Inception (2010) Director: Christopher Nolan
Inception is an unforgettable mind-bending thriller. It is an extremely disorienting film. Christopher Nolan takes a warped and challenging plot by recreating the tropes of classic action movies, and reformulating them in an obscure dreamworld. Nolan originally brought a rudimentary for a film wherein dreams can be stolen and erased to Warner Bros., but he ultimately decided to cut his bona fides on other films first, so he completed his amazing Batman trilogy before returning to the Inception project. He was influenced by movies like The Matrix when creating this extraordinary, fantastical world.
The film has an all-star cast, including Leonardo DiCaprio, who plays Mr. Cobb, an illegal corporate raider, a dream builder and stealer. He steals other people’s dreams and locates their secrets for a profit using secret military technology. He is hired by a Japanese billionaire to dig deep into another man’s subconscious not to steal, but rather to introduce a new idea so well that he believes it is his own. The man is the son of a corporate rival. The offer is appealing to Cobb as he is in a forced exile from his wife and children. He assembles an all-star team to dig into the rival’s subconscious. One is Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) another is a young architectural genius, Ariadne (played by Ellen Page, so named for the legendary Greek woman who helped Theseus escape from the Minotaur). Cobb teaches Ariadne (and also the audience) about the dreamworld. One scene of particular note is when Paris is bent upwards, and folds in on itself. They capture the Japanese businessman target and enter several layers of depth into his subconscious, rather dangerously as one can easily become lost in the dream-world of limbo, never returning to reality. Indeed, this what happened to Cobb’s wife (a fact we learn that is buried in his subconscious). She never wanted to return to reality, but Cobb forced her to, and she then killed herself for which Cobb feels great guilt. In the end we are unsure if Cobb stays in limbo or has returned to his family. The film ends with Cobb’s totem spinning top left on the table (if it stops he is in reality, if it continues spinning indefinitely he remains in a dream).
The score was written by Hans Zimmer, with echoes of Ennio Morricone as Johnny Mar (guitarist for The Smiths) plays the lead tune. The film plays on modern views of the conscious and subconscious, or unconscious (a la Freud and Jung and others). Reality is never certain. The cinematography of the film is utterly astounding, borrowing techniques from Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. The film explores the depths of the human mind -how could it be used or abused? Dreams and dream-making are used as metaphors for the experience of the work of art, the medium of film. You never remember how a dream started, and hours can pass in the space of minutes. This was certainly a challenge as well as a risk for Nolan and he proved himself victorious.