Monday, August 2, 2010

Very Quick Thoughts on Inception (SPOILERS)



The poster is property of Warner Bros. Pictures, the distributors of Inception. The image is reproduced here for review purposes, and qualifies as Fair Use under Canadian copyright law.

If you've read a few of my posts on dreaming, you're probably wondering what I thought of the movie Inception. I suppose it was an okay action movie--the effects were impressive for what they were--but on the whole, I was disappointed. It was marketed as being a cerebral, thought provoking thriller, but I think it would really have helped if the writers had known a little more about psychology and neurology.

I'm willing to suspend disbelief to some extent--for example, the idea of sharing dreams is an interesting sci-fi concept in the first place--but I'm worried that people are going to leave the movie thinking they've learned something about psychology, when they haven't.

A few things that bugged me:

1. In the movie, dream time always had a consistent ratio with real time (i.e. 5 dream minutes = 1 real minute, or whatever). In reality, dream time usually corresponds fairly closely with real time, with some minor dilation here and there.

2. There are no "dreams inside dreams" in real life. You can DREAM that you're having a dream inside a dream, but it's all just part of the same dream sequence (does that make sense)? To put it another way: if you have a "false awakening" within a dream--that is, you dream that you've just woken up--it's just a perceived event, it's not caused by your "dream body" being asleep or anything metaphysical like that.

3. I was disappointed at how consistent the settings were. In a movie about dreams, I would have expected more weird and scary imagery, like a David Lynch movie or something. In fairness, this is somewhat justified by the fact that the dream settings are designed ahead of time by the characters. Also, Christopher Nolan has reportedly said in interviews that the reason they avoided surreal imagery was because dreams seem real when we're in them. Still, from an artistic perspective, it seems like a missed opportunity to me.

I mention this not to be a know-it-all or to show my superiority. I just think that the actual facts about dream psychology are interesting and, in themselves, worth using in fiction.

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It Seemed Funny at the Time by Ben Buckley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5 Canada License.