Friday, 17 June 2011

Just Like Inception

"No idea is simple when you need to plant it in somebody's mind"

It was when I was watching Inception for the fifth time that I realised something was different. My relationship with the film world has changed. I never stop loving it, and I don’t think I ever will. After all a girl doesn’t let go of her first true love that easy, but something changed.  
The fifth time I watched Inception was the first time it wasn’t in the cinema. I was with a friend and we were passionately pausing and discussing scenes, shots, frames, raising questions, developing theories and generally admiring the film. We spend nearly half a day doing just that. It was so wonderful and I was trying to remember another film that has affected me in this way. It was Fight Club. Not that I don’t re watch and obsess over other films, it’s just… well… the impact was different. Has it really been that long? I wondered. I looked at the film world with a questioning look and it looked back at me. "Why can’t you be more like Inception?" I asked, but the film world just shrugged and continued to be.  

I decided to go back to where it all began, the moment I fell in love with film world. I remember it well; I was twelve years old, only a young girl. I was no stranger to films; I have been watching them since I was an idea in my parents' minds. It was the world part of film world that was new to me.

We were given an assignment in 
school to write an essay about anything that interests us. I can’t remember exactly why, maybe because The Nathalie and I watched Jaws at the time and she was really scared, or maybe it was something else, but I decided I wanted to write about scary films. I wanted to understand why are they scary; after all they were only films. I started investigating. Everywhere I turned I was told that if I want to write about fear in films I must watch Alfred Hitchcock’s films. I went to the video store, yes I am that old, and got a copy of The Birds

I was quite a clever twelve years old, I did watch Hitchcock you know, yet at time I didn't know, realise or cared about Hitchcock’s significance to the film world. The love I felt then was brand new and naive, free from all the film education I later got. Suddenly films turned into a world where everything is possible, and it had a powerful effect over me. I was captivated by it and for the first time I had to be a part of it. I never watched a film in the same way again. I should say, though I love The Birds very much it is not necessarily my favourite Hitchcock, it was simply the first.  

During this year’s Oscar ceremony, yes I watch it live, I had a discussion, in Hebrew with the lovely people of SuperBlob, about the kind of films that win Oscar and why Inception would never be one of them. This has lead to a discussion about emotional impacts of films. Inception had and still has one of the strongest emotional impact a film has had over me in years. It’s hard to put my finger on that kind of feeling; it’s not a clear emotion like sadness, happiness, anger, disappointment and so on, though some people may get angry or disappointed with Inception, that’s not its intention. Nevertheless I think very powerful emotions are there.

Perhaps I should take a moment to explain what I mean when I say emotional impact. There are different levels in which a film, and I guess any kind of art form, could affect me emotionally. There are simple emotional effects, such as those I mentioned (laughter, sadness, anger etc.) there are films that take you through slightly more complex feelings of confusion, self discovery and doubt. Then there are films like some of the great Hitchcock films, Fight Club and most recently Inception, that form relationships for life.

As I mentioned four out of the five times I saw Inception were in the cinema, and one was the worst cinema for annoying, rude and loud audience. Every time I watched a film, any film, in that cinema people were interrupting. Every time but the time I went to see Inception

In all four different cinemas in different times and with different kind of audience, it was the quietest and most intense screening I have been to in a long time. I couldn’t even hear popcorn being chewed, and in all times, at the end of the film there was a collective gasp, regardless to what people thought of the film. Now that is what I call a powerful impact, and whether you loved it or hated it, it kept you glued to the screen.

Inception is not there just to entertain you or briefly touch you for a couple of hours, it wants something back. It wants commitment and at least for the two hours and twenty eight minutes of its running time, in which people can’t take their eyes of the screen for a moment, it gets it. From me it got it forever.  

There is a lot more to be said about Inception, which makes it even better. Even more so about Christopher Nolan, who is in my view the Hitchcock of our time, most importantly to me is that Nolan understands films and their world more than any other filmmaker today. 

His films present a concept, Memento, Prestige and Inception, all films related notions, explain it and then become it. By becoming the concept, Nolan’s films make the viewer experience the idea behind them rather than just watch it. This, for me, is the strongest emotional impact a film could have. It’s not caused by what happens on the screen but by the film watching experience. Making me laugh, cry, scared or angry is not very difficult I am easy like that, but to make me feel that kind of commitment to the film viewing experience, that is quite rare. 

So once again I look at the film world, and once again I love it with all my heart. "I can't stay mad at you" I think, and relish all that the film world has given me. "I will stop trying to change you" I surrender, and the film world continues to be.   


  1. Wow. Yeah, alright. You can show me Inception when I come.

  2. It's me by the way. Me, me.