I thought of a new short story idea the other day. It’s a fantasy story, complete with a dark realm, a tyrant, and a young woman who finds herself wrapped up in the whole exchange. I know there are echoes of Disney movies, and a mask I saw in a Halloween store. It might even have a little echo from A.E. Marling’s new book.
So, I asked myself, how often does one thing shape something else?
There are no new ideas. That’s something agreed upon by the masses. But if that’s the case, wouldn’t there be a trail that could be followed back through earlier works? A way to see inspiration give rise to one thing after another.
Which gives me the perfect excuse to talk about my favorite movie, Christopher Nolan dream-heist movie, Inception.
Nolan credits a few movies to the formation of Inception. Most of these have some sort of mind-bending element. Movies like Nolan’s own Memento, which has a reversed narrative, while piecing apart a mystery. Or The Thirteenth Floor, which features layers of artificial realities. Or The Matrix, probably the quintessential cyberpunk film of the past twenty years, if not ever. The setting of these is the mind, either directly, through memory, or through a computer program.
Of course, I can take one of those and step back even further. The Matrix is fueled by a lot of anime/manga sources. The Wachowski’s argue a lot on Akira, but the visual that’s more obvious is Ghost in the Shell, which is probably the greatest animated form of cyberpunk out there. Both also deal with the workings of the mind and applying it to the real world. In Akira, it’s through psychic experiments, in Ghost in the Shell, it’s through cybernetics and computer networks.
Put it all together, and there’s a picture, a way to use the working of the mind and technology to tell a personal story, an action story, or an epic involving raving mobs. That all sounds like Inception to me.
What do you think? Are there still original ideas, or do we all borrow at least an echo from something else?