I am glad that we watched Inception together as a class because our discussions afterwards confirmed my initial feelings about the movie when I saw it last summer - that this was a movie that could be like The Matrix and be both entertaining and work on several different levels of philosophical interpretation. I'm going to toss out a bunch of questions for you to consider, and please pick two to answer before Tuesday's class.
2. This blog from Moviefone.com outlines six different interpretations of the film (and also five plot holes - see next question). Read it for more details on each of the six interpretations, but I'll just list each of them below. We have talked about some of them in class.
** If you decide to tackle more than one interpretation of Inception, this will count as your two questions.
a. All of Inception is a dream - are we ever really shown reality? Whose dream is it, anyway?
b. Everything after the test sedation is a dream - after Yusuf's chemical test, do we see Cobb spin his totem and see it fall properly?
c. Saito is the architect and pulls a Mr. Charles gambit on Cobb - instead of a job audition like Saito said, maybe Saito is trying to extract something from Cobb?
d. Ariadne is Cobb's therapist trying to help him get over Mal's death - This is an interesting and plausible take on the movie - found here http://halphillips.tumblr.com/post/822919795/inception
e. We do see reality in the movie (first train ride in Japan, Paris, Mombasa), but Cobb is in a dream at the end - could this explain why the totem never falls at the end of the movie? This interpretation apparently hinges on the idea that the children don't appear to have aged. Plus, we don't see how Saito and Cobb get out of limbo.
f. What we see is what we get - that we are presented with a reality at the beginning of the movie (train ride in Japan) and that Cobb is back in the U.S. at the end of the movie.
3. What do you think were the movie's biggest plot holes? We had discussed a few, and I wasn't satisfied with a couple of the answers - which sounded like filmmakers' excuses instead of decent rationales. Provide one or two examples (you might want to read the blog link mentioned at the beginning of question #2 to help you out if you forgot) and explain how these holes do or don't affect the movie.
4. Evil genius theory - we had discussed this in class and it didn't get much traction, but I wonder if it's possible to show that either Saito, Mal or Cobb could be the evil genius manipulating everything we're seeing. Or could it be the film maker Christopher Nolan?
5. Is Inception really just an extended metaphor for films? In a previous blog from last semester, I posted a link from Wired, and I traced it back to its source, so I'll quote the author's take on Nolan's film:
"The film is a metaphor for the way that Nolan as a director works, and what he’s ultimately saying is that the catharsis found in a dream is as real as the catharsis found in a movie is as real as the catharsis found in life. Inception is about making movies, and cinema is the shared dream that truly interests the director."
Here's a link to the whole post: http://www.chud.com/24477/NEVER-WAKE-UP-THE-MEANING-AND-SECRET-OF-INCEPTION/
My question is, do you buy this interpretation of the movie? Why or why not? What kind of implication does it have for us as film watchers - this shared "dream space" of watching a movie together? Did Christopher Nolan just perform inception on all of us because it's now an idea, like a parasite that won't go away? :)
6. Comparing the dream/reality rules in Inception and (if you've seen) The Matrix, why do you think they're vastly different? How does Descartes' dualistic theory about the mind and body being separated work for one movie but not the other?