Monday, June 16, 2014

A Dream within a Dream

              Inception, written and directed by Christopher Nolan, is a film that mixes subconscious dreaming and conscious reality. “In Inception, Nolan does the impossible, the unthinkable, the stupendous: He folds a mirror version of Paris back upon itself; he stages a fight sequence in a gravity-free hotel room; he sends a train plowing through a busy city street. Whatever you can dream, Nolan does it in Inception. Then he nestles those little dreams into even bigger dreams, and those bigger dreams into gargantuan dreams, going on into infinity, cubed. He stretches the boundaries of filmmaking so that it's, like, not even filmmaking anymore, it's just pure ‘OMG I gotta text my BFF right now’ sensation” (Stephanie Zacharek, Movieline).The film’s main characters are Dominick “Dom” Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), Cobb’s main business partner. Cobb and Arthur train Ariadne (Ellen Page) to design maze-like settings and travel into people’s dreams and steals information, or in this case, places ideas. This is called “Inception”, and according to its rules, whatever happens on the dream level above seeps through the dream level below. As a lot of the film was spent inside someone's dream, anything could happen and, a lot of weird stuff did. The special effects are spectacular, creative and extreme. The film’s extensive use of dream sequences and enhanced realities was achieved through a combination of special effects, miniatures, and digital work under the guidance of Paul Franklin. Franklin states that, “ some of the more spectacular imagery of the film-the street folding over in Paris and characters creating architecture out of thin air-are VFX shots that we created from a combination of live action and copious amounts of digital animation” (How 1). The film was nominated for eight Oscars including Best Achievement in Art Direction, Best Achievement in Visual Effects, and Best Motion Picture of the Year, and won the Academy Award for Best Achievement in Visual Effects. This gives the film credibility to viewers and lets them know that the special effects in this film are spectacular (ethos, logos). Special effects, according to Understanding Movies, “can benefit from this technology” (Gianetti 33). The use of special effects definitely enhanced the movie by engaging the viewer and giving the audience a better understanding of the substantial obstacles the characters encountered, without becoming the focus of the story.

             There are two scenes in particular that exhibit amazing special effects. The first is a gravity-free fight scene that takes place inside a building, and another that takes place outside. The indoor scene involves a floating fight within this gravity-free hotel. The dream level above this one takes place in a van that one of the characters is driving, and everyone else in it is asleep. The van dimension and the hotel dimension are constantly alternating on the screen to let viewers know what is happening and how the zero gravity occurred in the hotel (logos). The gravity-free hotel is caused by the van spinning and then flipping over a railing as it is getting chased and shot at by men on motorcycles. Arthur is the only one awake on this level at the time, and is the only one who experiences the feeling of no gravity. Arthur floats up and down the hallway as he fends off the attackers as he is trying to figure out how to deliver a kick to his sleeping teammates. In this scene was interesting to witness Arthur’s agility as he carries out his complicated part of the mission. The entire scene was extremely intense and very exciting to watch (pathos). Viewers are completely engaged in what is happening and waiting in anticipation as to whether he will succeed or not (pathos). If viewers enjoy watching action sequences, then they will want to watch this one and even the next one (logos).
              The second scene is referred to as the “final kick” towards the end of the film. It is complicated, but there are four parallel action sequences cut together in order to keep the audience interested and on the edge of their seats (pathos). These four parallel action sequences represent different levels, and the film continuously cuts between them. The scene starts out with Fischer, the man whose dream they are in, approaching his dying father, Arthur getting ready to deliver his final kick, Eames, one of the men with Fischer, setting up his final kick, and all of this is going on while the van is still in mid-air and slowly falling towards the water. Then everything suddenly happens in rapid sequence as the kicks occur, and everyone moves through the various dream levels as the cuts between them become faster and faster. One of the most exciting kicks is a slow-motion explosion that will make any viewer’s mouth drop (pathos).This intense sequence of events is heart pounding to viewers as they wonder whether they will get all the way back to the real world or not (pathos). The viewers are taken from level to level as their minds try to keep up with what is going on. This scene can be overwhelming at first, but overall it is enthralling and holds the viewer’s attention (pathos).
            The special effects in Inception create strong feelings in viewers with their intensity and action. This film’s special effects definitely deserve three clipboards. I have never seen special effects quite like the ones in this film. The zero gravity fight scene is a dazzling array of stunt work and choreography like no other. The physics in this scene look real, and I have never seen zero gravity handled better in a film. It does not look fake at all and is very well done. To say that the editing in the “final kick” scene that takes place near the end of the film was good would be a huge understatement. The editing seen here is nothing short of miraculous as viewers intently watch as the film cuts from one dream level to another. The suspense created in this scene has viewers gripping onto their seats. The film itself is credible with the fact that Christopher Nolan directed it, Leonardo DiCaprio and Joseph Gordon-Levitt play main characters, and it was also nominated for lots of awards (ethos). Viewers who know of and like any of these men in other movies would want to watch this masterpiece come to life on screen (logos). Special effects in Inception definitely enhanced this film.

            Confusing and complicated at times, the movie, Inception, with elaborate dream sequences and thrilling action, was innovative in writing and special effects, and certainly interesting to watch. It is important that the special effects do not draw attention to themselves; they make the viewer appreciate the grand images created and experience, or feel, the action as reality. Watching this movie, it is easier to just take it all in than to try to figure it out, and the special effects make viewing an enjoyable experience.

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