“…I won’t bore with dork-dropping like ‘Freud’ and ‘Jung’. Fush. What I will talk about are two things that jumped out at me when I watched the film the first time: the basic questions asked, themes evoked, how they form part of Nolaniverse and how pertinent this film is to the times we live in. I am honestly not in the camp that tears her cinema ticket in fury because WE DIDN’T FIND OUT IF THE TOP STOPPED SPINNING. Ahem. But really, does that matter? In those two and a half hours, is that all that was worth taking away from the saga? Whether the top stopped spinning? On the contrary, the fact that it didn’t is not some adolescent teasing but a very vital component of the piece which cinches its authenticity – the point of the film is not whether it’s a dream or not but the very fact that we can question this whole idea of what is real and what isn’t. This is hardly a novel concept and has been done, redone and re-redone to death but its treatment here certainly warrants our serious regard.
The German word for ‘dream’ is ‘traum’ and from that is derived the English ‘trauma’. Inception plays with this idea as it splices open subconscious after subconscious…or perhaps just the one…to inspect the darkness and devastation that often drives us. Foregrounded in the the most primitive conflict of man versus himself is the adventure Cobb and his team undertakes – to plant an idea and have it grow naturally in the most secret place in someone’s mind. The project of inception is not just ethically bankrupt but more importantly, violates the most sacred possession of mankind – thoughts and feelings. One’s emotions are the only thing left with one, when all else is taken away, and to fiddle with the basis of these emotions, in the scape of our private imaginations, is the worst crime that can be committed. Cobb’s dreams, which are repositories of his memories with his dead wife, torment him even as he plies his trade as an idea-thief, extracting the intimate details of other people’s lives almost as a refuge from the anguished ones of his own. The amenability of the plot to multiple interpretations and inferences is trivial in my opinion, what is important is how these hazy notions of time and space modify themselves in our mental domains and the very real effects they have on our lives.
The story deals with the notions of what is true or imagined and can we ever learn to distinguish between the two. It is essentially a tension between the lives we lead and the lives we wish to lead – our realities versus our dreams. Cobb’s inability to let go of the life he wished to lead with Moll and his children ultimately became his psychological prison, in which he remained trapped as if he were in limbo, refusing to awaken. His true past and unfulfilled desires overlapped to bind him in a cobweb of remembrances that he could not free himself from and that led to his various decisions throughout the film. Whether or not he finally managed to liberate himself from his own lies is another matter, the crux of the tale is more an inquiry into the nature of reality, an ontological thriller that will not be solved but that has always been the crowning glory of our unique desire to want to know.
I also felt that the film was a comment on our increased love of alternative lives…our growing fascination with leading double lives on the internet, developing entirely new personalities on social networking sites which are probably not even true, even something as seemingly simple as our craze of video games and role-playing games (oh gutter out, the other kind). In the debate between reality and unreality, there are grey areas of semi or constructed reality, very much like but not quite like dreams. We are perhaps far more conscious of these ‘other’ lives we lead, away from what we trust to be our real world but all the same, they are not a direct part of that real world. A film like Inception certainly makes you pause and think about this queer new spin to our modern existence and the way it plays games with our sense of self, personal history and consciousness of our present, in a way similar to David Cronenberg’s oddball Existenz….”
- SunTimes – Encounters at the End of the Mind “…Beyond our short moments of manipulated happiness for the characters – wondering if the seemingly happy ending is indeed happy – Nolan himself does not explicitly answer the question, except to assert that the culprits’ internal compasses will eventually challenge the their choices. If we exploit someone else, either for...