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Unraveling Inception: Zimmer’s Piaf Riff, Clothing Clues, Nolan’s Anxiety

Unraveling Inception: Zimmer's Piaf Riff, Clothing Clues, Nolan's Anxiety

Thompson on Hollywood

One of the great pastimes of summer 2010 is unravelling, explaining and debating Inception. Which is the main reason it is such a big hit: repeat business. (The movie’s so good that the Chinese government is allowing it to play there, a rare honor for a Hollywood picture.) Here are some recent popular memes:

Did composer Hans Zimmer rip off Edith Piaf? He tells the NYT how he used “Je Ne Regrette Rien” for his main theme. (YouTube video comparison is below.)

What is Inception really about? It’s pretty obvious that you can apply it as a metaphor for making movies. This blogger argues that Inception is really about director Chris Nolan’s anxiety about delivering a blockbuster.

What happens at the end? Does the top topple? Is it all a dream? Only Inception costume designer Jeffrey Kurland knows for sure. He reveals key info in this interview in Costumes on Film:

Thompson on Hollywood
Thompson on Hollywood

COF: How much does costume reflect the inner machinations of the plot, particularly in a film such as Inception? For example, Cobb’s children are wearing the same clothes at the end of the story as they are in his dream ‘memory’ throughout the film. Is there something to be interpreted here?

JK: Costume design reflects greatly on the movement of the plot, most significantly through character development. Character development is at the forefront of costume design. The characters move the story along and with the director and the actor the costume designer helps to set the film’s emotional tone in a visual way. In a more physical sense the costumes’ style and color help to keep the story on track, keeping a check on time and place.

On to the second part of your question, the children’s clothing is different in the final scene… look again…

UPDATE: Apparently, Nolan got his idea from a Donald Duck comic.

Here’s the Zimmer music comparison:

In this College Humor video, the Inception team gets confused about what they are doing.

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Shaan marsh

nception is all tricks.


Why, thank you!

(Took you quite a good while, didn’t it?)


Very good post, thanks for sharing with us !!


You’re right, Ivan. I didn’t get it.

I didn’t WANT to get it. I didn’t care enough about the “turmoils” of the pathetic characters or their outlandish motivations or the ridiculous situations to want to get it.

I’m never going to get it.

Oh, and I also don’t like artistic genius slapped in my face. I prefer it to seduce me and enchant me.


Nolan made a great film in Inception. I don’t understand why some people can’t recognize artistic genius, even when its slapped in their faces. I am a FIRM believer that those who criticize this movie simply didn’t get it.

The whole idea of planting an idea, and how that tied into the turmoils of Cobb’s (DiCaprio) character was ingenious. Nolan took a mystery of the mind (the dream) and created a masterpiece that the creators of a movie like, say Deja Vu could only dream of. I liked that movie though.

Saying the movie is all tricks is a clear indication that you didn’t get it. People always hate what they don’t understand.

Crow T Robot

Inception is all tricks. It’s not storytelling. It’s plot-telling. DiCaprio’s character arc is just an excuse for Nolan’s clever twists and turns.

And since good studio films (ones that tell a real emotionally resonate story) are very rare to come by these days, audiences are reacting to this complicated movie as if it were a smart movie. It’s designed primarily to tickle the brain. Like a video game. And for some that’s as good as anything.

Even if I’m not a fan, it’s hard not to argue that Nolan is the zeitgiest filmmaker of the moment. His humorless, sexless, literal-minded aesthetic is striking a major chord culturally.


Wake me up when THE EXPENDABLES opens. (I wish Ellen Page was in THAT.)

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