Final Paper

Juan Hoyos

Dr. Brynes


December 15, 2013

Inception and the Matrix Final Paper

A lot can be said about a movie based on the genre it is part of. Inception and The Matrix are arguably both some of the best science fiction films ever made. The way both movies correlate in many different ways makes this comparison possible.  Both are futuristic movies and technology is an important aspect of each one. There is also a common focus on an awakening of the human condition. Both movies go hand in hand in the realization that we have lost contact with reality, living our lives through electronic devices rather than real human interactions.

 Both movies have to do with worlds where the existence of reality is questioned and the limits between what is our perceived reality and what is actually real are unclear. The matrix portrays a future in which the world that most individuals see as “reality” is in fact a fabricated computer space called The Matrix, constructed by sentient machines to maintain humans under control. “Matrix is the wool that has been pulled over your eyes–that you are a slave. (Ebert).” Meanwhile, Inception is more concerned with human psychology. The main character named Dom Cobb is a thief whose job is to infiltrate the subconscious of people in order to collect information. These two movies are often criticized for following the same structure. I would agree with this because the first part of both movies is basically exposition to the ideas presented by both films; the second part relies on action scenes and great special effects. 

 The matrix’s story was based on a fictitious realm. Neo is trying to wake humans up from the Matrix where they are held as slaves working for the system. The director greatly pointed out that humans are being ignorant by disregarding the fact that the way society functions is in fact a plan to control all individuals. On the other hand, Inception is still a science-fiction movie but still based on reality. The topic of dreams is real, which makes it more interesting for the audience but also more frustrating if not understood. For instance, many people that I know did not fully appreciate Inception due to not understanding some of the components of the film.

Another similarity that correlates with science-fiction film genre is that both are facing enemies in their respective alternate worlds. In inception Cobb and his team face rejections while in the matrix, agents have to be fought. The particular thing about Inception is that the villains are its own characters minds, which becomes a psychological challenge. For Neo and its crew, it is a different story. They have to fight the agents, which are probably some of the most talented fighters I have ever seen in any science fiction movie.

When it comes to the story line, I thought Inception’s was more interesting and compelling to watch. Now that more than a decade has passed since the Matrix was created, we can judge the film as just the story rather than just focusing on the mind blowing special effects. Looking at the basic story line, the Matrix had an interesting start that definitely captivates the audience’s attention. It also had a good plot twist towards the beginning. Neo wakes up from the Matrix and turns into this generic action hero, magically learns how to fight and becomes a professional killing machine. Even though the Matrix had a good start and mind-blowing special effects for its time, after the plot is revealed the story just turns into a generic action movie with entertaining and intense combat scenes. Inception’s story line was so complex and hard to follow that it almost did not make sense… almost. I found it really amusing and entertaining to feel challenged by the plot and having to think in order to understand the story.

One of differences that I noted in the films is that both of the main characters have very different backgrounds and are also presented in very different ways. The protagonist named Dom Cobb is a thief whose job is to infiltrate the subconscious of people in order to collect information. He is presented as a very clever and motivated character. Neo on the other hand was basically asked to play a person with no personality, show no emotions, which is perfect for a movie like the matrix where humans are held as slaves in the society we live in.

 Both motion pictures utilize machines in order to access their respective alternate realities. Inception utilizes a machine that allows Cobb and his team to access someone’s subconscious while they’re sleeping. Meanwhile, Neo uses a technological device that allows humans out of the Matrix to learn anything in less than a few seconds. He uses it to learn Kung Fu and Trinity utilizes it to learn how to pilot a helicopter.

 The matrix and Inception also use slow motion throughout action scenes in order to make it look more impressive and to make it more memorable. For instance, during one scene in the movie Inception, Cobb’s crew is in a van in the first layer of dreams, which is the closest to reality. We can see that the van is falling of the bridge slow motion since the director tried to emphasize the fact that in a dream everything is longer than in reality. This technique is used multiple times throughout the film. In the matrix, slow motion is used in order to make the action scenes more intense and appreciable. A famous example is when Neo dodges the bullets from the agent at the top of the building by putting his back almost against the floor while still standing (see Figure 1).

 Another big aspect that is existent in both films is teamwork. Working together to accomplish common goals is a significant feature in Inception. For instance, Cobb has to build a team in order to be prepared for his last job. He needs very specific people with particular skills. “Cobb assembles a team, and here the movie relies on the well-established procedures of all heist movies. We meet the people he will need to work with: Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Leivtt), his longtime associate; Eames (Tom Hardy), a master at deception; Yusuf (Dileep Rao), a master chemist. And there is a new recruit, Ariadne (Ellen Page), a brilliant young architect who is a prodigy at creating spaces. (Ebert).” This kind of professionalism in making a team is very similar to the one in the Matrix. Neo and both Trinity and Morpheus play a huge role in chasing the agents and protecting “the one”, Neo.

 Inception and the Matrix are both prime science-fiction films that are futuristic and entertaining. With many similarities, these two movies are easily comparable and may be competing for the best science fiction movie of the last 15 years. Both are centered on the awakening of human nature and the use of technology in a fantastic and almost unthinkable way.



 Ebert, Roger. “Inception.” All Content. Elbert Digital LLC, 14 July 2010. Web. 15 Dec. 2013.

Munro, Shaun. “10 Incredibly Innovative Uses Of Slow Motion In Movies.” WhatCulture RSS. What Culture LTD, 7 June 2013. Web. 15 Dec. 2013. 

Ebert, Roger. “The Matrix.” All Content. Elbert Digital LLC, 31 Mar. 1999. Web. 13 Dec. 2013.


Figure 1:



Chicago 10

Chicago 10 is a documentary about eight young men who were put on trial for their protest against the U.S government. In one scene, the men are put in a truck and taken by police officers. This live footage shows the audience what actually happened. This is what makes this movie a documentary. The movie also shows court scenes that are animated, which helped the audience follow the story of the “Yippies”.

Another reason this movie is classified as a documentary is because in addition to telling the viewer what is happening, we can also hear what the people are thinking. For instance, the animated scene when one of the “Yippies” is on trial answering questions. This shows the viewer why the “Yippies” are protesting and it also reflects the counter-culture of that time period. They recreated real events and showed the audience what actually happened.

I liked how the director used animation and live footage to tell the story of the eight man put on trial. It shows the viewer multiple sides of the conflict and allowed the viewer to get different points of view. This was an uncommon way of filming documentaries. It helped me understand the story much better when the cartoons  filled in the spots where there was no live footage. It made me think about what they were saying rather than their acting style.

Three Experimental Films

One of the major themes in the film Superstar : The Karen Carpenter Story is feminism. More particularly the impossible feminine physical ideals since the use of Barbie Dolls played a significant role throughout the film. In order to focus the desire for women to attain perfection, the director uses Barbie Dolls. Society expect an image that women should meet, when this idea is added to fame , Karen suffers from the expectation of society and feels pressured. In the movie, Ms. Carpenter dies from anorexia since she wants to be skinny, thinking that it will get her closer to “perfection”.

Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story is a great example of an avant-garde film. By using dolls as characters rather than humans and clips from Nazi concentration camps, it evokes frustration to the viewer and does not present a straight forward story which is very common in the avant-garde genre. Another part of avan-garde is that there are no straight forward stories or characters. The movie was abstract and hard to follow at times but I was able to understand the whole film once it ended.

Feminism was a major theme in the movie, which he shows through unusual scenes with barbie dolls and the use of pills. The media and the need to maintain a certain standard play a major role in getting corrupted as they place so much pressure on celebrities and have so many expectations. Since Karen wanted to achieve physical perfection, she used extreme measures and killed herself. The film shows how society views good looking people as attractive and the negative effects that come with it.

Zero Dark Thirty

One of the major themes in Zero Dark Thirty is the use of Torture. Bigelow’s choice to apply the use of torture in her work was partly to make it as realistic as possible. Torture played a huge role in the capture of Osama Bin Laden so she decided to picture it disturbingly in her movie. Bigelow used many different types of torture in Zero Dark Thirty, which include starvation and water boarding. Such techniques were used in real life in order to accomplish the goal of capturing Bin Laden.

Bigelow is able to stand out as an auteur throughout the film Zero Dark Thirty. Her feminist views and war related topics are often displayed in her works. Feminism plays a huge role in Zero Dark Thirty because it is considered an action movie, and Bigelow decided to use a female as the main character.  Something that could appear unusual for a film in this genre.

I appreciated how Zero Dark Thirty portrayed real life events through torturing and bomb attacks. The final scene of Zero Dark Thirty was very climactic and showed was it was really like to hunt down a highly researched terrorist. I liked to see how Maya would do anything to accomplish her goal of capturing Bin Laden. Bigelow greatly displayed the many conflicts that Maya went through when finding Bin Laden. For instance, when her co-worker/friend dies in the explosion, Maya makes it her mission to find Bin Laden at any price.


Jean-Luc Godard’s film Weekend (1967) is set in France and tells the story of Roland and Corinne, a married couple. Both plot to kill each other even though each of them is having an affair. The film is filled with many murder contemplations and car accidents, which demonstrates horror and chaos. For instance, the car accident that occured when they are traveling to Corinne’s dad’s house. During these scenes there are moments of fake violence done to people and real violence done to animals.  Both are used to touch viewer’s emotions in different ways.

A typical Hollywood film includes plot clarity, cause and effect continuity, goal oriented characters, and closure. Jean-Luc Godard’s film making design can be seen to contrast traditional Hollywood film making. Weekend contains no real plot and characters do not have a purpose. The whole movie is essentially a sarcastic joke playing on Hollywood films, which was intetionally done by Jean-Luc Godard.

By producing such a movie with inappropriate use of sound and music, Godard makes it clear that he is going against the typical Hollywood film and societies norm. Whereas a Hollywood film would ingrain sound or music in a scene, Godard takes a different approach by using music that does not correlate with the scenes occuring in any way. For instance, music and sound design are very loud and distracting to viewers when Corinne is trying to describe her memories and experiences, which makes it difficult for the audience to listen and understand. Godard’s going against the norm has to do with him trying to show society that films do not have to follow certain standards.

Far from Heaven

The major theme in the movie Far from Heaven is male supremacy. Back in the 1950’s, Women were suppose to stay home and take care of the house and childs positioning male in a dominant position. This work contradicts this idea by having an homosexual as protagonist in the film. This was argued and contradicted by many because of it being unmasculine. Also, The notion that whites were superior to blacks has a major role in the film since some people would be scared to form their own opinion and rather prefer conforming to normality and not express their true feelings. However many other people did not know if it was right to treat other people disrespectfully and did not know the difference between right and wrong.

One way this film uses ideology is through sexual orientation and more specifically heterosexism. The idea of men having to fulfill this heterosexual position in society is not allowing Frank to truly be himself he because he feels like being homosexual is socially unacceptable. This issue also creates tensions in his relationship with Cathy since they have to reach certain expectations because they want to maintain a certain reputation. Another dominant ideology in Far from Heaven is discrimination and how whites are considered dominant, whereas blacks were seen as abnormal.

Gender and sexual orientation can be looked at separately throughout the film, however they also coiincide and intermix well with each each other. For instance, Frank remains homosexual even though trying to fullfill a masculine ideal. He overcompensates trying to make sure people do not judge him for being different.  He is secretly hiding the fact that he is a homosexual person due to the social standards that were current in the 1950’s. In the scene right after Cathy finds about Frank’s affair, his sexuality is especially tested. When Cathy says, “You’re all man to me” she is trying to remind Frank of his masculinity. Frank replies by hitting her which reflects the way society viewed masculinity at the time.


A major theme in the film Casablanca  is Isolation vs. intervention. Rick represents the “isolation” from the involvement in WWII. He always seems to be in the middle of every situation even though he does not want to get involved with anything that has to do with WWII. Victor Lazlo’s character represents intervention as he has been battling against the Nazi influence ever since World War II started. He is brave and does not retain himself to show his strong personality when the time comes.

The ability to have so many genres in one film is what makes Casablanca such an entertaining and interesting movie. Directors often times utilize multiple genres in their movies to attract many different audiences, but the difference with Curtis is that he mixes the genres together instead of just bouncing to and from different genres. The different genres he uses in this particular work include propaganda, documentary, adventure, war, and romance. This allows to keep the viewers entertain and add more value to this particular film.

In the film, Casablanca, the continuous alternation between different genres keeps the audience entertain and forces them to focus on every single scene. Since oftentimes the particular theme is unclear and not easy to recognize at first, it adds value to the film by bringing more content. Casablanca is also considered an unconventional film because it did not follow story lines that could have been guessed by the audience. It was unpreditcable and original due to its many different genres.