Friday, August 6, 2010
Movie Review, Inception (Spoiler Alert!)
Christopher Nolan introduces another mind-altering yet action-filled movie. I was pleasantly surprised by the philosophical depth to the movie though I was disappointed with the lack of plot and character development.
First there were many parts of the plot that were rather thin. For instance, the reason the team was attempting to plant an idea into the subject's mind was to destroy a highly competitive company. Okay, what type of company were they attempting to break up, could we get a couple more details besides the fact that it was a really good company? Second, Leonardo DiCaprio's character was well developed, and he did a great job yet this was especially noticeably when the other characters lacked development. Ellen Page's character, Ariadne, was especially noticeable. She was a student of Cobb's father in Paris. She's really smart, is wise but we don't know much else.
The Philosophy of Inception
That being said, let's go on to the more interesting parts of the film. I was left pondering a very important concept. It is an epistemic issue dealing with metaphysics. The movie argued that there is an ultimate reality. (metaphysical belief) The problem that it presented was how do we know if we are in reality. (epistemic issue) The characters used "tokens" as reference points to tell them when they were in reality or not. The key: reference points. This made me think of the famous statement by the French Existentialist Jean-Paul Satre “No finite point has meaning without an infinite reference point."
I don't want to pull any theistic interpreation into Inception because I can't find any evidence that Nolan intended to argue that because there is ultimate reality God must exist, but what I found interesting was: 1. There is an ultimate reality (there is "absolute" truth, truth that is the same no matter which way you look at it and you can't change it.). 2. We are cognitively capable of knowing ultimate reality. In Inception, knowledge came through the tokens, (reference points) which would communicate to the knower (a finite point) whether he was in a dream or reality.
I also enjoyed Nolan's point on letting go and coming to the conclusion that our dreams are not as good as reality. This is found in only one scene of the movie, but it is the climax and focal point of Codd's development. Here, he acknowledges that his wife has died and is ready to move on. Furthermore, he realizes that continuing to imagine her existence is not as good as who she really was. You can dream of someone but it is not as good as actually being with them. Essentially, reality trumps dreams.
Finally, the last scene of the movie shows Cobb seeing his children again. Just before he does, he checks his token (a spinning top that never stops spinning unless it is in reality.) but before the top stops spinning, he sees the faces of his children and runs to them with joy. The camera focuses on the spinning top and the curtain closes before the viewer can tell if its going to stop or not. Great ending: when you are in reality and in relationship with others, your reference point is no longer a material thing (a finite object) but other people.