I N C E P T I O N: A Film Analysis

1332 words - 5 pages

Christopher Nolan’s 2010 action thriller Inception provides a discerning outlook into the specificities of human thought processes and dream meaning through exceptional cinematography, labeling it an exemplar of filmmaking. The film follows the ambitious corporate thief Dom Cobb as he attempts to infiltrate a man’s mind and place an idea through the act of inception. Employing “dream sharing”, Cobb controls both the appearance and feel of the subconscious world, but at the alarming cost of being trapped should he fail his mission. Nolan brilliantly combines mise-en-scéne elements of setting and sound design, with inimitable cinematography and editing styles to project the dream world on a film medium, narrating a story that reveals the blurred line between fantasy and reality. By doing so, the film builds upon traditional conventions of moviemaking while developing its own style and motifs that are remarkably distinctive.
The setting of Inception is idiosyncratic for it divides each section of its dream world into distinct sceneries to help the audience differentiate location and tone. Cinematographer Wally Pfister designed the film’s location with diverse color hues and modern decor. Each dream level portrays an exclusive appearance from cool blue mountain peaks to warmly lit hotel floors. This separates the worlds allowing the audience to appreciate each setting in its entirety. Likewise, these settings provide insight into the tone of the narrative structure. The film exhibits expansive, sleek dream environments to contrast with angular, warmly lit locations paralleling a contemporary psychological thriller with science-fiction. The pressure for Cobb to complete his mission progresses from the tonality of each setting in varying degrees of color and location scale. The showery, gray hues of the city level environment provide intensity to the car chase sequence, whereas the auburn colors of the hotel supplement the fast-paced zero gravity hallway shootout. The stark, snowy landscape of the mountain setting contrasts the gray steel and concrete within the fortress; the dominating, gray coloring of the stronghold exhibits the significant enemy Cobb’s team faces. The limbo level has high-contrast sunshine creating deep shadows enhancing the disturbing and lonely nature of dream entrapment. All together, these hue differences supplement the narration by distinguishing the dreams which continue to reoccur in the story. Moreover, the film’s settings are realistic instead of stylized. Conventions of realism vary, but Nolan intended to be deliberately realistic in setting design to contrast the eccentricity of dream sharing. If the settings were purposely stylized, they would distract from the significant themes of the narrative that expose the peculiar nature of the human subconscious. Hence, the line between reality and fantasy is blurred expressing a major theme of the film that perhaps the dream world is unrecognizable from reality. These...

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