Inception provides a sound model for character transformation that both powers the story forward and also brings it to it a meaningful conclusion. The transformation begins with the pronounced gap between Leonardo DiCaprio’s deepest want (rescue the future of his family without first letting go of the past) and his deepest unmet need (release his toxic idea of his wife’s memory and forgive himself). Leonardo’s psychological rip generates dramatic danger that ultimately poses very real conflict for our heroes – the guilt-produced projection of his wife infiltrates his latest do-or-die assignment and threatens to undermine his only chance to make things right. It’s the escalation of this danger that forces Leonardo into a corner where he has no choice but to do the very thing he has avoided all along: void the memory of his wife of her power over him, claim ownership of his part in her death, forgive himself for his transgression and finally release her from his subconscious. This is how a movie like Inception demonstrates true internal cohesion – the unmet need simultaneously motivates the hero’s on-screen and also generates the danger that ultimately forces him to heed his deeper emotional calling. The unmet need is like a dragon that demands to be heard – his voice initially sends our hero running, but his presence ultimately grows so loud that it can’t be ignored.
- What is your hero’s initial psychological rip –
- What is your hero’s urgent want?
- What is your hero’s deepest unmet need?
- What immediate, pressing danger does this rip generate?
- How does this danger escalate to a point where your hero has no choice but to finally face his unmet need?