Ever since the release of Inception two years ago I have been constantly hearing it compared to Paprika. Paprika, like Inception, is about dreams and altering and changing them. Both pose that existential question about what is actually real and what is just a dream. In addition to that there are several scenes with similar composure and cinematography so many people have been saying Inception ripped off Paprika which was released in 2006. I decided I better see Paprika for myself and decide exactly how big of an influence it was on Inception.
What it is: So as I have already mentioned Paprika is more or less all about dreams. It is an animated film directed by Satoshi Kon where a group of therapists have developed a device that allows the user to enter into someone’s dreams. One of these devices has recently been stolen and now the thief is using the device to cause mayhem by making random people believe they are dreaming while they are awake.
My thoughts: If Paprika is anything, it is visually stunning. All the dream sequences (85% of the movie) are absolutely beautifully crafted. They are all vivid and colorful and crazy and intense and the fact that it is animated really works well for the movie here because the things Kon tried to accomplish would have turned out less strong if it had been live action instead. The fact that it was animated really allowed for the movie to go in directions that would have otherwise been unable to go and because of this it creates the ultimate dream experience that might even top Inception. In addition to being visually amazing the scenes are all very well composed and well constructed cinematography wise.
Other than being pretty there aren’t a whole lot of positive things I can say about the film.
So the film starts out a little abstract and a little out there but it is clearly developing a plot. Like your standard movie you begin to grow fond of and become familiar with the characters and you are following the events taking place in the story. Right off the bat this is a little difficult due to all of the dream sequences and the movie being portrayed in the whole ‘not knowing what’s really real’ manner but then comes the second half of the film and all intentions of following a logical structure go completely out the window. As I have mentioned several times already, there are a lot of dream sequences in the film and part of the appeal is not knowing what is a dream and what is real but later into the film this gets completely out of hand. The movie just stops making sense. Things just start happening out of nowhere with no attempt to explain why they are actually occurring. Perhaps I am alone in thinking this but the film loses all structure and all order and everything just kind of goes to hell.
So as the structure of plot dissolves as the movie progresses it does become more and more clear that it isn’t trying to tell an actual story but rather it is trying to convey a message and it is doing so symbolically. It is clear enough that it is saying something about the internet and the amount of importance it plays in our day to day lives is bad but other than that it is incredibly unclear once again. After turning to the interwebs for clarity on the matter and discovering what some theories were on the movies messages I re-watched the film in hopes of better comprehension and once again found none. The messages and ideas that people had claimed the film was all about were all gleamed from one sentence or from one tiny thing here or there. Even during my second time around these scenes really didn’t seem incredibly important and you could have picked up a completely different message from looking at a different blurb. When you have a film that is as abstract as Paprika you are going to want to make your message clear. Sure you don’t want to yell the message but you sure don’t want to just quietly whisper it once during an action sequence. If there had been even one ten second long dialogue between a couple of characters in a meaningful fashion this film would have been significantly better but the fact of the matter was there wasn’t. Even after you have abandoned all attempts to understand the story and just go with the metaphorical flow you are still left with nothing.
I normally don’t have a problem with thought-provoking, confusing and unclear movies that require a bit of thought to grasp but Paprika hardly gave us something to grasp. The one thing I had a really hard time with was how the movie started. The beginning gave us the illusion that we were going to be watching a series of structured events so as the films structure starts to dissolve I found myself trying to make logical sense out of the nonsense which ultimately just leads to an incredibly cluttered and unnecessarily confusing movie.
I know a lot of people really love this movie so perhaps I am the only one who had a hard time with this film. As of right now though, I really didn’t like this movie. Sure it is beautiful but the matter of the film is incredibly convoluted, cluttered, and confusing. The film frames itself in way that is way too hard to interpret and it makes it difficult to enjoy. If you absolutely love the idea and concept of dreaming and you enjoy a pretty picture than maybe give it a shot if you can watch it for free but otherwise I couldn’t recommend it.
Coming back to Inception, both films deal with manipulating dreams, both pose several thought provoking and existential questions and both do some cool things visually but other than that they are both very different. If you are looking for a cool movie dealing with dreams definitely just stick to Inception.
So what did you guys think about Paprika? Did you guys completely get what the whole thing was about or did it leave you confused too? How do you think it compares to Inception? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!