Dreams within dreams always scare me and leave me making sure I really am awake. Just last month, after an eventful night of dreams where I thought I had just woken up only to wake up to a new dream, I tweeted this: Too many dreams where I thought I was awake only to wake up and fall back to sleep. This tweet proves to me that I am awake. Twitter became my totem, not as classy as Leo’s spinning top, but it worked for me. Whenever I wake up from a dream I can usually only remember two things, if anything: an idea or details of the setting. In Christopher Nolan’s Inception, the plot is still concrete, but the ideas and settings are what stay in my mind.
Leonardo DiCaprio plays Cobb, a thief who uses technology that can let multiple people enter one person’s mind through dreams to steal secrets. He has been on the run and given the chance to return to his family if he can do a job that’s never been done, inception, or planting an idea into someones mind. To pull this off will require a lot of planning, recruiting a new architect, Ariadne (Ellen Page), a very long sedated plane ride and plunging into three dream levels. That’s a dream, within a dream, within a dream and in each level time seems much longer than in the last level. But Cobb has been doing these artificial dreams so long that his subconscious can run wild, creating projections of his wife within each level. And she always seems to ruin his plans.
Inception is a film full of ideas and concepts that can absolutely boggle the mind. The trick is to get the audience on board, give them the tools and background information needed to understand the components of being in a dream, what the job of the architect is, how the subconscious can react and the dangers involved. Everything leading up to the the big dream with Fischer (Cillian Murphy), is just practice, just class time. But if you’ve paid attention, it all pays off and you are completely on board through the final dream mission. If you are afraid you’ll miss a few things or will just be confused, it’s not as bad as it sounds. The whole film is in chronological order, except for some background information Cobb gives later. The film masterfully gives you everything you need to know at the appropriate times.
What I really noticed and appreciated in my second viewing of the film is all the details put into every scene. The first dream takes place in an oriental style building, with hundreds of lanterns hanging from the ceiling. Later, in the Mombasa scenes, Yusuf’s shop with all the yellow glass bottles and the narrow corridors between buildings seem like the oddly specific details I’d remember from a dream. Yet, that is supposed to be real life. Keep on your toes about what is a dream and what is not. Nearly every scene can be distinguished by it’s setting in details and basic atmosphere. And always remember to ask yourself, How did they get there?
Not many of the cool summer films make it to the Best Picture category, but Christopher Nolan knows how to consistently make great films that are full of pulsing action, eye popping effects and mind bending plots. Part of my theory about why there are now ten Best Picture nominees is because of the outrage that Nolan’s The Dark Knight was counted out in 2008. I was excited that Inception made it to this years top ten, but alas, Nolan was not nominated for Best Director. And I feel like that’s just a damn shame.
“What is the most resilient parasite? Bacteria? A virus? An intestinal worm? An idea.”
If the Academy is looking to award Nolan for his consistently excellent film making or just loves wrapping their mind around dreams, Inception will win Best Picture.