For my overall thoughts on Inception, please see my review. Also, if you have yet to see Inception there may be spoilers in the post, I don’t intend for there to be but there may be.
For Inception I tried a little experiment. I knew from what little I’d initially heard that I wanted to see the film, it sounded intriguing and that there was a suggestion that there would be some kind of twist. I decided, after initially hearing about the film, that I would do everything I could to see it as fresh as possible. I wanted to go in with as few pre-conceived notions about the film as I could. So, I avoided learning about the plot. I did what I could to ignore trailers, to the point where I actually left the room one time when it came on the television while visiting with a friend. I didn’t want to know anything. I just wanted the film to be what it was and not let what I thought it was going to be color my watching of it. I was successful in my effort.
Going in to see Inception on Friday night I knew that the film was a sort of crime caper, probably a heist movie, and it took place within someone’s mind. I let other people’s talk about the movie go in one ear and out the other. I skimmed past any but the vaguest mentions of the film in my twitter feed. I read no reviews and wouldn’t even read news items online even tangentially related to the movie. Other than Leonardo DiCaprio, I wasn’t even sure who was in the movie.
Avoiding news about a film you know you want to see, particularly a big budget summer film like Inception is difficult. Trailers show up everywhere. In New York, where I live, Inception posters are at every subway stop. Sometimes two or three posters for the film at the same stop. Every website under the sun is writing about the film in some way or another. Not knowing what the movie is about takes a bit of effort.
I started avoiding a lot of detail about the movies I wanted to see in 2009. I decided to do it, because I had heard so much about The Dark Knight before seeing it opening night, that I had been a little disappointed the first time I’d seen it, and there were other movies before and after that I’d learned a lot about before seeing and I started to feel like it was knowing too much that was spoiling my enjoyment. So, I decided to do myself a favor and not learn too much about movies I intended to see before I went to see them. I just wanted to learn enough to know whether or not I wanted to see it.
Not that I think this is for everyone or that I’ve been that consistent about my avoidance. I feel like I knew a lot about Iron Man 2 before going to see it. Some people want to know all the details before they go in and that’s fine for them. I feel like I’m enjoying films a lot more by being mostly ignorant of their content before seeing them.
In fact, two of my favorite films of last year were films I knew very little about before seeing them. Moon was my favorite film of 2009 and seeing it on DVD the only thing I knew was there were a lot of people who loved it, Sam Rockwell was in it, and it was about an astronaut alone on the moon. When I saw Bronson I’d decided to go to the movies and see something independent. Walking up to the ticket counter at Angelika Film Center two movies were about to start Bronson and Black Dynamite, neither of which I knew much about beyond the brief descriptions of the plot I read. Bronson was what I saw that day and I loved it. Black Dynamite I saw some months later on DVD, still not knowing much about it, and I loved that movie as well.
I feel that a movie like Inception with its twists and mind-bending action benefits from a fresh viewing in particular. It’s a familiar movie, as I say in my review, it’s a straightforward heist plot, in an unfamiliar playing field. Not knowing details let the movie build its own world for me and set its rules. I gave it a blank slate to fill and it did so quite well.
This is Part Two of three posts I have planned for this week about Inception. Come back tomorrow for my thoughts on seeing Inception’s female characters.