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The film Inception offers a number of instances of devices we would call literary devices. Each of these can also be construed as a cinematic narrative device used in the film's story-telling.
First, there is the symbolism surrounding each character’s “totem”. The totem represents something emotional and historical for each character, while also gaining thematic significance at the end of the film as the protagonist’s totem, a top, teeters between conclusions. This symbol is given a very specific surface meaning, but can also be interpreted as a having a deeper meaning related to the theme of “uncertain reality” which is at the core of the film.
Inception also utilizes a series of “frames” or “frame narratives”. This is a literary device commonly used to open and close stories. Examples of literature using frame narratives would include Moby Dick, Heart of Darkness and Their Eyes Were Watching God.
Some other cinematic elements: voice over; slow motion; color choice to distinguish time settings.
One of the key aspects to the movie is the music. The music keys in at the most specific parts and carries it. The music is another layer, and it sort of hynpotizes you. It carries you into the movie.
Also, Nolan shows dramatic aspects by playing on our mind's natural instinction to question what is real.
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