Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Running time: 148 minutes approx.
Again, I’ve had another hectic week at uni and my job given it’s the end of semester so I sadly have not seen a film at the cinemas this week. However, the other day at work I found myself having to defend the film Inception to a fellow co-worker who was not a fan of the works of Christopher Nolan. So that made me decide that I would also defend it to all of you, my fellow readers. I will say this however: in order to fully express my defense, I will have to spoil a large portion of the plot. I know that’s bad reviewing practice but it must be done for my points to make sense. So, if you happen to be someone who has not seen this film and do not wish to have the experience tainted with spoilers you should leave now. Go on, you know who you are. Off you trot, go on. Bye bye now.
…are they gone? Good.
Now Showing this week is Inception which was written and directed by Christopher Nolan, a.k.a. the Master of Cinema. It was released back in 2010 to high critical acclaim and popularity and was one of the most talked about films of the year. Yet it still did not get any Academy Awards other then stupid Sound Mixing ones. Sometimes this world just makes no damn sense. But I digress. The story revolves around a man named Dominic Cobb who specializes in the illegal occupation of “Extraction”, that being the activity of invading another person’s mind whilst they are dreaming and taking their ideas to give to their employers. However, Cobb is a fugitive on the run from the United States government for allegedly killing his wife, who actually committed suicide because she refused to believe that she and Cobb were in reality and were in fact dreaming, and to escape the dream she jumped off a building. Cobb has been offered an opportunity to be cleared of all charges when a powerful man hires him to commit “Inception”, which is the act of placing an idea in someone’s mind rather than taking one. Cobb embarks on this difficult task, along with a team of fellow dream specialists, and must not only confront the challenges of inception, but his own subconscious guilt of his wife’s demise attempting to sabotage the entire operation.
Wow, that was a lot harder to explain then I thought it would be! Anyway, this film was liked by a lot of people, but many did not see it for what it is, which is a piece of genius. Much like Nolan’s other films, such as The Prestige, it has been crafted in such a way that almost all of the complaints/loop holes people find in the storyline/characters can be explained by the premise and how one interprets the twist at the end! Hence the spoiler warning earlier, I must now explain the ending. Here goes: by the conclusion of the film, the audience are presented with the possibility that Cobb himself has in fact been dreaming for the entire film and that his wife was correct all along. This was expressed in such a beautiful way, with Cobb arriving in the US, getting home and finally seeing his kids. Before he does however, he spins his spinning top (which is his “Totem”, an item to tell him whether or not he is in a dream by whether or not it topples over. If it falls, he is in reality.) but gets distracted and we are left seeing the spinning top spinning, and the film cuts before we can see it fall. It was fantastic!
So, now I shall go through problems people had with the film and how they are idiots because of how the films is so cleverly crafted that there are explanations for all of these issues if one pays close attention. Firstly, it is extremely clear that Cobb is in a dream for the entire film! And I shall now explain why: because no matter what the spinning top actually does, it still means he can still be dreaming. Earlier in the film, when Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character Arthur is explaining how the totems work, he says that a totem is an object of which only the individual who possesses it knows the specifics of it so they can tell when they (and I quote) “are in someone else’s dream.” Therefore if Cobb is in his own dream, his subconscious mind would be aware of the specifics of the spinning top and would therefore be able to fake it falling over! So he can be in a dream no matter what!
Secondly, the dream sharing itself. You will notice in the film that the technology that allows the characters to invade a person’s dreams is never explained, they never tell us how it works. Did that bother anybody? Did you question that while you were watching it? No, of course not, you only did after you saw it or now that I just mentioned it. Why is that? I’ll let Cobb explain it for me: “dreams don’t feel strange when we’re in them. It’s only when we wake up that we realize something’s strange.” Have I blown your mind yet? Christopher Nolan has used the notion of automatic suspension of disbelief in science fiction films to his advantage! But wait, there’s more.
Thirdly, a lot of people complained that Cobb was the only character that had any depth to him; that the other characters were merely two dimensional characters who’s sole purpose was to fill the roles required to commit a dream invasion. While I disagree with the two dimensional part, I do agree that they were under developed in comparison to Cobb. And there is an explanation for that: if this is all Cobb’s dream, they can be merely projections made by his subconscious for the purpose of filling those roles! His brain decided he needed an architect to create dreams so bam, there’s an architect. That’s all she is, that’s all we need her for.
Fourthly: why can only the psychological insecurities of Cobb’s mind sabotage the dreams? What about the other characters insecurities? Well, for all we know the whole dream sharing technology isn’t real and that Cobb is simply having a normal night’s sleep with a dream where he’s the hero of this epic tale. So of course he’s the centre of attention and only his troubles can affect the worlds he inhabits; it’s his dream! On top of that, that’s why he’s being chased by nameless goons with guns: cause it’s all about him in his own dreams, just like the rest of us!
However, I did say earlier that the film can explain away almost all of the problems people had. It pains me to admit, but I have tried and tried to find an explanation as to why the character Eames can disguise himself as other people in the dreams and the other characters cannot. I’m stumped, I admit that. I suppose I could play the “it’s a dream, so anything is possible even if it makes no sense” but I think that’s just a cop out. At least the rest of the film’s explanations are based upon the logic it presents to us, not just “it’s a dream so we can do whatever the fuck we want!” It presents it’s arguments throughout the film based on the logic of dreaming and the explanations follow that logic.
I could go on for a long time about how much I love this film, but I shall stop there since I know most of you are probably bored by now. I just think that Christopher Nolan did a fantastic job with this film, even without going way too in depth like I have. It is an original, complex, intelligent film that presents itself in such a way that never assumes that the people watching it are too stupid to understand the concepts. It is complicated but never confusing and that’s exactly what I hear people crying out for in movies these days! They yearn for films that aren’t just phoned in, low brow, aimed at the lowest common denominator films. They want movies that are intelligent and thought provoking afterwards; and that is exactly what Inception is. I am proud to include it in my top 7 films.
See you next time!