Since seeing Inception I have had a blog about the movie banging around in my head. First off let me lay down the ground rules. I was lucky enough to see the movie without anyone spoiling anything for me so I want to make sure I don't spoil it for anyone else. That being said, if you read past this first paragraph there are and will be plenty of things in the movie spoiled. So turn back now if you haven't seen the movie as of yet. I really honestly think it's a movie best seen without anyone else's opinions in your head. Okay, so are we clear then? Nobody who doesn't want to know about the movie should read any further. If you do and you have the movie spoiled for you, then it's a self inflicted wound, no crying. And the second rule is if you are reading this and want to comment and your comment will have any spoilers in it, please comment here and not on the facebook post linking you to my blog. Thanks!
Okay, so this isn't a review of the movie, there are lots of those out there that you can find if you are interested, this is what I've been thinking about because of the movie since watching it. And this movie made me think. And then think some more. As you can tell I liked the movie. Leaving the movie I really couldn't imagine anyone not liking it, I liked it so much. But since then I have had a few conversations with people who didn't like it, either they didn't get it, they thought it was trying too hard to be "deep" or they thought it didn't make enough sense. I am sure there are a ton of other reasons why people didn't like it, but again, this isn't really about liking or not liking the movie, it's about what I thought about.
Back to the spoiler issue. I think Inception more than a lot of other movies is really best seen without many expectations as to how you think it should go. I think going in it is best to have as open a mind as you can. I really equate it with the concept of the architect in the movie. The architect builds the framework of the dream and the dreamer fills it with their own world. Christopher Nolan wrote and directed the movie, but really what he did was give me a framework to fill with my own experience. Now, Nolan is someone in Hollywood I trust. If I pay my money to see a movie he is involved with then I believe going in that it will be interesting. I might not like it, or I might really like it, but it will be something worth seeing. So that helped for me to let go and experience the ride. I wasn't fighting it, I wasn't questioning every step, I was just enjoying what he was putting out there for me. And because it was Nolan, I was paying attention. I knew he would give me lots of little things to chew on and look for and experience if I just paid attention.
Can't get a more direct life tie than that can you? How many times in our lives do we get in trouble because we have expectations about an experience built in BEFORE we even have the experience? I know I do it all the time (I did it with this movie as well, it's Nolan...I trust him). I don't want to go someplace or do something and so I've already decided before I even go that it will be lame and boring and no fun. But I also know that if I can step back and just have the experience and let it be what it will be I will be much more likely to have a good time. Or at least not a miserable one. And I know that if I just pay attention to the world around me I will have lots of things to chew on and think about and experience.
Then there is Cobb's version of Mal that lives in his self conscious. There is a point in the movie where Ellen Page's character asks Arthur what Mal was like in real life, and Arthur says she was a lovely woman. But you would never guess that from the Mal we "see" in Cobb's head. That woman is horrible. Selfish, violent, possessive, mean. Do we tend to do this to people in our lives as well? We project on them who we think they are. Even people who we know as well as we possibly can we tend to fill in things in their personalities that are more us than them.
Brent and I have been married for almost 24 years, we have been a couple for 25 and we were friends for a few years before that. Christopher is my child. I've watched him grow up and become his own person and I tend to think I know him very well. But every once in awhile they will surprise me with something they think. We will be having a conversation and if someone were to stop them and ask me to fill in the rest of the conversation I would think I could. But that's the thing...I THINK I could. But what they actually think or say at times doesn't match at all what I think they would think and say. Those times I try to really remind myself that the only person you know everything about is yourself. And that I need to really make sure I am listening and learning from them still. That they are having experiences everyday that are changing them and changing their ideas and world views so I need to remember that the guys I knew yesterday are not the same guys that are here today.
Cobb froze Mal in his mind, locked her in memories that he replayed over and over again, writing all of her dialog to match what he THOUGHT she should say and be like. Because of his guilt. He let his guilt change his memory of her, used those memories to punish himself. Do we do that as well? How about all of the time? We cast our memories with heroes and villains and we edit and cull the memories down until everything we have matches that vision. It wasn't until the end that we got a glimpse of how sad Mal was, how lonely and scared she must have been walking through a life she felt wasn't real. Can you think of people in your life that you have memories of that have them as an absolute beast or an absolute saint? Is it possible that the hero is really an ass at times and the beast is really a saint to someone else?
And then there is the whole over arching movie idea. What is real and what is a dream? The first time that I heard the ticking during a scene that was supposed to be an "awake" scene I talked myself out of it. I decided that I hadn't really heard the ticking...then it happened again. And again. And again. And then there were the edits. Scenes started in the middle, we never saw how they got anywhere...but isn't that the way every movie is? So was that because it was a movie, or was it because all of it was a dream and none of it was real? And does it matter? I thought it did. I really really REALLY wanted to know. I waited all through the movie anticipating the pay off in the end. That's the way movies should work. You watch them for a few hours and then you get everything wrapped up in a nice neat little package. That's the deal. So that's what I was expecting. And that's what I thought I really needed to enjoy the film. And then that tricky bastard didn't give it to me. The top is still spinning...the screen goes black...we can hear it spinning...is it slowing down? The full theater that I saw the movie in erupted. There were gasps, shouts, people yelling NO! Then there were applause. And I was one of those applauding.
See? We all THOUGHT we really wanted to know. Is he awake? Is he dreaming? Is he really home now? We thought we HAD to know to fully enjoy the movie. But for me, at least, not getting what I thought I really wanted, made me like the movie even more. The switch was instantaneous. I went from thinking I had to know, to realizing that I liked not knowing even more. That it changed the movie from Nolan's story to mine. That by not telling me I could decide on my own. I could make the story mean anything I wanted it to. Architect/dreamer. And honestly, I haven't decided yet.
So back to our day to day lives. How many things do you think you need to know? How many things do you think you need to have to make your life okay? And what if you let those things go? Just accepted what was coming your way and enjoyed it for what it is, not what you think it should be? Stopped trying to hold on so tightly, control everything and everyone so much. Just looked at the world as a framework that you were filling right then. Not pre-filling...filling on the spur of the moment. Not expecting and anticipating the ending, just experiencing life as it happens.
These are the things that have been bouncing in my head since I left the movie. How many times do we overly anticipate how other people are going to react? How many times do we think we have to know how things are going to end up before we can decide if we like it or not? How many people have we written as the hero or the villain who aren't? How much of our lives are we living in the moment they are happening and how much are we pre-filling?
Now you know why I really liked Inception. The movie itself was highly entertaining, an exciting heist flick with outstanding special effects. But the ideas...now the ideas have stuck with me and caused me to spend the better part of the last week turning the plot and the implications over in my head. Well worth the cost of admission if you ask me.