Friday, July 23, 2010

Inception for Dummies!

Christopher Nolan has done it again...after a string of hits, he’s come up with another fist thumping block-buster movie.

Made on the scale of his previous movie “The Dark Knight”, “Inception” has been shot in 8 cities dotting the globe from Tokyo, Los Angeles, Paris and even relatively unheard Kenya’s second largest city Mombasa. The movie might not have an as taut and gripping plot as the director’s other movie “Momento” but it has his signature style storytelling that makes you jostle your brains to predict the next move or scene.

The plot is simple. You ask a “dream stealer” to reverse his act. Instead of stealing gold nuggets from a bank vault, you pay the thief to plant counterfeit money into the vault. Only here the vault is a person’s mind and the fake gold is a dream – an idea, an idea that is external to a person’s mind and an idea that could prove to be self destructive to the person in question!

Hmmm... The best way to enjoy a movie is to immerse yourself into it completely for two hours and imagine that you are the movie’s protagonist – the “hero”. In our case the lead actor is Leonardo DiCaprio who plays Cobb the dream stealer. Leo’s team, in other words, my team, comprises of Autur – my man friday, Ariadne – the young and Brilliant “dreams landscape” architect , Saito – the money monger , Eames – the impersonator and Yusuf - the chemist. Ellen Page plays Ariadne while Marion Cotillad plays Mal, a “projection” of Leo’s wife in the dream world.

Ellen’s job as an architect, is not easy. Designing landscapes in the “dream world” residing inside a person’s head involves architecting places that donot follow the laws of physics. Entire cities can fold over themselves as shown in the poster, with no calamities occurring what-so-ever. Staircases could be made to appear infinite in the dream world with the staircase neither having a beginning nor an ending.

However, “Time” does follow the constraints of physics though. Dreaming within a dream could prove to be a great time stretching act. It follows the pattern of an inverted pyramid where in five minutes of reality could seem to be a 10 hours long drive for the dreamer in the first “level” of the dream world. And if the dreamer begins to further dream within his dream, his 10 hr long dream in level one could stretch out to be six years in his higher dream level, level two. In short a person who thinks he is “living” a span of 50 yrs in his dream world level five could only be in the state of deep ( err, very deep in our case) sleep in the real world for about 5 minutes.

Uh I got distracted by the director’s slightly skewed logic …we were talking about the movie characters right? Characters! Speaking of characters, Ellen the architect is supposedly better than Leo himself according to Leo’s mentor. She proves this to the audience at a later stage.

As for my dear Marion Cotillad, who played such a lively character in “Jeux d'enfants” , she is reduced to a mere sleep walking demented character who cannot differentiate between the dream world and the real world. This is even more dangerous considering that in a dream , if you try to kill yourself , the worst that could happen is that you wake up – not so in reality!

Now consider the task on my hand – oops , the hero’s hand. I need to traverse from one dream level to the next higher dream level of certain person’s mind, and be able to come out of it by falling through each level.Failing at any stage would imply that the person would enter the state of “limbo” – a state similar to which my wife Marion Cotillad is in … ( Marion – my wife – ah – this dream feels so good! )

Ken is the character who wants to implant a self destructive dream/idea into his competitor business tycoon’s son’s head. He goes to great lengths to do so. As the quote goes:

Cobb: For this to work, we'd have to buy off the pilots...
Arthur: And we'd have to buy off the flight attendants...
Saito: I bought the airline.
[Everybody turns and stares at him. Saito just shrugs]
Saito: It seemed neater.

And another crucial member of the team is Eames – the forgery expert. Watch out for hilarious consequences as he sets out to impersonate characters inside someone else’s dream!

In all this madness of mine, I have my dear totem to hold on to ( see pic ) – which deserves the spot of a movie character in itself. If the totem spins wobbles and falls, I am in the real world .However, if it continues to spin endlessly, I am – you guessed it right – in a dream world.

Then there is the dangerous incursion into your memory areas while designing a dream. Watch the movie to know why the collision of memory area and the dream world could lead to disastrous results. The movie plot is exciting in the sense that you are in someone else’s mind and anything that you could possibly think could go wrong might go wrong! So what happens when a person in the 2nd dream level is interacting with a person in his 3rd dream level? In other words, how would it feel to interact with a same age friend who appears 50 yrs older to you in the dream world? How do you know whose dream are you in? As Ellen Page says at one point “is it his dream or her dream world that we are entering?” ( or something similar to that effect )

How do you make a person “fall down” and inturn wake him up from inside a dream if you cannot rely on non-existent gravity of the dream world?( to dimwits who watched the movie and can’t follow what I am saying - I am referring to the “lift” scene in the movie)

The highlights of the movie include the quick and quite convincingly logical transitioning from one dream level to another; the parallels drawn between a person’s real world and a dream word wherein water splashing on the lead actor’s face in the real world percolates to heavy rain in the dream world; liberal doses of CGI graphics blending seamlessly with real world locations and last but not the least, a well budgeted cinematography.

The part that I didn’t follow was how even after the billionaire’s son dies in the third dream level, he could continue on to accomplishing his mission. Ellen page explains this but apparently she and her thinking is beyond my league. The second half of the movie set in snow capped mountains turns out to be quite a drag at times.

Supposedly even a few of the movie actors didn’t understand the plot .However, pay close attention to the beginning and end of the movie. For, as in “Memento”, this movie’s end too is a jigsaw puzzle solution. It leaves your mind still tethered to your theater seat, even after you walk out of the movie hall.

Inception, the movie – one would either like it or hate it. I loved it! ( I played the lead character remember? )

-Sandeep Belure


Ravi said...


shreybomb said...

Sandeep- its Arthur and not Autur :)

The Darker Knight \/(.ô.)\/ said...
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