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The Film “Inception” by Christopher Nolan Essay

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Updated: May 7th, 2019

Touching upon the issues of the Unconscious and contemporary theory of dreams, Inception, a recently released film by Christopher Nolan, can be considered a flow of fresh air into the sci-fi genre. It was a long time since I enjoyed a movie which was truly original in its concept and at the same time was interesting to watch. The film has a brilliant cast, headed by such actors as Leonardo DiCaprio, Ken Watanabe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and others.

It can be stated that besides incredible acting talent, it was the original script that gave the room for the acting abilities of the performers to flourish. Being impressed by the development of the actions, intriguing themes and non-linear structure of the movie, the viewers find and interpret the moral message conveyed by Nolan realizing the importance of distinguishing between dreams and reality

With the movie being single-viewed, I can state that the identification of its theme might be a challenging task. The one that can be identified right away is the theme of dreams and the thin, if any, distinguishing line with reality.

The interrelation of dreams’ different levels makes it difficult for the viewers to differentiate between dreams and reality, which can be assumed to be one of the motifs of the film. Additionally, the connection between the present and past, with past haunting the present, is another interesting motif that could be identified. The film’s emotional effect can be identified through the mood of the audience in the theater.

In that regard, although the genre was identified as scientific fiction, the mood in the theater might lead to the film being considered as a psychological thriller category. Thus, for me Inception is an ideal balance between a great original and challenging idea of intentional influencing the sphere of person’s Unconscious, with a perfect technical realization by combining elements of sci-fi and thriller genres and intriguing the audience up to the last moment of the film (Nolan & Thomas, 2010).

What the film means to me can be explained through the statement that this motion picture was the ideal form to realize the ideas conveyed in the script, which could not be a book. However, if these ideas were originally in a book, it could not have been transferred into a movie better than Nolan did it, making dreams really close to the way I personally perceive them.

The plot of the movie is original, telling the story of a group of experts in stealing ideas from people’s dreams. The exposition of the film might make the audience frustrated at once, with fast introduction of new characters, time, place, and ideas, which are hard to follow.

Nevertheless, the exposition ends with a dialogue which answers all the questions which the beginning of the film created, explaining the characters and putting them in a believable time and place (Boggs & Petrie, 2008). The title of the film becomes understood during the complication of the film.

The group of experts is given the mission to perform a non-traditional task of “incepting” an idea into one’s mind, the accomplishment of which is the main complication of the film (Nolan & Thomas, 2010). The main ideas of the plot are delivered to the audience in gradual portions, being simple enough not to make the audience be distracted from watching the film, and complex enough just to keep the suspense of waiting for the climax of the story (Boggs & Petrie, 2008), and not being lost within the details.

The nonlinear structure is hard to be related to any other film. Although the film contains traditional flashbacks, one of the common examples of nonlinear structures, the utilizations of three dream levels in the film, when falling asleep at one level, the main characters find themselves at another one, while each level runs through its own time pace, cannot be compared to anything close in terms of structures.

The assessment of a director’s style requires studying at least three of his/her films (Boggs & Petrie, 2008). Although the other two films I watched, The Dark Night and Prestige, were not studied, I can state that the created visual style in Inception combined with identifiable structure, have many common elements with Prestige. The main difference might be seen in making Inception more open to interpretation.

The plot is certainly the main focus of the film along with the style, texture, or structure. What makes the film unique is the fact that none of the latter were compromised or overused at the expense of the other. The style of the film was created through beautiful special effects, which nevertheless, are not the main attraction of the film, rather than tools that were used to support the ideas in the film.

The credibility and the believability of the plot are largely achieved through the artistic style implemented in the dreams. Nevertheless, for the plot’s main twists, the credibility might have been achieved through utilizing internal truths of human nature. It can be assumed that everyone in the theater related his/her personal experiences with dreams to some of the notions explained in the film.

I find the movie meaningful to me personally as I always thought that dreams were reflections of the reality. Despite the assessment being personal, I can state that universality can be applied in this case (Boggs & Petrie, 2008), with most people finding some answers to their perceptions of dreams. The desire to remain in a dream, at least for instance, and the severe consequences of such desire shown in the film has a significant meaning to me personally.

The film touches on the idea of people preferring to live in a constructed reality which they can build based on their preferences. With such preference leading to that people stop distinguishing dreams and reality is certainly an idea that has a personal message, at least for me.

The moral of the story in the film can be seen through moral implications, rather than statements, which in this case are twofold. On the one hand, the first implication can be seen in that people should leave their past behind, where the failure to do so might result in that such past might pursue them their whole life.

The other moral implication, which was the one that I consider to be personally meaningful, is not to live in a dream. Both statements might not be so apparent, considering the genre of the movie and its complexity in general. However, the struggles of DiCaprio’s character, the main protagonist the film, might deliver a message to many people. Nevertheless, Nolan does not provide his own judgment on such struggles, where the open-ending in the film, leaves such judgment to viewers’ own interpretations.

I can conclude that the creative approach to most literary elements such as genre, plot, and structure was important for making Christopher Nolan’s Inception a movie interesting from all aspects. The combination of the sci-fi genre with particular components of a psychological thriller that seemed original to me was helpful for balancing the original idea and moral message with their technical realization.

Touching upon the issues of the Unconscious and a thin line between the dreams and objective reality, the film appeals to my feelings and gives food for thought. Coupled with the nonlinear structure and an open ending of the film leaving room for the viewers’ personal interpretations, these literary elements contributed to the lasting impression produced by the film.


Boggs, J. M., & Petrie, D. W. (2008). The art of watching films (7th ed.). Boston, Mass.: McGraw-Hill.

C. Nolan & E. Thomas (Producers) & Nolan, C. (Director). (2010). Inception [Motion Picture]. United States: Warner Bros. Pictures.

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