Writer-director Christopher Nolan has been very busy since the release of his blockbuster The Dark Knight two years ago — so busy in fact that most haven’t a clue as to what his next project, Inception, is actually about.
Even the film’s trailer, which was released online a few months ago, does little to unravel the secrecy surrounding the upcoming film. All it does is present images and brief snippets of dialogue that, regardless of the confusion, look truly stunning.
It appears as though the mystery connected to the film is a good thing — the less the public knows about the film going into it, the better the movie-watching experience will be when it opens in July.
There are a handful of films that come out every year that simply need to be ignored until their release date, and Inception is definitely one of them. This process changes the whole experience of seeing a film tremendously, ultimately allowing the film to actually surprise its audience members and feed off of their intensity to propel the overall momentum of both the film and audience reaction. As thrilling as this kind of an experience is, it is something usually absent from most film premieres.
Films are easily ruined, and a lot of the time it happens before most viewers have set foot in theaters.
First off, there are trailers, and although they often serve their purpose of simply previewing an upcoming film, they just as frequently give away far too much information.
Then there is the Internet, a novelty when compared to trailers, which — as an archive of innumerable images, videos and the endearing efforts of bloggers and fanboys — certainly does not foster the maintenance of the element of surprise, at least when it comes to popular upcoming films.
All of the information you could ever want is simply a mouse click away, waiting to expose every possible aspect of upcoming films.
For instance, the plot and most of the characters of Iron Man 2 are easily accessible online. This information is not only available in the film’s trailer, which seems to give away almost everything, but also in endless debates as well as informed assumptions and opinions written by people across the planet. Granted, the film’s source material comes from the Marvel comic book series and, thus, much of the information has been in existence for some time, but not every film derives from such recognizable source material.
How different would it have been to watch The Matrix not knowing anything about it or never seeing a single frame of the film in a trailer? Those who did see the trailer were already aware of the “bullet-time” time sequences — in which the action progresses in slow motion, allowing the camera to pan around the entire sequence — beforehand, and ultimately the visual effects had less of an impact.
Witnessing effects such as these for the first time without any prior knowledge is an incredibly different experience than seeing many of the film’s classic scenes out of context. But the problem with a film like The Matrix, and its inability to stay secretive, stems from its distributor’s marketing campaign and the film’s resulting hype.
Studios live off marketing strategies to sell their films, but in the process, marketing campaigns eventually end up spoiling a lot of the film’s plot. This can also be said about James Cameron’s latest epic, Avatar, which is already a movie-watching experience unlike any other. But how different would it have been if people had been exposed to less when the first trailers were released?
As it stands now, Inception is still quite an enigma, and that is largely because of the fact that Nolan and his production team have worked feverishly to keep their film a secret, preserving a great deal of the film’s integrity as well as the overall movie-watching experience.
Along with its vague trailer, some of the only other legitimate information regarding the film’s plot was revealed in an April 4 article in the Los Angeles Times, but the article only devotes two sentences to plot summary and even that is ambiguous.
Even though July is still a long way off, hopefully most of the film and its contents will remain as secretive as they have for the past two years.
Overall, it is very hard for film enthusiasts to remain uninvolved when it comes to information regarding upcoming films, especially those that look as promising as Inception does because, as exciting and appealing as discovering absolutely everything about a particular film is, the occasional instance of experiencing a movie without any prior knowledge can be enormously rewarding.
Christopher Byars is a senior majoring in English (creative writing). His column “Cinerama” runs Fridays.