On Sunday night, my son and I walked to a local San Francisco cinema to see Inception. Although I was not particularly eager to see this film, I came out of the theatre with a high opinion of Inception! The story in the movie is deep enough to make the high quality of the visual effects sounds secondary. (The post-modern settings of the deepest dream world are nonetheless striking, with decayed buildings slowly collapsing like icebergs… I also like the experiment when the skies of Paris progressively fold into Hausmanian buildings.)

The idea of dreams within dreams (within dreams within…) and of the possibility of taking control of the dreamer is not novel, Philip K. Dick being the most obvious reference (with references to Gibson’s Neuromancer and Hofstader’s Gödel, Escher, Bach as well). The realisator, Christopher Nolan, mentions the immense writer Jorge Luis Borges as being influential, maybe because one of his books is called Labyrinths, but I fail to see the connection… Nonetheless, the story is well-brought, with enough levels of uncertainty at the beginning to make the unfolding anything but obvious. The role played by Marion Cotillard as Mal, the dead wife of the main character, Dom, is suiting her very well, as an evil madwoman whose madness comes as a major twist in the film. (Although I do not understand why the composer kept Piaf’s song given Cotillard’s previous acting as Piaf…) The counterpoint to Mal is  a Paris student, appropriately called Ariadne, who is played by Ellen Page, the (great) main character of Juno. In this movie, she is less convincing, looking too young for her maturity. Overall, the pace in the movie is gripping, even though it becomes (too) soon clear that the team is going to succeed.

In a Philip K. Dick or a Jorge Luis Borges story, the ending would have been much more ambiguous, even though the very final image made me wonder if this was the real world or yet another dream world in which the main character, Dom, would stay forever… The second part of the movie is somehow too literal and linear, but Inception still is a good sci-fi movie, thus recommended!

8 Responses to “Inception”

  1. Hey xi’an:

    I agree with you!

    Thank you



  2. Re. Jaime: thank you for this additional link to Borges. I still feel that the film is a poor imitation of the recursively deep universe of the writer, who is creating tree stories with different meanings within a few pages. In comparison, the movie is mostly one-dimensional… For Borges, there was no happy ending as there was no ending, no beginning and most often no reality.

  3. Joe Abercrombie has a good comment on Inception, namely that there is no surprise in the plot: he kept waiting the whole movie for some twist of fate or a sudden change of perspective but to no avail….

  4. constance Says:


  5. Check this essay about Inception and Borges.



  6. I have not seen the movie, but from your summary I presume the Borges reference is to his story “The Circular Ruins“.

    • The Borges reference was brought in by the New York Time paper, I had actually forgotten about this specific story but I now remember re-reading it many times the first time I got the book. A very impressive story. (Much deeper than the movie, obviously!)

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