Took the wife to see Inception last night. I had seen it once before about a month ago and wanted Patricia to see it before it left the big screen. Before I go any further, I should warn you. This isn't a movie review, but I plan on chatting freely about the film, so if you don't want to know anything skip this post.
I watched the movie four weeks ago, and I've been thinking about it every since. It reminded me of loads of SciFi movies I've seen before. Most notably The Thirteenth Floor and Dark City. Mostly because they both dealt with dream mastery. Some will call this similar to The Matrix but I believe they would be wrong. There are some similarities to the filming (action sequences in the hotel) but the plots are quite dissimilar in my mind.
Inception was unique in many ways. That is what made this movie so special for me. It broke new ground. It wasn't a retelling of an old story with a fresh soundtrack and updated graphics (my worries of what the newest Tron: Legacy will be...)
Inception showed us an world that accepted shared dreaming. Large corporations, the military, vast criminal underbelly and third world commoners all were completely aware of the experience. From the time lines presented in the film, Cobb had been a student of architecture under his father-in-law during his 20's (a guess). At the time of recruiting his replacement I would put him at 35 or 40ish.
That marks off a time of fifteen to twenty years of shared dreaming. That's longer than we've had the iPod. So long that folks have learned to specialize. A forger, a thief, dreamers, chemists and the aforementioned architects. As we saw from Ariadne original dream the world is pliable, but given the reason for dreaming (to steal information or in this case, plant and idea) the dream state had to feel real. As such we didn't get to see much of the potential fluidity of the dreaming state.
The concept of a lived in world, an understood technology was one that intrigued me. The fact that Tom could get mad at Nash for dreaming the wrong material in the rug shows how far they had pushed this technology. It was something that had been mastered and refined. It was an art form. Add to this that certain individuals had hired dream coaches to help protected them from extractions. Clearly this is not emerging technology, but an understood concept.
The movie makers even went so far as to realize that everyone dreams differently. The experience and personality of one person cannot be placed on another. The architects can give them the layout, the maze, but they supply the texture.
In this way we see how Arthur's' dreams, the original Japanese castle and the 40's style hotel, were in stark contrast to the rather showy personality of Eames and his snow fortress. You can imagine the difference if each were tasked with the others level. The layout, or maze, would be the same but the textures would be different.
If you noticed while Ariadne was constructing the maze in the workshop, it was all in white. It was not her job to add layers, just the layout and the structure. An interesting concept. This world and concept leaves a lot to the imagination, but the film added more detail than I noticed the first time through. An amazing amount of thought went into this.
There were also some holes. Such as none of the other dreamers subconsciouses showing in the world. Only the subjects. If Fisher could militarize his projections, why couldn't Eames provide a counter army? Clearly Cobb's projections were there. Why not others? More than likely it would have been too confusing for the viewer, but the concept is fun to explore.
Of course the part of this film that is getting the most attention is the end. That's too bad, as there is so much more to this movie than an brain teaser ending.
For me Inception is not about the ending. I accept that Cobb has found his reality. I believe it is our reality, but for the first time, since waking up from his 50 year limbo with Mal, the dream does not define him. That is his breakthrough. We didn't see the totem fall, not because he was dreaming, but because he didn't need it to tell him he was awake.
All in all a great movie, both visually and in concept. Inception was a true work of art.