As one of the most successful films in 2010, Christopher Nolan’s Inception planted a seed of success that grossed $63 million in its opening weekend (USA), and $820 million in total. While not being an unprecedented success in the Hollywood entertainment industries, Inception also achieved high marks from critiques as well, earning four Oscars in 83rd Academy Awards. We can say this is quite an unusual occasion for a Hollywood entertainment film in an industry that seems to have a clear distinction between “pro-money” films and “pro-art” films.
The five-minute portion of the movie that I have chosen to analyze starts from 2:07:43 and ends on 2:12:43. Script-wise, it is when the tension is at a high point, descending as Cobb tells Mal that she is just a projection and that he has to “let her go. ” The sequence is full of short, densely-packed scenes that contain multiple resolutions, but also reveal cinematographic values of the movie. Before going onto the sequence, Inception is driven by a complex plot which encompasses multiple dimensions of reality.
A concept of “shared dream” and “dream within a dream” builds up a world in which characters can exist in multiple dimensions at the same time, adding sophistication and allowing room for fantasy inside a realistic setting. This multiple-reality concept, more than enough to entertain a certain group of audience by itself, seems very unique. “Inception is exceptional,” according to “Film. com. ” However, Inception is not completely “original” as it seems.
The multiple-reality concept follows the legacy of The Matrix series by the Wachowski brothers—especially when it comes to reality-controlling powers—but with more realism to the setting. The also movie contains some homage to the James Bond Series(Nolan confessed that he had James Bond homages in his interview with Screencave. com, which is best illustrated is the infiltration of military base in the third dream layer. ), while its basic elements of raising tension follow the conventional heist film styles of editing.
Thus, this analysis will also see the side of Inception that resembles other successful series and its depiction of complex plot, as well as its Oscar-winning cinematography and sound. 2:07:43 starts with Cobb’s final confrontation with Mal in the limbo, one between the protagonist and the antagonist. Due to the nature of Inception, the conflict between Cobb and Mal is internal but shown externally, as his inner conflict is shown in the movie as his projection of Mal. Thus the scene is mainly composed of close-ups and short shots, showing Cobb and Mal’s facial expression in detail.
Similarity to The Matrix series is shown here when the line comes up, “this world is not true,” and solves Cobb’s inner conflict. Here, a noticeable shift of conflict happens on the part of the audience, as Cobb reveals that the nature of his conflict with Mal was not that he doubted reality—which is what it is known as by the audience—but that he felt guilty for her death. With that, DiCaprio’s depiction of Cobb’s facial expression drops some tension, showing the audience that his inner conflict has been solved.
A noticeable editing technique here is the mise-en-scene of a knife in the middle of Cobb’s conversation with Mal, giving a quick clue that the knife will be used. Because the audience sees the knife along with Mal’s trembling hand, while Cobb does not notice it, the tension rises. In addition, the shoulder-to-shoulder shot used in this scene slyly leaves Ariadne and Fischer out of the audience’s attention in order to make the audience believe that Cobb is completely vulnerable to Mal’s knife.