Inception ★★★★☆

In திரைக்கதை எழுதுவது எப்படி? (How to write a screenplay?), Sujatha says most good movies have a premise, like a What If. Like, what if a television anchor gets to become the Chief Minister for a day, or what if we're living in a dream world created by machines. Inception's  simplestest what if is: What if one could enter somebody else's dream. That premise could have morphed into anything (apparently, as K had told me in the cinema hall, Nolan had first thought of a horror flick on this premise) but building a heist movie on this is just ingenious.

As the old adage (first quoted in 2009) goes, a middle earth doth not an LOTR make. Unlike Avatar, Inception manages to present us with a new world, and also reserves enough time for a fantastic plot. It's somewhat demanding of the audience, but not on the level of Memento (which you're expected to watch like you read a research paper - miss that epsilon there, and you don't know what the heck is going on anymore).

The rules of the dream world - dreaming within dreaming, the sense of time, how we fill a dream space with things, the kick - all thought through well. No, I don't remember ever having dreams within dreams, but, er, that's what's Nolan's point too, right? The deeper, the better, to plant an idea undetectedly.

More than anything else, what I like about Inception is that after it presents us with the events, we're left free to invent hypotheses to fit the empirical knowledge (ie. what we saw on screen). While the audaciousness of the is premise nowhere close to that of The Matrix, the setting is a lot more flexible in Inception. It sounds odd when I say it, but methinks Inception ups the audience engagement by making a virtue of it's loose ends.

Image source: Movie cultists
Take the gravity inconsistency, which was pricking the back of my head right through the movie.
Observed anomaly: When the van does a somersault, the hotel turns and all, but nothing happens in the snow level.
Hypothesis 1: Oh, gravity affects only the immediate next level, didn't you know?
Hypothesis 2: Yusuf concocts a special drug to keep their sense of balance awake while they sleep. But Arthur, who dreams up the drugs with which they go to the snow level, doesn't know how to do that.
Hypothesis 3: Well, that would mean we'll have zero-gravity in all levels for half the movie. Who wants that, dumbo?

Even though all these hypotheses may be flawed or inconsistent with other parts of the movie, the fact that we as an audience understand the rules of a new system and try to fit theories to explain observations... - isn't that awesome in terms of audience engagement?

Image source: Movie cultists
The biggest crib I have though, is Cobb's totem, a key object in the movie. It's the worst totem anyone could've designed. While Ariadne's chess bishop can tell you whether you're in the real world even as you hold it in your hand, while Arthur's die can tell you that within 2 seconds of throwing it, to test reality with Cobb's totem, you have wait like what, one minute? :) More importantly, while totems are supposed to feel or behave oddly in the real world, Cobb's spinning top does the reverse. It falls in the real world. If Cobb was stuck in my dream and he spun the top, it would by default fall because I, the dreamer, would expect it to fall - that's what spinning tops normally do. And Cobb, as a tourist visiting my dream, would happily go about thinking it was all real. However, if, say, Arthur was also hanging around in the same dream, he could throw his dice but I wouldn't know which number should come up,
so I can't make it seem like reality to him. Seriously, spinning tops, eh? What a dumb totem!

1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful topic man? Really I had enjoyed your post. For some movie, we also guess that this is going to be happen. On that stage only our movie is their.