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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Inception Theories: Do We Need Them?

After two IMAX viewings of the movie, I'm now able to write something about it. Some content could be considered by some as SPOILERS!

Although on the surface it seems a bit highbrow for that, Inception is also one of these geek-friendly movies that engage fans to create theories about it - much like Blade Runner, or the Matrix did before it. Tons of theories have been written about whether it's all a dream, reality with a twist, or that Cobb never comes back from the dream state in the end of the film. A look at IMDB's FAQ page for Inception gives the reader answers (or just gibberish) to about another 100 questions regarding the movie. Even a fansite was created in order to deal with those theories, aptly named Inception Theories.

The bottom line is however, does all of his matter? Should it matter? If there was one conclusion to be taken out of Mulholland Dr.'s success with the mainstream audience, was that none of the so-called explanations really mattered - they were even exploited as a marketing stunt. Of course, no such theories are ever mentioned by proper critics - Roger Ebert's review is just an example of how one should approach this film, but obviously geekdom has another opinion. Ironically, it's from one of the front-runners of geek reviewing that a sensible reasoning comes out: in Ain't It Cool News, Massawyrm spends a considerable effort trying to deconstruct the film's main three theories. In the end he says, none of them really make any sense, and maybe they shouldn't, because the film itself is constructed in such a way that these theories are destined to clash between them.

And exactly there lie my two cents of criticism towards Inception. The ending is constructed in a way as for the viewer to question what has actually transpired, but we cannot reach a conclusion about what actually happened because there is none to be found. So in the end, did we really need these two seconds with the spinning top? Do they actually contribute to the movie's concept, or do they have an adverse effect, forcing the audience's focus to move away from what actually matters? Wasn't Mal's speech to Cobb in the end sufficient, planting some seeds about the absurdity of running from anonymous corporations, faceless enemies”?

In the end though, Inception is a grand movie, with or without these two seconds. Because it doesn't operate in the twist realm (which was one of the few weak points of The Prestige). A good movie remains unaffected by "spoilers" or "experts" trying to explain the film to an audience starving for clues in comic-book prequels (did Noland really endorse this? I think not). Inception will stand against the test of time, and none of these theories will matter, because in the end it's just a superb piece of filmmaking.

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