Walter's World: Space, from Time to Time - Review of Inception
Ausschnitt aus dem Film „Inception“ mit Joseph Gordon-Levitt
(c) Warner Bros
Gilles Deleuze argues that film history is bifurcated by 1945, seeing space as the early obsession of cinema, with time taking priority after World War II. In this short essay, Walter Metz provides a case in point via a comparison of space in D. W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation and time in Christopher Nolan's Inception.
A kind of kooky „King Lear“, Christopher Nolan's Inception (2010) concerns Cobb (played by Leonardo DiCaprio), hired to implant an idea into a CEO's brain to split up his father's company. In order to trick the man's brain, Cobb hires an architect, Ariadne (played by Ellen Page) to construct various depths of dream levels. The film is a genre playground: At the top levels, which take place in a van and a hotel, the heist film provides the structure. Deeper still, Cobb and his team don parkas to crack into a safe hidden within an ice fortress.[ quoteme=Inception] recreates the ski chase scenes from a set of James Bond films, most notably the opening of „The Spy Who Loved Me“ (Lewis Gilbert, 1977), now further immortalized as the source of the Queen of England's paratrooper entrance into the 2012 London Olympics.
There is a final, unplanned dream level in „Inception“, buried deep within Cobb's own consciousness. Earlier in his life, his dream experiments with his wife Mal (played by Marion Cotillard), turned destructive, leaving her buried in a fourth dream level, an apartment set atop a crumbling seascape. Film theory can help us understand this unexpected turn in the film's machinations. In his two books on the cinema, philosopher Gilles Deleuze argues that 1945 is the turning point for film history, suggesting that films before World War II engage what he calls the movement image while films after Auschwitz and Hiroshima are obsessed with time.
„Inception“ is an intriguing case study for testing Deleuze's hypothesis. At the onset of classical Hollywood editing practices, a filmmaker like D.W. Griffith organized sequences of shots in order to use them to tell a story of people „Gus Chase“ simultaneously present in different spatial locations. For example, in the famous chase sequence from „The Birth of a Nation“ (1915), Griffith presents shots of The Pet Sister (played by Mae Marsh), a young Southern white woman; Colonel Cameron, her protective brother; and Gus, an African-American soldier from the North. Gus chases the girl to the edge of a cliff while her brother desperately tries to catch up to them. Individual shots of the three characters give us spatial information about their locations, and yet the continuity editing allows us to see these images as having occurred simultaneously. In the last minute rescue tradition popularized by Griffith, we are constructed as spectators to worry about whether the Colonel can close the spatial gap in time before Gus can get to his sister. The sequence ends in tragedy: the Colonel fails to defeat space, so the sister jumps off the cliff rather than be violated by Gus.
See the next page to find out how Inception converts Griffith's spatial continuity into one instead based on time.
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Adam Arndt am Uhr
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