Culture Crash: The Latest Blockbuster From Christopher Nolan

Welcome to Culture Crash, where we examine American culture. What’s new and old in books, film, and entertainment.

As the world waits to see when and how Warner Brothers will actually release Tenet, the latest blockbuster from Christopher Nolan, it’s worth looking back at his zeitgeist-shaking thriller, Inception, released 10 years ago this month.

Inception tells the story of a science fiction reality in which criminals can enter people’s dreams to steal information from their subconscious. The audience sees Leonardo DiCaprio’s Cobb and Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Arthur perform corporate espionage of the mind in the film’s opening scenes, but it’s really setting up the movie’s primary plot, which is that they are offered the seemingly impossible task of implanting an idea into someone’s mind, an action known as inception.

The movie’s twisty plot and star-studded cast drew audiences in droves, but the film’s lasting legacies are threefold: Its cinematography, its score and its ending.

The movie is full of mind-bending shots that amazed in 2010 and still really hold up on our 2020-era 4K TVs. A shot of Dicaprio’s Cobb falling backwards into a tub full of water as his dream self watches water pour in through a swanky hotel’s windows is probably my favorite, but the film also sees a city fold on top of itself, a set of Penrose stairs and, yes, an iconic fight in a spinning hallway.

The score from Hans Zimmer went supernova the moment it was released, and it’s ever-present horn blast has invaded all of Hollywood for a decade now. Virtually every action trailer released since Inception seems to be copying its style in a way that has maybe made it all seem obvious, but was exhilarating back in 2010, and it’s still a lot of fun, even now..

And finally, its ending. No spoilers here, but just know: even a year after its release, Inception’s ending was still fuelling college debates in my dorm hall back in 2011.

Christopher Nolan is probably more celebrated for his Dark Knight trilogy or his World War II film, Dunkirk, but Inception was really the first proof that he could be a name-brand director, even without Batman, and the film itself is just as thrilling and exciting now as it was 10 years ago. A formative movie for me and my love of film, it’s worth the trip down memory lane for people who haven’t seen it since its release.

Inception is available to rent.

I’m Evan Rook.


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