Movie genres provide a way of classifying films based on their content and setting. Inception is a science fiction movie written and directed by the acclaimed director, Christopher Nolan. The movie is set in a dystopian future where a single man controls the Energy industry of the entire world and where technology has enabled man to influence other people’s thoughts by accessing their dreams. To prevent the man’s fickle son from inheriting the empire, a team of corporate thieves set out to plant an idea in the son’s mind convincing him to give up on his inheritance. The movie is unarguably rich in sci-fi themes. This paper seeks to highlight these themes and elements.
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The movie’s setting is the primary determinant of its fitness in being regarded as science fiction. The film is set in the future. In this dystopia, the current political boundaries are now controlled by corporations. One corporation in particular, Cobol Industries controls the entire world’s energy. The movie therefore revolves around the power struggle between the fickle heir to the empire and competing corporations over control of the industry. In this future, it is possible to access other people’s subconscious minds. This ability quickly gives rise to a form of corporate idea heist where thieves trained in the art of tricking a victim’s subconscious into revealing corporate secrets. Therefore the speculative nature of the movie warrants its description as sci-fi.
The other determinant of the fitness of genre ascribed to the movie is the use of conceit in the form of advanced scientific gadgetry. The operation of the Portable Automated Somnacin Intra Venous (PASIV) device is central to the delivery of the movie’s plot. The machine is a contraption that was, as stated, initially developed for military purposes so as to help soldiers experience warring conditions without having to be placed on the battlefield. This is because it enables one to simulate reality inside one’s subconscious without suffering harmful effects such as injury and death, which nature normally presents. The machine however finds other purposes in the hands of corporate thieves of the subconscious. The movie’s main plot in fact is based upon a scientific experiment involving the machine. The protagonist is offered a significant reward of being reunited with his family if he and his team are successful in performing the opposite of what the machine was designed to do. Instead of downloading information from the victim, they were supposed to plant information inside the victim’s mind. Moreover, the weaponry used in the movie is futuristic and does not exist in the current world. This conceit thereby gives credence to the ascription of the movie to the science fiction genre.
In relation to the life cycles of genres, Inception can be regarded as revisionist (Toro 140). This is because the movie is largely symbolic. Nothing much actually happens in the consensus reality and most of the plot is executed inside the character’s minds. Secondly, the movie is overly complex and intellectual; although few instances of emotions are apparent where the director tries to explain the emotional unstable emotional state of the main protagonist. In addition to that, there are four narrative elements that inextricably tie the more to the sci-fi genre. The first element is confinement to the laws of the consensus reality. This is exemplified by how even with the integration of futuristic undertones in the movie; the characters in the movie are still bound by the rules that dictate how matter interacts within the physical universe. Gravity for example is adhered to and characters are not accorded superhuman abilities such as flying, which would defy these laws. The movie however, uses science to break these rules by reinterpreting their universe. For example, certain scenes in the movie feature the main character bending matter on whim by his mind. However, instead of the being interpreted as telekinesis, the scene is explained away by the fact that he is under the PASIV device.
The second element is engagement of the characters in scientific discourse. The movie is dotted with scenes where the team of corporate thieves discusses the scientific ramifications of subconscious navigation. For example, one character spells out that the rainfall being experienced in the first level of the dream world was as a result of his refusal to urinate before going under the PASIV device. The main character also explains that failure to escape from the dream world leads to the permanent amalgamation of the conscious and subconscious mind in an event known as limbo. The third element is engagement in technological discourse. This element was executed for the purpose of explaining how the PASIV device functioned. The characters alerts viewers that the machine uses a chemical compound called Somnacin that is administered intravenously through conduits connected to the device itself. The last element of narrative is social-political contexts. In the movie, the main character has been exiled from the United States where he left his preteen children after being falsely accused of murdering his wife. The idea of international crime is also hinted at seeing that he is not only wanted by the law in the United States, but also in Mombasa, Kenya. Thereby, in the light of the above evidence, one can irrefutably claim that Inception is a work of science fiction.
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