Every great magic trick consists of three acts. The first act is called The Pledge: the magician shows you something ordinary, but of course, it probably isn’t. The second act is called The Turn. The magician makes his ordinary something do something extraordinary. Now, if you’re looking for the secret…you won’t find it. That’s why there’s a third act, called The Prestige. This is the part with the twists and turns, where lives hang in the balance, and you see something shocking you’ve never seen before.
Of course, that’s from another great Christopher Nolan film called The Prestige. But what Nolan does with Inception is nothing short of brilliance. Inception is Nolan showing you these same three acts with such disarming dexterity that if you don’t gape during the end credits then you probably need help.
First is The Pledge. We are shown something ordinary which probably isn’t all that ordinary. A man is washed ashore probably reminding you of Jason Bourne. Then you slowly get the hint that things are not exactly normal when Nolan jumps across time and offers little pieces of information about his concept that by now you are concentrating really hard to get hold of the happenings.
The concept of creating dreams at will, invading dreams and planting ideas seems all surreal[sic] at first. It’s all simple, stupid and brilliant at the same time that at one point Cobb(Leonardo Di Caprio) asks a matter of fact question,”Do you ever remember the beginning of a dream?” No. Quite similarly, we would like to ask Nolan how this idea originated. We probably know the answer already and we would be tempted to joke with him asking if someone planted this idea in his mind and how it took shape and rose into this gargantuan concept called Inception.
Next comes The Turn. You see the building blocks of the concept for which extraordinary is an understatement. This phase you see through the eyes of Ariadne(Ellen Page) as she is taken under the tutelage of Cobb as the architect of the dreams for their next mission. A million questions pop up in your mind about the mechanics of this world of dreams and Nolan attempts to answer each one of those with lessons to Ariadne(Here is another tangent we can go with – Ariadne in Greek mythology, The House of Asterion, dreams, the thin line between the real world and the artificial world). Who designs the world in these dreams? Who populates them? What happens when the subconscious is disturbed by entering into the conscious realm within a dream? How do you fall without gravity? How do you wake yourself up or when do you realize to wake up? I have to say the totem idea is one masterstroke. All that constitutes The Turn.
Ultimately, for almost the whole of the post interval portion, Nolan shows us The Prestige. Like it says, this is the part with all the twists and turns when the planned mission goes all wrong. This is where lives hang in balance and in some cases, quite literally. There is a subplot throughout the movie, probably the only plot involving a deep character study that till the end, despite the movie’s theme remains emotionally disconnected. Quite the contrary to what it tries to achieve. But as we fall further into the dream scape, this sequence comes alive, and will probably turn into the most heavily discussed portion of the film. That intriguing character becomes the deus ex machina in the larger scheme of things that forms The Prestige.
Inception deserves at least three viewings, maybe even to spot some of those flaws that aren’t obvious the first time. It’s a film that will attract lot of discussions and writings for some time to come and quite deservedly so. Chris Nolan is a magician, he may not be the best director ever -far from it, but he is a visionary. I can’t remember the last time I had such a jolting experience in a movie theater. Inception gave all that and more.