The Hunger Games
directed by Gary Ross

What if an alien in the future stumbled upon The Hunger Games? Welcome to Earthling Cinema, where we examine the last remaining artifacts of a once-proud culture and try to understand what human lives were like before their planet was destroyed. I’m your host, Garyx Wormuloid.

The Hunger Games (2012)
Directed by: Gary Ross
Stars: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth
Production Co: Lionsgate, Color Force

Written by: Ben Steiner
Analysis & Directed by: Jared Bauer
Starring: Mark Schroeder (https://twitter.com/mark_schroeder)
Edited by: Ryan Hailey
Original Music by: David Krystal (http://www.davidkrystalmusic.com)
Opening Animation by: Danny Rapaport
Producer & Additional Artwork by: Jacob S. Salamon

Inception’s Hidden Meaning – Earthling Cinema

Greetings, and welcome to Earthling Cinema. I am your host, Garyx Wormuloid. This weekís artifact is Inception, starring hunky Renaissance painter Leonardo DiCaprio and directed by his friend Chris.

The film follows a human named Cobb who uses a cybernetic briefcase to get inside peopleís dreams and steal their brain goo. The only problem: Cobb’s ex-wife Mal is always showing up and harshing his mellow. Typical mental projection of a woman.

But extraction is not enough for Cobb and his bros. The next big thing is inception, or planting an idea in someoneís head, which is impossible for a species that can barely process ideas. But these guys wanna do it anyway, since they don’t give a f. And because a rich guy is paying them to.

They assemble a crack team: the jock, the nerd, the nerd, and the nerd. They catch up with their target, Fischer, on an aeroplane and roofie the shit out of him.

The first dream level is a boring city street. Yawn. Come on, dude, you can do better than that. Why do you think your father hates you? They kidnap Fischer, and then Cobb accidentally summons a train because he sucks at his job. So they hop down to the second dream level, which is a swanky hotel. Alright, now youíre speaking my language. Figuratively, of course. Human vocal chords didn’t have the dexterity to actually speak my language.

Cobb tells Fischer it’s a dream and convinces him he’s there to protect him, so they all escape to a quaint ski chalet on the third dream level. The rich guy and Fischer get killed, sending them dancing down to Limbo, the secret fourth level. Cobb and the girl nerd chase after them, because shit, they’ve already come this far. Cobb reveals that he and Mal spent decades in Limbo back in the day, and it was there that Cobb incepted Mal and turned her crazy. Once back in the real world, she killed herself and framed him, all in an attempt to force him to go back to Limbo with her. Wow, she must have really loved him in Titanic.

The girl nerd kills Fischer, which for some reason sends him back up to level three, where he has a nice heart to heart with his mean old dad. They all use ìkicksî to jump back up through the levels, except Cobb, who stays in Limbo to find the money man. He does, but heís really old, even though Cobb hasnít aged a day. Guess the rules of Limbo are more complicated than we thought. Especially because then they just wake up without having to go through all the other levels. But who cares. Theyíre awake and in Los Angeles, the city where all dreams come true.

The inception works, and Fischer shuts down his fatherís company to go join the ice capades. The money man clears Cobbís criminal charges, allowing this suspected murderer to be reunited with his children. He spins his dreidel — oh yeah, thereís a whole thing with a dreidel — but the movie ends before we can find out whether he wins any Hanukkah gelt.

Inception explores the labyrinthine world of the human mind, so naturally it is very simplistic and easy to unpack. One important idea is dreams vs. reality. In Cobbís memory, Mal is on the ledge across the street. How did she get there? Is it because his memory has warped the event? Or did she go to the trouble of accessing the corresponding room in a neighboring building just for theatrical effect?

In the final scene, Cobb actually sees his kidsí faces, which seems to indicate that itís reality, since he never could in his earlier projections. On the other hand, the kids donít seem to have aged at all. So is it a dream… or is it real? Or did his formerly faceless kids get new faces surgically attached?

Does Cobb actually make it back to reality at the end? Was he dreaming the whole time? Does he ever have that dream about showing up to the first day of school with all his tentacles exposed? As the last shot suggests, itís deliberately ambiguous.

The film argues that in the face of uncertainty, one must take a leap of faith. As philosopher Rene ìThe Tartî Descartes says, ìThere are never any sure signs by means of which being awake can be distinguished from being asleep.î Unless youíre wiping that weird gunk out of the corners of your eyes. You never do that in dreams. But still, this leap of faith is why Cobb doesnít stay to see if the dreidel stops spinning. Whereas before he would obsess over it with a gun in his hand, now he just lets it spin to its heartís content while he gets some QT with the pipsqueaks. He no longer cares whatís real.

And neither does the audience. Yeah, Iím talkiní about you! Give yourselves a hand. Ok stop, your moment is over. Inception cleverly draws a parallel between the logic of cinema and the logic of dreams, and how watching a film is a kind of ìshared dream experience.î In a chase sequence, Cobb nearly gets stuck in an alley that narrows to a point, a curiously ill-conceived design that heightens the cinematic conflict. It also taps into the idea of claustrophobia, a common anxiety found in human dreams and nightmares, possibly from living in such a small galaxy. Next, the money man conveniently shows up in a car. What is he doing there? Did they send him a pin or something? But these kind of conveniences happened in Earth movies all the time.

Furthermore, just a dream never starts at the beginning, a scene in a movie often starts in the middle of the action. An audience accepts that a film may jump forward in time and cut to a new location, like an establishing shot or whatever. One must accept narrative ellipsis in order to become invested in the story.

Take me, for example. You only ever see me in this chair, but that doesn’t mean I’m just sitting here motionless in between videos, waiting for my next assignment. Come on, is that all I am to you? A puppet?? Alright, fair enough.

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