Mr. Joseph Byrne
14 December 2013
Cinema Influences Culture in Inception vs. Taken
Chris Nolan’s Inception compares and contrasts with Pierre Morel’s Taken in many aspects. Both these action movies have proved to be very successful in the movie industry through various techniques used by the directors. While both being action films of the 21st century, they do differ in many ways. Nolan’s film is based off character Dom Cobb extracting secrets from one’s subconscious during their dream state. He is hired to perform the opposite, planting an idea in one’s mind- “inception”. Being on the run and missing his children, he accepts the task but his emotions and guilt make it harder to perform. The film concludes with Cobb reuniting with his children, but leaves the viewers wondering if the ending was a reality or just a dream. On the other hand, Morel’s film is about former Central Intelligence Agent, Bryan Mills’ attempt in rescuing his teenage daughter Kim, who has been taken. She lives with her mother Lenore and wealthy stepfather, therefore isolating Bryan. The movie concludes with not only the rescue of Kim, but Bryan’s relationship with his ex-wife and daughter are rebuilt. Although both films are categorized as action films, Nolan’s film challenges genre convention and classic Hollywood styles more than Morels’. Auteur cinema is also an essential focus on these films. Nolan’s passion for psychology portrays him as an auteur in the film industry, contrasting Morel, who is more influenced by other auteurs. The combination of mechanisms: genre, social context and auteur cinema, led directors to successfully influence the society and culture.
What makes Chris Nolan’s film Inception so unique from most films made in recent times is his focus on cinema and culture. Although his style contrasts the typical “Hollywood” film, his techniques keep his audience drawn in, if not, more interested. This science-fiction action movie challenges other films of the same genre. Inception reflects the classical Hollywood films while completely challenging its values simultaneously. The film incorporates elements of a classic Hollywood movie, from the action-packed thrilling scenes to explosions, keeping the viewers engaged. There was much thought into the convention of this film. The Hollywood studios typically rely on stars as a marketing device for society, the well known, Leonardo DiCaprio fit character Dom Cobb perfectly. The film does appeal to viewers of all different interests. But, the traits of a classical Hollywood film also consist of clarity, unity, goal-oriented characters and closure. Nolan’s storyline is harder to follow than the typical action films. From the non-linear story and multi-layered lines, this challenging story line contests the traditional style. For many viewers, it requires multiple viewings of Inception to understand the plot. There is a lot of confusion, especially when there is not a clear fine line between realities. Not only does the constant switch of scenes between the reality, a dream, or a dream within a dream already challenge the audience, but also there are many twists and ropes to the plot. The complexity was a good quality of the film, keeping viewers from being able to predict the outcome early on which typically results in a loss of interest. Inception does not incorporate closure in any way; the ending just leaves viewers wondering whether everything was just a dream. The outcome of the film completely contradicts this standard of a Hollywood film. Inception is a personal reflection of Nolan, his obsession with human states in a psychological standpoint are often the main theme of his films (Calvert 2011). His past films, such as Memento and Insomnia, also revolve around psychology, which is consistent to his prominent themes. Being an auteur appeals to Nolan’s potential viewers, who share similar perspectives or interests. Nolan’s auteurism positively benefits as a marketing strategy in the post-studio era, considered the “new Hollywood.”
Pierre Morel’s film Taken is an action thriller film made in the 21st century, yet it reflects the classic Hollywood values and styles. The plot of the film is very straightforward from beginning, middle and end. A standard plot from the beginning, climax, to the end makes the time and events easy to follow, producing clarity for the viewers. The connections between the characters are direct and complete. Father Bryan Mills and his daughter Kim’s rocky relationship are established in the beginning due to their separation, it almost seems like they are both strangers to one another. When Kim gets kidnapped, Bryan’s goal is to get her back doing everything he can to the best of his knowledge. The movie concludes with not only the rescue of Kim, but Bryan’s relationship with his ex-wife and daughter are rebuilt. Closure is definitely established by the end of the film, which comes to be a main component of portraying a classic Hollywood film. Morel is a French cinematographer and directed the well-known film, District 13. Although popular for his crime-based thrillers, both of these films were produced and co-written by Luc Besson (Corliss 2009). The passion for these animated crime dramas are derived from Besson himself, proving that Morel is in fact, not an auteur. Throughout Besson’s life, he felt as though he never fit in, his solidarity caused him to explore his imagination, giving him ideas for his work in film production (Wolf 2007).
Although Inception and Taken are both recognized as action films, the action throughout Inception is merged in with science, mystery and adventure while Taken combines action with crime and thrill. Both Nolan and Morel’s techniques of combining these categories draw in more viewers by appealing to multiple groups of people with different interests. The fusing of multiple genres creates a hybrid film, resulting in a more unique film. Both films do carry traits deeming them to be the classic Hollywood films. While Morel sticks strictly to characteristics that depict a classic Hollywood film, Nolan strays away by incorporating confusing plots and an unsure ending, leaving viewers with questions. The appeal to the auteur motivates marketing campaigns. Though both movies are based off passion, Nolan’s film was derived from his own while Morel’s was originated from others, making Nolan a true auteur.
Focusing on cinema and culture and investigating the simplest components of a film, such as genre, social context and auteur cinema, allowed a seeing of a new perspective on how cinema can strongly impact our culture. Both films combined multiple genres, allowing for the appeal to a larger and more diverse audience. Drifting away from the classic Hollywood style may actually make a film more successful, keeping the film industry non-repetitive and interesting. Auteurism is a great technique in marketing, specifically towards the film industry. Knowing what a director is passionate about will appeal to people who share the same interests, successfully keeping a steady group of loyal viewers. Even the smallest aspects of a film have an immense influence on our society today.
Leon Saunders Calvert, “Inception: Film, Dreams and Freud,” Offscreen 15.5 (May 31, 2011). http://www.offscreen.com/index.php/pages/essays/inception_dreams_freud/
Richard Corliss, “Taken: The French Disconnection,” Time Entertainment (Jan 29, 2009). http://content.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,1874803,00.html
Jamie Wolf, “Le Cinéma du Blockbuster,” The New York Times Movies (May 20, 2007). http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/20/movies/20wolf.html?_r=0