In this essay I am going to discuss theoretical approaches to Christopher Nolan's Inception which revolves around a character who is able to enter people's dreams and alter them I am going to interrogate specific scenes from Inception and demonstrate how mise en scene and sound operate together to produce meaning in the film Nolan s challenge is to convey to the viewer that what is seen is a dream and he uses various techniques to do this Bordwell Thompson define mise en scene as everything the director wishes to put into the scene Bordwell Thompson 2008 112 Along with our second element which is Sound and understand why sound s contribution to the sum of a film s meaning is fundamental Dix 2016 15 To begin my analysis we will first consider how mise en scene and sound correlate together efficiently in conveying the director's vision To do this I will focus my analysis in the scene from Inception at 1 18 50 1 21 42 Discovering mise en scene the audience lean in towards all that is accumulated in the picture which includes costumes lighting props set design space and the actors Without this it would be very difficult for the director to achieve realism and the desired visual arrangement due to the idea that not all elements are present When thinking about the first second that the audience is introduced to a new scene Bordwell Thompson have made it clear that
We notice this in the image above see Figure 2 of the selected scene and feel nothing but curiosity and suspense especially with the accompanied music non diegetic sound which will be discussed later In the scene we see Hobbs the protagonist enter into a room that has been flipped upside down but before even entering its what we can hear that truly kicks off the scene We first see the back of Hobbs and the door as he opens it but through that the audience can hear diegetic sounds sounds that are happening inside the scene itself of the wind blowing This tactic that Nolan creates is to include offscreen noises which give us clues as to what we will see next Fourie 2001 472 This leads Hobbs eyes directly towards the window as soon as he enters the room The camera at this point becomes a representation of Hobbs as it begins to enter through at a point of view shot revealing furniture silverware plants and more having gone through a clutter as it shows the objects aggressively thrown around the room see Figure 3 The props have been placed in a way to help scream out what the emotion of that particular scene is telling us that it would be which in word can be defined as chaos
This may suggest that Nolan wanted the audience to begin their pre assumptions of the relationship between Hobbs and Mal from this point onwards So when paying close attention to where Mal is in the climax of this scene and what s behind her we notice that the room behind her is in perfect condition see Figure 9 which could represent the world that her and Hobbs created but to wake up from that after 50 years living in that dream state being what Hobbs describes as old souls is what Mal desires for both of them becoming youths again which is why she insists for Hobbs to jump with her However Hobbs staying on the opposite side where behind him is a room that has fallen apart could represent the destruction of life that Mal believes that she is in which she is trying to escape from even though Hobbs insists that Mal should come back and stay with him it to make it work Nolan did not have to show Mal in front of a nicely decorated room but to make contrast for the audience to see we notice that Hobbs is firm on staying within a bitter world see Figure 10
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