Award winning filmmaker, Christopher Nolan, developed one simple yet complex theory. Later, he adapted this idea to a major motion picture titled Inception. A box office hit, inspired by the notion of invading one’s subconscious mind and lucid dreaming, its impact ultimately transformed the way the general public viewed ones perspective of life. Unsurprisingly, the audience were distracted in the mind blowing visual effects. Therefore many disregarded or were unaware that the director incorporated subtle hints and key points that could answer seemingly puzzling questions throughout the film. In one particular scene, where Cobbs reveals the history of him and his wife, Mal, exploring the concept of a dream within a dream to Ariadne, elements such as symbolism and lighting were cunningly used to highlight certain aspects and create …
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· A medium shot of Ariadne approaching Cobbs, the camera then zooms into her and stops at a close up shot as she confronts Cobbs Ariadne confronts Cobbs. Whilst in present dialogue, the director highlighted both characters with a neutral, luminous light originating from windows in the background. These two simple elements allowed the audience to focus solely on the information the dialogue holds. Music intensifies when vital and significant events are being told.
· Only Mal (French for evil) is seen opening her eyes on the shore of a beach as the tide swallows back into the ocean with a dazed and confused expression. However, she gets up on the beach away from the tides (but seen in the background). ‘Shore of subconscious’ – the director has chosen this setting because many dream experts believe that it represents that the shore is the place where the conscious mind meets the unconscious in other words, a sea of dreams meets the land of reality (LUCID DREAMING). It also represents a symbolic journey of self discovery when coming across the sea of unconscious. Therefore it can be interpreted as Mal knowing she was dreaming but has lost sight of what was reality. The sun brightly shining in the background gives this scene a soft focus lens as if Mal’s confusion is translated in this form of element.
· ‘We created our own world’ the background shines above their heads effectively giving the appearance Cobbs describes. To show that they are creating their world, Mal and Cobbs are creating things with sand e.g. sand castle. An upward medium shot is used to illustrate the creation of their world. While in the background, large clouds are moving swiftly and rapidly to signify that time quickly ticking by in dreams – ‘We did that for years,’ Cobbs explains.
· Other than being told by the narrator himself, the architecture is paradoxical, such as the rows of never ending pillars as Mal and Cobbs walk through and the infinite levels the building across was structured. Music has been intensified compared to the beginning of the dialogue.
· Mal stands before her childhood home. The background is bright and yet again the architecture has an unrealistic appearance. However, Mal is shadowed this could mean that what she is about to do will seal a dark fate. The camera angle slowly zooms into a close up of her expression; this could also mean that it took her time to come to her actions. Her wavy hair casts over her face then the wind shifts it over as the camera zooms in. It could indicate that the sea of unconscious (dreams) is or already have taken over what she once knew was reality, it is taking over her. The dream world is literally scraping away the grasp of reality she once originally had. The house represents Mal’s childhood. To lock ‘something’ away deep in the mind, Nolan uses a playhouse doll that symbolises Mal’s lost imagination. After being introduced to a world in which she can dream again, an obsession emerges. She locks her totem into the playhouse meaning she is locking away the one valuable piece of reality into what was lost, her imagination. The playhouse has a spotlight coming from the right of the screen (origins unknown)
· After waking up from the dream and into reality a bright red light consumes the entire room. The colour scheme was used to symbolise the age old riddle: what has four legs in the morning, two legs in the afternoon and three in the evening – man. After decades stuck in dream Cobbs described them as old souls thrown back into youth, it can also be explained that in the ‘evening’ of their life they are adults (with two legs) instead of an old person.
Ø Mal is shown wearing singlets and show skin but later wears modest clothing. In the perspective of Cobbs retelling, the couple are still youthful because now, he realises it was all but a dream. In actuality, they lost track of time, disregarded what mattered and both aged to old seniors. If the dreamer is unaware he/she is dreaming he/she will age.
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Ø Cobbs and Mal create a dream like world. It could be used as a religious connotation such as Adam and Eve. Living in their Garden of Eden, of which God created (they were portrayed as Gods). When Mal locked away the totem in her subconscious evil prevailed. Eve took the first bite of the forbidden fruit and convinced Adam to do the same. In this situation Cobbs wished to go back into reality, he performed inception on Mal so she could follow.
Ø Camera angles make it impactful, e.g. Mal slowly loses to mental instability, her facial expressions are accentuated by this element
Ø The director comments on a human’s response to isolation; how some humans crave to be alone with someone forever, but others don’t and the complexity of the human social nature
Ø Also revolves around love and how circumstances test the strength of relationships
The mise en scene creates and effects the way an image is perceived. It emphasizes on the mood, impact on the audience, and messages conveyed.
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