Wednesday, 18 August 2010

I think You Should Have Taken Woody's Advice and Seen a Shrink

Inception (Christopher Nolan, 2010)

When 8th August 2010

Where BFI Imax

This film worked a little bit for me, it depends what that third elusive layer is and if I can be bothered to find it or not. I think it would have worked less well if I had written this review right after seeing it when I thought that Cobb was referring to Ma, instead of Mal for most of the film (but it sure would have been fun, especially if he had killed Michael Caine to get to her). The manipulation was entertaining and the inception of the idea was a good one but rather than being filled with a sense of purpose I am left with an empty feeling of "Is that it? You had the chance to have so much more fun." To keep it quick Inception uses dreams as a metaphor for films. In the world of Inception you can create shared dream experiences as a way to gather information that people would prefer to keep secret. However the true masters can also input ideas into the recipients' brains without them knowing about it, making them think it was their idea all along.

I guess my problem with Inception was that it failed to give me the killer idea, it kept me entertained with pretty visuals, some funny jokes, a nice bit of action, great acting but that's all. To take the whole dream/film metaphor idea to its logical conclusion as presented in Inception just got dull. The following exchange sums this up nicely:

Cobb: You create the world of the dream. We bring the subject into that dream and fill it with their subconscious.
Ariadne: How could I ever acquire enough detail to make them think that it's reality?
Cobb: Our dreams, they feel real while we're in them right? It's only when we wake up that we realize that something was actually strange!

I'm sure it would only take a second viewing and pen and paper to find a few more interesting quotes that say the same thing. Anyway, Ariadne and Cobb make some shorts together, and Ariadne learns from Cobb not to make the world too strange as the audience can't take it. He also tells her that you should use elements from real places but not exact copies as people can't cope with that. I think Nolan needs to watch some better movies or have more faith in the audience, real locations are a lot of fun. Or as to summarise Chris Doyle, the best movies are made on your door step or as far away from home as you can possibly be.

Anyway, how do you know whose film you're in: you will need a little mark/motif or action that is known only to you. In the film these are represented as totems that behave in a specific way so their user knows if they are dreaming or not (we have a chess piece, a loaded dice and a spinning top that only runs out of energy when you are awake).

Arthur: ...when you look at your totem, you know beyond a doubt you're not in someone else's dream.

You also need a full crew, and since someone has taken the time to put this together already I don't feel the need to do so again:

One interpretation of the film proposed by critic Devin Faraci reads it as an allegory of the filmmaking process. Saito represents the studio head who orders the project, and who insists on overseeing the work in progress. Arthur, who is responsible for making sure the job is organized and runs smoothly on schedule, is the producer. Cobb, who is in charge of executing the mission, but who brings his own personal dreams, ideas, and agenda into the works, is the director. Adriadne, who is hired by Cobb to design the world of the dream, is the screenwriter. Eames, who impersonates Browning, is the actor. Yusuf, who supplies the team with what they needs to do their work, is the special effects technician. And Fischer is the audience for whom the whole show is put on for.

Anyway, I am getting bored of film studies 101 now. If David Lynch made action Sci Fi blockbusters this might have been great, more subtle and I would have enjoyed making my own meaning from the film even if it wasn't quite the right one. Inception never allowed me this benefit. The structure and metaphor of film=dream was too obvious, we saw the inception coming as we already knew what it was. However, maybe I am missing something as wasn't there supposed to be a dream within a dream within a dream or a film within a film within a film. I will update should I find the time to take a second look to make all three layers happen.

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