Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Fr. Barron on Inception

I actually don't agree with Fr. Barron's understanding of the movie. I think I lean more toward Carl Olson's take on the movie.

Here is what Carl had to say, which I agree with:
I think it is incorrect to say that the "entire purpose of the Inception team is to make money by helping their clients uncover or implant some practically useful bit of information" when the only reason Cobb takes the job and assembles the team is because he believes the client is able to reunite him with his children (the other team members, of course, have other motives). Cobb is haunted by his wife's death, which was largely his fault, and he is trying, in some way, to pursue redemption by being with his children and being a new man. There isn't, I don't think, an obvious and blatant "God theme" in the movie, yet Cobb's realization of his limits and failings points to a certain spiritual awakening and undermines the notion that it is all about "relentless materialism." Again, I believe it is completely the opposite; I find that "reading" as flawed as the idea the movie is promoting gnosticism.

The "deep exploration of the self" is shown in Cobb's coming to grips with the selfishness and jealousy that destroyed his marriage, with his obsessive need to control and manipulate. In the end, he has to confront his demons (his wife—or, rather, her memory, is portrayed with a somewhat demonic quality) and accept and admit his failings. This allows him, then, to let go completely of his demons when he leaves the token spinning at the very end. Continue reading.
I am still a Fr. Barron groupie, even if I disagree with him here.


Gina said...

The problem I have with Carl Olsen's take on "Inception" is that Cobb didn't engage in a "deep exploration of the self". It was his cohort who forced her way down into the inner self that he was hiding, which she discovered was used as a place to escape reality, not as a place of spiritual awakening. The idea that a person can turn into the self so deeply that they escape reality is very much a pagan practice.

Carl Olson said...

Gina: My take is that Cobb, while refusing to address his guilt (re: his wife's death), is eventually forced to face up to that guilt and his creation of a false world revolving around, or centered in, his warped memory of his wife. Yes, this came about because of his cohort, but I don't see why that is somehow problematic; in fact, she is something of a conscience, or at least the truthful companion/interlocutor, that brings the wayward sinner face-to-face with his sins. Cobb tried to escape reality via dreams (once with his wife, and then later with his wife's memory), and this approach led to disaster (death, in the first instance; growing inability to function in reality in the second). I still see the ending as Cobb's rejection of the dream world, and embrace of reality—a reality anchored in his realization that love for others (his children) is the path to sanity.

Randy said...

I can see both points. There is more than just money involved here. But the inner self does seem quite hollow. There is no desire for ultimate truth, beauty, and goodness. There is not contemplation of where we come from and where are we going. One event dominates everything. The movie still works when you accept this premise. I think Fr Barron's point is the premise is very secular. The idea that the human spirit is pretty simple. That humans are a little more complex than animals but only a little. That humans don't need to look beyond human relationships to find fulfillment.

Is it a simplifying assumption to make a movie work or is it more than that? I think it is a legit comment.