Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Inception

Back to reality after Inception. Kino Killa, Savonlinna, 27 July 2010.
Foto Laila Alanen

Inception / Inception (Inception). US / GB (c) 2010 Warner Bros. Pictures / Legendary Pictures. P: Emma Thomas, Christopher Nolan. D+SC: Christopher Nolan. DP: Wally Pfister - film negative format: 35 mm (also VistaVision for aerial shots), 65 mm (some scenes), and HDTV (high-speed shots) - released on 35 mm, IMAX  - and DCP (via 4K) - colour - anamorphic Panavision 2,35:1. PD: Guy Dyas. Cost: Jeffrey Kurland. Art Department: large. Visual Effects team: large. Special Effects team: large. Digital Effects team: large. Stunt team: large. M: Hans Zimmer. Theme song: "Non, je ne regrette rien" (Charles Dumont, Michel Vaucaire) perf. Edith Piaf. S: Richard King. ED: Lee Smith. LOC: England (Bedfordshire, Farnborough Airfield, University College London), Canada (Alberta), France (Paris), USA (Pasadena, Downtown L.A.), Morocco (Tangiers), Japan (Tokyo). CAST: Leonardo DiCaprio (Cobb), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Arthur), Ellen Page (Ariadne), Tom Hardy (Eames), Ken Watanabe (Saito), Dileep Rao (Yusuf), Cillian Murphy (Robert Fischer, Jr.), Tom Berenger (Browning), Marion Cotillard (Mal), Pete Postlethwaite (Maurice Fischer), Michael Caine (Miles), Lukas Haas (Nash), Tai-Li Lee (Tadashi). 148 min. U.S. release 13 July 2010, Finnish release 23 July 2010. Released in Finland by Sandrew Metronome Distribution Finland, in the print viewed Finnish subtitles only by Tommi Lupunen. Viewed at Kino Killa, Savonlinna, 27 July 2010

Christopher Nolan's Inception is a labour of love, and it comes highly recommended. I have liked Nolan's Memento, Insomnia and The Prestige. I had considered Tim Burton's Batman Returns the all-time best fantasy film, but Nolan's Batman Begins reached the same level of inspiration, and The Dark Knight was even better. Heath Ledger's The Joker is my candidate for the most memorable monster in the history of the cinema.

What I liked: Christopher Nolan believes in the high quality of cinematography. The visualization of this dream saga is outstanding. There are hundreds of artists in the camera, art, and effects departments of this movie, and there are many different visual modes, but this is an auteur film, and Nolan has a strong overall command. Inception is also being released on IMAX, and it would certainly be best experiencing in that format. I have been suffering from the mediocre quality of the digital intermediate in most of the current releases, but Nolan has favoured photochemical cinematography and laboratory work in general, using digital only for effects. It seems that even the effects are non-digital whenever possible.

Inception is a gorgeous visual experience, and everything else about the film is state of the art. The talents are at their best. Although the narrative is seemingly exceptionally complicated, it is actually slight. There are some five layers in this dream saga. There is finally a reality level on the surface and there is a connection to real life at the bottom layer. In between there are too many chases, shoot-outs and explosions. The central conceit of inception is impossible because the essential nature of dreams is alien to such efforts and because there are fundamental individual and cultural differences in dreams.

Postscript 7 August: interesting analyses and valuable links by Thompson and Bordwell. Postscript 14 August: more comments and links with Thompson and Bordwell.

Postscript 12 August: see beyond the jump break Edgar Allan Poe's poem A Dream Within a Dream

Edgar Allan Poe

A Dream Within A Dream

Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow-
You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.

I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand-
How few! yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep- while I weep!
O God! can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?

1849

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