“One resists the invasion of armies; one does not resist the invasion of ideas.” – Victor Hugo, History of a Crime.
Inception is pure cinema at it’s finest. What I mean by pure cinema is the effect that the audiences feel when the fusion of moving pictures and audio is done right. This magical sensation that can only be experienced when watching a movie. Christopher Nolan’s Inception has numerous moments like this. Making a huge film with big ambitions, Christopher Nolan never missteps and manages to create a movie that, at times, feels nothing short of a cinematic miracle.
In today’s day and age of Hollywood, it’s truly remarkable that Inception even got made. Huge-budget film-making that is used to tell a personal story that is smart and uncompromising. It’s a film that took it’s equipment and it’s crew to 6 different countries. It’s a story that managed to bring all of Christopher Nolan’s personal issues on life and death and made it it’s central core. It’s a film that managed to turn every one of his directorial weaknesses into massive strengths. That is possibly the biggest miracle: The auteur finally coming to his truest nature in front of our eyes.
Every single film Nolan has made up until now has led to building of the framework of Inception. The structure of the reality in Inception is informed by the fractal nature of Memento and Following. The sense of discovery and the notion of exploration as seen in The Prestige leads to Inception. And finally, Nolan’s favorite theme, the obsession with control, a line that leads from Insomnia to Batman Begins to The Dark Knight, takes Nolan to the heart of Inception.
Inception is a film about dreams, the manipulation of dreams, the strength of memory, the power of imagination, and that moment of pure creation we often call inspiration. Nolan’s interest isn’t piqued by the surreal nature of dreams, but what the dreams say about the dreamer, the subject. Nolan is looking at dreams as a passage for people to look at their repressed feelings that trouble them inside. And that’s the genius of Inception. Not only are his films visually striking, but his films are also emotionally heavy. The emotional content isn’t just subtext or nuanced but it’s rather blaring and plot-motivating.
The protagonist of the film, Dom Cobb, is a dream thief, or as termed in the film, an extractor. He’s the best in the world. He gets into your mind with his team when you’re asleep, when you are most vulnerable, and they find and steal information they need. But Cobb has a problem. He is unable to keep his subconscious under control and his repressed feelings keep manifesting in the dream space, becoming more aggressive and more dangerous. In another film, this would be the minor subplot. But, in Inception, it becomes everything.
In the film, the stakes keep rising while becoming more and more personal. The aim isn’t a gut-punch or an explosive finale, it is the emotional breakthrough. And to make those breakthroughs be an organic part of the sound and the havoc going on around them is the work of a master, a filmmaker who has truly come to a place where his skills are unsurpassed. In the final moments of the film, you suddenly realize that the film has worked on every single level. From Hans Zimmer’s grand score to the beautiful cinematography of Wally Pfister, a standing ovation is a must when such perfection is displayed.
I loved Inception. I loved seeing the world created by Nolan, loved spending time in it with the characters. I loved the psychoanalysis of Cobb. I loved every moment. Inception is about ideas; contagious, powerful, unstoppable ideas and how they shape the way we live, breathe, and think. Christopher Nolan understands this implicitly and completely. It’s a magical experience like no other. Inception is Nolan’s best film yet. Inception is his Apocalypse Now. Inception is his masterpiece.