After watching Inception, I started thinking about movies with the theme of “Dreams”. There are a few of them, each one a bit different but with an overall idea in common. Reality is all about our perceptions. What we see as the world ends up being the world, no matter whether the real world is, in fact, real. Why do we enjoy these movies? And will Inception ruin any other “Dream” movie in the future?
First, there are two different types of Dream-movies. There are the ones where the audience discover that reality is false and the movies where the audience always know reality is false and use it to their advantage. Vanilla Skies and Dark City are the first type. There is this Big reveal that the world that the audience had been participating in wasn’t real, which explains all the weirdness throughout the movie. Thus, you have to watch the movie a second time to make sure that it fits and that there were hints through out the movie. It works, and it is usually pretty fun. But, sometimes it get really annoying. Vanilla Skies, for example, was a fun movie, but I didn’t really care that Tom Cruise was asleep for the whole time. It made sense, but it was also easy. I like watching it again to confirm that, yes, he was in a dream and there are hints all over the place. Dark City did it better. There were two reveals. The first, we find out The Freaky dudes came from somewhere and abducted the humans to run experiments. Ok, that makes sense. But once the screen pulls back and we see that the City is in freaking space, then yeah, there is a totally “Holy shit” moment. It is the good stuff and the big reveal is pretty awesome.
On the other side on the coin, we have movies where we know that it is a dream the whole time. Tron is a great one. The main characters are basically stuffed in a computer, living in the world as if they are computer programs. There are tanks that are anti-virus programs, hackers, a Master Program, a world view, the whole nine. It is interesting to see how the metaphor plays out, watching the main characters move through the world, trying to solve a problem that would be mundane if they weren’t stuck in a computer. Of course, Inception couldn’t pretend that the world was real. The active navigation of the dream-worlds was the entertaining part, watching how the crew would use the technology, use the dream-worlds, use how the dream-worlds work in order to steal information or plant information. Simply understanding how the crew was working was the thrill. That was the price of admission and that was why the dream-scaping worked in the movies favor.
Interestingly enough, The Matrix was both types. The draw of the movie was the revelation, trying to understand how the characters were bouncing around the room and kung-fu fighting and dodging bullets. Once we realized how the Matrix worked, we enjoyed the movie because we could watch how the characters use the Matrix in their advantage. Of course, we could have an entire conversation on “Escapism dealing with Escapism dealing with Escapism,” but, I mean, it’s Friday. Let’s take a breather.