Inception is one of those rare movies that has gotten rave reviews from nearly everyone who has seen it, critics and the public alike (it's currently 87% fresh at Rotten Tomatoes). If you haven't seen it yet, don't worry - there's a spoiler warning if you scroll down. Just don't read past that point if you don't want to know anything until you see it for yourself!
Inception was originally written as a horror film about dream-stealers. It developed over a period of nine to ten years, and somewhere during that time it evolved into more of a heist movie.
Christopher Nolan tried to work with Leonardo DiCaprio for years, but Inception was the first script of his that DiCaprio was really interested in. When Nolan first started writing the movie, he was influenced by The Matrix, Dark City and The Thirteenth Floor, movies that were supposed to make you wonder how real the world around you really is.
Without Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, there would have been no Inception. Although Nolan had the basic idea ready in 2001, he felt he needed more experience making large-scale films. Once he had proved himself with the smash success of the Batman movies, he thought he was ready to pitch and make his own large-scale, big-budget idea.
Production took the cast and crew all over the world. Locations included Tokyo, London, Paris, Tangiers, L.A. and Canada. Instead of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, it could have been James Franco playing Cobb’s right-hand-man Arthur. Franco had to drop out due to “scheduling conflicts.” One source reports that he was busy working on Your Highness, the sequel to Pineapple Express.
Despite the difficult and surreal subject matter, Christopher Nolan tried to limit the use of computer-generated effects as much as possible.
The guitar parts of the soundtrack were played by Johnny Marr, former guitarist of The Smiths. Some critics said Nolan ripped off a 1961 French movie called Last Year at Marienbad, but Nolan says he didn’t see it until after Inception had wrapped.
According to Box Office Mojo, as of last week, Inception is the highest-grossing film ever in three categories: Crime Time, Heist/Cape, and Mindbender.
Ariadne, the character Ellen Page plays, was originally supposed to be played by Evan Rachel Wood. When she turned it down, Nolan considered Emily Blunt, Emma Roberts and Rachel McAdams before deciding on the Juno star.
This movie is proof that some child stars grow up to be wildly successful in their careers: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page and Lukas Haas were all working in the entertainment industry before they were 10.
In the movie, Saito owns an interesting set of barrel chairs. Those were originally designed for the famous Frank Lloyd Wright house, Fallingwater, but the owners of the house didn’t particularly care for them.
An Edith Piaf song – “Rien de rien” – is used in the movie. Because Marion Cotillard (Mal) played Ms. Piaf in La vie en rose in 2007, the song was nearly pulled because Christopher Nolan didn’t want viewers to think he was making an inside joke. Composer Hans Zimmer convinced him the song was too perfect to get rid of.
Here be possible spoilers:
Many of the names in the movie have hidden (or not-so-hidden) meaning.
• Cillian Murphy’s character, Robert Fischer, Jr., is named after chess player Bobby Fischer.
• Maurice Fischer is named after M.C. (Maurits Cornelis) Escher.
• Eames is a reference to Charles and Ray Eames, a couple who designed furniture and architecture and made avant-garde films.
• The word “Cobb,” the last name of Leonardo DiCaprio’s character, means “dream” in Sanskrit, Hindi, Urdu, and Punjabi.
• “Mal” is short for 'Mallorie’ from the French word Malheur – misfortune. And of course, in lots of languages “mal” translates to something along the lines of “bad.”
• Ariadne is part of the Greek Minotaur myth. Legend has it she helped Theseus find his way out of the Minotaur’s maze by giving him a ball of red fleece.
• Yusuf is the Arabic form of Joseph. In the Bible, Joseph had the gift of dream interpretation.
There’s another reference to M.C. Escher in the movie – the “paradox staircase.” It’s an homage to Escher’s “The Infinite Staircase” or “Ascending and Descending.”
A long hotel corridor was constructed that actually rotated 360 degrees to create strange gravity effects. The hallway was originally only supposed to be 40 feet long but expanded to 100 feet as the action sequence was written to be more elaborate and in depth. Joseph Gordon-Levitt did all of his own stunts in the hallway, by the way, and spent time practicing in a “human hamster wheel.”
Ariadne’s tight bun hairstyle in some scenes is more for practical reasons than aesthetic ones: during the anti-gravity parts, filmmakers didn’t want to worry about how her hair should be reacting.
Christopher Nolan and Cillian Murphy have worked together three times in the past few years (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and Inception) and each time, Cillian Murphy has spent the majority of his time onscreen with a bag over his head. Hmm. Coincidence, I’m sure.