December 28, 2023 | Carl Wyndham

Mind-Bending Facts About Inception

“What is the most resilient parasite? Bacteria? A virus? An intestinal worm? An idea. Resilient... highly contagious. Once an idea has taken hold of the brain it's almost impossible to eradicate. An idea that is fully formed - fully understood - that sticks; right in there somewhere". – Inception The movie that tickled our brains and tangled up our thoughts, get ready for some incredible facts to take over your mind!

1. Double genius

Christopher Nolan not only directed Inception, but he also wrote it. The director got the idea for the film in the early 2000s and initially wanted to make it a horror feature.


2. Parallels

The major characters in the film represent integral cogs of the filmmaking industry. “The Point Man” (Arthur, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is the producer, “The Architect” (Ariadne, played by Elliot Page) is the production designer, “The Forger” (Eames, played by Tom Hardy) is the actor, “The Mark” (Robert, played by Cillian Murphy) is the audience and then there’s Leonardo DiCaprio’s character Dom – who is the director.

Inception FactsFlickr

3.  No research required

Christopher Nolan marches to the beat of his own drum, so this movie was based on his own experiences with dreams and is not rooted in any research on the subject. The director was hoping to give the film a more organic and intuitive feel by approaching it from a personal perspective.

Inception FactsShutterstock

4. The dream layers

Nolan’s idea was complex, so he had to make sure that it was broken down into simple pieces when pitching to the studio. So the concept of the dream levels was explained as: one level in the rain, one is at night, one is outside in the snow and all these levels would always carry those elements with them to keep the audience on track.

Inception FactsInception, Warner Bros.

5. Numbering to curb confusion

In Japan, when Inception is aired on TV, the dream levels are numbered in the corner to help the audience avoid confusion.

Inception FactsGetty Images

6. Crazy train

The train that crashed into Cobb’s (Leonardo DiCaprio) car in the first level of the dream is not an actual train, nor is it CGI. It was actually an 18-wheel tractor trailer outfitted to look like a train. If you look closely, the train doesn’t cause too much damage to the cars it hits on the road, because it lacks the weight and power of an actual train.

Inception FactsInception, Warner Bros.

7. Watana-be in a movie?

The character Saito was written specifically for Ken Watanabe, because Nolan felt that the actor did not get enough screen time in his other film – Batman Begins.

Inception FactsGetty Images

8. Leo-centric

Nolan was adamant about casting Leo DiCaprio for the lead role, so the rest of the cast was chosen to complement him.

Inception FactsGetty Images

9. For a reason

The reason a movie can revolve around Leo is because the man delivers. The actors sat with Nolan for months editing the script, which made it the wondrous story it is today (and less confusing than it was originally!).

Inception FactsGetty Images

10. Ellen Page

Christopher Nolan asked Page to read the script in the office and they loved the character, so Nolan gave Page the part.

Inception FactsGetty Images

11. Ariadne's Labyrinth

The character Ariadne (Elliot Page) is named after the daughter of King Minos in Greek mythology. In the myth, Ariadne helps Theseus navigate the labyrinth. Nolan used this idea as inspiration, so Ariadne in the film draws a labyrinth for a test with Cobb and acts as his guide.

Inception FactsInception, Warner Bros.

12. This film is set around the world

Inception was filmed in a handful of countries around the globe. The rotating set was created in Bedfordshire, England. The mountains were filmed in Alberta, Canada. There were also scenes shot in Tokyo, Morocco, Los Angeles and London. Overall, six countries were included.

Inception FactsPexels

Paris, France

13. Whats in a name?

Other than Ariadne, another name with an underlying meaning is Cobb’s wife Mal. She acts as an obstacle that the characters must overcome and it is not coincidence that “mal” in French means “bad” or “sad".

Inception FactsInception, Warner Bros.

14. Nitrogen explosions

The crew used high-pressure nitrogen for the explosions on the set, which it would set off near the cast. Nolan stated that this created a completely different, extremely realistic reaction from the actors than standing in front of the green screen and being told there’s an “explosion”.

Inception FactsInception, Warner Bros.

15. No such thing as overdressed

The actor went into his audition after reading only a brief summary of his character, wearing a suit just in case. It turned out that it was major selling point for his casting, since the suit matched his character’s wardrobe perfectly.

Inception FactsFlickr

16. The real deal

The mountain set was actually built into a real mountain in Alberta. The problem was that there was no snow at the time. In fact, there was no snow even a week before filming and the art department was getting antsy about their prospects. But, Canada delivered – the scenes ended up being filmed amidst some of the worst blizzards of that year.

Inception FactsInception, Warner Bros.

17. RIP Pete

Pete Postlethwaite, who played Maurice Fischer, was suffering from pancreatic cancer during the filming of the film. He passed five months after Inception’s release.

Inception FactsGetty Images

18. The highest form of flattery

The design for Fischer’s snow fortress is based on the Geisel Library at the University of California.

Inception FactsWikimedia Commons

19. Stuntman Levitt

Joseph Gordon-Levitt performed all of his own stunts in the film, save one – in the rotating hallway scene.

Inception FactsInception, Warner Bros.

20. Waking up

The song used to wake the characters is “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien” by Edith Piaf. The film’s score was actually modeled on that song by composer Hans Zimmer.

Planet Earth factsGetty Images

21. Edith Piaf again

Inception runs for 2 hours and 28 minutes to mirror “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien”, which runs for 2 minutes and 28 seconds.

Inception movieInception, Warner Bros.

22. Lazy hair day

In the second layer of Fischer’s dream, Ariadne’s hair is in a tight bun – this was no accident. Nolan chose to do so to avoid figuring out how hair behaves in zero gravity.

Inception FactsInception, Warner Bros.

23. The stairs

The “Penrose stairs” with a woman perpetually picking up papers, which Arthur shows Ariadne, is actually an homage to a lithograph by Dutch artist M.C. Escher.

Inception FactsInception, Warner Bros.

24. First level license plate

In the first level of the dream, every license plate’s state nickname is “The Alternate State”.

Inception FactsInception, Warner Bros.

25. Job well done

Despite the vastness and complexity of the film, Christopher Nolan wrapped it up early and under budget.

Inception FactsGetty Images

26. The wedding ring

Cobb’s wedding ring only appears in flashback and dream scenes.

Inception FactsInception, Warner Bros.

27. The ambiguous ending

Christopher Nolan has stated that Cobb does return to his children and the spinning top moment is a reference to the fact that the character no longer obsesses over his dreams, rather than an insinuation that he is still in a dream.

Inception FactsInception, Warner Bros.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5


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