Saturday, September 15, 2012

Inception analysis - part 7: Wrapping up the analysis: The ultimate inception targets


Robert Michael Fischer, the heir to a business empire, appears to be the inception team's target. However, the true target of the inception is Dom Cobb (as explained below), with Fischer actually being a part of the (real) inception team. The implantation of an idea in Dom's unconscious while he's in a dream state is a metaphor for how certain movie-makers subtly plant ideas in the minds of movie-goers.

Some reviewers of Inception have argued that the film is itself a metaphor for film-making, and that the filmgoing experience itself, images flashing before one's eyes in a darkened room, is akin to a dream. Writing in Wired, Jonah Lehrer supported this interpretation and presented neurological evidence that brain activity is strikingly similar during film-watching and sleeping. In both, the visual cortex is highly active and the prefrontal cortex, which deals with logic, deliberate analysis, and self-awareness, is quiet.[a]

Christoper Nolan intended Inception to be a metaphor for film-making, so that we will realize that ideas can effectively be 'planted' in our minds by movie-makers, while we are in the above-described 'cinema dream-state' that occurs when we watch movies. Unscrupulous movie-makers have taken advantage of us while we're viewing their movies, to subtly influence our beliefs so as to help further certain agendas.

Recall the idea of a 'lesbian wedding' mentioned in part 4 of this analysis. Ariadne's totem is a bishop chess piece (above left screencap). The hat of a bishop (as in the Catholic adoption) is sometimes considered to be a phallic symbol. This points to a kind of 'maleness' within Ariadne, as does the way she is dressed throughout much of the film, e.g., as shown in the above right screencap, she's wearing shoes that look similar to men's shoes when she steps on the wine glass in Dom and Mal's wedding suite (recall that this action points to the lesbian wedding idea). What must have happened in reality (i.e., outside Dom's dream, which as we've observed, is constituted of everything we see in the film), was that Ariadne and Mal were lovers at some point, and Ariadne planned to 'adopt' Mal's kids so that the two of them could raise the kids together, without Dom. When Mal later decided she wanted to end the affair with Ariadne and stick with Dom, she stabbed Ariadne in an attempt to get rid of her. Once Ariadne fully realized what Mal's plan was (to get back with Dom, as stated), she shot Mal dead out of jealousy, making it appear to Dom as if it was a suicide; then, Ariadne framed Dom for Mal's death, in the sense that she effectively used inception to convince Dom that Mal's (supposed) suicide was his fault; and, she set things up such that it appeared to the authorities that Dom murdered Mal. Dom is dreaming the events of the movie while he's locked up in some kind of institution, having been found guilty of murdering Mal and trying to make her death look like a suicide.

The over-arching scenario being depicted in Inception is one in which, in reality, Ariadne was Dom's psychotherapist, she was having an affair with Mal (as stated above), and she used a combination of drugs and hypnosis to induce a dream-like state in Dom, in order to plant the idea within Dom's mind that he was responsible for Mal's death. In Dom's dream, the therapist, Ariadne, appeared to him as someone who was helpful, whereas in reality, she's a feminist ideologue, and was doing harm; in fact, in reality she was trying to separate a father from his children, not bring them together.

Ariadne appears to Dom as someone who is helpful, but she is, in reality, ill-intentioned.

Ultimately, the message of Inception is that ideological feminists are psychologically manipulating men so that they come to accept the tenets of feminism. One way these feminists do this is by being involved in making movies which influence men's minds while these men are in the above-mentioned 'cinema dream state'. Another way this happens is that psychotherapists who are feminists, subtly psychologically manipulate their male patients. In both cases, the method used targets men who have 'unresolved'/'unstable' animas. This weakness is used by these feminists to 'burrow' their way into the men's unconscious minds, by, in effect, 'usurping' that part of each man's anima that serves as mediator between his unconscious and conscious mind. Then, these women make subtle suggestions to each man's unconscious to further their feminist agenda, insofar as unconscious 'thoughts' of the men lead to their conscious attitudes and actions.

The overall point is that men are the ultimate targets for feminist inception.

Begin reading here if you arrived at this page by clicking on the 'Read the latter portion of part 7 of the Inception analysis' link, in the 'Recommended minimum reading for this blog' post:

Regarding the idea of movie-makers influencing the minds of audience members, Sergei Eisenstein argued that the film technique of montage, especially intellectual montage, is an alternative system to continuity editing. The montage technique relies on symbolic association of ideas between shots rather than association of simple physical action for its continuity. Eisenstein believed that intellectual montage expresses how everyday thought processes happen. In this sense, the film montage will, in fact, form thoughts in the mind of the viewer, and is therefore a powerful tool for propaganda.[b]

In her essay, The Politics of Sound and Image, feminist author Debbie Ging states,[c]

"Although Eisenstein's films and Soviet photo-montage are not generally directly associated with a revolutionary feminist politics, they still offer powerful techniques to feminist filmmakers in the context of a postmodernism of resistance.
"[T]he subjugation of women is not necessarily an inherent aspect of montage cinema, a point which I think is well illustrated by its successful appropriation for the purposes of political feminist cinema.
"What is of interest to this discussion is the fact that so many avant-garde filmmakers have successfully appropriated montage, as we know it from Eisenstein's earlier work, for the purpose of radical feminist politics." (emphasis in original).

If a movie-maker desires to convey a disjointed space, or spatial discontinuity, aside from purposefully contradicting the continuity tools, he can take advantage of crosscutting and the jump cut. Nolan uses not only montage, but several jarring jump cuts and crosscuts, in the action sequences in his Inception. Nolan's purpose in using these techinques in a movie about planting ideas in peoples' minds, is to tell us that certain film techniques are, in fact, currently being used by unscrupulous movie-makers, to influence the thinking of audience members.

Sergei Eisenstein c. 1935. [Image from the Wikipedia 'Sergei Eisenstein' page, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.]

There is some interesting material that is applicable to this analysis, in chapter 5 of Eisenstein's Towards a Theory of Montage.[d] Eisenstein tells us, "[A]ll cinema is montage cinema, for the simple reason that the most fundamental cinematic phenomenon - the fact that the picture moves - is a montage phenomenon. What does this phenomenon of the moving photographic image consist of?

"A series of still photographs of different stages of a single movement are taken. The result is a succession of what are called 'frames'.

"Connecting them up with one another in montage by passing the film at a certain speed through a projector reduces them to a single process which our perception interprets as movement...Montage pervades all 'levels' of filmmaking, beginning with the basic cinematic phenomenon, through 'montage proper' and up to the compositional totality of the film as a whole. So far we have not treated the question of the shot as a montage sequence of frames. Now we perceive even the still shot as a montage process, as the first link in a continuous chain of montage that extends throughout the entire work." (emphasis in original).

To develop the idea of a single shot as a montage, Eisenstein begins with some art history:

"[T]he method...of depicting sequential phases for conveying a sense of movement[,] is firmly entrenched in those paintings which particularly surprise us by showing movement while simultaneously maintaining the integrity of the object, person, or phenomenon depicted. Such qualities are possessed in equal degree, for instance, by the lithographs of Daumier and the ceilings of Tintoretto. The 'trick' of the unusual mobility of their figures is purely cinematic. Unlike the miniatures of the Middle Ages, however, they do not give the temporally sequential phases of the movement to one limb depicted several times but spread these phases consecutively over different parts of the body. Thus the foot is in position A, the knee is already in stage A + a, the torso in stage A + 2a, the neck in A + 3a, the raised arm in A + 4a, the head in A + 5a, and so on. By the law of pars pro toto, from the position of the foot you mentally extrapolate the attitude which the entire figure should be taking up at that moment. The same applies to the knee, the neck, and the head, so that in effect the figure drawn in this way is interpreted as if it were six successive 'frames' of the same figure in the various sequential phases of the movement. The fact that they are serially juxtaposed to each other forces the spectator to interpret them as 'movement' in exactly the same way that this occurs in cinema."

Note that the above description of the appearance of movement in a still figure, is suggestive of the movements of a marionette, i.e., of a puppet operated by strings. In fact, Eisenstein was interested in the field of biomechanics, and according to Alexander Zholkovsky of the University of Southern California, "Eisenstein extolled marionettes as an ideal model of centrally controlled and therefore perfect movement."[e]

By using montage in a movie about inception of an idea, Nolan wants us to 'drill down' to the idea of a single shot as a montage, and to derive the idea that we, the audience members, are like marionettes being manipulated by certain ideologically-motivated movie-makers.

a. Wikipedia, 'Inception'. Web, n.d. URL =
b. Wikipedia, 'Soviet montage theory'. Web, n.d. URL =
c. Ging, Debbie. "The Politics of Sound and Image: Eisenstein, Artifice, and Acoustic Montage in Contemporary Feminist Cinema" in The Montage Principle: Eisenstein in New Cultural and Critical Contexts, ed. Jean-Antoine-Dunne and Paula Quigley. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2004. pp. 68, 75, 76.
d. Eisenstein, Sergei. Towards a Theory of Montage, ed. Michael Glenny and Richard Taylor. New York: I.B. Tauris & Co., 2010. pp. 109, 110-111.
e. Zholkovsky, Alexander. "Eisenstein's Poetics: Dialogical or Totalitarian?" Web, n.d. URL =

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