Inception is a science fiction/action movie released on July 16th, 2010, directed by Christopher Nolan. The film follows the main protagonist, Dominick Cobb, a seasoned and powerful thief who can read minds. Especially capable of infiltrating the dreams of others when their mentality is at the most vulnerable stage, then stealing valuable secrets and information from their subconscious mind. Although he has superpowers that ordinary people don’t have, it also makes him an international fugitive and loses everything he loves, including his wife. This perfectly explores the concept of dreams within dreams throughout the film, which leads to numerous debates about its originality. Some viewers think that Inception is a highly original and creative film with rich details, a complex plot, unique storytelling, and an intricate narrative that leads the audience into a subconscious labyrinth which can be shown in its concept, plot, and visuals. Still, in reality, these opinions are not entirely accurate. Some critics argue that the film is less original than it appears to be. The director is heavily influenced by modern technology, other films, and literary works, accumulating and combining the ideas into Inception’s theme. In this case, these arguments seem convincing and reliable. However, Inception is undoubtedly a remarkable and influential film. It is not entirely original but draws heavily from innovative inventions and technology, or established genres, concepts, and fictional works from other writers.
Inception is a significantly praised film and is considered influential because it explores the notion of dreams and the human subconscious. Possible real-life sources of inspiration for Inception are connected to the author’s experience with lucid dreaming. Several criticisms of the film claim there is no originality because its inspiration is not based on the author’s experiences but on various sources incorporated with other aspects to make such an acclaimed movie. The author of Inception, Christopher Nolan, claims that one of his primary sources of inspiration in producing the film was his experience with lucid dreaming (Bordwell and Thompson 116). Lucid dreaming is when an individual knows about their dream and can control the content of the dream. Nolan has mentioned his interest in lucid dreaming motivated him to dig deeper into the notion of dreams and the subconscious, which resulted in the production of Inception. Nolan was also motivated by other sources, such as science fiction literature, from authors like Philip K. Dick. According to Nolan, exploring the brain’s internal workings and how they can be incorporated into movie production is essential.
The concept of dream infiltration in science fiction is a significant theme in Inception, since the film showcases a different and unique universe that has the possibility of getting into a person’s brain and manipulating their dreams. In the film, a group of scientists is asked to enter the dreams of Robert Fischer, a business magnate, to put an idea into his mind that will help dissolve his father’s empire. A character, Dom Cobb, utilizes the ‘dream machine’ to get into Fischer’s dreams. Together with the team of architects, they combine efforts to create a complex dream landscape that is easy to manipulate to fulfill their objectives (Nolan). One criticism that arises from this presentation is the unimaginative presentation of dreams. The dream sequences did not have a surreal visual representation, and the characters needed to be more accurate, resulting in an illogical and confusing story outline (Marikar). The scenes presented in the movie are not original but rather generic. For instance, throughout the movie, Cobb’s team experiences several problems as they traverse the complicated and surreal universe of dreams, and the bridge between reality becomes a blur.
The influence of psychological and philosophical theories has had a massive impact on Inception. One significant theme in the film is the notion of lucid dreaming, the ability of an individual to know and control their dreams. The notion of lucid dreaming relies on the works of Stephen LaBerg, a psychologist who researched lucid dreaming and devised various techniques to induce and maintain lucid dreaming (Bordwell and Thompson 118). Inception is a film that can be regarded as an exceptional work of art by a regular film critic. Still, the film is unworthy of all the hype for someone with a more profound thinking capacity and who appreciates reality. The concept of dreams has been destroyed from reality and turned into a highly fictional aspect.
The inspiration from video games and animations contributed significantly to the film Inception’s visual style. These ideas stem from science fiction concepts like virtual reality and mind control. Inception is a film that illustrates the possibility of manipulating dreams through external forces. The movie’s primary characters are extractors because they get into people’s minds to get information about something or plant ideas, as in the case of Fischer. This notion of controlling dreams is similar to science fiction content (Nolan). The concept of dream infiltration is criticized because it needs to be more originality in the undeveloped dream space, especially in keeping Fischer asleep or the resulting implication when a visitor tries to alter too many activities and situations in the dream (Calvert). The effect of video games was significant in blending science fiction, fantasy, and action in a unique and visually compelling manner. All these resources are the possible factors that facilitate Nolan’s inspiration and visualization for the film’s theme.
Another powerful argument for the lack of originality in Inception is its similarity to other works of fiction. The film Inception has several similarities to other pieces of art, such as the works of Philip K. Dick, who primarily focuses on specific themes of reality, perception, and identity. The Inception film goes deeper into the possibility of dream manipulation but fails to mention how the same sedation machine can operate equally in all of a dream’s dimensions. Like Dick’s works, Inception explores simulated reality and the probability of control and manipulation. One significant similarity between Inception and the works of Philip K.Dick is ‘Blade Runner,’ which explores the themes of simulation through reality and blurriness. Inception follows a similar pattern by exploring simulation through dream manipulation and control (Clute). ‘Neuromancer’ by William Gibson is similar to Inception because it focuses on virtual reality and mind manipulation through technology. Significant similarities can also be seen between Inception and Dick’s novel Ubik. An example is in Ubik, where characters can get into a state of suspended animation and experience a form of shared consciousness. The concept is similar to Inception’s dream manipulation and control within a state of unconsciousness (Dick). The idea of reality presented in these works is similar, for instance, in Ubik, the characters are in a state of confusion as to whether they are dead or alive because of the tumultuous experiences they go through. In Inception, the characters are forced to traverse a dream world that is continuously changing and must be well-knowledgeable (Dick). For example, in Ubik, they share concepts of reality that are the potential for manipulation and mind control. The similarity between the two works lies in the concept of time manipulation. In Ubik, time can be turned back, and the protagonist can relive the past. In Inception, characters enter time-warping dreams where they can alter past events. Both works explore the concept of reality and what is accurate, and both involve characters questioning their reality (Calvert). Generally, Inception has several similarities with other works of science fiction hence the argument that the film lacks originality.
The themes in Inception are considered to be false because they have been explored in other science fiction works. The idea of characters questioning their reality can be seen in ‘The Matrix’ and other films. For instance, the idea of dream control and manipulation has also been presented in works like The Matrix and ‘Total Recall,’ especially on the concept of reality and the power of manipulation through technology. In Inception, characters enter shared dreams that they can manipulate and control, blurring the line between reality and fiction (Wachowski). In The Matrix, the characters discover that the reality they’ve always known is a machine-made illusion, and they must fight to escape their simulated existence. As much as Inception’s themes may not be primarily original, its implementation and approach to the shared themes make it a highly influential and innovative piece of work. The film’s effect on popular culture and its influence on other works of science fiction and action cinema attest to its significance.
In conclusion, as much as Inception faces a lot of criticism for the lack of originality, it is an exceptional and exciting film for general audiences and not merely limited to science fiction lovers. The film explores different aspects of science fiction by using technology and visuals to make the dream manipulation process a reality. Inception exhibits unique effects and outstanding performances from the main characters. The film had different reception, with some embracing the concepts in the film warmly while various critics presented their reviews about it. The film has several weaknesses, such as borrowing ideas and concepts from similar works of science fiction, such as The Matrix and other works by Philip K. Dick. The film may need more originality, but the storyline is supported by significant-high-quality production, sound, and cinematography. The film may be criticized, but it continues to receive positive reviews for its exceptional storyline.
Bordwell, David & Kristin Thompson. “Inception.” Christopher Nolan: A Labyrinth of Linkages, 2nd ed., edited by David Bordwell, University of Illinois Press, 2013, pp. 105-132.
Calvert, S, Leon. (May 2011). “Inception: Film, Dreams, and Freud .”Off Screen. From https://offscreen.com/view/inception_dreams_freud
Clute, John. “Inception.” Sci-Fi Bulletin, 2010.
Dick, Philip K. Ubik. Mariner Books, 2012.
Marikar, Sheila. “Inside ‘Inception’: Could Christopher Nolan’s Dream World Exist in Real Life?” ABC News, 16 July 2010, https://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/inside-inception-christopher-nolans-dream-world-exist-real/story?id=11174201.
Nolan, Christopher. Director. Inception. Warner Bros., 2010.
Wachowski, Lana & Wachowski, Lilly. The Matrix. Warner Bros., 1990.