Worship at the Altar of Christopher Nolan

The Twitterverse has been exploding with discussion of Inception since its release, and with good reason. The film is a rarity: a wholely unique summer blockbuster with a stellar cast and visionary director. It’s the kind of marriage you’ll only get to see a few times in a decade. Reviews of the film have been overwhelmingly positive, from both critics and casual moviegoers alike. But that latter group seems to have one complaint: it’s too confusing.

This was one of my main concerns going into the film’s opening weekend. Warner Bros.’ marketing ploy tagged Incepetion as being “from the director of The Dark Knight.” Therein lies the problem. The majority of America is familiar with Nolan only because of his two Batman films, and they were expecting something similar. Something dark, moody, but easy to grasp. That’s not how Nolan’s original screenplays work, but unfortunately most people never saw Memento and thus didn’t understand what they were getting into. They thought they could go into Inception expecting just another summer movie experience, where they could zone out for a few minutes and still understand what was going on.

That’s not the case with Inception, but I think calling the film “confusing” is a bit unfair. If you actually pay attention from start to finish, the story is fairly easy to follow. Nolan goes through the trouble of explaining every little detail, even going so far as to say why the team needs their flight to be on a 747. They also explain the time differences between levels of dreams, which comes into play in the film’s closing sequences. Nolan doesn’t spoon feed. He doesn’t explain things then show the necessity for that explanation in the next scene. He trusts that his audience actually has the brain power to hear something and remember it for more than an hour.

The film is one of the most visionary I’ve ever seen and is an absolute mindbender. It addresses the concepts of lost love, family, dreams and memories, and how all of them can affect each other. When we lose someone, what version of them gets locked in our head? Is it a version true to who that person really was, or is it a romanticized ideal? These are the kinds of questions the film will make you ask, and the final scene will cause you to question much of what you’d seen before. It’s the perfect movie to incite debate, with no possibility of anyone being “right” or “wrong.” But it’s important that you go into the film knowing what to expect. You’ll need all your mental facilities, and as long as you appreciate thought-provoking films that don’t talk down to you, you’ll love it.

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One response to “Worship at the Altar of Christopher Nolan

  1. Pingback: Dark Knight Rises (2012) | Above the Line

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