Study Guide

Inception Surrealism vs. Structure

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Surrealism vs. Structure

Dreams are tricky things to captureā€¦ mostly because they never make any sense. Have you ever had a dream where you're at your house but it's not really your house and you're in the middle of eating a delicious soup your grandma made years ago when suddenly that sneaker-wearing black bear you know from high school is chasing you out onto the thin ice of Lake Superior?

Like we said: dreams are insane.

Cobb tells Ariadne that in dreams you can suddenly be somewhere and you never wonder why or how you got there; it's completely strange yet somehow makes total sense.

It's interesting then, that Nolan's dream worlds are so structured. They each have an individual setting that is very specific: It's been created by an architect and then memorized by a dreamer.

The dreams have rules too. Sure, things like real world physics can be manipulated, but things like projections waking up seem to follow a very strict structure. (This probably has something to do with creating a consistent narrative that viewers can actually follow.)

However, just because the dream theory is very ordered doesn't mean Nolan hasn't thrown in some allusions to surrealist works that more accurately depict our zany subconsciouses. You might want to check out this video, which takes a look at a few key similarities between Inception and earlier surrealist films.

Of course the intention here is debatable, and without conformation from Nolan there's no way of knowing whether these are actual allusions or just coincidences. Still, some of the scenes (we particularly like the mirror shattering) seem a little too similar to not be intentional.

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