Your mind has been incepted

Hola, back to my usual film reviews. I kinda write less now, but once in a while I write movie reviews at Kineklub LFM ITB, but since it’s in Indonesian and there is already an Inception review, so I’ll post my take on the film here. Inception? Yes, the Christopher Nolan hype flick everybody on the internet is talking about — and I’ll bet my bottom dollar it’ll be the most discussed film of 2010, with good reasons. Inception is a rare, glorified mixture of modern-day movies we don’t see most weekends: the pure brilliance of concept developed in years blended with a monstrous complexity of plot that can only be untangled at second or third viewing, all layered around the big-budgeted state-of-the-art visual effects that so far only Hollywood could produce. Yet, just like any other movies, it is not without flaws. The lengthy discussions that can be found all over the web about the plot, minute details, and the concept of the film, will undoubtedly put Inception to the trophy case of cult classics along with the likes of Pulp Fiction or Fight Club in a matter of years. Now, let’s start the dreaming, and if you haven’t watched the film, stop right here and head straight to the cinema.

Inception starts with Dominic Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) being washed up ashore and found by a bunch of beach guards with guns, then he is taken to a Japanese-themed room where a very wrinkled old man in suits is waiting for him. The scene cuts to a similar room, but only now he and his colleague Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is in talks with Saito (Ken Watanabe), where they try to convince Saito to hire them for the sake of ‘subconscious security’. The plan goes awry as Saito has realized from the start that they are actually in a dream, and wakes up to a motel room with Dom, Arthur, and Nash (Lukas Haas) in a seemingly Latin neighborhood with people rioting outside, where they try to forcefully push Saito to reveal his company secret with no success since Saito soon realize that he is still in a dream. He then awakes in a quiet train, and impressed with the job of Dom’s team, hires them (without Nash) to perform a high-risked dream crime operation: inception, to plant a new, foreign idea into one’s mind that will then grow and subconsciously become the motivation of the victim’s actions without the victim realizing it. In this case, Saito wants to plant the idea to his rival company’s heir, the young Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy), that his terminally ill father Maurice Fischer (Pete Postlethwaite) has the last wish that Robert should discontinue the corporate empire and start his own, therefore benefiting Saito’s own company. Dom insists that inception is almost impossible to do, but as Saito guarantees that Dom can once again meet his children, he begins assembling a team to carry the operation: Arthur as the point man who researches their target, the young Ariadne (Ellen Page) as the architect of the dream world, Eames (Tom Hardy) as the forger that specializes in imitating other people in dreams, and Yusuf (Dileep Rao) as the chemist that formulates the drugs needed to induce sleep. As Arthur teaches Ariadne about the basic rules and science of manipulating dreams, they begin to carefully writing down their plan to pull Fischer into a three-level dream (dream within a dream within a dream) since dreams that deep makes Fischer more prone to assimilating the idea being implemented. However, things don’t go well as planned because Fischer’s trained subconscious army begins to attack them, and Dom is disturbed by the presence of his deceased wife Mal (Marion Cotillard) that continues to haunt his consciousness.

As a movie and not a novel, Inception outclasses most movies in level of idea and plot complexity while still pushing the boundaries of what a movie can do. The concept of sharing and manipulating dreams and the interchangeable perception of dream and reality, while in no ways original (think The Matrix and Science of Sleep), has become a wildly imaginative thrillride in the hands and mind of Christopher Nolan. It is said that he has developed the concept of what is possible in dream manipulation for around 10 years, much like James Cameron’s Avatar, and the result of a decade of contemplation is the well-thought yet still fictitious structured workflow of creating and controlling a world within our dream, and this subject isn’t entirely impossible in real life. In one of my high school papers I took the subject of sleep paralysis, and connecting it to the possibility of having a lucid dream… but what is a lucid dream? Lucid dreaming is a method that has been developed for years by people around the world to help maintain awareness in our dream that we indeed are in a dream. Here, Nolan ingeniously not only take the concept, but also expanding it into a big idea of a controlled dream shared by people in close proximity and the possible things that can be done, in this case, a dream crime. The steps and structure of the dream, like kicks, limbo state, personal totem, and many others are so finely crafted in 10 years by Nolan that everything makes sense within the boundaries of rules he had set. This is ultimately the power of Inception that made the movie practically the talk of the town, if not the world. Complemented by powerful fight and chase scenes so intense you’d have a hard time keeping up with the story, wrapped in high-class million dollars Hollywood special effects, Inception is one enjoyable ride of story with high second viewing value. (Note that the innovative zero gravity fight scene was not shot in CGI imagery, but rather they made a rotating hotel corridor for the sake of the scene.) But then again, movies are never perfect, and Inception was no exception. What irks me the most is the acting, and Leonardo DiCaprio himself as Dom Cobb. It’s probably subjective, because I never really liked his movies, but Dom Cobb seems to be too tense at times where the situation is not even threatening. Ellen Page as Ariadne also played a one-dimensional character where all she did was becoming a private therapist for Dom and verbally serving solutions for him. The complexity of the three-level dream concept also serves as a potential problem, and the movie this complex would probably better made off in two parts (but then it would ruin the legacy it will build in future years). Then again, a second or third viewing of the movie would be definitely worth it to completely grasp the whole story. Inception’s true power stems from such a basic concept that grows wildly in the mind of Christopher Nolan, much like Memento (2000), and this is what Hollywood and filmmaking needs in general, to provide the audience with bursts of imagination translated in visual medium.


Inception termasuk film yang sulit dipahami dengan sekali nonton, dan atas permintaan beberapa orang maka gue coba tuangkan konsep yang gue dapat dari sekali nonton. Sekalian latihan menuangkan pemikiran dan hasil observasi ke dalam bentuk tulisan terstruktur, hehe.

1. Keseluruhan film Inception bekerja dalam konsep bahwa tiap orang bisa mengatur mimpinya, dan orang yang tidur berdekatan bisa berbagi mimpinya. Bisa dianggap bahwa tiap orang atau setidaknya tim ekstraktor profesional seperti Dom sudah bisa mengendalikan mimpi dengan mudah.

2. Seseorang yang bermimpi akan mengalami waktu yang lebih lambat dari dunia nyata, dan mimpi di dalam mimpi bisa terjadi. 5 menit dalam dunia nyata berarti 1 jam dalam mimpi, dan 5 menit dalam mimpi pertama berarti 1 jam dalam mimpi di dalam mimpi (tingkat dua), dan seterusnya. Hal ini menyebabkan waktu beberapa jam dalam dunia nyata akan berjalan sangat lama dalam mimpi tingkat tiga.

3. Semakin dalam tingkatan mimpi, maka jiwa pemimpi akan semakin sulit membedakan mimpi dengan dunia nyata, dan juga semakin rawan terhadap penanaman ide baru. Hal ini mungkin juga karena waktu yang terasa sangat lama yang dihabiskan pemimpi dalam mimpi yang banyak tingkatan.

4. Pemimpi bisa bangun dengan ‘tendangan’ yang berupa hentakan fisik kepada tubuh pemimpi yang sedang tidur (seperti dicemplungin ke bak air pas awal film) atau dengan mati dalam mimpi yang akan membuat pemimpi segera bangun. Namun jika pemimpi tertidur sangat lelap dengan pengaruh obat yang kuat, maka mati dalam mimpi akan menyebabkan terlempar ke dunia ‘limbo’ yang bukan mimpi maupun kenyataan, di mana waktu berjalan lebih cepat lagi dan dapat membuat pemimpi lupa dengan dunia nyata karena lamanya waktu yang dihabiskan. ‘Tendangan’ harus dilakukan secara bertahap dari tingkat paling bawah ke atasnya, dan karena itu pada bagian akhir film semua tendangan dilakukan hampir bersamaan agar proses insepsi dapat terjamin selesai sebelum obat biusnya habis.

5. Pekerjaan yang dilakukan Dom dan Arthur, ‘extraction’, adalah mengambil informasi rahasia yang dipendam dalam pikiran target ketika target sedang tidur. Dalam ekstraksi ada tim yang bekerja dengan keahliannya sendiri: arsitek (Ariadne) bertugas membuat lokasi atau daerah mimpi, seperti bangunan, jalanan, kota dan sebagainya, yang lalu akan diisi dengan orang-orang dari alam bawah sadar sang pemimpi. Area yang dibuat arsitek tidak boleh membangkitkan kenangan pemimpi karena akan menimbulkan kesulitan pemimpi untuk membedakan realita dan mimpi. Ahli kimia (Yusuf) bertugas membuat ramuan obat tidur yang cukup kuat agar mimpi bisa berlangsung tiga lapis, dan obat ini dimasukkan ke mesin berbentuk tas kecil yang berfungsi menyalurkan obat secara merata ke tiap penggunanya. Ekstraktor (Dom) bertugas mengambil informasi (saat ekstraksi) atau menanamkan ide (saat insepsi). Peniru (Eames) bertugas meniru sifat dan penampilan orang tertentu yang mempunyai hubungan dekat dengan target, agar proses ekstraksi/insepsi dapat berjalan lebih mulus. Arthur, yah, bantu-bantu yang lain deh.

6. Seseorang bisa melatih bawah sadarnya untuk membangun pertahanan diri dalam alam bawah sadarnya dari para ekstraktor yang mencoba masuk. Pada Fischer, pasukan bersenjata itu adalah pertahanan dari alam bawah sadarnya terhadap para penyusup.

7. Mal adalah sekedar gambaran alam bawah sadar Dom yang terus menyesal karena menganggap dia yang menyebabkan istrinya itu bunuh diri, dan mencoba mempertahankan kenangan akan istrinya dalam dunia mimpi. Mereka berdua pernah mengalami 50 tahun dalam dunia limbo yang nampaknya karena keduanya mati dalam mimpi saat memakai obat tidur, dan setelah bangun Mal menganggap dunia nyata hanyalah sebuah mimpi lainnya.

7. ‘Inception’ sendiri adalah konsep untuk menanamkan ide yang sama sekali baru dan asing ke dalam pikiran target, dan karena ide tersebut belum terdapat di pikiran target sama sekali sebelumnya, maka target akan menganggap ide tersebut sebagai inspirasi murni yang ia dapat. Dalam hal ini mereka berusaha menanamkan bahwa ayah Fischer tidak ingin anaknya melanjutkan perusahaannya dan membangun usahanya sendiri, yang pada akhirnya akan menguntungkan Saito yang berasal dari perusahaan saingan.

About Kevin Aditya

Thank you for reading.

22. July 2010 by Kevin Aditya
Categories: Movies, Reviews | 5 comments

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