Saturday, November 6, 2010

MOVIE - Inception.

A common complaint about Inception seems to be that its dream states aren't as liquid as an actual dream - which I have no problem with. If you want to see a movie with more accurate dreamlike qualities, go watch Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. If you want to see a good action movie with high-concept science fiction, an incredible cast and great execution, watch Inception.


Let's start at the end. Inception's ending is perfect.

If the top had stopped spinning, we would have been disappointed. If it had kept spinning with perfect, uniform grace, we would have been disappointed. The final frames of the film, which linger just long enough to provide us with doubt as to the top's fate - one way or the other - is perfect.

If it had ended any other way, we wouldn't want to talk about it afterward. But it didn't end in those two other ways - and so you've got to find someone who saw the movie and talk about it. It didn't explain itself - it expects us to explain it to each other, and argue over which of us is right.

Inception is a great show, but to draw analogy to video games, it's more great in the way Uncharted 2 is great, not Demon's Souls. Yes, the artistry is there - but what makes Inception largely above par is its collection of exemplary strengths: great cast, great writing, great plot, great cinematography - another great movie from Christopher Nolan.

Outwardly, it's a good action movie. You can go into it with a limited attention span and still enjoy yourself, without worrying about the high-concept science and psychological fiction being explored, here.

What makes it great is the rest of it. The stuff you want to talk about afterward - which I'm about to discuss...

SPOILERS BELOW


He's still dreaming. The whole thing was DiCaprio's dream. How can one be so sure?

First off, there's the repeat appearances of his wife whenever he enters someone else's dream. When DiCaprio is training Ellen Page to construct a dream world by allow her to enter his dreams, he explains that the world is populated by aspects of his own subconscious - the other people in the dream are "like white blood cells," he says - and they'll attack her if she fucks with the place too much.

Likewise, when they enter someone else's dream, that dream is populated by the host's subconscious.

Except DiCaprio's wife keeps showing up and going crazy - in everyone else's dreams. Why isn't some aspect of Ellen Page's subconscious pulling crap? What about Joseph Gordon-Levitt's? A guy that straight-laced has got to have some awesome demons, deep down inside. But no, the only violation of this rule is Mrs. DiCaprio. Why? Because DiCaprio isn't actually going into anyone else's dreams - he's dreaming that he's going into other folks dreams, and because it's still his dream, Mrs DiCaprio shows up to wreck shit.

* * *

The other pointer is the rules that are set up regarding how one accesses "Limbo" - or this state of eternal consciousness at the deepest, darkest depths of one's dreams - and therefor, how one leaves it.

First, there's a dream. Beneath that is the dream within a dream. Beneath that is a dream within a dream within a dream, and if you dream in that dream, bam - you're in Limbo. To wake up from a dream and climb back up on the dream-ladder, you have to a) get killed in the dream you're currently in or b) be "kicked" (tipped over) in a higher-level dream or, finally, reality.

That, or some unexplained crap about drugs.

Now, DiCaprio was in Limbo with his wife. He convinced her they had to return to the "real" world, so they laid down with their heads on a train track to wake from that dream within a dream within a dream (within a dream).

...which still puts him three dream-levels in.

But if those rules actually apply, doesn't that mean DiCaprio would go straight to Limbo the first time he started to dream within his current state of third-dream-level?

What the fuck?

Inception
practically puts a gun to your head and demands you have this conversation with people.


Which brings us back to the top, and the top's fate. I find it rather delicious that I, and likely anyone who's seen the film, becomes so momentarily obsessed with discussing the truth of it - but while the top itself is what denies the audience the standard movie-goer release: the ability to walk away and forget about it - the ending is actually about DiCaprio's reaction to the top.

He starts it spinning, but doesn't wait to see what it does. His children turn their faces toward him, and it doesn't matter, he realizes, if this is a dream or not. He walks away, and doesn't look back to see the truth of his reality - he is free of it - but we, the audience, are chained to the need to know.

Wonderful.

8 comments:

  1. "Except DiCaprio's wife keeps showing up and going crazy - in everyone else's dreams. Why isn't some aspect of Ellen Page's subconscious pulling crap? What about Joseph Gordon-Levitt's? A guy that straight-laced has got to have some awesome demons, deep down inside. But no, the only violation of this rule is Mrs. DiCaprio. Why? Because DiCaprio isn't actually going into anyone else's dreams - he's dreaming that he's going into other folks dreams, and because it's still his dream, Mrs DiCaprio shows up to wreck shit."

    Actually, they ARE. It's just that you're misinterpreting who's dreams are hosting who.

    In the main plot of the movies, they, sans going to Limbo, are ALWAYS going in to Robert Fischer's mind.

    Level 1 is Robert Fischer (hence why the armed guards are there, it's Fischer's automatic mind security that he's been trained in using), Level 2 is Robert Fischer (hence why Cobb had to pull of the whatever-it's-called Gambit), Level 3 is Robert Fischer (because Cobb was able to pull off the deception completely and Fischer THOUGHT he was going in to Browning (who was a subconscious manifestion, and therefore he was REALLY going in to his OWN mind). Limbo was, well, Limbo.

    Either way, you're misinterpreting that point. Only Architects can bring in outside stuff to the host's mind- and Arthur was never an Architect in the first place, so he couldn't even do it even if he had wanted to. Secondly, it's noted that Cobb's case of bring in Mal was INCREDIBLY unusual. Usually Architects are able to keep a hold on their subconscious such that they're able to force out any and all negative aspects from being brought in- but Cobb can't, not any more with Mal, which is why he stopped being an Architect in the first place and why they brought in Ariadne.

    So, yeah, that's why Ariadne didn't bring in her own demons in any level. Because if she COULD, she'd be just as useless an Architect as Cobb now was.

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  2. "First, there's a dream. Beneath that is the dream within a dream. Beneath that is a dream within a dream within a dream, and if you dream in that dream, bam - you're in Limbo. To wake up from a dream and climb back up on the dream-ladder, you have to a) get killed in the dream you're currently in or b) be "kicked" (tipped over) in a higher-level dream or, finally, reality."

    Nope, you can continually keep on going down and down in dream-states, (as long as your mind is able to handle all of the simultaneous dreaming-which most can't) and be fine. It's just that IF you can't handle it, or IF you "die" whilst nested within dream states or in a very deep sleep, you get kicked to Limbo.

    And in Limbo, time doesn't pass at all.

    So, as long as you can get OUT of Limbo, onto SOME dream state, TIME WILL PASS, and eventually you'll wake up because...you'll not be sleeping any more. Even if it's at insanely minute rates (for instance if I remember correctly 3 levels down, eight real world hours were two years), TIME WILL PASS. You'll eventually, eventually, wake up.

    Therefore all Cobb and Mal had to do was escape Limbo. That's it, they were successful.

    Now I'm sure you're asking, why then did they have to orchestrate kicks then? Well that's simple- they had a BUNCH of people who possibly couldn't handle the mental strain of multiple dream states (since Cobb was the only one who had gone three levels down before), and if they died they were boned anyways, so they HAD to make sure that as soon as Cobb and Co. were done they could be kicked up, quickly, so as to stay in a "safer" level.

    Anyways I think Cobb wasn't dreaming at the end, for this simple reason- whenever Cobb's in the "real world", he doesn't wear his ring (because his wife's dead). When in the "dream world", he does. At the end, he's not wearing his ring.

    Most importantly though I found the ending an allegory for Nolan's Inception on us- he was making us have to buy a simple, uncomplicated idea (What if dreams could be manipulated?), set up the explanations for how such an event could even occur, then at the end was the "kick"- the smash cut to black- that released us from our "dream". I seriously think, and still do, that the movie is an entire allegory to itself.

    God I love this movie.

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  3. But Cobb is never the architect - why is the wife showing up as, for lack of a better word, an NPC in Fisher's dreams? Because Cobb's a special case? Naw, eff all that.

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  4. I want to know what you thought about the end. Did the top keep spinning or did it stop, is he still in the dream or did he escaped?

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  5. Because he WAS an Architect.

    He CAN bring stuff into other people's dreams because he has before- but he couldn't "control" Mal after she died, so he now brings her in even when he doesn't want to.

    Hence why he told Ariadne NOT to tell him the layout of the areas, because he knew he'd bring Mal in, and he didn't want her to know the layout of the dream.

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  6. "Because he WAS an Architect.

    He CAN bring stuff into other people's dreams because he has before- but he couldn't "control" Mal after she died, so he now brings her in even when he doesn't want to."

    See that I buy. I'm still convinced the whole thing is his dream, but that, at least, removes Mal's appearances from the list of reasons it's all just a dream.

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  7. @ Vanessa:
    "I want to know what you thought about the end."

    Me, not Rent? I think it's still spinning, Cobb's aware that he may still be dreaming, but by walking away from the top and not waiting for the answer, he's telling the audience he doesn't care to know.

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  8. I feel the same way you do. I think he just wanted to be with his kids. All of my other friends thinks that he wasn't dreaming anymore because of how they ended up at the airport at the end, but I think he was still in the dream. When I saw it in theaters and they ended the scene with the top spinning everyone made a sound, like he was still in the dream. I think a lot of people feel the same way we do.

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