it I levitated…then I forget what happened next.


1 Comment

  1. The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters « Notes from Underground said,

    […] Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters | August 31, 2010 In the review of Inception yesterday, I posted Goya’s print The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters. Here are some brief […]

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