Dreamscapes and the sub-conscious can be an often marvelous subject matter for the discerning creative mind primarily because it’s a realm that is vast and wondrous but incredibly mysterious. After so many decades and centuries of research and exploration’s in to our brains, many scholars and professionals still have no real clue as to where dreams come from, why they exist, where we go when we dream, and whether or not they’re supposed to actually reveal anything. Christopher Nolan has created a Lynchian fantasy set in the mind that is devastating in its originality and innovation taking the dream world and turning it in to one giant landscape upon which to draw a story that is simultaneously a heist film and an existential drama about a man confronting his demons that he has locked away in his dreams for as long as he can remember.
Much like dreams, a lot of “Inception” revolves around confusing and subtle symbolism matched with a sheer sense of awe and dizzying images that keep Nolan’s film firmly in the realm of fantasy and reality. Like “The Matrix” it explores the reality beyond the reality and ponders on the notion that maybe the dream is the reality and the reality is a dream. Perhaps the lies we tell ourselves are the dreams and the reality upon which we awaken to are just nightmares doomed to haunt us for as long as we’re willing to grasp on to our secrets and unrequited dreams. While Nolan does indeed offer something for everyone with shoot outs, car chases, and grandiose one on one combat scenes, he also offers something to chew on for the viewer who wants something to think about on the way home. Did we ever see Cobb’s reality? Was there ever an organization at play? Are the entire team for the Inception heist merely projections of Cobb’s mind?
Is Cobb the individual being perpetrated by a crack team of dream warriors? Did he ever awaken from his dream? Is he just a character in his wife’s large dream? Or did the dreamer dream the dream? “Inception” offers various clues and ambiguous hints toward the big mystery of the film and deep down there is an answer to what may have occurred and if Cobb ever existed at all. Perhaps he wasn’t of actual importance and is just an average man in a coma who got lost in his familiar environments. But to Nolan and his writers, the message is that the dream can often be all the reality we need to keep us going and that sometimes it’s a much better alternative to what awaits us when we finally awaken to our reality where we have to cope with tragedy and loss without the aid of luxuries such as architects and extractors.
All of which are very romantic ideas of dream interpretation who can offer solace in a world we can control. “Inception” is filled with surrealism and complex metaphors all of which are hidden beneath layers of a typical blockbuster about a group of government enlisted dream agents who have to corrupt the mind of a blooming executive with a fortune at his feet who are recruited by an Asian executive to implant an idea that could alter his life and ally them together as partners. Within the seemingly mundane operation, the leader Cobb is submitted to his parallel dreams converging with his client’s dreams and the deeper he delves the more he discovers that the menace is not the dreamer, but the dreamer within the dream. And within all of the action and amazing scenes of gravity defying combat and chases, Nolan never verifies what is reality, what is a dream, and what is a lie in a dream.
All the while he begs the question if the reality is a dream or if our own conscious lies the dream that we live while awake. Nolan keeps an air of mystery throughout the entire film never truly revealing what the truth is and only leaving it up to us to decide what is the truth and what is just something we’re telling ourselves is the truth. Much like a dream. Director Christopher Nolan’s magnificent science fiction fantasy will take at least four or five viewings to fully grasp the scope upon which he dares to create this world, and while it may look like a blockbuster on the surface, deep down it’s an exploration in to the vast realm of dreams and how it can signify our inability to cope with tragedy and loss.