There are two other ways many mentally ill patients, or traumatized individuals, deal with their overwhelming feelings: dreaming and construction. Like I have said before, this is not “sadness,” this is energy coursing through veins urging, moving a person. Inception is a story essentially about a team of “dream hackers,” who try to implant an idea to help a wealthy man stay wealthy. I think this is the simplest explanation without any spoilers.
Things to Love About this Film and How it deals with Trauma, Dreams, Creation, and Destruction as Coping Mechanisms:
1. Nolan is careful to point out something that I was so happy to see: when you create worlds, it’s a very complex process. Dreaming is not easy—especially for those who are traumatized. We see that Cobb his subconscious knows, the people in the dream will look at him and they know that the world is wrong.
2. We see a lot of preparation, planning, and frustration. Unlike Sucker Punch’s Snyder, Nolan does not pretend that the dream world, or implanting an idea (inception) is easy.
3. This gives dreams a whole new weight. What we dream, whether literally in our sleep or when we are awake, consciously can lead us to a conclusion and then an idea that can ultimately change our lives.
4. We see that this is a team effort and that, even in “dreams,” we have fights and full on wars to fight. I like that a person can protect their dreams, have some sort of security—all while you’re sleeping, you can have armies defending your secrets and fears. Our dreams say so much about us…
5. The leads me to Cobb’s trauma issues with Mal (come on dude, look at her name!). Dreams, the worlds we create—projects, jobs, friendships, families (“in real life” or “in our sleep”) can be the death of us.
7. Female empowerment, thank goodness: essentially the story begins and ends with women—Mal, the woman who locked away her “reality check” tool (which I thought was a cool addition, by the way) and started to confuse which world was which. Ariadne is an architect, but she soon becomes a creator of worlds; however, she learns not to put herself in them too much. We never learn a thing about her, Arthur, Eamus, or our awesome Yusuf.
8. The film’s artistry essentially taught (hopefully) people to dream and (de)construct to deal with issues. We all have the power to create. It’s the restraints we place on ourselves, the rules.