Saturday, 27 September 2014

Everything you need to know about Inception (2010) Explained - Part 1

SPOILER ALERT: This article is mainly about the film Inception (2010). Please do not read this article if you haven’t watched the film and if you do not wish to know the specific details of the film. It contains heavy spoilers which will certainly affect your viewing of the film. If you haven’t seen Inception yet, please stop reading and watch it, because it's a great film. 

The purpose of this article is to provide detailed explanations about the terms, various interpretations for one of my top favourite films, Inception (2010) that's written, directed, produced by Christopher Nolan so that people can have a greater understanding of this unusually complex yet fascinating film.

Note: The following explanations are provided based on my personal understanding of the film and what I learned after watching it 5 times in the cinema 4 years ago. (Believe it or not, I wrote this myself 4 years ago!If there are any mistakes found in these articles, please kindly provide any feedback comments below so I can rectify it. 

NEXT: PART 2 ------>

Terms in Inception:
  • Extraction: The practice of entering dreams to steal valuable secrets/information within the subconscious of a Target’s mind.
  • Inception: The practice of entering dreams and planting an idea deep within the subconscious of a Target’s mind.
  • Level/Layer – The different layers of psyche of the human subconscious mind. The first level is usually all it takes to extract information, but for a successful Inception to take hold, the idea must be planted 3 levels deep. The more levels you delve into, the greater the risk of falling to Limbo.
  • Limbo: A raw, infinite, unconstructed dream place of shared consciousness where anyone may end up if they go too deeply. There’s nothing down there (an empty space), except whatever left behind by anyone sharing the dream who’s been trapped there before. It only contains things you've built in it or what you intended there to be (only Mal, Fischer, Ariadne, Cobb and Saito been there before). It’s a place where time runs quickly and people seem to forget or unable to perceive reality if they've been there for too long. A person flung there could be in a coma if he/she still stuck there and fails to awake when timer on the dream machine reaches 0. Because of the sedative used for Inception, anyone can be flung into limbo if they’re killed in the dream.
  • Kick: By upsetting the equilibrium of a dreamer (the feeling of falling), you get the ‘jolts’ that snaps you out from the dream. If you’re dreaming a dream within a dream, each level of the dream has to have its own Kick in order for the one on the higher level to work. Arthur blew up the elevator to wake them up from the snow fortress dream so they could then be woken up when the van hits the water.
  • Totem: An object constructed by someone who plans to invade a dream, whose exact weight and composition only they know. This object can be used to help verify whether you’re in reality or in someone else’s dream. Cobb uses a top which, when spun inside a dream never stops spinning. Arthur uses a loaded die. Ariadne uses a Bishop Chess piece, of which only she knows the exact weight and feel when it falls at a table.
  • The Dreamer: The person whose dream you're actually in. When creating a dream within a dream, each level must have a different dreamer. In the final sequence, Yusuf dreams the first level (his pee urge causes it to rain unexpectedly), Arthur dreams the second one, and Eames dreams the third level with the snow fort (not Fischer’s, Ariadne is asking whose subconscious they’re going in, not dream. This is confirmed by Cobb as well).
  • Projection: A person or an object created by the subconscious mind of anyone in the dream world. Projections are not real. They function like white blood cells and should the Target begin to realize that the dream he's in isn't his. Projections respond violently and attempt to seek out the dreamers and kill them. A person’s subconscious can be trained. Fischer’s mind is trained and his projections are heavily armed. Projections are not limited only to people, but objects as well (A train appears suddenly on the road to hit Cobb and others).
  • The Chemist (Yusuf): The person responsible to create the right combination of sedation to make sure everyone in the dream world stay asleep to perform the mission.
  • The Extractor (Dom Cobb): the person responsible for extracting or stealing ideas/secrets from the Target’s mind.
  • The Point Man (Arthur): the person responsible for researching/investigating the team's Target background information.
  • The Forger (Eames): The person who infiltrates and plants the idea to the Target’s subconscious by disguising and impersonating the close person of the Target within the dream world. The Forger is also responsible for suggesting what ideas to plant in each level of the Target’s subconscious in the dream world as well.
  • The Architect (Ariadne): The person who designs the dream world inside the mind of the Dreamer.
  • The Subject/Target/Mark (Robert Fischer): The person whose subconscious is actually brought into the dream, usually for the purpose of extracting information from them or on rare occasions in order to plant an idea in their mind.
  • The Shade (Mal Cobb): Uncontrollable projections of Mal Cobb, Dom's wife in Dom's mind who frequently interferes with any Extraction or Inception missions with Dom in it. She's a manifestation of Dom's love for her and his guilt for causing Mal's suicide. 
  • The Tourist (Saito): Dom's employer who follows together with the team for the Inception mission.

To perform an ‘Extraction’:

The dream machine is a device in a briefcase that injects "compounds" into people’s body, which allows them into a shared dream space. Hence, it provides the ability to access somebody’s unconscious mind. The machine has a timer on it. It has a push button to start the dream.

An Extractor, a Point Man and an Architect are required to perform the Extraction. The Dreamer (could be an Extractor, a Point Man or an Architect) occupies the dream space with his/her dream. The Architect constructs the dream world inside the mind of the Dreamer by instructing the Dreamer about the designs beforehand. The Dreamer constructs the Architect’s design in his/her dream. The machine fills the dream space with the Target’s subconscious.

The safe is a creation of the Target’s subconscious. The safe is constructed in the dream by the Architect so that the Target believes that it is a safe place for them to store their secrets. The safe can be set to unlock with the Target's own numbers. Extractor’s job is to extract whatever secrets, ideas from the safe with the Target’s information provided by The Point Man. The first level of dream is usually sufficient enough to perform an Extraction. The team always train themselves before a mission in order to be fully aware of what they should be doing once they’re in the dream.

To perform an ‘Inception’:

The same dream machine is used. Besides the Point Man and the Architect, a Chemist and a Forger are required for Inception. The Dreamer could be the Extractor, Point Man, Forger, Chemist or Architect. An Extractor is normally not required as it’s the Forger’s job to plant the idea. However, as Cobb is an experienced professional, has the knowledge to perform an Inception and entering deeper levels of dream, so he’s the one who capable of coordinating the team for the mission. A Chemist is needed to make and customize a strong sedative to stabilize the 3 deep levels of dream within dreams (As it is 3 levels deep, slighter disturbance can cause the dream to collapse). The safe is used by the Forger to plant the idea to the Target’s mind.
Technical aspects of the machine to perform Extraction (applies to Inception as well):
  • When the timer reaches 0 and everyone is in the first level of the dream, the sedative will stop flowing from the machine and it will turn off, causes everyone to gradually wake up, one by one.
  • If the timer reaches 0 and a person is trapped in Limbo, unaware that it’s a dream, that person will be in a coma and trapped forever in his/her deep subconscious (Limbo).
  • When the timer is still in countdown, the person can’t wake up unless he/she is killed or died in the dream.
  • When the timer is still in countdown, a person dies in Limbo, fully aware that it’s a dream, that person will return to reality.
  • Before the timer reaches 0, a person can provide a warning signal such as music to inform the Dreamer.
  • The machine supplies the suitable amount of sedative that lasts exactly to the time set on the timer.
  • If the Dreamer is killed in the dream, everyone wakes up.
  • A normal sedative (“compound”) is usually being used on each person involved.
  • A person can choose to leave the dream space with a kick from the level above, wake up when the timer ends on the machine or by killing themselves.
  • The projections of anyone other than the Target’s might interfere in the dream due to the fact that the dream space is shared by the machine.
  • Paradox is normally used by the Dreamer to disguise the boundaries of the dream space created by the machine. It is a technique normally used by an Architect in the designs of the dream space to create ‘closed loops’ to hide from anyone’s projections. Therefore, the designs of the dream needed to be as complicated as possible (like a complex maze).

Changes and additional technical aspects of the machine exclusively to perform Inception:
  • Heavy sedative needs to be used on each person involved.
  • A human mind is normally able to reject foreign ideas as it can always trace the genesis of an idea. Therefore, the idea has to be simple, a positive emotional concept born out of a desire for reconciliation, and must be planted progressively for at least 3 levels deep within the Target’s subconscious, seeming as if it was natural and self-generated.
  • In order to leave the lower levels of the dream, the team must make sure the Kicks performed on each level of the dream are synchronized in order to send the level 1 Dreamer back to reality and everyone else back to first level of the dream. The level 1 Dreamer can perform a Kick on each person in reality when he/she wakes up.
  • 2 synchronized kicks between two levels must be made in deeper levels of the dream in order for the person to reach back to the level above.
  • Letting the Dreamer on the lower level listens to music on the level above allows the Dreamer to know when to perform the Kick so it can be synchronized with the Kicks on the level above.
  • When the timer is still in countdown, a person can’t wake up from deeper levels of the dream unless the Kicks performed on each level of the dream are synchronized.
  • When the timer is still in countdown, a person dies in Limbo, the person will still ended up in Limbo, unaware the fact that he’s/she’s still in there or the awareness that it’s a dream becomes vague.
  • The heavy sedative needs to be customized so the inner-ear function of the brain is unimpaired to feel the Kicks.
  • Due to the fact that heavy sedatives are being used, anyone will be flung into Limbo if they’re killed in the dream.
  • If the Dreamer is killed in the dream, everyone will be flung to Limbo (as the dream will collapse due to the absence of the Dreamer) due to the heavy sedation.
  • The Dreamer cannot fall asleep in his/her dream to go to a deeper level.
Rules of the dream:
  • If a person is hurt in the dream world, they will experience pain in a very real sense.
  • The Dreamer's dream can be affected by things happening outside the dream (reality) or the level above the dream.
  • Only the Dreamer is capable of altering his/her dream.
  • Dreams seem real when someone’s in it. One can never remember the beginning of a dream. Therefore, remembering and know what happened in a dream takes years of experience.
  • Remembering what’s happening in reality before entering a dream allows a person to create the awareness that the dream isn’t real.
  • Dreams that seem to cover hours may only last a short time.

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