4 Stars – Powerful
Dreams fascinate us. From ancient times, dreams have been seen as vehicles for recognizing deeper fears, predicting the future, as well as a means for providing divine messages. Today, therapists use the power of dreams to bring understanding and healing especially when suppression or repression is present. However, for this film to suggest that shared dreaming is possible, and was developed because our military wanted to have a way to train soldiers, is pure science fiction. But it is excellent science fiction.
Written and directed by Christopher Nolan (Memento), “Inception” focuses on the deep pain of Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio). As a specialist in shared dreaming, Cobb has discovered that he can enter the mind of corporate leaders and steal their secrets. But what we soon discover is that his dreams are haunted by the malevolent Mal (Marion Cotillard). The reasons are complex and hinge on a powerful lesson about the capacity of guilt to disrupt our inner-selves, as well as the necessity of forgiveness.
The plot is driven by an ambitious Japanese businessman named Saito (Ken Watanabe) who wants Cobb to not only steal secrets locked within the mind of his competitor, but also to accomplish the far more difficult task of implanting a belief in his competitor’s son. Rather than “extraction”, this reverses the process and gives birth to an idea, or an “inception.” The young businessman they target is Robert Fischer, Jr. (Cillian Murphy).
To plant this belief, Cobb gathers a team, the members of which will not only create the shared dream experience but also enter into it. The architect who creates the multiple levels of dreams within dreams is Ariadne (Ellen Page). Named after the mythical woman who mastered labyrinths, Ariadne must create a maze that is self-contained in order to maintain the boundaries of the dream. The other members of the team are Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), Earnes (Tom Hardy), and Yusuf (Dileep Rao).
A complex film that plays with a variety of science fiction themes and psychological issues, “Inception” is a powerful film we recommend for its exploration of forgiveness and self-sacrifice.
Discussion for those who have seen this film:
1. Have you ever experienced a dream within a dream? Have you ever experienced three levels of dreams? Do you think that is possible? Why do you answer as you do?
2. How have your dreams helped you to better understand yourself?
3. Do you think we will ever develop the technology to enter one another’s dreams? Why or why not?