Paprika ★★★★★

Satoshi Kon's singular nightmare, Paprika, is the film that makes all other dream-based films, including Inception, look pedestrian.

Alleging that Inception ripped off Paprika is unfair and groundless, not because I think the former is path-breaking by any chance. Actually, Inception borrows/mimics/plagiarizes/alters a few visual cues from Paprika and that is all. I think such allegations are an insult to Paprika's sheer magnitude. It is an inimitable work of art and I mean it. While Inception is an epic heist thriller that employs the "dream within a dream" idea to make artistic Hollywood entertainment for a universal audience, Paprika asks for much more than that from its viewers; more than just patience and attention. Paprika is a hyper-complicated mystery trapped in Kon's vision of the 'collective unconscious'. Here, he takes recurring audio-visual motifs to create a pattern within the subconscious of the viewer. And just when we form a perception of the information he feeds us, he unveils its true nature. It is a web of interconnected, cyclical thoughts, information, objects and experiences whose axes change once an external force like the DC Mini in the film acts upon it. The general consensus on the resultant world would be that it is a post-modern world without order; a dystopia.

Anarchy happens when both security and privacy are absent. By letting loose the capacity of one's dreams and implementing it on shared dreaming, the film reveals the kind of destruction that can stem from a single individual's thoughts. The "thoughts" can be equated to the construction of dreams as well as reality. Even technology is an outcome of extraordinary imagination. Simply put, Paprika exposes the dangerous potential of human imagination.

Kon ties the make-believe functionality of cinema, technology(internet), memories and reality into his abstract take on dreams. How these four elements can completely conquer the very essence of the human mind is acutely critiqued. Cinema and memories can cross over inside a person's head because the images they produce are impermanent and selective. Only the most personal images stick deep within the mind. Technology- internet in particular- has a great impact on bending the rules of reality. It has a huge hand in directing the future of the real world as a whole. As the character of Paprika puts it, "...the Internet and dreams are similar. They're areas where the repressed conscious mind escapes." This one line is so relevant even today. The entire philosophy of Paprika can be explained in this one word- 'inter-net'.

I believe that, within cinema, animation can portray the audio-visual representation of sexuality in the most effective manner. In Paprika, the battle of the sexes is continuous, right till the final clash of the giants. It has no inhibitions when it comes to exhibiting the perverse side of human beings and how it is always hidden at the bottom of the subconscious, which can be experienced best as dreams. The confrontation between Osanai and Paprika which ends up as rape is a brilliant example. Even Dr.Chiba's suppressed love for the obese man-child, Dr.Tokita, is brought to the open by the corners of her dreams.

I can go on and on about my thoughts on Paprika but that still would only barely scratch the surface of what is an ocean of philosophical, socio-political, sexual and psychological commentary on the very existence of human beings and their relationship with the world they inhabit. Yet, one thought that kept bugging me during the viewing was if the director had it all sorted in his head or was he as perplexed as us about the growth and reach his film made, even while being its very creator. Has any creator ever predicted the consequence of his/her creations? It is this inevitable distance and separation between the creator and the creation that could lead to all sorts of manipulation and hysteria, or could it?

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