Sunday, April 10, 2011

Inception

Garnered 4 awards out of 6 nominations at the 2011 Academy Awards (Oscars): Best in Visual Effects, Best in Sound Mixing, Best in Sound Editing and Best In Cinematography. 

INCEPTION, a 2010 psychological thriller originally created by The Dark Knight’s director, Christopher Nolan and top-billed by Leonardo Di Caprio, is a critically-acclaimed blockbuster film that enables our brain to work harder to grasp the plot deeply.

In this movie, our mind is the scene of the crime, the unleashing of one’s imagination, how powerful we are to create dreams and redefine destiny.


At first, I was quite confused with the plot and doubted the existence of Dominic Cobb (Leonardo Di Caprio) if he is real or just a fantasy, this question is finally answered in the last scene of the movie which has a surprising twist. The former Titanic star’s character here portrays a swashbuckler, skilled thief, expert in stealing secrets within the subconscious in an absolutely dangerous game of extraction through the minds, traveling in the form of a dream. He carries with him a spinning device called “totem” to identify his situation if he is dreaming or not, if the totem wobbles, he is in his dream and if it stops, he is awake.

Dom Cobb is a gifted extractor with a mysterious past who held extraction mission to penetrate the minds of the subjects and steal ideas.This rare ability of Cobb made him the most sought-after-player of corporate espionage which attract one client, Saito (Ken Watanabe). Through flashbacks, we all know that Cobb is enduring a long time, best-kept secret guilt for implanting a decisive dream/idea to his wife which indirectly leads to her death as she refused to go back to reality. It was an enduring guilt trapped in his mind which disturbed him for so long. Now he must redeem himself to save what is left for his life—his children-- by accepting the arrangement offered by Saito.

This perilous job, however, costs Dom Cobb his wife, Mal (played by 2007 Oscar Best Actress winner, Marion Cottilard). When one of his previous missions backfired, Mal, who used to be his partner in all his missions, became insane and jumped off the building as she convinced herself and her husband that they are still on their dream and in order for them to wake up, they should pass death first, before she committed suicide, Mal wrote a note implicating him on her death. Dom Cobb escaped and left Los Angeles living his children to his father-in-law. Mal appears every time Dom creates a projection of his mission which disrupts his focus, she eventually became the antagonist of the film which lead Cobb’s team generates too many destructions during their mission.

The new job offered by Saito, which would help Dom Cobb clears his name from the murder charges against his wife and could go back to his free life, is utterly impossible as he would perform an INCEPTION to the target. An inception is a process in which Cobb and his team will have to pull or do a reverse, instead of a perfect stealing of secrets or ideas, they would implant an idea to their target. The subject, Robert Fischer, is heir to Saito’s rival in business and their mission is to convince Fischer to split his father’s wealth to prevent a monopoly in business which threatened Saito’s corporate empire. But what seems to be a perfect planning turned out to be a complete disaster as their projection always met with unpredictable enemies, this destruction emerges as Cobb has still an unresolved conflict from deep within his subconscious—his guilt on the death of his wife-- now he must resolved it to succeed on his last mission and could return to his children.

The enemies, which appear on each layer of their dreams, are Fischer’s own projections as his subconscious still could not be penetrated deeply by the implanted idea, these projections should be stopped by Cobb at all cost in order to succeed. In order to fully implant the idea on Fischer, the team must create and recreate different layers with in layers of their dreams to penetrate deeper into Fischer’s subconscious, but it was not an easy task as Cobb’s team unexpectedly face absolute dangers against the projections of Fischer, the only way to evade it is to resolve the conflict and guilt of Cobb with his deceased wife. Ariadne (played by Ellen Page), the trained architect, finally convinced him to create another layer of dream and face the projection of his wife to resolve everything, Cobb eventually confronts his wife and argued that it was her stubborn refusal to wake up from her “dream” that sabotaged her mental state, Mal insisted that it was Cobb who is still in his dream and the only way to shake him up is to pass death, before she could stab him, Ariadne shoot Mal.

Ariadne and Cobb joined Fischer and went into limbo and gone back to the third layer of their dreams.
In the world of their dreams, pain can be felt by characters but death could result into awakening, a situation which vainly prevented by each character to salvage their mission. In the scene where the van they rode fall into the bridge, the group has ten minutes to complete the INCEPTION until it touches the water. The resolution of Cobb’s guilt consequently pushed Fischer and successfully convinced him on the process of INCEPTION and finally enters into his subconscious, in his dream he went to his dying father in Sydney, Australia and finally talked, the elder Fischer advised him to be his own man and follow his instinct, Robert Fischer nodded as he recalled his happy childhood with his father.

The team finally “kicks” (a condition where we seemed startled by a hysteric jerk and wake up) when the van plunged into the water, but Dominic Cobb travels to another layer of his dream where he was lying on the beach and found by the bodyguards of the aging Saito, Cobb was brought to Saito and talked about waking up (this setting is also the opening scene of the film). When he woke up, he found himself in the plane with the team specialists, Saito and Robert Fischer, the place where they first performed the sedation on Fischer and going on to their dreams.

The mission proved to be successful, though it was not revealed how Saito helped clear Cobb on the charges against the death of his wife, it was shown that Cobb finally entered the United States and reunites with his children, but the surprising twist in the last scene showed the spinning of the “totem”, the device wobbled fast and did not stop, which made me think that Cobb still in his deep sleep, it could be that he is still in his dream and his wife is right that he should die first in order to fully awake? It was a concept-trick brilliantly presented by Chris Nolan to leave the analysis to the viewers if Dom Cobb is really a reality or just a fragment of our imagination. Quite fascinating isn’t it?

The visual and sound effects are great, it magnifies the strong impact and mystical scenes of swirling landscapes, flying objects and cracking of buildings, the mind-bogging scenes, which include the intriguing past of Cobb’s life and the saga of his personal troubles, allowed minds to grasp the complexities of creating dreams and fantasy and how to live and handle those dreams wisely. It is often disturbing to design dreams and ideas when we are still trap with our own issues of guilt, troubles and remorse. We could not unite our mission unless we are free from guilt and resentment.

This movie allows us to ponder deeply on the power of our minds, creating big things and how this would be limited only to extract a realistic idea. The sophisticated execution of the film and its essence of invading the subconscious confront the complicated psychological territory which astonished human beings on why dreams occur and how powerful our subconscious is. Director Chris Nolan conceived this idea of sharing dreams and stealing ideas through mind power, which are still very impossible to do even in the high technology age, because of his childhood fascination on the idea of what really happens to us in-between dreams .

After watching the film, our minds must be asking the following questions: “Can we really explore other minds through the power of extraction traveling in the form of dreams?”, “Can we really share dreams with the people we want to invite with in our subconscious?”

Inception is released through Warner brothers and Legendary pictures, it “kicks” off on July 16, 2010 worldwide and posted a gross earning of $67 million on its first weekend ticket sales performance making it the second highest grossing science-fiction film (weekend opening) after Avatar. Nolan reunited with his musical scorer in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, Hans Zimmer which created an electrifying musical score.

The film is super exhilarating and mind-blowing as each scene spins in rather odd occurrences and premises; the execution of the concept is flawlessly presented to connect to the viewer’s mind how to create big things through the power of imagination. In this film, we must use our head to dissect and understand the concept of the story in the tradition of a refurbished Plato theory. INCEPTION indeed is an exciting film to watch worthy of our time and money.

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