- Approaching Inception
- Inception Notes
- Possible Paper Topics
Approaching Inception (2010)
Full disclosure: I love this film, so I’m biased about my interpretations. This is also the case for Interstellar (but not for Hackers, which is ok as a period piece).
Christopher Nolan’s Inception (2010)
I hope you review this section before you watch the film to help guide your thinking. Normally, with novels and short stories, I provide page numbers. I could go back and find the exact times the quotes I bring up happen, but, well, where’s the fun in that. As you watch the film, reflect on the following:
- Metaphorically, what else gets locked away in our minds that we hold onto?
- In the beginning of the film, Cobb says the strongest thing in the world is an idea. Think about it. How many wars, political battles, or discoveries are based on ideas that people pursue?
- Besides Mal, Ariadne is the only major female character in the film. Why is that? Perhaps this is a boys club, and she’s the token woman. However, she is an architect, which gives her a godlike perspective when they’re on a mission.
- Cobb tells Ariadne that “In a dream we create and perceive our world simultaneously.”
- To me, this means that we–outside the film–perceive the world through our our filters. These filters have been constructed by our experiences, and they affect how we see the world.
- In the song Lithium, Nirvana has a line “And just maybe / I’m to blame for all I’ve heard“; for the longest time, I thought Cobain was saying “hurt.” In relation to the fact that we filter the world based on our experiences, how are we to blame for all we’ve heard?
- Cobb tells Ariadne not to recreate real things because we’ll lose our grip on reality. Instead, when she builds the dream worlds, she should approximate reality. This is very important because the interpretation is that we–the audience, humans–can’t access or don’t want to access reality…we’d rather have approximate it and fill it in with our own perspectives.
- When Cobb is in the basement of the chemist–where all the old men are sharing a dream–a man tells him “they come to be woken up their dream has become their reality; who are you to say otherwise“?
As you watch the film, enjoy the action, but please recognize that there’s a deeper layer to it: what is reality? Great science fiction plays with reality.
For your first essay (draft due 6/03; final due 6/10), asks you to write about one (or more) of our texts in relation to American culture. Please see the Assignments Page for more details. Remember, your Essay 1 draft (with an outline) is due, Monday, 6/3 on Canvas. If you aren’t sure how to think about Inception from an American cultural perspective, below are some questions that could lead to essays:
- Does Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) have a handle on reality? What clues make you think he does? What clues make you think he doesn’t?
- Cobb’s wife, Mal, appears throughout the film and thwarts the team’s progress. Does she represent guilt? If so, whose guilt and what is the guilt?
- Dreams allow our imaginations to run wild. Our dream space, our subconscious, has been considered the reckless part of our psyche, the uncontrollable part. The characters in the film seem to be able to control dreams but only to a point. If our subconscious is uncontrollable, how are they able to control as much as they can? Who is the actual subject of the “inception”?
Next week we’ll be getting into more games reality plays. I often pair Inception with Neuromancer, but, because this is a summer class, I figured I’d pair it with William Gibson’s short stories related to Neuromancer: “Johnny Mnemonic,” “New Rose,” and “Burning Chrome.” We’ll also watch an episode of Firefly and think through myth making.
Don’t forget to do your Canvas posts by Friday, 5/31 at 11:00 pm. And don’t forget that your Essay #1 draft (with an outline) is due on Monday, 6/03.