Last week, LA Times‘ Geoff Boucher shared his interview with Christopher Nolan on the upcoming psychological thriller, Inception. For some reason, Boucher decided to keep some of it from us until now.
Today we’ve got four new photos from the set of Nolan’s heist film “set in the architecture of the mind,” including a little more insight into Nolan’s vision.
It’s been made abundantly clear that this is a passion project for the director of The Dark Knight. And while many still want details on Batman 3, Nolan has been extremely focused on Inception. And he should be, considering the director has been building the concept in his mind for nearly two decades.
Not even 40 years old yet, Nolan has already been handed the keys to the Warner Bros. castle (Inception has a hands-off production budget of $160 million) in order to create a completely original and personal vision. Considering the Inception trailers we’ve seen, Nolan must be happy with the results.mIn less than 100 days, we will know whether he will continue to rise as one of the most talented filmmakers on the planet, or hit a snag in his own genius by weaving a web so intricate it cannot be understood.
Members of the Inception cast have mentioned how difficult the story was to comprehend upon first reading, but as they progressed through production it became clearer. Nolan has a way of telling tales that are rarely understood immediately, forcing the audience to actually use their brains, instead of just ingesting popcorn for two hours. Leonardo DiCaprio seems to speak for all the actors involved when describing his faithful following of Nolan into an unknown world.
“Complex and ambiguous are the perfect way to describe the story. And it’s going to be a challenge to ultimately pull it off. But that is what Chris Nolan specializes in. He has been able to convey really complex narratives that work on a multitude of different layers … and make it entertaining and engaging throughout. You look at ‘Insomnia’ or ‘Memento,’ these movies are working on so many different levels. That’s his expertise; it’s what he does best, as a matter of fact.”
The ability to bend the minds of audience members has been a trick of Nolan’s since Doodlebug, his 3-minute short film from college. With a budget allowing him to reach new heights, the director has implemented the concept of entering the secret world of a person’s mind and it looks magnificent. But bending minds can be done with just words and editing. Actually bending buildings and twisting worlds looks like a feasible reality at this point.
Nolan put his actors through the hardcore training necessary to function in a world based in reality, instead of pitting them against a massive green screen. He discussed the process of preparing actors like Joseph Gordon-Levitt (who we’ve seen fighting in a low-gravity hallway), for the unprecedented action sequences.
“It was like some incredible torture device; we thrashed Joseph for weeks. But in the end we looked at the footage, and it looks unlike anything any of us has seen before. The rhythm of it is unique, and when you watch it, even if you know how it was done, it confuses your perceptions. It’s unsettling in a wonderful way…we want an extraordinary thing that happens in an ordinary way. That’s always been the goal.”
If Inception succeeds for one reason, it will be the believability of what is seen. As absurd as the “hallway fight” sequence looks, the fact that it is done in the real world and not on a computer will convey a sense of authenticity that even the most jaw-dropping films, like Avatar, cannot offer.
On the flip side, Inception will still use quite a bit of CGI, as seen in the trailers (an entire city folding over itself?). But if the manufactured effects exist only in the “dream world” within the film, how can we really complain? Unless the rules of the universe change, much of those concepts are impossible – but within the mind, anything can happen.
Think of some of the most absurd dreams spawned of your own consciousness and there must be some moments the real world could never duplicate. Ellen Page, one of the stars of Inception’s worthy ensemble cast, made it clear the sets they work on are inspiring, yet reasonable.
“There’s a tangible realism even when it gets crazy, and somehow that makes the jeopardy feel more real. It’s like reading a Haruki Murakami novel — it’s fantasy, but instead of feeling like some strange surreal world it feels very honest. The emotional spine of the story is there too, which is the key to his movies. There’s the big scale, but the sincerity isn’t left behind. The story is complicated but never confusing.”
The key is to create a balance between both worlds, and Christopher Nolan seems to have a grasp on presenting his concepts in a believable fashion, even when it reaches incomprehensible boundaries.
Looks like we know what comes after that bit in the trailer now.
Every detail we’ve seen regarding Inception has wowed fans and intrigued others. Without a doubt, Warner Bros. and Nolan have stirred up the minds of the viewing public before ever showing much. All that remains is whether the anticipation and mystique of the film will actually live up to the hype it seems to be generating. My vote is an absolute yes, it will.
Inception bends into theaters and IMAX on July 16, 2010.