Inception Essentials


Now that Inception finally got released over here, I instantly waddled off to the movie theatre. I enjoyed it a lot, appreciated the way they set up and unfolded the different layers, kept them connected, and concluded the narrative threads with a nice cascade of kicks. Christopher Nolan and his crew crafted a well-paced ride. The few elements that didn’t seem consistent with the concept or were left unexplained didn’t really hurt the experience.

The cast was superb. (Side note: I probably spent minutes trying to figure out what movies  Tom Hardy had been involved earlier. The face, the voice – he seemed familiar. It wasn’t until I was back at home and dove into IMDB that I saw that he had played young Bizarro-Picard in Star Trek: Nemesis. I guess I’m just bringing that up to have an excuse to link to Red Letter Media’s excellent review of what could have been a carreer-ending turd.)

The biggest gripe I probably have: As always, many, many signature scenes were already included in the trailers. I guess I too am at fault though for never being able to resist the urge to watch trailers in general.

Inception leaves plenty of room for speculation and interpretation. If that happens to be your cup of tea, you might find the links after the jump interesting. Obviously, if you haven’t seen the movie yet, you should avoid this journey to the republic of SPOILERSTANIA.

The Last Psychiatrist

Cobb’s not trapped in a maze, he’s trapped in a paradoxical staircase, covering the same ground over and over.  He doesn’t need Ariadne to lead him out; he needs her to clue him into another perspective.


The heist team quite neatly maps to major players in a film production. Cobb is the director while Arthur, the guy who does the research and who sets up the places to sleep, is the producer. Ariadne, the dream architect, is the screenwriter – she creates the world that will be entered. Eames is the actor (this is so obvious that the character sits at an old fashioned mirrored vanity, the type which stage actors would use). Yusuf is the technical guy; remember, the Oscar come from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and it requires a good number of technically minded people to get a movie off the ground.

Cinema Blend

The safe is a creation of the subconscious that Cobb exploits, in this case Mal. The safes are constructed so that the dreamer believes that it is a safe place for them to store their secrets. The top is Mal’s totem, which she uses to determine whether she’s in a dream. If it never stops spinning, that tells Mal that she’s in a dream. By placing a constantly spinning totem in the safe, Cobb is placing an idea (and a very simple one) inside her subconscious. It’s not that she saw the totem spinning, but that it was always spinning in her subconcious mind. This is why she thought she was trapped in the dream world.

the list of now

Her name [Ariadne], as far as I can tell, is the only obviously referential one in the film.

It’s Greek.  She’s the daughter of King Minos.  Often referred to as the Mistress of the Maze, who helped Theseus defeat the Minotaur.  She armed him with a sword and a ball of string for him to unwind, to be able to find his way back out of the Labyrinth once he was in it and had defeated the Minotaur.

Taylor Holmes

I can hear you now.  “SEVEN?  What the HECK?!”  Trust me.  It’ll make sense soon enough.  But yes, I believe there are seven (not counting the splinter levels we see mind you.) stacked levels of Inception goodness piled one upon the other.  I could actually argue for a couple more without much effort, but I’ll stick with the ones I know I can easily prove with facts laid out from the movie.

Spinner (plus bonus link)

Composer Hans Zimmer has revealed his score for Christopher Nolan’s blockbuster movie ‘Inception’ was born from Édith Piaf’s ‘Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien.’ The song appears in the reality-twisting movie as a warning to the characters to wake up from their dreamlike state but is also the basis for all the music which features in Zimmer’s score.

Hal Phillips

In reality (which I will label “level 1”), the details of Cobb’s wife and past are basically as we’ve been shown.  To help him get over her death and move on, someone has arranged an inception to implant him with that idea. […] The characters we meet as Cobb’s team are actually Ariadne’s team.

Inception infographic at deviantART (Probably more confusing than the actual movie.)

Rope of Silicon

Meanwhile, Saito dies in level three and was sent to limbo. Dom dies in level one by drowning in the sinking van, which is when he joins Saito in the shared limbo and explains why Saito has aged and Dom has not. This also explains why the shared limbo is populated with Saito’s memories when Dom arrives.

(I tip my hat to the people at GWJ and other places who contributed to this link collection. If that wasn’t enough for you: You’re welcome!)


  1. No comments yet.
(will not be published)