Analysis of Separate Scenes and Narratives in Inception

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Inception is a Sci-fi/ Thriller movie that came out July thirteenth in the summer of 2010. It had a total of 156 wins and 207 nominations; including Oscar’s for Best Achievement in Cinematography, Sound Mixing, Editing, Visual Effects as well as BAFTA awards for Best Production Design, Sound, and Special Visual Effects and many more. Inception is about a thief (Cobbs) who isn’t your typical thief. Instead he is a thief of valuable information/ secrets that he obtains from going into the subconscious while a person is dreaming, which is due to the mind being more accessible. Because of this rare talent that he possesses, it has caused him many problems such as the loss of his wife (death) and kids (physically), which had resulted in him becoming a fugitive. Seeing as he has nothing to lose, he and his team are given the opportunity at not only redemption (for Cobbs) but the ultimate job, Inception. Although Cobbs is a thief, his mission is not to steal an idea, but rather plant an idea instead. Throughout the mission, they come across many obstacles, more physical and personal (specifically to Cobbs). In the end, we are left with the question, is he dreaming or is it real? A scene that was particularly interesting and that stood out to me was the opening scene of the movie and more specifically, the sound. As soon as the movie starts, non-diegetic music starts playing immediately, which is not only used to set the tone for the scene, that we have still yet to see, but it gives us, the audience, the feeling that something is going to happen and left already feeling uneasy.

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Then we hear the fierce crashing of the waves together, after Cobbs is washed up. Gives us the sense that he possibly washed up from a wreck or possible storm. Music, non-diegetic, then begins to play throughout the scene, which sounds eerie then slowly builds, giving of an uneasy feeling that something is going to happen soon. This is significant because it creates curiosity amongst the audience and also excitement, because we then know that something is going to happen, although we do not know if it is good or not. As the scene progresses, we hear suppressed laughter from the children which is mixed with the eerie music again from before. This is specifically significant because, mixed with the distorted and blurry images of the children playing in the sand, we can hint that he is either hallucinating or dreaming (which we later find out he is) and contributes even more to our overall sense of confusion as to why he is there and why is he imagining these children. A unique observation to point out is that Cobbs has no dialogue whatsoever and as the next scene progresses, we the audience become intrigued so find out what his role is in all of this. When dialogue does happen, the conversation is strictly about dreams and the states if those dreams. This is significant because we the audience can make a connection between that and the children on the beach that he was hallucinating, which could depict that the narrative of the story is going to rotate and center around dreams.

Within the opening shot, we see Cobb washed up on the beach and the Saito’s guard staring down upon Cobb, with the sun directly behind the guard. This is known as contre-jour lighting. This effect provides a mysterious feeling, as if we are Cobb looking up and trying to figure out where we are, especially because us, as the audience, does not know where he came from to begin with. I think this was particularly unique because this effect makes us think that Cobb came from some faraway place and adds to the tension of how he had got there in the first place. It leaves us the audience, asking more questions as it goes on. Then as the scene progresses, we see Cobb being taken to Saito. This is where lighting comes into play. In this scene, Cobb is trying to get information from Saito while he is in a dream state. Saito is Cobb’s primary objective; to obtain information. Not only is this scene already intense, but the lighting makes it even more so. Within this scene, low-key lighting is used which helps intensify the scene and add to the seriousness of the situation. The low-key lighting with a mixture of the dark colors used, provides us with a sense that something is about to happen, something serious that will not likely be good, due to the eerie-ness and gloominess of it all. This is significant because with the lighting coming into play and their discussion of dreams and dream states, we are able to determine that they are in a dream and Saito is able to figure out that Cobb’s is trying to get information out of him (with the help of Cobb’s ‘wife’).

The final formal choice that I noticed was Narrative Architectures, but more specifically Non-Linear Narrative structure (which I believe would fall under Assembly- Post production). Non-linear narrative structure is used immensely in the opening scene. This is shown when Cobb appears washed up on shore and is then brought to Saito. Some questions that we have as the audience, is why are there kids playing on the beach with guards nearby. Once we reach the end of the movie, we realize that the opening scene actually takes place towards the end of the movie and he is actually in limbo, more specifically Saito’s limbo. This is unique because when we see the scene, all we do is see it, but it is not explained at all. This causes strain and confusion as we are left to figure out why Cobb is on the beach and why his spinner is so important to Saito.

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