Inception: A Perspective on the Imagination

photo owned by Warner Bros.

Inception is the latest masterpiece by Christopher Nolan which deals with a concept so universal and yet so complex: dreams. The science-fiction thriller has grossed more than $150 million in its first two weeks, according to the Internet Movie Database.

The cast is headed by Leonardo DiCaprio who plays Dom Cobb, one of the best extractors in the world, a world where it is possible for a trained professional (an extractor) to enter a person’s mind and extract vital and hidden information. Cobb works for a company which hired his team to get information from a man named Saito (Ken Watanabe).

But Cobb and his team find out that Saito was testing them in order to find out whether they were capable of meeting his standards for a dangerous and difficult mission. Saito wants Cobb to sway the heir, Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy), of Saito’s rival company to dissolve his father’s empire. And it is by inception that Saito wants Cobb and his team to plant this idea into Fischer’s head.

Inception is something which has rarely been done before because it is so complex. Inception is the breaking into one’s mind and planting a new idea. It is dangerous because it can make a person who had no intention of doing a certain thing change their mind without knowing the idea was not their own.

Cobb knows something about inception because he has done it once before, to his wife Mal (Academy-winner Marion Cottilard). They were both stuck in limbo (an imaginary world between dreams and wakefulness) for decades, and limbo became their reality. Cobb was able to plant into Mal’s mind the idea that the world they were in was not the real world. Although the idea was true, Cobb did not realize that the idea would penetrate into his wife’s entire mind and consume her every thought.

Even after Cobb and Mal escaped limbo, Mal continued to believe her world was not real. This eventually lead to her suicide and Dom feeling guilty about causing her to doubt her existence. Cobb was blamed for his wife’s death and was forced to flee the country and leave his children behind.

So Cobb accepts the job offer from Saito, because Saito, a rich and powerful businessman, can give him the chance to see his children again.

Like many of Nolan’s films, the plot is very psychological and thought-provoking, something lacking in many other contemporary films. There were hints of Memento and The Dark Knight in how the movie progressed. The controversial ending (no spoilers here) causes the viewer to think more about the movie even after they have left the theater.

The beginning sequence shows Cobb rescuing an old friend draws the viewer in and foreshadows what will happen near the end of the movie.

In one of the best special effects sequences of the film, Ariadrne (Ellen Page) folds the city of Paris over on itself in the dream world. In the dream world, the dreamer is able to create the world of their greatest imagination, opening up a world of imagination for viewers.

“Inception” incorporates components of a variety of films including action, science-fiction, drama and mystery. The team assembles and masters the art of breaking into someone’s mind and planting an idea. The movie has many great action sequences involving a zero-gravity fight beautifully executed by Cobb’s right-hand man Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt).

DiCaprio plays his part well both as a leader training Ariadrne, someone who is new to the dream world, and as a father returning to his children. He learned from his experiences with his wife and from extracting information that people tended to blur reality with the imaginary.

“Dreams feel real while we’re in them. It’s only when we wake up do we realize something was actually strange,” he said.

Inception is a complex experience, and as such requires more than one viewing to understand. All of the characters have great depth that viewers can appreciate, and the plot is well thought-out. “Inception” exposes one to the true power of dreams and how the subconscious is able to have just as large a role as the conscious in defining one’s actions and beliefs. This very well may be Nolan’s greatest masterpiece in terms of cinematic scope, plot and depth (the latter literally with the concept of a dream-within-a-dream-within-a-dream-within-a-dream that is dealt with in the movie).

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