There are several correlating elements between Inception and Freud’s ideas. One correlation would be the relativity of dream-content, dream-thoughts and language. Freud claims that “dream-thoughts and dream-content are presented to us like two versions of the same subject-matter in two different languages” (Freud; 819). This idea of separate methods of presentations of ideas regarding the same issue is similar to those concepts in the movie Inception. Another issue that arises in the film that correlates with ideas of Freud is the interference of Di Caprio’s deceased wife into the constructed dream maze in a man’s unconscious mind.
Freud states, “The consequence of displacement is that the dream content no longer resembles the core of the dream-thoughts and that the dream gives no more than a distortion of the dream-wish which exists in the unconscious” (Freud; 840). In other words, the repressed or underlying dream-wishes or desires are displaced into the dream where they do not belong (or are not relative) to the original dream-thoughts. These dream-wishes create a distortion in the dream as we can recognize from the movie when a train interferes in Ariadne’s construction of an environment in a dream.
The train was a memory from Di Caprio’s subconscious mind that projected or displaced itself into her dream. Thus this event created a distortion in the dream and had no relation to her original dream-thoughts and content. Going further with the idea of displacement and the film, we can make a connection between lines of defense (defense mechanisms) in the unconscious. Freud argues that these are “endopsychic defense(s)” (Freud; 820). This idea is also demonstrated in the film when the team goes into the dream/subconscious mind of their target and begin getting attacked by trained men.
It is expressed in the movie that when things are not natural (displaced) that the mind will start to defend itself because the dream-content and dream-thoughts are not directly relative to each other. Freud says, “…the portions of this complicated structure strand […] in the most manifold logical relations to one another” (Freud; 821). Another idea of Freud’s that we can use to analyze Inception is condensation. In The Interpretation of Dreams Freud says, “Dreams are brief […] If a dream is written out it may perhaps fill half a page.
The analysis setting out the dream-thoughts underlying it may occupy six, eight or a dozen times as much space” (Freud; 819). We can apply this to what is demonstrated in the movie. When mapping out he dream, the team confirms that they will use the targets 10 hour flight to perform “Inception. ” They then established that it would take them 10 years in dream time to accomplish this task. This idea confirms Freud’s claim that people maintain a certain “underestimation of compression” associated with dreams (Freud; 819). One last idea that is present in both the movie and Freud’s text is memory and dream-thoughts.
Freud states, “essential dream thoughts…usually emerge as a complex of thoughts and memories of the most intricate possible structure with all the attributes of the trains of thought familiar to us in waking life” (Freud; 821). In Inception Ariadne is asked to construct the maze or dream environment which they will be entering. She does so by compiling memories and characteristics of familiar places she had been in real life. This placed into context what Freud discusses in his text on the use of memories and their essential nature to dream construction.