Allen's Film Reviews for Summer 2010 #1: Inception

Inception is the best film I’ve seen in many a while. By what standard? This – unlike others, it stuck in my mind far beyond the two minute walk from cinema to car on way home. In fact, for the first week after I watched it, images from it frequented my head (although thankfully not my dreams).

I pestered people at work with the question, “What is the most resilient virus?”

Getting something to stick in someone’s mind is, of course, what the film is all about. At least I think so. But according to those with higher brows than mine, Inception is really about video gaming, or the shared dream of watching a movie. Maybe. But for me, when I saw it, one word shot through my head unbidden: marketing. IMHO Inception is all about how to persuade others to alter their behaviour by planting the seed of an idea into their subconscious.

The whole movie is a marketing lesson wrapped up in a film plot. Some have likened it to a heist film, in which a team of thieves forge an elaborate plan for stealing an item(s) of value. So according to this view Inception is a cross between The Italian Job or The Inside Man with a twist of The Matrix for sci-fi effect. But remember – a heist is the opposite of what inception is all about. Here, our team is hired to put something in, not take something out.

And what is it they have to place in the vault of their mark’s mind?

Cobb: What’s the most resilient parasite? An idea. A single idea from the human mind can build cities. An idea can transform the world and rewrite all the rules.

Isn’t planting an idea in someone’s mind the very essence of what marketing seeks to achieve? And how are they going to perform this feat?

Eames: If we are gonna perform Inception then we need imagination.

Imagination is the key. Yes, you have the strategy, the segmentation, the statistics, the sales techniques, and all the other tools of the modern marketing process. But, finally, marketing is an act of creation by which you try to implant an idea of product value in the mind of potential customers/clients.

Inception gives us some tips on how this is best achieved.

Cobb: You see, I think negative emotions are always trumped by positive emotions.
Eames: You mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.
Cobb: Never recreate from your memory. Always imagine new places.

I could write a paragraph on each of these. But it might be best if I left it to you to tease out the marketing implications for yourselves. Go on – exercise your own imagination!

A final word on the film. DiCaprio was in serious danger of being outshone by two of his team: Joseph Gorden-Levitt as Arthur and British actor Tom Hardy as Eames were superb. And if you’d like a single visual represention of the whole plot in one glance try this.

Has this post planted a virus in your mind?

Image credit: cuttlefish.