It has been said that “A man is wise when he knows not…”. After watching “Inception”, the new Christopher Nolan (soon to be) blockbuster; I realised that in as much as I had my theories as a film goer on what transpired in this film; I needed the insight only afforded by persons who are capable of looking at films through the dual vision afforded to the most diligent of  students as well as the avid movie goer.

One such person is a good friend of mine who I asked to message me his thoughts after watching the movie last night. His insight I found truly worthy of sharing. It requires the “geekiness” of being a film buff as it will likely make the most sense to those who, like me, often quest and enjoy possessing trivia (aka useless info) – especially concerning the film industry.

It is important to note that Chris Nolan, the director, is renowned for doing nothing by accident from shots to music to casting. Everything serves a purpose. With that in mind, I present to you the thoughts of  P.H.D aka White Boy.

Stunning visuals, and a well rounded story, with only the occasional request for the viewer to simply ‘trust’ the narrative. The developmental model for the plot may not be all that new (I would say its like a mindf**ked Oceans 11) but there are convincing performances all round. However, the real good stuff is very cleverly ingrained. The entire film is rife with self reference. Not only self reference to the director (whom one could argue has quite firmly established himself as an auteur) but reference to almost the entire cast: using La Vie en Rose as the kick echoes Marion Cotillard’s oscar winning performance; Leo washing up on the beach is a reminder of just that – The Beach; the amphitheatre style seating when we first meet Mr Caine is lifted directly out of The Prestige; the fortress in the snow elicits Ken Watanabe’s doomed mountain home in Batman Begins; Cillian Murphy’s bagged head a visual hint to Scarecrow’s mask from the same film. Although far from a conclusive list, the above is garnered from merely one viewing, & without the aid of a safety net (so not using imdb’s ‘trivia’ section).

But now to the important bit. The references serve as indices, helping the audience to establish this film within the wider world of films. In the worlds Nolan presents to us, the dreams, we are told to look for the subtle changes, the shift of gravity, the changes of weather, to identify reality. Nolan gives us those hints & subtleties himself. DiCaprio tells us to our face: never use real places, only small details. Nolan’s subtle yet intentional higlighting of previous filmic incarnations of his actors is in many ways a Brechtian technique, a way to force his audience, a knowledgable audience, into taking a step back & looking at WHAT is being said, not HOW he is saying it.

So, what is he saying? It is always a folly to attempt to KNOW what a filmmaker is trying to say, because often they know it not themselves. Perchance it is merely a comment on the fact that our consciousness is buffeted on so many levels by mass media that the attempt to find a truly unique idea is a dangerous one, & in many cases, even the ideas we think are our own, & cherish as unique & precious, have been placed there by someone else. Yet Nolan shows how this process is destructive not only to us, but eventually to those who have presumed to taint our dreams. That isn’t quite 3000 words, but its all I got for now. What do you think? WB

I think the movie requires watching again with this new information and with a subtle shift in mentality from HOW is that happening to WHAT is happening?

I maintain, till otherwise convinced, that this is “The Matrix” of the 21st Century; in other words, it sets a new benchmark for films – the multi-layered approach of the film (both visually, conceptually and mentally) wrapped in a simple (reverse heist) concept perfectly sums up the processes of the mind and the interpretations afforded to dreams… It will mean different things to different people based on your state of mind at the time of viewing.

In the same way The Matrix altered your state of mind; Chris Nolan has successfully put together a piece of work that will challenge you whether you’re in Reality, Stage 1,2,3,4 or in Limbo. Just don’t forget your totem…

For those of you who wish to get in touch with White Boy; please let me know via the comments box or contact me via Twitter and I will try my best to arrange something.