Dream Gates

Dream Gates

An Active Dreamer’s review of “Inception”

Inception-Building-water.jpgIn one line: the movie “Inception” is more exciting in its conception than in its delivery. It offers some great talking-points and plenty to chew on for anyone interested in dreaming and the physics of non-ordinary reality.

On the other hand, the  interesting and sophisticated conceptual stuff is made to travel with a mediocre thriller plot. Whenever the film-makers are in doubt about what to do next, they insert another bang-bang shoot-em-up or car chase scene. Most of the dreamscapes are surprisingly drab and ordinary, featuring  endless sterile vistas of high-rise iceboxes.


In my cinema seat, I was disappointed. Yet the movie themes linger, and can be the stuff of a good conversation about what is possible off-screen and off-world, in the real worlds of dream experience.

Let’s look at some concepts in the film that are not sci-fi at all. Shared dreaming, in which two or more people embark on conscious and intentional adventures in dream reality, is not only possible; it is a core practice in shamanic dreaming traditions and is central to my own teaching and practice. In my Active Dreaming workshops, we often have 30 or more conscious dreamers travel together on an agreed itinerary, with remarkable results. We don’t need cables, magic boxes, or potions mixed up by an alchemist in Mombasa. We used simple relaxation, clear intention, the building of a strong visual portal, and the power of steady shamanic drumming to power and focus the group journey. Needless to say, we do not used shared dreaming to invade minds!


Reality creation in the dream world, once again, is not the invention of Christopher Nolan and his crew. There are stable locales in the dreamspace, some of them more ancient than any constructions in current use on the planet, that are the product of human imaginations. I lead many group journeys to locations of this kind in what I like to call the Imaginal Realm; some of these journeys are described in my book Dreamgates. Cities, temples, palaces and residential developments in the afterlife are generated by imagination and collective beliefs. The locales in “Inception” are less alluring, the product of shackled and repetitive imaginations and of an “architect” who designs an astral trap.  In Dreamgates I describe such locales as “Ibbetson lands”, after George du Maurier’s novel Peter Ibbetson, in which a prisoner meets his lover in dream locations woven from their memories.


Astral physics work differently from the rules of 3-D reality, as memorably depicted in “Inception” in scenes in which skyscrapers fold over and people walk up vertical slopes. When we explore these phenomena in Active Dreaming, we discover that on the astral plane, reality construction involves working with materials that have substance (though of much finer mesh than earthly materials) and are ideo-plastic (shaped by thought).

The different levels of dreaming depicted in “Inception” are familiar to active dreamers, as is the phenomenon of awakening from one dream into another. The most exciting first-hand account of this that I have heard from another person came from an 11-year-old girl in a class I once led for a school district. She described, in vivid detail, traveling through seven dreams, nested inside each other, and returning the same way. “Inception” manages only four.


The depiction of projections in “Inception” makes a bow to Jungian psychology. Viewers may wonder whether it is a satisfactory description of all the phenomena depicted. Cobb’s dead wife, for example, seems to be a transpersonal figure, not merely a projection.

The “militarized subconscious” of Robert Fischer, the man targeted for mind manipulation, may be fiction, but it is certainly possible – and sometimes essential – to set up psychic defense against intrusion and to call in “psychic cops”. This is another core element in my teaching and practice of Active Dreaming, and is discussed in detail in Dreamgates.

As for the key plot element in “Inception” – the effort to embed a script in someone’s mind – I wish I could dismiss this as fantasy. However, many groups throughout history have attempted mind control in this way. There is a notorious example from the ancient world. In the romance of Alexander, by pseudo-Callisthenes, an Egyptian sorcerer-king succeeds in entering and manipulating the dreaming minds of the mother of Alexander the Great and then her husband, King Philip of Macedonia.


I can readily imagine spending a long and entertaining evening discussing the pedigree and realism of the oneiric elements in “Inception.” This would be more fun than the movie itself, which became – for me – claustrophobic and tediously repetitive. The movie is unrelieved by even the tiniest spark of humor, unless an insider’s joke counts as such. (The recall signal that pulls the dream travelers back is a recording of Edith Piaf’s Je ne regrette rien as heard in the movie “La vie en rose”, starring Marion Cotillard, who plays the dead wife here.)

In the absence of humor, the thudding earnestness of “Inception” would only work if it developed much more narrative drive and the sense that something really important is at stake. But I was never made to care about why the dream gang was sent to infiltrate the mind of the heir to a business fortune.


No complaints about the acting and cinematography in “Inception”. But the great talent engaged here is confined by a lackluster
script. By the end, I was nostalgic for the verve and color and wild humor of Terry Gilliam’s version of the dreamworld in “Brazil”.

Meanwhile, I am waiting for someone in Hollywood to wake up to the fact that the real arts of Active Dreaming are not only more entertaining than this, but can be used to make things better in the world.

related articles: Shared Dreaming before and after “Inception”
Shared Dreaming as Home Entertainment
How shared dreaming saved George’s job

  • Wanda Burch

    I have this movie on my radar as one I would like to see, but now I will be better prepared to see what can be plucked out for discussion and commentary. I was already prepared for discontent on a theme that associated dreaming with mind invasion without the upside of positive dream sharing. I read several wildly supportive reviews – from Hollywood of course – touting the movie for introducing the idea that dreaming can be talked about, written about, and filmed without the embarrassment of admitting that one dreams. So dreams are OK now that a sterile movie about invading the dreaming mind has been released!
    Then IASD jumped into the mix and posted a review and a challenge, asking their dreamers to respond. The responses from people who shared credentials on how many books they had written and how many university letters surrounded their names, except for a few, were disappointing. Your review knocks all of them out of the water. Even the good ones were couched in such boring delivery that I barely remained awake to find out how it turned out – hmmm…a bit like your description of the movie.
    I’ll leave off the names but anyone can go to the IASD website and find the reviews. One touts the movie as introducing dreams as a plot device that “affords more dramatic visuals than stealing diamonds from vaults ever could. Instead of the loose logic of the dream, there is a tight and intricate thriller plot.” Another cautiously introduces the concept of the movie having introduced dream sharing. And then this reviewer pulls out the science card, which seems to be their mantra for killing anything in dreaming they have never attempted or experienced. The reviewer says “…while many believe that one can to some extent enter the dream of someone else, or “share” a dream, science and research has yet to demonstrate that and as dream researchers we therefore must take a more conservative perspective.”
    One even notes that it requires “persistence and focus” to even be able to understand within a dream that “this is a dream.” This reviewer announces a boring and rather sterile before-bed exercise for permitting yourself to become “lucid” in the dream state so that you will understand you are dreaming! Oh, yes, and the exercise sets you up to say to yourself – in the dream state – “…when I see something strange, I will realize I am dreaming and become lucid.” During the night’s dreaming, you may see something so strange that you realize, “That’s impossible. This is a dream!” So, my dreams aren’t lucid if what I see is not “strange” and if my dreams are, in fact, entirely possible. I would not ever want to share the environment of this researcher’s dreaming mind!
    The most “lucid” comments, which had all drifted into shared dreaming, was from Jean Campbell, who noted that it is possible for us to share dreams while we are asleep, “be aware that we are dreaming as the dream goes on, and remember these dreams when we wake? Yes.”
    YES, Jean, there is shared dreaming, fabulous places to meet in dreams and fabulous, positive – even healing – experiences to discover, share, and bring back to others! Hollywood hasn’t discovered that in this film; and it would appear that many of our most lettered dreamers are still far behind the curve!

  • Mogenns Gilmour

    Thank you Robert for the review and insight into shared dreaming. Personally I am most intrigued by the enormous potential of individual dreaming and shared dreaming as a means to bring positive change to ones immediate and transpersonal world, and how quickly this can happen given time is not a factor in the dream state. As in most personal paths one must take care of the personal business first and learn to trust that one’s own growth will also lead to the growth of others around us as we are more connected then most humans would like to admit. Can we collectively cure hunger? Clean and restore the oceans? Bring a lasting peace to war torn countries? We need new dreams and we need leadership that can allow us to dream together and solve these seemingly BIG challenges. I really wonder sometimes just how big they really are to the dream world?
    Blessings, Mogenns

  • Bonnie

    Robert, I am re-reading your books, and working harder at journaling my dreams – one of my tasks is to copy my sporadic collection of dreams and place them (with index entries, etc.) into a Word doc. Some of your topics included dream sharing, precognitive dreams, somehow “having” another person’s dreams – plus you suggested looking at older dreams after events …
    I had a cluster of dreams a while back in which I was ready to commit suicide – with a pill/medicine – with the encouragement of doctors/family/friends – as time got closer to my taking this pill, I was starting to try backing out of it …
    Since I consider myself quite non-suicidal, plus I take no medications of any sort, I figured that there must be some symbolism that I simply wasn’t catching. However, looking at these dreams after events that took place a few months later, the meaning now seems quite different …
    My daughter attempted suicide with doctor-prescribed medications – prescriptions that she was ordered to take in spite of strong warnings to NOT take the particular meds together, in combination they had a strong suicide side-effect! After she took the overdose, she apparently had a lucid moment and called out for help – and thankfully her life was saved …
    So dreams gave me the warning, and if I had been able to understand them I might have been able to help early on…
    Perhaps I should have gone back into these dreams, or ??? Anyway, I truly appreciate your insights and the directions to better understand dreams!

  • Robert Moss

    Bonnie – I am sorry to hear about your daughter’s time of challenge. The phenomenon of dreaming ourselves into another person’s perspective or situation is in no way unusual. This is especially common between mothers and daughter’s, or sister and sister. To get the messages clear, we are obliged to ask, “Who am I, in this dream?” Practice is required here, as you are now aware. We all dream, but Active Dreaming is a discipline with many levels of skill and experience.

  • Robert Moss

    Mogenns – The short answer to your questions is: we can try. In our dream school, we are growing the practice of community dreaming, and this is one of the themes of a new book I am currently completing.

  • Robert Moss

    Wanda – Thank you for your deliciously candid review of the reviewers of “Inception.” Since you are widely known and respected as one of the most gifted of all our active dreamers – with numerous documented experiences of shared dreaming, psychic dreams and diagnostic and healing dreams – perhaps your voice will be heard by those who are in need of further education (and above all, first-hand experience) in these areas.

  • Gabe

    Myself, I enjoyed the movie, but I am easy to please when it comes to sci-fi, lol. I do agree with your perspectives above, reflecting on it now.
    I would have to say though that I am happy to see such a film being made in the west. It seems like such stories are usually buried under the idea that technology is the portal to creativity (like virtual reality). Its like, as a culture we don’t want to admit that the real mystery is ourselves and instead like to play at the game that our technology is far more mysterious than anything we know or are capable of. They did work in the image of technology with the briefcases, but as part of the narrative they were just symbolic magical boxes since no explanation of what they were or why they worked was offered. All this to me adds up to a welcome shift in a big budget movie. A movie like this I would have expected to die in pre-production, killed by people afraid to at least open to the ideas. So I celebrate its victory as such.

  • Valley

    Hi Robert, Love your review. I woke up thinking about the movie Inception this morning after seeing it last week. I was thinking about the love story element of the film between the main character and his deceased wife. This is an important part of the film for me and it showed the how one can become outcast and stuck unable to move forward in life when there are unresolved issues with loved ones who have crossed over. It was an interesting story about soul retrieval and also helping the departed to move on from one of these in between realms which was connected to past memories that was shown crumbling all around them in the film. It was this element of the film which grabbed my interest in moving it along, however I could do without the worn out gun fights for action. The display in the film of how actions in one dream realm effects what is going on in other dream realms was interesting to me and would be a fun discussion to explore.

  • Kumar

    Thanks Robert for this blog – I have heard you make these points over and over in the past decade plus that I have known you. I have not seen the movie yet but it sounds like confirmation of the journeys into the inner worlds. For those of us who have been on the dreamer’s path this is good material to keep dreaming and for others to start exploring the inner worlds of dreams.

  • Robert Moss

    Kumar – Yes, you have been part of some extraordinary group journeys in Active Dreaming and you know how much is possible – for the good – beyond the scenarios of “Inception.” I also agree that this movie will confirm for many the possibility of travel into inner and other worlds.

  • Robert Moss

    Valley – I agree that the protagonist’s love for his dead wife and her parlous condition as a suicide could have been the driving theme in the movie (though I did not like the depiction of why and how she killed herself). Clearly they needed us at their scripting conferences!

  • Robert Moss

    Gabe – I agree this was “a welcome shift in a big budget movie”. Hopefully it will inspire other directors and deep-pocket producers to do something better involving the real worlds of dreaming.

  • Richard Wilkerson

    Very good points about the film and dreams. Robert, I appreciated the way you point out how we don’t need all these devices and potions to achieve these, and even more profound, levels of dreaming. In that way, the film Inception just barely scratched the surface of the dreamworld.
    I think they did miss many opportunities for humor, though I didn’t think it was absent – the “Couldn’t you have peed before you came here?” line was pretty good when they landed in a rainstorm. uhh, I guess that was about it… Oh, how about Eames comment to Arthur about imagining a bigger gun?
    I had to think of the drugs and devices less as given them abilities, (though they did), as constraining devices. The movie made more sense to me when I thought of the dream-machine and the drug (Somnacin?) as limiting and inhibiting dream action. The most basic lucid dreamer would wonder why these folks didn’t just fly or breathe water or heal their own wounds when needed.
    In the first practice level that Ariadne/Ellen Page enters, she seemed to have much more freedom than when the extractions and inceptions were taking place.
    I guess they had to maintain waking reality when trying to fool their clients and targets. And I suppose to avoid the projections converging on them, they needed to chill… but really, if your only option is drawing the attention of a projection, or dying and blowing the whole thing by falling off a cliff side… well then hovering a bit would a natural move.
    It seems the architect had some strict limitations they could place on the dreamscape. Cobb tells Ariadne to design a maze and not to tell him about it, implying even his projection Mal would have to follow some waking life rules or some rules imposed by the architect. Mal wouldn’t have cared a hoot if she went through walls or attracted the attention of projections.
    So I just thought of the limitations as somehow imposed by the architect.
    The hole in this, for me, were the objects they “brought” with them – they had to bring dream machines, and C4 explosive charges, and guns, sometimes into multiple levels. If the rule is you can’t just cook up what you want, then how did they get these items? At one point in the warehouse, the forger Eames pulls out a bigger gun than Arthur and blasts the projections off the tower with a cute comment about imagining a bigger gun… but it wasn’t clear if they had to imagine this before going into the dreamscape, or that somehow they were spontaneously creating these guns on the spot.
    I think on Level 2 (Hotel Level) the architect *had* planted some explosives in a safe… but I really need someone to explain which dreamer’s dream they were in at the time and how the number they got from Robert Fischer had to do with the hotel room numbers…
    I prefer your (Robert Moss’) view of imaginal space, where it is share and not dependent upon a single dreamer. Still, one of Jung’s most quoted stories was of dreaming of himself dreaming and knowing he (waking life Jung) would disappear when (dreaming Jung) awakened.
    My top is still spinning…

  • Alla

    Dear Robert,
    Thank you for your review! I’ve waited for it since last Friday, after I had watched the movie.
    I think the movie sucked, excuse me my language. :-) I began to feel bored after I had watched about a half of it. The plot is primitive, its form, integrity falls apart, the given details sometimes don’t work at all (like the girl’s “avatar” – little brass pawn. – It was supposed to play out somehow, according to the laws of the genre, and it never did). The music was bad – monotone, with too many loops without any development at all (typical budget variant for a composer). It seems that in pursuit of technical quality of musical samples and graphics the core ideas were missing. I imagine how amazing the movie could have been if the author would have taken his time and read at least a couple of really decent books on the subject – for example, yours. Instead, his entire goal seemed to be just pleasing the younger (and not the smartest) part of the audience, who are only into shooting-chasing-killing. Also, I think he could even mislead the audience regarding the subject. My husband told me that he had seen an interview with Di Caprio about he had to converse with the producer every day during half a year about his role, its idea etc. I think it’s ridiculous.
    Sorry for being grouchy, but it’s the way I see the movie I had been looking forward to with avid interest.

  • Robert Moss

    Richard – Thanks so much for these thoughtful comments. A term I would use for the maze in “Inception” is “techno-tilism” – i.e., an update of the artificial environments (tilisms) created by sorcerers in the rich tradition of Persian and Urdu oral narratives. Some of these environments resemble entire worlds. I don’t want to get stuck in any such mind-trap even as a movie viewer, and I found myself extremely restless during the film, and disinclined to follow the logic of the screen writers when there is a much larger and more generous substance to the Imaginal Realm.

  • Robert Moss

    Alla – I must confess that it was only “due diligence”, as a dream explorer and reviewer, that kept me in my seat beyond the mid-point of this movie. Though I don’t have your fine ear as a musician, I found the musical score especially irritating and inept.

  • Richard Wilkerson

    “techno-tilism” – yes, the whole entrapment issue fascinates me, and interesting your sensitivity to this. We were, in a way, trapped in the glitsy jaws of Hollywood, caught up in the media blitz, plugged into our own neighborhood technoscopes via our local theatres, (and I got trapped into buying popcorn and cola – a whole ‘nuther capture industry)and then captured for over two hours by the film itself, all without even getting into the content of the film!
    But I’m kind of a techo-slut and wanted to hear more about the dream machine and substances they used to (fictionally) create that world. Not that my natural dreambody likes new-technologies. I tried the Dream Mask for sometime before it broke, and often had horrible incorporation dreams of riding a motorcycle and being blind as I had a mask on, or when the blinking lights got incorporated into my dream, seeing them as invading flying saucers and signs warning of roads not to take.
    I’m still waiting for Inception/response dreams to see how my dreambody liked that film. If Tore Neilsen is right, I will have to wait 5 days to find out :)
    Oh glorious synch – the code to add this post is “modern cameos!”

  • Robert Moss

    Richard – You’ll find more on tilisms at my “home” blog, here: I like your phrase “capture industry”.

  • Richard Wilkerson

    Ah, yes, “…tilism, a realm of enchantment created by sorcerers in defiance of ‘the laws of God and of nature'”.
    Yes, so much relevancy here to Inception. Cobb and his cohorts would be the sorcerers, though it is hard to say what would constitute a defiance of the laws of God and of nature in a dream!
    On the other hand, since Cobb is working for Saito, who wants break old Fischer’s corporate tilism apart, maybe the inception is in service of dissovling the illusion? (we can call the world that corporate monolpolies build a tilism, can’t we, as they are certainly trying to enchant us into believing their reality of the world and it is typically not in alignment with any of the laws of God or nature most of us are familiar?)
    This the classic orthodox religious statement, the world you live in is an illusion, you must drop that veil, and we have the key.
    Which of course, is yet another enchantment, unless of course they are right.
    “The only way to pierce the veils of illusion and overthrow a tilism is to find the tablet that holds the secrets of the tilism, including the conditions for its destruction and the name of the person who will destroy it. The tablet could be concealed anywhere, often inside the tilism itself. ”
    So this is kind of like the reality factor/spinning top that Mal locked away in the Limbo/4 level of the dreams. Again the idea is that if you have hold of reality then the veil drops, the spinning (of illusions and tapestries of neurotic desire) stops,
    Or as the Fisher king says (or is told?) in the cycle’s koan, “For whom does the Grail Serve?” which, in my mind, goes up the identity ladder and sits on the highest rung which the knight is aware.
    Cobb and Mal do seem stuck on the psychoanalytic level 1, basic repression, though they both fall deeper into psychosis, in the sense of turning away from reality, it is still a “Freudian” level, and I mean that in structural terms, not that there were phallic objects around.
    I mean that Cobb confronts his unconscious, eventually, with the same rigour we would expect a poor patient of classic psychoanalysis, struggling to demean the unconscious and shore up his ego against it.
    ie Cobb really rakes his projection of Mal in the last scene with her. I kind of felt bad for her/him. “You are just a pale spectre of my REAL wife.” or something like that. Well, he has a lot to learn about the imaginal realm and needs to read some more books by Robert Moss.
    Oh, I must be careful here, the posting code is “lawsuits asked”

  • Robert Moss

    Richard – Your musings are always a treat. Cobb and his designer in the film do indeed seem to be wannabe tilism-builders, but as you observe the psychology here is too jejune to get us close to Hoshruba.
    Speaking of which, the continued sub-Jungian insistence on projections crumbled (for me) as impressively as any of the digitally-deconstructed highrises when it came to the treatment fo Mal, the dead wife. We were not permitted to see her for what she might have been, at the end, in a scenario inspired by real experience of the nature and forms of things in the afterlife: a shade in the exact sense in which ancient Greeks used the word “skia”, a left-over energy shell from which higher consciousness has departed, twittering in a level of the Underworld where no one in their right mind would choose to go voluntarily. See my “Dreamer’s Book of the Dead”.

  • Richard Wilkerson

    Robert, that scene where Cobb rakes Mal made me cringe, as I guess it might for anyone with the least bit of Jung in their background or the least bit of sensitivity for the autonomous or even semi-autonomous status of beings in the imaginal realm.
    We just wouldn’t get very far as dreamworkers by insulting our projections, though I have to say I have put up with their comments for sometime!

  • Robert Moss

    Richard – Jung himself, as you are well aware, fully appreciated the transpersonal reality of encounters with the deceased, and experienced and recorded many of them throughout his life, as I have done.

  • wendy fleet

    Un Chien Andalou (Dali & Brunuel); Last Year in Marienbad; 8 1/2; Lathe of Heaven; Brazil; Jacob’s Ladder; Twin Peaks; City of Lost Children; Sopranos; Synedoche NY;
    There’s a list of dreams-on-screen with some remarks for each at
    Salon, Beyond Inception,
    Matt Zoller Seitz
    I’ve not heard of some of these and thought y’all might find the list useful.

  • Robert Moss

    Wendy – Brazil, Jacob’s Ladder and the Lathe of Heaven are three of my favorites (though Ursula LeGuin’s short novel is better than the film of The Lathe of Heaven). Jacob’s Ladder is one of the best cinematic depictions I’ve seen of a bumpy transit into the afterlife. Funny to see the gritty Sopranos series on this list, though I suppose the mobster does tell some dreams to his shrink.

  • Robin Thomas

    The movie was pure crap and very boring and way too long.

  • Robin Thomas

    Besides the awful and silly blowing up of buildings and cars, and the scores of chasing gunmen…the fact that the protagonist planted the idea that caused his wife to take her own life seems to me a huge stupidity. How could you care for the guy knowing this?

  • Robert Moss

    Robin – I couldn’t agree with you more.

  • Emmy van Swaaij

    Dear Robert,
    I just arrived home from watching this movie in the cinema and I think you have written an excellent review. I have similar sentiments about the movie. Looking forward to explore my own dreams within dreams more (so far I was able to travel between two maybe three layers in the dreamstate)
    An interesting thing that happened in the cinema: I heard snooring, first thought it was my dad but when I looked at him he said: are you sleeping? hearing the same thing. I said no, I thought you were! I briefly thought that maybe the snooring was a sound inside the movie but when I looked aside me I found the lady next to me to be sound asleep. She must have thought: gosh i can dream up a way more interesting adventure than this movie!
    Kind regards,

  • Gil

    My own experience suggests that the use of the totem, the spinning top that never stops spinning while in the dream, as a means to ground the dreamer back to a waking reality seems like a lighthearted attempt at resolving a very real and disturbing psychotic episode.

  • Robert Moss

    Gil – You may be right, but one of my many complaints about this movie is that there’s precious little I would consider “light-hearted.”

  • Robert Moss

    Emmy – You have excellent taste and judgment! Yes, indeed: you and any active dreamer can dream up far more interesting adventures and dreamscapes than those presented in this movie. My own books, starting with CONSCIOUS DREAMING, contain many vivid reports of traveling through several levels of dreaming.

  • valerie

    Great review. I saw it over the w/e and was disappointed. What we do in active dreaming and when we go back into the dream, would make a great movie !! After it was over, we were in the ladies room and my daughter was complaining , it was too long, noisy , and if they showed that truck falling one more time etc…..Two other women came in and laughed when they heard her. They said we decided we are not telling anyone we saw this movie b/c if they asked what it was about we would not know what to say !!
    Yet, the theatre was full!!! There is a great desire for movies that can really show what dreams can do and how helpful they can be.
    There was one point in the movie when the son realized what his father wanted to say before he died. That was a glimpse into how a dream can heal.Hollywood is missing the boat.

  • Robert Moss

    Valerie – One good thing I can say about the movie is that it has certainly made dreaming a flavor of the day and generated a terrific buzz of discussion (even though much of what is featured in the media misses the real nature and healing potential of dreaming). When things settle down, may be we’ll see a more imaginative and expansive treatment of dreaming. In my dream, we’ll get Hollywood directors and screenwriters coming to our Active Dreaming workshops to experience first-hand what is possible, and actors getting fully into their roles by learning how to dream-travel and enter shared dreamspace consciously, at many levels.

  • Patty

    Hello Robert
    I just went to see this with the boys yesterday. The shoot em up chase scenes were a bit boring. I was intrigue by some of the inconstancies and consistencies between the dream scenes. And having my physics minded stepson with me did stir some fun conversation afterwards.
    Late this morning I had a dream where you were leaving a cabin in your blue shirt. You walked across a yard area and when you stepped onto a deck you were a Japanese man in a yellow kimono with long black hair. You sat at a table with me as the sun came up, discussing your script for a movie. I guess in the end I do think active dreaming beats the pants off of Inception.

  • Robert Moss

    Patty – You are right about Active Dreaming vs the dreaming in “Inception”. I have a Japanese association with your dream. In my workshop in NYC on Saturday, I did a very dramatic retelling of the story of how Amaterasu (Japan’s sun goddess) was lured back from the netherworld by the luminous beauty of her own unrecognized self, seen in a mirror. I tell that story in THE THREE “ONLY” THINGS.

  • valerie

    I agree with your dream…that would be a great dream movie…it would really get people involved in the daily use of their own imagination and dreams. There IS so much interest in dreams and this movie brought it up to the surface, so that was really positive. I may watch it again when it comes out on video and maybe when i can watch it without holding my ears, I may see something different. Thanks for responding.

  • David Pierce

    Nicely written review, Robert.
    Inception was the most tortuous experience I’ve ever had in a cinema. I am able to shift easily through levels and combinations of extra-physical experiences, yet I could not relate at all to this joyless film. The imagery was cold, mechanical, and drab, and I couldn’t follow much of the dialogue because the supporting actors mumbled. The music was unrelentingly strident. After the first fifteen minutes I felt trapped in the theater, much as I felt prisoner in a carnival ride I once rode that was left unattended. (The only reason I didn’t leave was because seeing the film was a present to me.)
    This film is a waste of ideas, talent, and money. Much as the awful movie Signs wasted a chance to really explore an interesting phenomenon, crop circles, so did Inception ruin an opportunity to seriously examine the topics of shared and multi-level dreaming.

  • Steve G

    I think you missed the point of this movie. It was a scriptwriting exercise by Nolan to play around with plot structure.
    He set up the ‘rules’ and put his characters through a story trying to strictly adhere to those paths. It’s like James Cameron’s ‘Terminator 2′ where the success of the film is based largely on the physics of that world remaining consistent.
    Similarly, once Nolan had set up the rules for ‘Momento’, he then played it through without cheating.
    The relationship to actual dreams in Inception is tangential at best. Most more accurate films about dreams are pretty spooky. This film wasn’t.
    He wanted to make a different sort of sci-fi fantasy film and succeeded very well.
    If you think about it, all films are very dreamlike…unless you consider Star Wars or The Gay Divorcee a documentary.

  • David Pierce

    Steve, I don’t go to the movies to see an exercise, I go to be entertained – and, possibly, to learn something. Whether or not “Inception” worked as an exercise in sustaining the physics of an imagined world is irrelevant to me because the film was a thoroughly unenjoyable experience. “Memento,” on the other hand, managed not only to maintain its internal rules, but to provide enjoyment.

  • Bhaskar Banerji

    This is the best review of Inception that i’ve come across from a dreamers perspective. I’m a 100 % with you on this one Robert. This movie had so much potential to inform the world of some far out amazing Dreamtime concepts but really fell short on execution. Maybe you can write up a more compelling screenplay…

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Claire Johnston

    Your take on the movie was pretty much mine, Robert.

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Previous Posts

Approaching Halloween: when the veil between the world thins
The hair salon on the corner advertises, "Halloween Makeup Done Here." There are spooks and scarecrows at the doors of the houses on my block. As we approach Halloween, I am thinking of the many meanings of the festival, from trick-or-treat to ...

posted 10:42:07am Oct. 30, 2015 | read full post »

Whatever you think or feel, the universe says Yes
Whatever you think or feel, the universe says yes. Perhaps you have noticed this. Yes, we are talking about the law of attraction. It is indeed an ancient law, never a secret to those who live consciously. “All things which are similar and ...

posted 1:33:33am Oct. 29, 2015 | read full post »

Why Dreaming Is Important
A dream is a wake-up call. It takes us beyond what we already know. Dreams are the language of the soul, and they are experiences of the soul. There are “big” dreams and “little” dreams, of course. In big dreams, we go traveling and ...

posted 12:20:30pm Oct. 24, 2015 | read full post »

Dream symbols - Excremental issues
"Shit is good!" The elderly Italian grocery store owner's eyes twinkled as she bagged tomatoes and homemade pasta. "If you crap in your dreams, it means money." Her reading is an ancient one, still alive in many family traditions. The ...

posted 3:15:14am Oct. 15, 2015 | read full post »

Aboriginal Dreaming into the Dreamtime
Aboriginal Australians believe that we dream our way into this world, and dream our way out of it. "We talk to the spirit-child before a baby is born," naturopath and traditional healer Burnham Burnham explained it to me. If the father-to-be ...

posted 9:00:10am Jul. 08, 2015 | read full post »


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