Skip to main content

Frustrated Reality: Inception vs. Alice in Wonderland

Recently we re-watched Inception and saw Alice in Wonderland for the first time. Both are attempts to deal with suffering in similar and different ways.

Inception's Cobb is a man trying to deal with guilt and loss in his life, while Alice is a girl trying to escape from the social turmoil she finds herself in. Both are drawn into worlds that seem like dreams, and left to wonder whether they're in reality or not. Cobb has his spinning top while Alice can pinch herself to wake up.

The films are both outstanding cinematography, taking us into the creativity of Christopher Nolan and Tim Burton. Both offer great performances, from Leonardo Di Caprio, Ellen Page or from Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter particularly. Both are entertaining.

That said, Alice left me wanting more. Alice goes into her dream world, wins and comes out able to overcome all the troubles, bold and confident, defiant of social pressures in a way that seems deeply unrealistic. Cobb seemingly makes more progress in exorcising his demons but we're left to wonder whether he's even able to return to reality. Cobb's world is less utopian, less hollywood, and we'd think that would make it seem hollow, but it feels more real to me. It's bleaker picture is more appealing because suffering and guilt and loss are not easily dealt with, pain and hardship, oppression and frustration are not quickly removed or thrown off.
Alice on the other hand, inspired by Lewis Carroll did have more humour, Johnny Depp being Johnny Depp and futter-wacking is the kind of absurd relief from reality that we need some of. The ability to have fun and laugh ridiculously and take life less seriously is underrated.

Inception appeals to something in me that doesn't want an easy answer and takes frustration seriously. Alice appeals to something just as real that feels the need to laugh at life, and at myself.


  1. Good quality stuff Bish. I think Cobb is not only prevented from moving forwards by the situation - the problem of reality, but the greater issue is whether he is willing to, and whether he is willing to confront his own failure and responsibility in doing so.

    Are we responsible for the consequences of our lies, if they capture and entrap others?

  2. There is something of that - and that's a quality Alice does do, though all too easily.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

"Big eyes full of wonder"

Books. Fiction. Libraries. Second only to churches as are the best gateways in your community to ultimate reality and new possibilities.

Our local library has just re-opened after refurbishment, and I love that our boys have spent several mornings there during the summer holidays, discovering some wonderful new stories.

I realised a few months back that I wasn't reading enough fiction. My work necessitates reading a lot of non-fiction, a mix of historical and contemporary thinking, biblical studies and theology. But fiction is the cinderella. Easily overlooked, and yet able to awaken my imagination and show me the way things are meant to be.

So I've picked up a few more lately - bought and borrowed. Not every book attempted flies, and that's ok. These have been winners though.

Ink. This is Alice Broadway's debut novel. It's young adult fiction and tells the story of Leora who lives in a world where the events of your life are tattooed on your skin. Nothing gets hid…

Uniquely Matthew

Reading gospel accounts in parallel is sometimes used to blur the differences in perspective between the evangelists, seeking to harmonise the texts and find a definitive historical account of what happened. No such thing exists because every account is biased and limited. You simply can't record everything. You have to hold a vantage point. And that's not a problem.

Matthew, Mark and Luke take a very different vantage point to John who was of course an eyewitness himself of the events. Comparing the text of Matthew, Mark and Luke across the death and resurrection of Jesus yields two steps.

Firstly, the common ground. All three accounts tell of...
Simon of Cyrene carrying the cross…. · Jesus labelled as King of the Jews…. · Criminals crucified with Jesus… · Darkness in the daytime… · Jesus' loud final cry… The women who witnessed Jesus death, and Jesus' burial… · The tomb lent to Jesus by Joseph of Arimithea… · The women who went to the tomb on the morning of the…

Songs we're singing in Church

Christians are a singing people, it's part of what we do when we gather.

Our church meets morning an evening on a Sunday - normally using 5 songs in each service. So, over the year that's about 520 song-slots available. The report from the database system we use ( tells us that in the past year we've sung about 150 different songs.

Our current most used song has been sung 11 times in the last year, just under once a month. Our top 10 are used about every 6 weeks. By #30 we're talking about songs used every two months. The tail is long and includes loads of classic hymns from across the centuries, plus other songs from the past 40 years, that we have used around once a term or less.

1. Rejoice - Dustin Kensrue

2. Come Praise & Glorify - Bob Kauflin

3. Man of Sorrows - Hillsong

4. Cornerstone - Hillsong

Rejoice was a song I didn't previously know, along with a couple of others that have quickly become firm favourites for me: Chri…