Eyes Wide Shut

What is a dream?

Written by Shubhra Gupta | Published: December 11, 2010 3:35:58 am

In a fascinating documentary,a part of the double-disc special edition of Christopher Nolan’s Inception,experts talk about the importance of dreaming. What is a dream? How do we dream? What happens to us when we dream? And exactly what is lucid dreaming? Nolan’s creation was the most anticipated film in the summer of 2010. Fanboy buzz around it started building up months before,and reached a crescendo when it finally released: when future film students study the impact of Inception,it would be interesting to note how many fresh PhDs signed up to study dreamscapes after it released to ringing hosannahs around the globe.Inception tells us how it is entirely possible to dream within a dream within a dream. Dom Cobb (Leonardo Di Caprio) is an expert at stealing from the subconscious. That makes him a truly valuable asset for thieves who are after the most valuable currency there is: ideas. Thieves,however,never have an easy time of it. Cobb has been hobbled by his very unique abilities,and has been exiled,pining for his dead wife and missing his children. A new assignment — planting an idea rather than stealing — can help him break free,and send him home again. Or can it?You can only get the true impact of the film,which is at heart a fast-paced thriller hiding under all that jargon,if you watch it in a theatre. But you can get pleasures off your DVD too: figuring out exactly at which point the city café where Cobb and his newest recruit,played by the fresh-faced Ellen Page,will start blowing up to bits; and oh look,there they are walking through sheets of breaking glass,and oh my god,there’s the street folding upon itself,with cars traveling upside down,and humans walking up the side of tall buildings as naturally as they would in a park.I found the same parts of the film dragging as they did when I saw it first. The climactic portion where Cobb and his people are sledding across icy slopes is long and dull,straight out of a bad Bond. And there are bits where you can see Nolan trying to be too clever by half,where confusing strands of the plot serve only to confuse,not elucidate. But the bits that are mesmeric haven’t lost any of their power. The director of Memento,where a man is struggling with loss of memory in often fatal ways ( Aamir Khan’s Ghajini was “inspired” by it),piles up spectacular shots in the way only he can. The slo-mo shots of people falling — through the air,in water; floating,in corridors,on ceilings — are absolutely riveting. You want those to go on and on,like a dream where everything is going as it should.

Nolan talks about a recurring dream of his: being back in high school without having done enough coursework. Pretty harmless when compared with his protagonists’ pyrotechnics,which echo an expert’s startling view in the documentary: every person becomes psychotic every night of their lives.

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