“I cannot forecast to you the action of Inception. It is an episode of Hustle, wrapped in a Bond/Bourne film, inside The Science of Sleep; but perhaps there is a kick. That kick allows the credits to roll.”*
There’s been a lot of hype about Inception, and the general plot device of conspiring to plant an idea inside someone’s dream (or inside a dream in a dream) was as well seeded in the public’s consciousness as it was in mine.
As the film opened, I wondered if it was about to become a harsher, less sandy remake of the Prisoner? Later I wondered why Juno (the actress Ellen Page playing the character Ariadne) had turned up studying in Paris?
One year, the sacrificial party included Theseus, a young man who volunteered to come and kill the Minotaur. Ariadne fell in love at first sight, and helped him by giving him a sword and a ball of red fleece thread that she was spinning, so that he could find his way out of the Minotaur's labyrinth. (Wikipedia)The first half introduces the context of why the second half’s mad mission is required. It also sets up the themes of guilt and longing for redemption in some of the main characters: Dom Cobb (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) and Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy).
I loved the moments of sedate confusion throughout the film. At times it lapsed into an n-dimensional, gravity-free Matrix. But I was glad that although the characters could muck around with the world and bend cities back on themselves, they generally didn’t resort to Inception’s equivalent of Doctor Who’s sonic screwdriver.
Screen playwrights, film producers, set designers, sound and foley editors … they all create dreams on the silver screen that draw us in to their fantasy worlds, placing images and emotions and plights in our psyche. Understanding that takes away the craziness that others have wrapped around Inception.
It’s a good film. No one left the screening to go to the loo! And clearly Christopher Nolan and the film’s makers were successful in constructing and conveying such a convoluted plot in such a straightforward way. The physical linkages between the levels of dream are clear and clever – I loved the effect of the van swerving, or of water splashing the sleeping faces.
The snow level stood out visually. Took me right back to the revolving restaurant at the top of the Schilthorn high above the Swiss village of Mürren. Before its completion, the location was used as the set for the Bond film On Her Majesty's Secret Service. After all the dark wood-panelled sets and cityscapes in Inception, the snow was nearly too bright to handle. Without such a startling difference in tone, the levels would easily have fused together. But it seemed to come from nowhere, with little linkage back to anyone’s history.
The ending was partly unsatisfactory. The scene in the plane was too sudden and too unexplained. And the spinning totem – linked back with Michael Caine – was like The Italian Job all over again. Caine and Postlethwaite in the one film? Felt clichéd. And there was never any rationale proposed to explain why the mark was a justified target.
While I walked out of the cinema feeling like I had fallen into one of the film’s dreams, that was a lot more to do with the number of R-plated boy racers tearing around the Lisburn Omniplex car park than me picking up a deeper understanding of my subconscious. So despite the advice of some, I’ve no impulse to return to see the film again tomorrow. That is, unless the Belfast IMAX reopens and screens the monster-sized version of Inception. (Though since it wasn’t shot in IMAX and only digitally remastered, I’d be scared that the IMAX Inception might be a shattered dream.)
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* Churchill’s original quote was: “I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest.”