Saturday, August 14, 2010

I Dream, Therefore I Am

I'm not a big "movie goer" or "film watcher". This year is a record year already. I've seen 4 movies and it is only August. It has gotten a lot of talk so the wifey and I saw "Inception" last night.  It will probably have one of the most discussed movie endings since Dave's fetal return at the end of "2001: A Space Odyssey".  So, basically it is about dreams, but not really.

The movie begins enigmatically, and as the movie progresses in its explorations into human conciousness it adds layer upon layers and becomes more and more opaque, disjointed and virtually impossible to make sense of. If you loved “The Matrix” and like having your brain pummeled into alternate unconciousness by dense, pretentious dialogue delivered by good looking people who are being chased and blowing things up in scenes joined together by a schizophrenic continuity editor, then you’ll love this movie. I liked "The Matrix", but by the end of "Inception" I was having flashbacks of sitting around in 1969 with a bunch of artist friends of mine in high school smoking pot, drinking Strawberry Hill, and discussing "what is reality". It took Nolan 200 million dollars to do what we accomplished with about 15 dollars worth of illicit conciousness altering substances. We didn't crash cars, shoot people, blow things up, and none of us were as good looking as Leonardo (Cobb) and Ellen (Ariadne); although, we did move in slow motion, experience zero gravity and had paranoid thoughts that people were after us. The movie lasted about as long as our doobies, came to the same conclusions, and made about as much sense as we did (that I can recall...).  If Ariadne was sitting in on our discussions she'd have said the same thing she said to Cobb (which could have been the subtitle to the movie), "I just want to understand." The biggest difference between us and the movie dialogue was, in the movie no one even once said, "Far out, man."

OK, so because Nolan directed a blockbuster once before, he gets investors to let him ask the million dollar question 200 times over: What is real?  Aside from a high school philosopher's level of insight and keeping us from dwelling too long on any seemingly semi-cogent point by chasing or killing someone, jumping topics, showing us some really cool trick or blowing something up, he does manage at the end of two and a half hours, to introduce something of a bottom line question in our culture: If relativism is ultimately true and truth is what is true for you, then is reality all in our heads?  Unfortunately, as the movie points up, we have other people to deal with who have alternate realities from our own. "Inception" is the point of meeting between two human beings living in their own heads: we cannot escape being in someone else's head and our thoughts and reality are indeed influenced by our interactions with others. In Christianity it is called "communion", the Image of God in Trinity in which we are created. And unfortunately, as Nolan rightly portrays, we live in a world in which we cannot forsee the consequences of how communion in its manipulative, fallen state will result in harm and devastation to another.  And thus part of reality is plumbing the depths of both our own and other's "sin": the broken relationships we created by living in a dream in our own heads.

So, the romp through Nolan's head was interesting and at seven bucks for a matinee ticket, cheaper than a two finger baggie these days from what I hear. Like most movies that tackle "reality" either with big or little budgets, it touches on the angst of what it means to be human, have relationships and make sense of what our life is. If I had to bottom line it from a "Christian perspective" the takeaway at the end is really the final 200 million dollar question for all humanity that Nolan might not even know he really asked: "If we risk our life to find Him who died and yet is alive, will the Old Man make good on His promise to bring us home, and, is human redemption real?"

The slightly expanded podcast version is HERE

7 comments:

mellehcimb said...

Far out, man.

Ranger said...

hey, whoa, You've seen four movies this year... you are holding out on us, where are the other reviews...

I've watched 4 movies at the theatre this year and half of them were Inception.

discourse said...

The previews spiked my interest. So it's good to know I can skip it.

Anonymous said...

Wifey's review: I liked it. -The End

Grace said...

Forgot to ask you: Did you think the spinning top at the very end was continuing to spin or was about to fall? Can't believe they managed to make that one thing have so much meaning -- that may be their best accomplishment (besides special effects) in the whole movie.

Anyway, Greg and I were split on it. I thought it was still spinning; he thought it was teetering.

s-p said...

Grace, my wife and I split on the spinning top too. I think it kept spinning. The kids were in the same pose, clothes etc. they were in the dream sequences prior. Unless, of course one believes this was his "dream come true". But then it would all be a fairy tale. :)

Tim said...

I liked Inception. Of course, I am a psychology major, so I may be a tad bit biased :D