Inception (2010)

PG-13 | 147-149 mins | Science fiction | 2010

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HISTORY

The working title of the film was Oliver’s Arrow . At the end of the film, "Dom Cobb's" top is still spinning, an indication that the reunion with his children might not be occurring in the waking world. The spinning top seems to begin to slow down, but the film cuts abruptly to a title card before it becomes clear whether Cobb is still within a dream.
       All credits except for company logos appear after the film. The end credits contain a “Special Thanks” to the following organizations: City of Rancho Palos Verdes; La Prefecture de Police de Paris; La Mairie de Paris – Mission Cinema, Paris Film; His Majesty Mohamed VI and The Civilian and Military Authorities of Morocco; Audionamix Inc.; JR Train; and the Estate of Francis Bacon. The end credits also acknowledge assistance in the making of the film from the Government of Alberta, Alberta Film Development Program and the French Tax Rebate for International Productions.
       According to 16 Jul and 4 Apr 2010 LAT articles, Nolan conceived of the idea for the film when he was sixteen years old and wrote his first draft of the screenplay around 2002. The Apr 2010 LAT article also stated that Nolan had been intrigued with dreams since he was a child. The same article reported that Nolan incorporated many ideas of actor Leonardo DiCaprio into the script, especially those related to Dom Cobb's character.
       The 13 Jul 2010 LAT article noted that Inception cost $160 million to make. The article also stated that it was a gamble for Warner Bros. and Legendary, because theater attendance ... More Less

The working title of the film was Oliver’s Arrow . At the end of the film, "Dom Cobb's" top is still spinning, an indication that the reunion with his children might not be occurring in the waking world. The spinning top seems to begin to slow down, but the film cuts abruptly to a title card before it becomes clear whether Cobb is still within a dream.
       All credits except for company logos appear after the film. The end credits contain a “Special Thanks” to the following organizations: City of Rancho Palos Verdes; La Prefecture de Police de Paris; La Mairie de Paris – Mission Cinema, Paris Film; His Majesty Mohamed VI and The Civilian and Military Authorities of Morocco; Audionamix Inc.; JR Train; and the Estate of Francis Bacon. The end credits also acknowledge assistance in the making of the film from the Government of Alberta, Alberta Film Development Program and the French Tax Rebate for International Productions.
       According to 16 Jul and 4 Apr 2010 LAT articles, Nolan conceived of the idea for the film when he was sixteen years old and wrote his first draft of the screenplay around 2002. The Apr 2010 LAT article also stated that Nolan had been intrigued with dreams since he was a child. The same article reported that Nolan incorporated many ideas of actor Leonardo DiCaprio into the script, especially those related to Dom Cobb's character.
       The 13 Jul 2010 LAT article noted that Inception cost $160 million to make. The article also stated that it was a gamble for Warner Bros. and Legendary, because theater attendance at that time was down, several big budget movies had recently performed poorly at the box office and Nolan was only at the cusp of having a box-office drawing presence. Despite the risks, according to the article, the studios gave Nolan free rein as he shot principal photography in six countries.
       The 4 Apr 2010 LAT article noted that computer effects were used in the making of the film, such as for the creation of the cityscape of Paris folding over on itself and other effects that were reminiscent of the work of artist M. C. Escher. However, according to a 19 Jul 2010 Var article, special effects man Chris Corbould also used many old-school, in-camera techniques, such as air cannons and lightweight replicas of debris, and a high speed camera for slow motion explosions. He reported in the same article that one sequence used five separate techniques. According to the New Yorker review, actors were suspended by invisible wires to create the sense of floating in a zero-gravity space. A 16 Jul 2010 LAT article stated that the sixty-foot train that appears to drive through the city streets in one sequence was filmed in downtown Los Angeles and achieved by placing a replica of a train engine on the chassis of an eighteen-wheel tractor-trailer. A 1 Dec 2010 HR article reported that the sequence depicting the submerged van required the actors to use scuba tanks for air.
       As noted in the 7 Dec 2010 LAT article, a hotel corridor was built to rotate 360 degrees. The New Yorker and HR reviews reported that sequences shot in the corridor were reminiscent of the iconic scene in the 1951 film, The Royal Wedding (see entry) in which actor Fred Astaire danced on walls and ceilings. The Apr 2010 LAT article reported that actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt (“Arthur”) spent weeks learning to fight in the corridor as it rotated, and a 1 Dec 2010 HR article stated that the actor spent several days wired into a harness within the rotating set. A 7 Dec 2010 LAT article reported that hall lights had to be built into the frame of the set of the rotating hall to achieve continuity, instead of using free standing or grid lights, and that a second version of the corridor was built to stand eighty feet high in a vertical position. The Apr 2010 LAT article reported that the nightclub set was also built to tilt and the 7 Dec 2010 LAT article reported that the elevator set was built horizontally.
       A 13 Jul 2010 DV article reported that the film was shot mostly in 35 mm, but some city exteriors, wide shots and other scenes were shot in 65 mm. The same article reported that cinematographer Wally Pfister created distinct color palettes to differentiate the dream layers in the story, using a bluish tint for the rain-soaked city in the first dream, warm tones for the hotel hallway in the second dream, and white for snowy mountain slopes of the third dream. A 13 Jul 2010 Var news item mentioned that Pfister and Nolan considered having a 2D-to-3D conversion in post-producton, but decided against it because of the story’s complex structure.
       Although the end credits note that portions of the film were shot in Alberta, Canada and France, the 13 Jul 2010 LAT article specified Paris and added Morocco; Tokyo, Japan; London, England and Los Angeles as additional shooting sites. According to the Apr 2010 LAT article, a hanger in Cardington, England outside London was used as a shooting site for portions of the film. Another key scene, according to the 4 Apr 2010 LAT article, was shot at the Architecture School at University College London, where Nolan had been an English major and where he met his wife and co-producer, Emma Thomas.
       In a 17 Nov 2010 DV article, composer Hans Zimmer reported that he used electronic music in sixty percent of the soundtrack. He stated that he electronically manipulated the recordings of live musicians, who sometimes imitated the electronic sounds, and he re-recorded manipulated sounds in an acoustical environment to musically conceptualize the “dreams within dreams” theme. According to the article, a 1960 master of the song, “Non, je ne regrette rien” as recorded by singer Edith Piaf, was obtained from the French National Archive and used as one of the “kicks” in the film.
       The HR review described Inception as “easily the most original movie idea in ages.” A 16 Jul 2010 Wall Street Journal article predicted that the success of the picture could create a “new turn” in the film industry, prompting studios to be more willing to fund new concepts and franchises. The film received numerous critical praises. In addition to being named one of AFI’s Movies of the Year, Inception won Academy Awards for Best Cinematography, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing and Visual Effects and was nominated for Best Picture, Writing – Original Screenplay, Original Score and Art Direction. The film received Golden Globe nominations for Best Motion Picture, Drama; Best Director, Motion Picture; Best Original Score, Motion Picture; and Best Screenplay. The film won the WGA Award for Best Original Screenplay. Nolan and Thomas were nominated by the PGA for The Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures, and Nolan was nominated by the DGA for Outstanding Directorial Achievement. In addition, the film won SAG’s Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture and won the Art Directors Guild (ADG) Excellence in 2010 Production Design Awards for Fantasy Feature Film.
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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
13 Jul 2010
p. 2.
Daily Variety
17 Nov 2010.
---
Hollywood Reporter
6 Jul 2010
pp. 8, 10.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Dec 2010.
---
Los Angeles Times
20 Sep 2009.
---
Los Angeles Times
4 Apr 2010
Section D, pp. 1, 4.
Los Angeles Times
11 Jul 2010
Section D, pp. 1, 5.
Los Angeles Times
13 Jul 2010
Section B, pp. 1, 3.
Los Angeles Times
16 Jul 2010
Section D, pp. 1, 6.
Los Angeles Times
1 Dec 2010
Secition S, pp. 14, 16.
Los Angeles Times
7 Dec 2010
pp. 14, 16.
New York Times
16 Jul 2010
Section C, p. 1, 13.
New Yorker
26 Jul 2010
pp. 78-79.
Variety
12 Jul 2010
p. 19, 24.
Variety
13 Jul 2010.
---
Variety
19 Jul 2010.
---
Wall Street Journal
16 Jul 2010
p. 88.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANIES
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Film by Christopher Nolan
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
Unit prod mgr, United Kingdom
Unit prod mgr, Canada
Unit prod mgr-Japan
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
Addl 2d asst dir
2d asst dir, United Kingdom
2d asst dir, United Kingdom
2d 2d asst dir
3d asst dir, United Kingdom
3d asst dir, United Kingdom
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Exec prod
Co-prod
Assoc prod, Canada
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Underwater dir of photog
Aerial dir of photog
Visual eff dir of photog
Ski cam dir of photog, Canada
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Addl 2d asst cam
B cam op/Steadicam, United Kingdom
Visual eff cam
Loader
Still photog
Still photog
Key video assist/Computer video supv
Chief lighting tech
Asst chief lighting tech
Gaffer, United Kingdom
Rigging gaffer
Rigging gaffer, United Kingdom
Key grip
Key grip, United Kingdom
Best boy grip
Best boy grip, Canada
Rigging key grip
Dolly grip
Dolly grip, Canada
Video op/Coord, United Kingdom
Cam cranes and dollies by
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Supv art dir
Supv art dir, United Kingdom
Art dir
Art dir
Art dir, United Kingdom
Art dir, United Kingdom
Art dir, United Kingdom
Art dir, Canada
Asst art dir
Art dept coord
Art dept coord, United Kingdom
Graphic des
Storyboard artist
Art researcher
Art archivist
FILM EDITORS
Addl ed
Post prod supv
1st asst ed
1st asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed, United Kingdom
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
Set dec, United Kingdom
Set dec, Canada
Leadman
On set dresser
Set des
Set des
Set des
Set des
Set des
Lead model maker
Prop master
Prop master, United Kingdom
Asst prop master
Asst prop master
Armorer
Const coord
Const coord, United Kingdom
Const coord, Canada
Modeler gang boss moldshop supv
Paint supv
Greens foreman
Standby painter
Key set asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
COSTUMES
Cost des
Asst cost des
Cost supv
Cost supv, United Kingdom
Key cost
Key cost
Mr. DiCaprio's cost
Set cost
Set cost
MUSIC
Supv mus ed
Mus ed
Asst mus ed
Asst mus ed
Score prod and addl mus by
Ambient mus des
Synth programming
Synth programming
Guitar
Orchestrator
Orch cond by
Digital instrument des
Mus prod services
Mus score consultant
Score coord
Score rec by
Score mixed by
SOUND
Sd des/Supv sd ed
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Prod sd mixer
Boom op
Sd utility
1st asst sd ed
1st asst sd ed
ADR ed
Dial ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Foley supv
Foley ed
Foley artist
Foley artist
Foley mixer
Sd eff rec mixer
Sd eff rec mixer
Addl re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff supv
Visual eff supv
Spec eff floor supv, United Kingdom
Spec eff workshop supv, United Kingdom
Spec eff workshop supv, United Kingdom
Spec eff workshop supv, United Kingdom
Spec eff workshop supv, United Kingdom
Visual eff supv, Double Negative
Visual eff supv, Double Negative
Visual eff supv, Double Negative
Visual eff prod
Visual eff prod, Double Negative
Visual eff assoc prod, Double Negative
Visual eff assoc prod, Double Negative
Spec eff coord
Spec eff coord, Canada
Visual eff coord, Double Negative
Visual eff coord, Double Negative
Visual eff coord, Double Negative
Visual eff coord, Double Negative
Visual eff coord, Double Negative
Sr spec eff tech
Sr spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Visual eff prod supv
Visual eff ed
Visual eff asst ed
Visual eff asst ed
Visual eff on set data wrangler
Visual eff asst coord
Visual eff asst coord
Visual eff asst coord
Visual eff prod asst
Visual eff prod asst
Visual eff prod asst
Visual eff prod asst
Visual eff by
CG supv, Double Negative
CG supv, Double Negative
CG supv, Double Negative
CG supv, Double Negative
CG supv, Double Negative
CG supv, Double Negative
CG supv, Double Negative
CG lighting supv, Double Negative
Lead CG lighting artist, Double Negative
Lead CG lighting artist, Double Negative
Lead CG lighting artist, Double Negative
Lead CG lighting artist, Double Negative
CG lighting artist, Double Negative
CG lighting artist, Double Negative
CG lighting artist, Double Negative
CG lighting artist, Double Negative
CG lighting artist, Double Negative
CG lighting artist, Double Negative
CG lighting artist, Double Negative
CG lighting artist, Double Negative
CG lighting artist, Double Negative
CG lighting artist, Double Negative
CG lighting artist, Double Negative
CG lighting artist, Double Negative
CG lighting artist, Double Negative
CG lighting artist, Double Negative
CG lighting artist, Double Negative
CG lighting artist, Double Negative
CG lighting artist, Double Negative
CG lighting artist, Double Negative
CG lighting artist, Double Negative
CG lighting artist, Double Negative
CG lighting artist, Double Negative
CG modeller, Double Negative
CG modeller, Double Negative
CG modeller, Double Negative
CG modeller, Double Negative
CG modeller, Double Negative
CG modeller, Double Negative
CG modeller, Double Negative
Texture artist, Double Negative
Texture artist, Double Negative
Texture artist, Double Negative
CG eff supv, Double Negative
Lead CG eff artist, Double Negative
Lead CG eff artist, Double Negative
Lead CG eff artist, Double Negative
Lead CG eff artist, Double Negative
Lead CG eff artist, Double Negative
Lead CG eff artist, Double Negative
Lead CG eff artist, Double Negative
CG eff artist, Double Negative
CG eff artist, Double Negative
CG eff artist, Double Negative
CG eff artist, Double Negative
CG eff artist, Double Negative
CG eff artist, Double Negative
CG eff artist, Double Negative
CG eff artist, Double Negative
CG eff artist, Double Negative
Matchmove supv, Double Negative
Matchmove artist, Double Negative
Matchmove artist, Double Negative
Matchmove artist, Double Negative
Matchmove artist, Double Negative
Matchmove artist, Double Negative
Matchmove artist, Double Negative
Matchmove artist, Double Negative
Matchmove artist, Double Negative
Matchmove artist, Double Negative
Matchmove artist, Double Negative
Matchmove artist, Double Negative
Matchmove artist, Double Negative
Matchmove artist, Double Negative
Matchmove artist, Double Negative
Matchmove artist, Double Negative
Matchmove artist, Double Negative
Matchmove artist, Double Negative
Matchmove artist, Double Negative
Matchmove artist, Double Negative
Matchmove artist, Double Negative
Matchmove artist, Double Negative
Compositing seq supv, Double Negative
Compositing seq supv, Double Negative
Compositing seq supv, Double Negative
Compositing seq supv, Double Negative
Compositing seq supv, Double Negative
Compositing seq supv, Double Negative
Compositing seq supv, Double Negative
Compositing seq supv, Double Negative
Compositing seq supv, Double Negative
Compositing seq supv, Double Negative
Compositor, Double Negative
Compositor, Double Negative
Compositor, Double Negative
Compositor, Double Negative
Compositor, Double Negative
Compositor, Double Negative
Compositor, Double Negative
Compositor, Double Negative
Compositor, Double Negative
Compositor, Double Negative
Compositor, Double Negative
Compositor, Double Negative
Compositor, Double Negative
Compositor, Double Negative
Compositor, Double Negative
Compositor, Double Negative
Compositor, Double Negative
Compositor, Double Negative
Compositor, Double Negative
Compositor, Double Negative
Compositor, Double Negative
Compositor, Double Negative
Compositor, Double Negative
Compositor, Double Negative
Compositor, Double Negative
Compositor, Double Negative
Compositor, Double Negative
Compositor, Double Negative
Compositor, Double Negative
Compositor, Double Negative
Compositor, Double Negative
Compositor, Double Negative
Compositor, Double Negative
Compositor, Double Negative
Compositor, Double Negative
Compositor, Double Negative
Compositor, Double Negative
Compositor, Double Negative
Compositor, Double Negative
Compositor, Double Negative
Rotoscope artist, Double Negative
Rotoscope artist, Double Negative
Rotoscope artist, Double Negative
Rotoscope artist, Double Negative
Rotoscope artist, Double Negative
Rotoscope artist, Double Negative
Rotoscope artist, Double Negative
Rotoscope artist, Double Negative
Rotoscope artist, Double Negative
Rotoscope artist, Double Negative
Rotoscope artist, Double Negative
Rotoscope artist, Double Negative
Rotoscope artist, Double Negative
Rotoscope artist, Double Negative
Rotoscope artist, Double Negative
Rotoscope artist, Double Negative
Rotoscope artist, Double Negative
Rotoscope artist, Double Negative
Rotoscope artist, Double Negative
Rotoscope artist, Double Negative
Rotoscope artist, Double Negative
Rotoscope artist, Double Negative
Rotoscope artist, Double Negative
Rotoscope artist, Double Negative
Rotoscope artist, Double Negative
Rotoscope artist, Double Negative
Visual eff art dir, Double Negative
Matte Painter, Double Negative
Matte Painter, Double Negative
Matte Painter, Double Negative
Matte Painter, Double Negative
Visual eff ed, Double Negative
Asst visual eff ed, Double Negative
Asst visual eff ed, Double Negative
Software development, Double Negative
Software development, Double Negative
Software development, Double Negative
Software development, Double Negative
Software development, Double Negative
Software development, Double Negative
Software development, Double Negative
Software development, Double Negative
Software development, Double Negative
Software development, Double Negative
Software development, Double Negative
Software development, Double Negative
Software development, Double Negative
Software development, Double Negative
Software development, Double Negative
Software development, Double Negative
Software development, Double Negative
Software development, Double Negative
Software development, Double Negative
Software development, Double Negative
Software development, Double Negative
Tech support, Double Negative
Tech support, Double Negative
Tech support, Double Negative
Visual eff by
Visual eff, New Deal Studios
Visual eff, New Deal Studios
Visual eff, New Deal Studios
Visual eff, New Deal Studios
Visual eff, New Deal Studios
Visual eff, New Deal Studios
Visual eff, New Deal Studios
Visual eff, New Deal Studios
Visual eff, New Deal Studios
Visual eff, New Deal Studios
Visual eff, New Deal Studios
Visual eff, New Deal Studios
Lidar scanning by
Lidar scanning by
Lidar scanning by
Lidar scanning by
MAKEUP
Hair dept head
Makeup dept head
Key hairstylist
Mr. DiCaprio's hairsylist
Key makeup artist
Makeup artist
Mr. DiCaprio's makeup artist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting assoc
Casting asst
Extras casting
UK casting
Prod controller
Dialect coach
Ultimate arms tech
Ultimate arms tech
Helicopter pilot
Prod supv
Prod office coord
Asst prod office coord
Post prod coord
Prod coord, United Kingdom
Prod coord, Canada
Asst prod coord, United Kingdom
Asst prod coord, United Kingdom
Supv aerial coord, United Kingdom
Prod secy
Travel coord
Prod accountant
Prod accountant
Loc accountant
Loc accountant
Loc accountant, United Kingdom
1st asst accountant
1st asst accountant, United Kingdom
1st asst accountant, Canada
Post prod accountant
Prod services-France
Prod services-Morocco
Line prod-France
Line prod-Morocco
Prod mgr-France
Prod mgr-Morocco
Loc mgr-France
Loc mgr-Morocco
Prod supv-Japan
Media Wave Inc. prod-Japan
Cross Media, Inc. prod-Japan
Asst to Mr. Nolan
Asst to Ms. Thomas
Asst to Mr. Brigham
Asst to Mr. DiCaprio
Asst to Ms. Page
Asst to Mr. Watanabe
Office staff asst
Office staff asst
Office staff asst
Office staff asst
Office staff asst
Office staff asst
Office staff asst
Loc mgr
Loc mgr
Loc mgr, United Kingdom
Loc mgr, Canada
Key asst loc mgr
Key asst loc mgr
Key asst loc mgr
Key asst loc mgr
Key asst loc mgr
Key asst loc mgr
Key asst loc mgr
Key asst loc mgr
Asst loc mgr
Asst loc mgr, Canada
Transportation coord
Transportation coord, Canada
Transportation capt
Transportation capt, United Kingdom
Craft service
Medic
Catering, United Kingdom
Unit pub
Post prod asst
Post prod asst
Post prod asst
Post prod asst, United Kingdom
Picture car coord
Picture car coord, United Kingdom
STAND INS
Aerial dir of photog
Stunt coord
Stunt coord
Stunt coord
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
ANIMATION
Anim, Double Negative
Anim, Double Negative
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
SOURCES
SONGS
"Non, je ne regrette rien," written by Charles Dumont and Michel Vaucaire, performed by Edith Piaf, courtesy of EMI Music France, under license from EMI Film & Television Music
"Aboun Salehoun," written by Youssef El Mejjad and Pat Jabbar, performed by Amira Saqati, courtesy of Barraka El Farnatshi Productions.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Oliver's Arrow
Release Date:
2010
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 16 July 2010
Production Date:
began mid July 2009
Copyright Claimants:
Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Legendary Pictures
Copyright Dates:
21 January 2011 21 January 2011
Copyright Numbers:
PA1715030 PA1715030
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby digital; dts; SDDS Sony Dynamic Digital Sound in selected theatres
Color
Technicolor
gauge
35mm and 65 mm
Widescreen/ratio
Camera & lenses by Panavision; Color and prints by Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
147-149
MPAA Rating:
PG-13
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
46101
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Dom Cobb washes up onto a beach, where he sees two young children playing. Guards appear and forcibly escort him to the home of an old Asian man, who recognizes a small spinning top that Cobb carries and struggles to recall the man he knew who carried it. The old man tries hard to remember the person he met in “a half-remembered dream,” but his memory of the past is clouded: Cobb is a master in the art of “extraction,” a form of corporate espionage in which a specialized team invades the victim’s dreams to steal industrial secrets. To carry out a mission, Cobb, and his partner, Arthur, work with others who have specialized talents: an architect who designs a subconscious dreamscape in which the victim’s mind is taken; a forger who, in the shared dream, assumes the identity of any individual the victim knows; and a chemist who formulates sedatives that take the victim and the team into a shared dreamspace from which they can travel into lower levels of the subconscious. After sedating the victim, Cobb and his accomplices attach themselves and the sleeping victim to a portable machine that allows them to participate in the same dream. During the shared dream, the team cons the victim into revealing information. While on a job for the powerful Cobol Engineering, the team attempts to extract information from Mr. Saito, the head of a large energy corporation. However, Saito has been trained to defend himself against extraction and the mission fails. To avoid severe punishment from Cobol for not fulfilling the job, Cobb’s team must disband and go into hiding, but their architect is captured and dragged away ... +


Dom Cobb washes up onto a beach, where he sees two young children playing. Guards appear and forcibly escort him to the home of an old Asian man, who recognizes a small spinning top that Cobb carries and struggles to recall the man he knew who carried it. The old man tries hard to remember the person he met in “a half-remembered dream,” but his memory of the past is clouded: Cobb is a master in the art of “extraction,” a form of corporate espionage in which a specialized team invades the victim’s dreams to steal industrial secrets. To carry out a mission, Cobb, and his partner, Arthur, work with others who have specialized talents: an architect who designs a subconscious dreamscape in which the victim’s mind is taken; a forger who, in the shared dream, assumes the identity of any individual the victim knows; and a chemist who formulates sedatives that take the victim and the team into a shared dreamspace from which they can travel into lower levels of the subconscious. After sedating the victim, Cobb and his accomplices attach themselves and the sleeping victim to a portable machine that allows them to participate in the same dream. During the shared dream, the team cons the victim into revealing information. While on a job for the powerful Cobol Engineering, the team attempts to extract information from Mr. Saito, the head of a large energy corporation. However, Saito has been trained to defend himself against extraction and the mission fails. To avoid severe punishment from Cobol for not fulfilling the job, Cobb’s team must disband and go into hiding, but their architect is captured and dragged away by emissaries of the unforgiving corporation. As Cobb and Arthur flee, they are intercepted by Saito, who wants to hire Cobb for the more difficult task of “inception,” or the implanting of an idea into a person’s subconscious during a shared dream. Although Arthur argues that it cannot be done, Cobb, a fugitive barred from returning to his home and two young children in the United States, says he has done it but chooses not to do so again. Only after Saito offers to make it possible for Cobb to safely return to the U.S., does Cobb agree to the job. Saito’s target is Robert Fischer, Jr., the son and heir of the owner of a rival multi-billion-dollar corporation. The elder Fischer, Maurice, is dying and Saito wants Cobb to implant Robert with the idea to break up the corporation’s holdings. To assemble a team, Cobb and Arthur first visit Cobb’s father-in-law, Miles, a college professor who taught Cobb dream sharing. Although Miles disapproves of Cobb’s use of the skill, he wants to help reunite him with his children and introduces him to Ariadne, an American studying in Paris and an exceptional student of architecture. As one of the ways Cobb tests Ariadne’s suitability for the job, he brings her into his subconscious for a shared dream, where she skillfully manipulates the landscape. During the experience, she learns that the architect creates a dreamscape, but the dreamer’s subconscious creates people, called projections, that attack what it perceives as invaders. One of the projections, a young woman Cobb identifies as Mal, stabs and kills Ariadne within the dream, causing her to awaken. Arthur later tells Ariadne that Mal is a projection of Cobb’s deceased wife. While training Ariadne, Arthur explains that extractors move from one level of subconscious to a deeper one, or, dreams within dreams. Because frequent traveling to different levels of the mind makes it harder to distinguish between waking and sleeping, Ariadne is instructed to carry a totem, a small item that indicates to the bearer by its behavior whether he or she is awake. Cobb shows her the small top he carries, which does not stop spinning in a dream, but comes to rest in the waking world. Cobb has been withholding from his companions that his dreams are frequently interrupted by the incongruous sight of his two children playing or by projections of Mal, who attempts to sabotage his work. However, Ariadne senses that Cobb has emotional issues that could create trouble for the team, yet she joins them because of the creative opportunity the job provides. From Arthur, she learns how to create paradoxical architecture, such as infinite staircases and labyrinthine passages, in which the team can hide from projections. To complete the team, Cobb and Arthur travel to Mombasa, Kenya to secure a forger, Eames, and a chemist, Yusuf. Cobb explains to them that he will want to go three levels into the subconscious, or a dream within a dream within a dream, rather than the usual two levels. Although Yusuf believes that only two levels are stable, Cobb says that three can be achieved with a strong sedative. After Saito shows Cobb a dossier he has compiled on Robert that indicates a strained relationship with his father, Cobb warns that a seed planted during inception will change the man forever. In defense of his plans, Saito explains that it is necessary to break up Fischer’s corporation, because it owns most of the world’s oil and could become a superpower. As the team strategizes ways to convince Robert that the implanted idea is his own, Eames studies Peter Browning, Maurice’s right hand man and Robert’s godfather who is gaining power as Maurice weakens. Although they plan to manipulate Robert’s uneasy feelings about his father, Cobb believes that positive emotions work better than negative. The team decides that the idea they will implant is that Robert does not have to follow in his father’s footsteps and that his father wants him to create something for himself. Yusuf explains that the sedative he has created to connect the dreamers accelerates brain functioning, so that with each successively deeper level, a period of time is perceived as longer. Therefore what seems to take one week at the first level of dreaming, will seem to take six months at the second and ten years at the third. Although a sedative will take dreamers to deeper levels, they return to waking states by a series of pre-arranged, synchronized “kicks” —such as the sensation of falling—that are devised at each subconscious level to jolt them up to the next. To alert the dreamers at all levels when time is running out, Arthur chooses a song that, when played, will penetrate to the deeper subconscious. As Ariadne designs the dreamscapes, she guesses that Cobb cannot control his projection of Mal and urges him to warn the others, but Cobb believes he is in control and reveals that the reason he cannot return home is that he was accused of Mal’s murder. Noticing that Cobb has been dreaming a lot on his own, Ariadne enters his dream, where she eavesdrops and hears Mal remind Cobb that he promised when they married that they would grow old together. The team has an opportunity to approach Robert after Maurice dies, when Robert books a seat on a ten-hour flight from Sydney, Australia to Los Angeles. Saito buys the airline and the team takes over the first class compartment. Cobb reminds Saito that when they get to Los Angeles, he will be arrested and imprisoned for life, but Saito says that if the job goes well, he will make one phone call that will get the charges against Cobb dropped. Early on the flight, Cobb drugs Robert’s drink, and Saito and the team enter into a shared dream with him created by Yusuf. In the dream, which is set in a city during a rainstorm, they successfully abduct Robert and drive away with him, but their plans are interrupted by a freight train pushing through the city streets causing accidents. Immediately, the group is ambushed by armed projections, indicating that Robert has been trained to deflect extraction and is defending his subconscious. The projections shoot at them, critically wounding Saito. Although death in a dream usually results in the subject awakening, Yusuf warns that the sedative will prevent any of them from gaining consciousness until it wears off. If Saito dies in the dream, he will be trapped indefinitely in a limbo of deep subconsciousness in which he will eventually forget everything he knows. To save Saito, they must finish the job and return to consciousness. The team takes Robert to a warehouse and tricks him into thinking they want the combination of Maurice’s vault. Eames, who impersonates Browning and pretends that he, too, was abducted, tells Robert that Maurice left an alternate will in the vault instructing him to take apart the corporate holdings. The false Browning assures Robert that Maurice loved him, but Robert says that Maurice’s last word to him was “disappointed.” Ariadne confronts Cobb about the train, which she realizes was from his subconscious. He confesses that he and Mal had experimented with dreams and on a deep subconscious level built a city for themselves where they seemed to spend fifty years. He says that he convinced her to return with him to the real world, but after waking, Mal refused to accept that their subconscious city was a dream and committed suicide, believing that she would return to it. Because she left behind documents that suggested Cobb was a danger to her, he was forced to flee the country to avoid murder charges. As Robert’s hostile projections close in to kill them, they must escape to a deeper level of subconscious to complete the mission. The team enters a van driven by Yusuf. Within the dream, they drug Robert and send themselves into a second, deeper dream, but leave Yusuf behind to drive the van in which they sleep and protect them from Robert’s projections. At the next level down they are in a hotel. Cobb tells Robert that he is dreaming and introduces himself as Robert’s projection and head of his subconscious security. After Cobb convinces him that Browning was responsible for his abduction, Robert agrees to accompany the team deeper into a third subconscious level in order to discover Browning's motives. When they sedate themselves, they leave Arthur in the hotel dream, so that he can look after their sleeping bodies and distract the projections away from them. Robert’s dream on the next level begins on a snow-covered mountain where they ski to a fortress that contains the vault holding Maurice’s alternate will. At the same time in the first dream, Yusuf continues to drive the van carrying his sleeping companions, while Robert’s projections continue to attack him. The disturbance of the car creates gravity distortions in the second level, where Arthur is fighting off attacking projections in the hotel hallway. On the third level of subconsciousness, the instability is experienced as an avalanche. After Yusuf drives to the bridge to create the first kick, he sends a musical signal to the others and, hearing the song, Cobb estimates that Yusuf has ten seconds, Arthur three minutes and on the third level of subconscious they have an hour to complete their task. Yusuf drives off the bridge, creating the first of the synchronized kicks. This creates a freefall environment on the second level for Arthur, who moves the bodies of the dreamers to the elevator, where he sets ups explosive charges that will cause the elevator to drop and create a second kick. On the third level, just as Robert arrives at the vault to open it, Saito dies, then Mal appears and shoots Robert. Cobb declares that their mission has failed, but Ariadne suggests they can follow Robert into limbo and find him. She and Cobb sedate themselves, leaving Eames to watch over them. In a deep level of subconsciousness, Ariadne and Cobb wash up on a beach and walk into a cityscape that Cobb and Mal created. Believing that Mal is holding Robert to lure him to her, Cobb leads Ariadne to a recreation of his home, where they find Mal waiting. Guilt-ridden, Cobb confesses to Ariadne that the reason he knew inception was possible was because he tried it first on Mal. He explains that after spending years in their created world, Mal would not leave it, so he used inception to implant the idea that her world was not real. He convinced her to lie on a train track with him to wait for a train that would kill them and send them to reality. However, the seed of doubt he planted remained with her in the waking world and she committed suicide because she thought it was the way to return to what she believed was reality. Now disturbances from the upper dream levels are causing the city to crumble around them. After Mal tells them where to find Robert, who is unconscious, Ariadne and Robert return to the second level, where Eames uses a defibrillator to revive him. Cobb remains to search for Saito, who he guesses has died by now and is languishing in limbo. Mal tries to convince Cobb to stay with her to keep his promise of growing old together, but he tells her that during their fifty years together in their created city they did grow old and now he must release her and move on. As the van in the first dream approaches the water, which will create a kick, Arthur sets charges in the elevator in the second dream that will explode simultaneously. Robert opens the vault in the third dream and enters to find his projection of Maurice as he appeared before his death. Robert tells Maurice he knows he is disappointed that he is not like him, but Maurice explains that he is disappointed Robert tried to be like him. The van then slams into the water, and the charges on the lower two levels explode, creating the kicks that allow the dreamers to return to the van in the first dream. Everyone but Cobb and Saito exit the sinking vehicle and swim to shore. In a deep level of subconscious, Cobb awakens as he is washed ashore and sees projections of his two children playing. Guards forcibly escort him to see Saito, who has been there for decades, according to subconscious time, and is now an old man surrounded by projections. Cobb says he has come to remind Saito that this world is not real and invites him to return to the waking world. Their job completed, the members of the group awaken on the plane. When Robert gains consciousness, he no longer feels the burden of his father’s disapproval, and plans to dismantle the corporation. Cobb awakens in the plane twenty minutes before it lands in Los Angeles, and exchanges glances with Saito, who makes one phone call. At the airport, Cobb passes through immigration to where Miles awaits him. At home he spins the top to see if he is in the real world, but he does not remain to watch when he sees the faces of his children. +

Legend
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AFI Life Achievement Award
The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.