In a recent interview with Christopher Nolan, the first question asked was, “Where did you get the idea of being able to invade the dreams of others [the concept for Inception]?” Nolan went on about his fascination with dreams and creating worlds and blah blah blah, but come on … Dreamscape, anyone? Does no one remember there was a film in 1984 with the exact same premise?
The reference might a little obscure for this world, but that’s a normal response from someone like me because I have this fascination with idea genealogy. And I don’t say that to denigrate Inception. It was a good movie, not great like Memento, and it gets a little extra praise for being much smarter than the average blockbuster. Regarding its concept lineage, Inception is to Dreamscape as Alien is to It! The Terror from Beyond Space. Not to say that Inception is in any way of the quality of Alien, but in both cases, they transcended what could be considered their “source material.” The ideas were out there, floating in the Noosphere, plucked by these creators and made into something more, something greater than what they had been.
And, one final caveat, I am not intending to denigrate Dreamscape either. It was good film of mixed genres, and the great Max von Sydow had the best metaline to sum up the movie as well his character’s motivation in it – “I’m doing this because it’s fun.” Dreamscape was a fun movie. Thing is, I don’t remember anyone gushing about Dreamscape‘s originality. As far as I can tell, no one asked David Loughery, the Dreamscape scribe, where his ideas come from. The movie fell into the Atwood trap of being “science fiction,” which as we know is about lizard men, as opposed to “speculative fiction,” which is appropriate for intellectual examination.