For an idea to be executed, how deep should it be sown in our sub-conscious? Have you ever had a dream which was just too good to be real? PS:-It has to be the one during night times and not day-dreaming 😜.
Inception – Where it all starts.
Sub-conscious is a place where all the ideas generate and those ideas can be so contagious that it can alter the whole perspective of our life. This was the point taken by Christopher Nolan and made this movie. The way those roles were portrayed by Leonardo Dicaprio, Ellen Page, Joseph Gordon, Tom Hardy and others was simply outstanding. When you complete the movie, all you remember about it is the concept and its amazing screenplay. Add to it, also slightly convoluted which is Nolan’s forte.
Nolan used the idea of dream sharing for rooting an idea deep inside a person’s sub-conscious that he changes his reality by dedicating it to that idea. But is it possible in reality? Yes!! According to the researches, this has been experimented on mice and it went on to be successful. The concept of dream sharing has been mainly inspired from Yoga Vasistha, an ancient Indian philosophical text. It mainly discusses the nature of reality and illusion also known as Maya. This book is in the form of a dialogue between Young Lord Rama and his Guru Vasistha. This book focuses a lot on dreams and how they are paradoxical and tease the mind. One of the stories that has been mentioned in this book is that of Lilavati where the woman takes multiple births and deaths and then later being born as a queen.
A rather perplexed Lord Rama asks Guru Vasistha as to how it is possible. The Vasistha tells Rama that it is all happening inside a dream inside a dream inside a dream. The original dreamer was just a poor lady who was sleeping in her hut and has been only a few minutes since it all started for her. Vasistha also says that the time in a dream is distorted and the poor lady could live a life of a queen in a single night’s sleep. This concept of time distortion was seen in the movie where Cobb goes into multiple dreams and could accomplish a whole mission in the thrill level within a few seconds of fall from the bridge of the first level.
There have also been inspirations from Salvador Dali and MC Escher’ work. Salvador Dali has had quite an interesting life as he was a Spanish Surrealist who was renowned for his technical skill and precise craftsmanship which also depict quite striking and bizarre imagery. Artists usually try to reach a high where the efficiency of their work is at its maximum. But as Dali was not into any drugs, he had to depend on his dreams. He trained himself to dream in a more comprehensible way so as to covert them into unimaginable and offbeat art.
Through his paintings, he has explained that even a small change in the top level can have adverse effects in the lower levels. For example, in the movie, when Cobb was pushed into a tub by Arthur for waking him up with a kick, in the lower level, he experiences a tsunami in the city and the room in which he was present was filled with water, thereby exiting it. Also in the later stages of the movie, in the first level, when there was an accident on the bridge while Yusuf was driving, the van was in a free fall form the bridge. That’s when there was no gravity in the second stage and an avalanche was triggered in the third.
MC Escher’s work as a graphic artist who made mathematically inspired woodcuts, lithographs and mezzotints. These were also used in the movie.
A Poem by Escher which explains his approach:
|He who wonders discovers that this in itself is wonder. We adore chaos because we love to produce order. My work is a game, a very serious game. What I give form to in daylight is only one per cent of what I have seen in darkness. Only those who attempt the absurd will achieve the impossible. I think it’s in my basement… let me go upstairs and check. Are you really sure that a floor can’t also be a ceiling? I don’t use drugs, my dreams are frightening enough.|
In Escher’s work, ‘Ascending and Descending’, we can observe the paradoxical way of arrangement of stairs where a person going up the stairs in one direction traverses it in a way where he’s stuck in an infinite loop and ultimately reaches the beginning point. At each point on the stairs, the person both ascends as well as descends as the end point is same as the beginning. Hence the name – ‘Ascending and Descending’. The original idea of these stairs was developed by Roger Penrose, a British Mathematician in 1958. Therefore, it was named as ‘The Penrose Steps’. The reference of these steps was in the movie twice where Arthur is involved in both the scenes.
The dream world can seem as true as the reality. So how do you differentiate between both the worlds? Using a simple tool – Totem. It is an instrument which each person has one for themselves and the geometry of it differs in different worlds. For example, Cobb uses a miniature top which when spun, stops in the real world but continues spinning for eternity in the dream world.
Is there a world between the dream world and reality? Yes. That space is called the limbo. If any drug is used to stay hypnotised for a long time so as to stay in the dream world and the person dies in the dream, they reach the space called limbo and the stay over there is quite unpredictable.
In a movie like Inception, it is quite easy to neglect the finite details in one odd scene. But the direction, screenplay and the innate precision in the execution of concepts, themes and the story crux has made the movie stand out. It easily walks in to my top-10 list of all-time greatest movies.
The Ending – Did the top continue to spin?
In the scene when Cobb explains Ariadne how he planted the seed in Mal’s mind that they were living in the dream world, he spins the top, which was Mal’s totem too. The top goes on spinning continuously without a hiccup. But in the climax, there was a wobble while the top was spinning which explains that it would go on to stop thereby explaining that it was reality. That should end the debate, I guess. 😜