Friday, August 6, 2010

"Reality is just not good enough for me anymore!" (from the movie Inception)

*Spoiler alert* Don’t read if you haven’t watched Inception yet!

As one who dreams often, and vividly (ever since I was a little girl), Inception was one movie I was really looking forward to. And let me tell you, it did not disappoint. I could tell immediately from the previews whoever wrote this script was a dreamer himself.

There were so many times they made references to dreams that I could really relate to. Like, when Cobb says “Dreams feel real while we’re in them. It’s only when we wake up that we realize something was actually strange.” How many times has that happened where, when trying to describe your dream to someone the next day you start saying “now this is going to sound very weird, but in my dream it was normal!”

Then there was the scene where Cobb takes his protégé to the world that he and Mal built. I have constructed similar cities in my dreams, vast and empty and abandoned, waiting to be filled with people and ideas. I have visited old homes I once lived in, and places I have affection for from when I was a little girl. I have gone up and down the elevators of memories to different levels. Some are light and bright and full of joy, and some are dark and deep and not often visited.

Another aspect of dreaming that is so true is that you “never really remember the beginning of a dream, do you? You always wind up right in the middle of what’s going on.” And, “in a dream, your mind functions more quickly. Therefore, time seems to feel slower. Five minutes in the real world gives you an hour in the dream.” Again, so true! I can wake up at 8am, look at the clock, fall back asleep for 30 minutes and feel like I’ve dreamed a whole night’s worth of dreams!

Coming next is one of my favorite parts of the movie. The strategy for inception in Fischer’s mind:

Cobb: “I will split up my Father’s empire”. Now this is obviously an idea that Robert himself will choose to reject. Which is why we need to plant it deep in his subconscious. The subconscious is motivated by emotion, right? Not reason. Which is why we need to find a way to translate this into an emotional concept.

Arthur: How do you translate a business strategy into an emotion?

Cobb: That’s what we ‘re going to figure out. Fischer’s relationship with his father is stressed to say the least.

Eames: Can we fun with that? We could suggest breaking up the company as a “screw you” to the old man.

Cobb: No, because I think positive emotion trumps negative emotion every time. We all yearn for reconciliation. For catharsis. We need Robert Fischer to have a positive emotional reaction to all this.

Eames: Well, why don’t we try this? “My father accepts that I want to create for myself, not follow in his footsteps.”

Cobb: That might work.

I love it! Once again, a key revelation we should remember. A positive emotion trumps negative emotion every time. Sometimes we believe the power of negative experiences is the ultimate power. But they tapped into something so true here, true for life and for dreams. Positive trumps negative, every time. Even though their mission was to go in and plant a lie, therefore making the entire mission "evil", they still brought out that huge whopping nugget of truth - and accomplished their evil mission the very best way possible :-)

I say evil because the other premise of the movie was even when you have the very best of intentions, when you plant a lie in someone's soul, in their subconscious, eventually it will destroy them. Even if you meant it for good, to protect them, a lie is a lie. Lies destroy. So Cobb's experience with inception never did work for good. He learned the hard way with Mal and lost the thing that was most precious to him, and then unfortunately chose to do it again. Although I understand why he did it the 2nd time, to be reunited with his children. So, Cobb is still a good guy in my book. I just wonder if he'll learn that inception destroys, inception is the negative, and positive trumps negative every time.

To conclude, I want to quote Cobb's monologue with Mal in the end. This one made me tear up - so powerful:

Mal: I’m the only thing you do believe in anymore.

Cobb: I wish. I wish more than anything. But I can’t imagine you with all your complexity, all your perfection, all your imperfection. Look at you. You are just a shade of my real wife. You’re the best I can do; but I’m sorry, you are just not good enough.

That statement was so powerful to me. He recognized that even in his deepest levels of his subconscious he could never imagine his wife in all her complexities. He let her go because she was just a snap shot of who he knew. Even in the lifetime they'd already had together, he only knew a "shade" of her. Woman was created with so many mysteries and levels of depth. It would take a man many lifetimes to explore them all, and it would take him an eternity to understand them all. A man who is willing and eager to pursue and explore all of that, well...that's one you want to hold onto. That my friends, is love worth fighting for.


  1. Why are you always trying to tell me how to do things? :)

    Actually I didn't read it yet but when I get a minute.

  2. Um, because you obviously need a lot of help Douglass!!!