I will be putting out more movie analysis that I have stored in my file of notes. I thought the first would be a movie almost 15 years old, Inception.
People are still trying to determine what in that movie was “reality” and when the main character (Leo DiCaprio- Cobb) was dreaming. The trick is to see that the entire movie was a dream. Even places where one feels there is a reality, normal world- just like our world, he too is dreaming.
The movie has two subtle twists, one on the plot in the movie, and one of the viewer watching the movie, which is why I am including a bit of example of it here. The first big thing to look at is what is know as the Totem, a special hand-made device that one makes and can never let anyone else touch, that can help to tell if the person is dreaming or not dreaming. This is the big scene at the end of the movie when the spinning top that Cobb is using seems about to fall over, thus showing he is not dreaming, and gets to live with his children happily ever after. But is that true. While there is suggestion that we never saw the top after his bathroom spin upon “waking up” in Mombasa, thus have no real idea of the rest of the movie are but dreams within a dream. However the biggest thing missed by most. The top is not HIS totem, but his wife’s. So why is he spinning his wife’s totem. The only thing the spinning top would tell is if his wife is dreaming, not him. Perhaps that is the point. At the end he was not testing his reality (maybe he knew he was also dreaming) he was only testing if he was in his wife’s dream thus she could bother him. In a sense he gave up his search for reality and truth to play make believe with his make believe children, but without interference from his former wife..
Another key point comes at the meeting in Paris between Cobb, and who we can assume is his wife’s father. The fist question, why not just bring the kids to Paris to see him? Seems simple, only in dreams does simple become so complex. Secondly why does the father so easily give in to his son? He gives a clue when he tells Cobb, “Come back to reality Dom.” thus in a sense it appears the inception (implanting of an idea) is not going to be on the individual that Cobb is hired for, but is all part of a grander plan by the father- to implant into Dom the idea that the world he is living in- is real. And as such the same Inception is begin played out in the mind’s of everyone watching it as well. That the world “we” live in, is also real and should not be tested as a dreamworld.
A reminder that he is not awake when we think he his- in Mombasa, comes from the chase. Cobal agents come out of nowhere to come after him (as the security agents will come later when they are within the mind of X on their own inception). Thus Cobal is not a company out there, but a part of his own subconscious, a protector to his own deep memories. See how similar the name Cobb and Cobal is. As he is running the walls close in on a passageway. Real streets are not built like this- only in a dream (or a movie, which this film is reminding is nothing but a fictional dream) can happen. He gets squeezed out- and jumps right out to where his Japanese friend happens to have a car waiting to whisk him off to safety- again like in a dream, or as if all of these other characters have been implanted into Cobb’s mind. Another possibility that happened in Mombasa, all the others were put in Cobb’s mind and the rest is a deeper dream within a dream.
When he is with his wife Cobb says the key line “if I am ever going to see their faces (children) I have to get back to the real world” thus the inception is happening here, as he is determining that if sees his children;’s faces, he must be in the “real world” and no longer needs testing. This is the same mistake that Neo makes in the Matrix movie. He wakes up from his Matrix life as Mr. Anderson, but never tests out if the world of Morpheus, Trinity, Zion and the ship is true, or another dream. A layer within a layer. He simply accepts his new reality too easily. Cobb also says, “Our world wasn’t real (his life with his wife inn dreaming) to get back to reality we had to kill ourselves (as apparently dying within a dream only wakes one up according to the movie). Our children were just projections.” the basic principle here was to present the wife as crazy. As she wanted to kill herself in the supposed “real” world by jumping off the ledge, and thus get to the next layer where her real children would be. This is where the audience is getting an inception, planting the idea that anyone who says THIS world- where you are watching this movie- is not real, they must be crazy, and in fact might be dangerous. Don’t listen to them. Just go along with reality.
Of course there are some points about the Minoan story of the labyrinth, Adrianne (she who helps Theseus out after he killed the Minotaur) but those are specific analogies and best to look at those later yourself.
The most important part of this movie takes place when he “wakes up” on the plane near the end of the movie. First he wakes up and it is like he does not recognize anyone on the plane, and they all seem to ignore him. If they were such a great team, and Cobb who they thought was going to be dead, somehow made this miraculous escape, should they not have been thrilled their great leader was back? In the airport he again seems disoriented, and none of his companions are talking with him. They just went through supposedly the greatest mental espionage act of all time, yet they are acting as if they met once in a Mcdonalds 30 years ago. The immigration official says “welcome home.” why would he say that? But the give away. There is the Paris father, standing there with a sign. How could he possibly know he would be on that plane, and that he would in fact get into the US? This again could only be because Cobb was dreaming, and the father is keeping up his job to fool Dom into believing they world they are currently in is a real world. Never once did Cobb ask, “why are you here, how did you know I was coming.” just like in a dream the most bizarre things are automatically accepted and unquestioned. The purple elephant driving the bus full of lions and monkeys makes perfect sense in a dream.
And perhaps that is the point of our strange dreaming experiences. They may be some sort of insert (a David from Pleasantville) trying by the use of the most odd symbolism and experience, to get us to start asking on waking- wait a minute. Why are things like this? Not in the dream we just had, but the very world we have awoken into. So the big question has to be- are you dreaming right now? And if so, how could you tell for sure?
One final criticism of this movie, and that goes for the recent TV show Westworld, is the total lack of humor. Not once in Inception was there ever a time I thought of laughing or even chuckling. Same for Westworld. That was a part of what made Lost such a good program (at least until the final season when they got stuck in mud- I will reveal Lost in a later update). Lost used the Hurley character, and to some extent Sawyer- to add an element of humor to at times a dark story. Inception desperately needed a character like Hurley, to lighten the mood, and at the same time- get us to see through the veil of reality via the side of lightness not always through heaviness.