“The loss of my little sister, while she was an infant, and the effects it had on my mother… Seeing how the character faced pain and loss only through accepting it… It reminded me of how my mother coped with her loss.”
Muhammad Waleed Khan grew up in Brunei. The loss of a loved one impacts everyone, but its impact on those closest is jarring. Today, Muhammad is a voice actor and doctor. One movie affected him more than a typical matinee—Inception. Psychologist World describes the impact of movies and TV shows as narrative transportation. It’s usually the relatability of a character that touches us deepest. Platt College reports on How Films Impact Society and Popular Culture.
Muhammad, when speaking of the movie Inception, did you find yourself drawn to a specific character? Who was your favorite character?
“Yes, Cobb was my favorite character. Initially presented as an intelligent and successful middle-aged man, he was involved in the rare business of entering people’s dreams in order to obtain their deepest secrets. While seemingly confident in his ability and focused on his goal of completing the job, it’s quickly revealed that Cobb has his own agenda. Soon, we see Cobb’s inner demons and buried past rising from the ashes in the form of projections of his wife lingering still in his mind. These projections want to reunite them, if not in life, then in death.”
What was it about this character that drew you into them? Did you find them relatable?
“Throughout the movie, the struggles of the character and how they coped with their past trauma and inability to let go are shown the be the cause of all the problems. In the midst of the fictional setting, this aspect of human nature is very real as an inability to let go is something experienced by people every day. The loss of my little sister, while she was an infant, and the effects it had on my mother and seeing how the character faced pain and loss only through accepting it were they able to move forward. It reminded me of how my mother coped with her loss.”
Muhammad’s family loss is brought forward, even though the moment occurred in the past. The influence of movie characters can’t help but touch lives. The art of emotional connection is pivotal in both books and movies. If the reader or audience doesn’t connect to the character, the story goes nowhere. It’s the human connection that allows people to be drawn into a story and live it through the eyes of the main character.
Muhammad, can you tell us about a life lesson that you learned from this character? How did you apply it in your circumstance?
“My Fourth year of University was when I suffered one of my most traumatic experiences in the form of a failed exam. Since I had never been anything but a top student, facing the trauma of my experience, the embarrassment, uncertainty, and self-doubt were driving me to the brink. Thinking about the character and how the cause of all their problems was the inability to let go even though what was done could not be undone. And, all their problems being solved upon realizing this inspired me to live in the present and be hopeful about the future, instead of holding on to the pain until the sheer weight caused me to drown.”
That’s such a relatable experience. Thank you for sharing. It’s easy to hold tight to pain, but sometimes harder to let go. Yet, letting go is where there’s healing.
Are there characters in other movies that remind you of this character?
“Yes. The topic of letting go and moving on has inspired many movies and characters such as ‘The Sixth Sense’ in which character “Malcolm Crowe” a child psychiatrist who is even in death unable to cope with the loss of the life he had with his wife, or the movie ‘Up’ where the character ‘Carl Fredrickson,’ an elderly man who lives a life of love with his spouse suddenly finds his world without color and life after his wife passes away.”
Muhammad is not alone with being moved by the storyline of Inception. Belinda Henry, a Prime Video subscriber, comments on Inception.
“This is one of my favorite movies. I had to watch this movie several times to put the puzzle pieces of the plot together. Each time I watched it, I would get emotional over the characters.”
In a study by Behavioral Sciences, it was noted that films do impact those who watch them. In the mentioned study, they showed adolescents a film about elderly people, and in conclusion, found that their attitudes shifted upon seeing the movie. They looked at cognitive and emotional issues, and the fascinating decision was that younger students grew more agitated with the elderly. In contrast, postgraduate students became more sympathetic to the elderly after seeing the film.
With this in mind, don’t underestimate a fictional character or story’s ability to touch people’s lives. Thank you to Muhammad for sharing so openly about his family’s loss.