Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Inception (2010)

(Fig 1)

The image of the uncanny is becoming ever more prominent in film, especially when attempting to imitate and explain the strange image-making workings of the mind, much like how photography has attempted to do throughout the years. Movies in recent years are now attempting to combine other movies into a ‘mash-up’ of their own unique style.
                                 (Fig 2)
‘Inception’ (2010) (Fig 1), directed by Christopher Nolan, is a prime example of this. It has the dream-like and twisted plot of a dream fantasy come to life with the stunning, technological feats of The Matrix for its time. Nolan uses a noir-tinged visual style in order to grab the viewer’s attention and once it holds onto that attention, it brings the viewer down into a perplexing story involving multiple layers of story; in this case dreams within dreams.
“Nolan juggles all of these layers so very carefully to make them connect and make sense since each previous layer has a profound effect on the next which leads to some of the film's craziest moments-“ (Jeff Black,2010)                                                                                                    
                                                                                                              (Fig 3)
The film prefers to make the audience think and perplex over cleverly crafted puzzles instead of overdone and somewhat pretentious mysteries. It wanders towards, but doesn’t quite make contact with, deep philosophical questions that Nolan seems not to want to engage with.
The main character known as Cobb, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, is part of a secret retrieval agency specializing in extracting private memories for covert use, using tools and tech very similar to The Matrix. However, Saito (Fig 2), played by Ken Watanabe, is a rich client who seeks to do quite the opposite. He wants to implement an idea into the victim that will bloom into fruition in real life which is apparently impossible to do.
                                      (Fig 4)
The target is a young man, played by Cillian Murphy, and the threat is his father, played by Pete Postlehwaist, who is Satio’s arch rival in business. He wishes to break up the father’s company using Murphy as proxy with the idea. This setting is where Nolan’s twisted, surreal world takes place. Within these dreams, Cobb and his team, Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Dileep Rao and Ellen Page, find themselves in a strange world much akin to real life: tame and less like a fantastical dream-world. Much of the dream-worlds consist of car-chases, men with guns, pursuits through the corridors of a hotel and on the icy slopes of a mountain.
Many of these settings make room for extraordinary action sequences, combined with the twisted laws of physics of a dream world (Fig 3). Ellen Page plays the role of architect in the team, meaning that she can create and design worlds for the rest of the team to inhabit and for the dreams to form. Page also finds out throughout the film that Cobb’s traumatic memories of his girlfriend are tormenting him and harassing his professional work, plunging the rest of his crew into mortal danger.
“For those who enjoy to peering into the subtext of Nolan’s storied craft, the whole notion of the ravages of mental illness give the production a much bigger scope.” (S.James Wegg, 2011)
Cobb becomes the stereotypical Nolan Hero; his existence revolves around trying to hold back his personal feelings and emotions of which he has no control over. His aura of guilt bearing down on his shoulders, the feeling of unfinished business; he bears striking resemblance to Christian Bale’s Batman. The notion of an unstable mind combined with entering the human mind makes for a very interesting plot element.
Inception accomplishes many technical feats, using state of the art CG technology to simulate the surreal movements of the dream world. One scene where Page turns the entire city back on itself is particularly stunning (Fig 4). Nolan is a stunning creator of visually-appealing worlds and sets as well as his brilliant ability to implement grandeur into seemingly stale themes in other movies and it shows in Inception.

(Wegg, S. James, 2011) (Accessed 24/10/2012)
(Black, Jeff, 2010) (Accessed 24/10/2012)


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