McGinnis: Another look at ‘Inception’Written by Jeff McGinnis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
In its first weekend, Christopher Nolan’s film “Inception” grossed an impressive $63 million, then won two more weekends in a row, an accomplishment almost unheard of in a summer of mainly “one weekend and done” grosses. “Inception” has never lost more than 35 percent of its viewers from week to week and $300 million in North America is within reach.
“Inception” is certain to reign supreme as one of the most talked-about movies of 2010. Here are just a few of the questions the movie inspires:
1. Does the top fall?
No ending in modern cinema may be more debated than the final shot of “Inception,” which leaves its audience with the tantalizing question of whether the film is all a dream. Cobb, the hero played by Leonardo DiCaprio, absent-mindedly spins a top that serves as a “totem,” a verification that he is back in the real world. If it stops spinning, he knows everything is real. As he sees his children for the first time in years, the camera lingers on the top, which wavers, but does not quite fall. Then the movie cuts suddenly to black.
(The question of what Cobb’s totem really is has inspired much debate. A popular theory online is that Cobb’s wedding ring is his real totem — a ring which is noticably absent in that last scene, which seems to indicate that the reunion is, indeed, the real deal.)
Is he still trapped in a dream? Has the story we’ve seen been a tragedy, the machinations of a mind trying to cope and ultimately creating his own, false happy ending? Or does the top fall just after we, the viewer, can see it? There is no answer, of course. Just like the contents of the case in “Pulp Fiction,” Nolan gives his audience enough to allow them to make up their own minds, but tantalizes them with the
possibility that they’re wrong.
Does the top fall? You tell me.
2. Did Nolan rip off … Scrooge McDuck?
One of the most popular theories on the Web states that the plot of “Inception” is copied from a comic book starring Disney’s favorite cantankerous billionaire. In a May 2002 issue of “Uncle Scrooge,” the villainous Beagle Boys use an invention to invade Scrooge’s dreams, in an effort to learn the combination of his money bin (see a panel from the strip below). Donald goes in after to save him. People in the dream are woken up by falling off the edge of the dreamworld. In “Inception,” people are woken from deeper dream scapes through a different process called a “kick.”
So, did Nolan swipe the idea from here? Most probably not. Nolan has said in interviews that he’s been working on the concept since 1990, and has toiled on a script since 2000. Some may claim he’s just covering up, but which sounds more plausible: That a talented filmmaker happened to be working on a rough concept that was similar to this story, or that Nolan pored through back issues of Disney comics to inspire his magnum opus?
3. Is it Oscar time?
Two years ago, “The Dark Knight” was widely heralded as one of the best films of its year, but was denied a Best Picture nomination. As a perceived by-product of this, the Academy massively overhauled its voting process and widened the field to 10 films. In a year where so little has been outstanding (“Toy Story 3” is basically the only other great movie of the summer), a Best Picture nomination for “Inception” seems a certainty. But does it have a chance at winning? The odds against it are long, though the rest of the year does have a distinct lack of noteworthy contenders. Ask again in three months, and we’ll have a better idea.
4. What’s next?
For Nolan, next is the biggest assignment of all: the as-yet untitled third “Batman” movie. Heavy rumors have him casting one of his “Inception” actors — DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt or Tom Hardy — as the Riddler.
E-mail Jeff at PopGoesJeff@gmail.com.