Nolan Makes Hollywood’s First Existential Heist Film

In a new, long, and fascinating edition of the Hero Complex series for the LA Times, Geoff Boucher got writer and director Christopher Nolan to shed a little bit more light on this summer’s most complex popcorn film; Inception. Boucher was able to visit the set last year during filming to talk with Nolan and other important members of the film. What he learned then is enough to make any fan salivate with anticipation. In the article, Nolan explains how this project has been floating around in his head ever since he was a teenager fascinated with dreams, and how this idea has been on paper, in script form, for 7 or 8 years.

Ever since he was a youngster, he says, he was intrigued by the way he would wake up and then, while he fell back into a lighter sleep, hold on to the awareness that he was in fact dreaming. Then there was the even more fascinating feeling that he could study the place and tilt the events of the dream.

“You can look around and examine the details and pick up a handful of sand on the beach,” Nolan said. “I never particularly found a limit to that; that is to say, that while in that state your brain can fill in all that reality. I tried to work that idea of manipulation and management of a conscious dream being a skill that these people have. Really the script is based on those common, very basic experiences and concepts, and where can those take you? And the only outlandish idea that the film presents, really, is the existence of a technology that allows you to enter and share the same dream as someone else.”

The article mentions Chris’ mistaken reputation for making cold, “frosty” films. On first glance his films could appear to be that way – and Inception is no different. However, Chris explains how his approach to this movie initially started that way, but then changed:

“I originally wrote it as a heist movie, and heist movies traditionally are very deliberately superficial in emotional terms,” Nolan said. “They’re frivolous and glamorous, and there’s a sort of gloss and fun to it. I originally tried to write it that way, but when I came back to it I realized that — to me — that didn’t work for a film that relies so heavily on the idea of the interior state, the idea of dream and memory. I realized I needed to raise the emotional stakes. What we found in working on ‘Batman’ is that it’s the emotionalism that best connects the audience with the material. The character issues, those are the things that pull the audience through it and amplify the experience no matter how strange things get.”

And Inception is bound to get strange. The film is filled not only with mind-warping ideas, but mind-warping effects too. After all, it is a giant summer popcorn movie – and its budget reflects that. The LA Times article goes on to explain how some of those effects were achieved both in-camera – a method that Chris prefers in this modern age of pixel manipulation – and  out-of-camera. This article is far too fascinating to do it justice by quoting it all here, so head on over to LA Times to read all Geoff was able to reveal. Inception hits theaters in less than 100 days on July 16th.

by Teddy Blass
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