Aaron Weight is the director of Xtreme Productions, an independent media company based in Suffolk, who make awesome films for awesome people. He take’s a look at his favourite film Inception for the Norwich Film Festival and explains his love for this fabulous Christopher Nolan epic.
Why I love Inception?
Ok, let me start by saying, I watch and enjoy a lot of films. In spite of this, I actually find it quite difficult to choose a top ten. There are so many that I love and would quite happily rate as being 10/10, and yet, I cannot choose between them in preference. One thing I can do however, is choose my absolute favourite.
You may have guessed from the title of this blog, it’s Inception. For those who aren’t aware of the film Inception is a 2010 science fiction heist thriller film written, produced, and directed by Christopher Nolan. The film stars a large ensemble cast that includes Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Ken Watanabe, Tom Hardy, and Michael Caine. DiCaprio plays a professional thief who commits corporate espionage by infiltrating the subconscious of his targets. He is offered a chance to have his criminal history erased as payment for a task considered to be impossible: “inception”, the implantation of another person’s idea into a target’s subconscious.
I remember very clearly wanting to see it as soon as possible when it was originally released, purely based on the trailers alone. It looked shiny and mind bending, I certainly do enjoy a good mind bender. I went to see it and I was quite simply blown away. The combination of a very strong and quite unique central premise, stunningly complex FX work and a cast of wonderful actors all come together to make a film which I am quite happy to nail my colours to the mast for. I went again, and I took my wife with me (she doesn’t like films as much as I do) she loved it, I got to study it.
Usually when I rate a film 10/10 I will arrange to see it again, under enhanced scrutiny, to make absolutely sure. I pick at the details a lot more than I do on the first watch, and often I find some imperfection which knocks the score down, perhaps not even by much. I found nothing I disliked. For the record, I think I have seen it 7 times now and I am still yet to find anything I am not satisfied with. If anything, I notice more and more wonderful details each time (watch for a hidden hand gesture when the van reverses off the bridge!)
But in fact, my enjoyment of the presentation is only half of the story, I am also a huge fan of the process of the film. What I love the most about it is that a lot of the antigravity and distortion effects seen in the film are not actually computer generated, like, at all. You can not get away from it, Nolan is a great director. For instance, the scene in the bar where everything goes sideways, VFX yes? No. The whole set was rigged to incline at the push of a button. Everything then sits at about 40° so we get the water to one side, the lights hanging awkwardly and even the flowers and peoples hair follow the flow. Genius.
The rotating corridor? They built a massive spinning drum and actually did it. A combination of a camera inserted via crane to produce the views where the corridor is rotating, and floor/wall mounted cameras to provide the disorientating view of the corridor being static but the actors still flying about, all done in camera. Epic.
How about the antigravity bits in the hotel? I’ve seen some people saying it was done with the actors being underwater and then green-screened in, but again, no! This time they built a vertical set and hung the actors on wires so that from the cameras perspective (looking down the corridor) they would appear to be weightless. Simply stunning.
Of course it’s not all physical effects, there are a few computer generated scenes which deserve a mention too, the exploding cafe for example, or the folding city. It’s the combination of these elements along with everything I mentioned above that makes me love this film so much. The absolute craft of it. Also, Wally Pfister (The cinematographer on this film) does have a real eye for making a project look crisp and is able to manipulate light, darkness, colours and contrasts in away which keeps the audience glued to the film. Also, watching this film in IMAX was simply divine.
I think It’s fair to say as a standalone organic narrative film, not based on a comic book or a previously made film, this is just so beautifully done.
One last thing, I have never sat in on any film, before or since, that has had an audience reaction quite as vocal as the ones I was with for inception. One of the screenings people very audibly gasped at that last cut to black. Every single one of the showings I went to, the audience clapped afterwards. Who does that in a cinema? People who have just had the pleasure of seeing Inception, that’s who.
So yes, favourite film ever? Absolutely no doubt in my mind.