Bigger than Batman: Christopher Nolan says ‘Inception’ is ‘the biggest challenge I’ve taken on’

Jan. 13, 2010 | 3:46 p.m.

On Sunday, the staff of Los Angeles Times Calendar section will be previewing key 2010 releases by Hollywood. This is an early look at one of the articles in that package.

Christopher Nolan So what exactly isInception”? That’s a popular question after a visually dazzling but enigmatic trailer was released for a film that didn’t exactly clear things up with its title.

Is it an international thriller? A story of madness and lost love? Or Hollywood’s very first metaphysical heist movie? The answer is “all of the above,” according to writer-director Christopher Nolan, whose follow-up to “The Dark Knight” seems to have Ian Fleming, the Wachowski Brothers and Sigmund Freud as its spiritual advisors.

“I think we’ve put a lot of different things into the pot with this one,” Nolan said this week during a break from the editing bay.

“I grew up watching James Bond films and loving those and watching spy movies with their globetrotting sensibility…. We get to do that here, not just geographically but also in time and dimensions of reality as well. We get to make a movie that’s expansive, I suppose you’d say, in four dimensions.”

The Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros. release is shaping up as one of the most intriguing releases of 2010. Leonardo DiCaprio leads a cast that includes Marion Cotillard, Cillian Murphy, Michael Caine, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page and Ken Watanabe.

The film was produced by Emma Thomas, who is Nolan’s wife as well as his career partner. She said that “Inception” is a story that requires a huge canvas. The pair didn’t set out looking for a way to top their Batman epic in scope, that’s just where Nolan’s “Inception” script took them.

“It’s something that we had been talking about on and off for seven or eight years,” Thomas said. “Coming off of the ‘The Dark Knight,’ the only thing we really knew is that we wanted to do something more personal. It seemed like the right time to do this. The fact that it’s really just an enormous movie — that wasn’t ever really a factor in the decision. This story lends itself to a movie of this size.”  

A key part of the premise is corporate espionage by way of dream invasion, but motives and even reality are slippery in a film that toys with perception as its travels through time and space. The crew covered a lot of territory too, filming in six countries.

“This is the biggest challenge I’ve taken on to this point,” said Nolan, who may return to Gotham City for his next feature. “We’re trying to tell a story on a massive scale, a true blockbuster scale – the biggest I’ve ever been involved with. We tried to make a very large-scale film with ‘The Dark Knight’ and with this one we wanted to push that even further.”

— Geoff Boucher


Batman atop police car “Inception” hits the streets of Downtown L.A. 

Forget crossovers: Nolan says his Batman doesn’t play well with others

Nolan on his billion-dollar Batman: “It’s mystifying to me.”

“Dark Knight” producer talks about the next Batman film

Heath Ledger’s Oscar won’t go to his parents after all

Christopher Nolan on his favorite scene in “Dark Knight”

Heath Ledger and his “gentle way” remembered

How to follow “Dark Knight”? Angelina Jolie as the purrrrfect Catwoman

Photos: Top, Christopher Nolan; credit: Liz O. Baylen/Los Angeles Times. Image from “The Dark Knight”; credit: Warner Bros.

More in: Uncategorized, Christopher Nolan, Inception


29 Responses to Bigger than Batman: Christopher Nolan says ‘Inception’ is ‘the biggest challenge I’ve taken on’

  1. G4rry says:

    Nolan Batman 3 now please…

  2. Dae-kun says:

    There was a similar movie that came out. It was called Paprika. It was quite an amazing movie, as I expect this will be as well.

  3. Chee says:

    Can't wait!

  4. Jeremy Kossen says:

    It seems that Nolan can do no wrong. I was a huge fan of "Memento" and after Nolan so skillfully turned around the "Batman" franchise, Nolan seems infallible. I have little doubt "Inception" will be on many top 10 lists this year!

  5. NAlde says:

    "Inception" will be a horrible, muddled vanity project. Maybe then people will realise Nolan is an average filmmaker, who just got lucky.

    • Onald says:

      Ha ha… I bet the trolls and naysayers would feel pretty sheepish by now if they had any decency.

      Worldwide gross of $818 mil on a $160 mil production budget investment. Awesome reviews. All for an awesome movie.

      Get off your butt and do something awesome instead of serving sour grapes!

    • Michael Filaseta says:

      a film maker who got lucky would be M. Night. Shamalamadingdong..Nolan is a master of the craft and deserves his reputation

  6. GPH says:

    Nolan has done a great job with Memento (kudos to his brother for the idea) and Batman, but why would he let out a trailer like this? Quite lame.

  7. Fitz says:

    I guess fanboys like NALDE and GPH can't appreciate great cinema.

  8. Derek says:

    Perhaps THIS time Nolan will rightly get a Best Director nod, as he probably should have back when Memento was released… and then The Dark Knight.
    Really looking forward to this film, and whatever the next one ends up being.

  9. G4rry, re: Batman 3. I concur….Batman 3 needs to be out, well, like yesterday! ;-)
    NAlde: re: "Nolan is an average filmmaker who just got lucky…" Hmmm….well, Bob, I'm going to have to disagree with you on that. The guy hasn't made a bad picture, and that's not luck. "Following", "Memento", "Insomnia", et al. All solid films.
    And, the guy rescued the Batman franchise after it had been taken to the brink of insanity by an apparently dementia-addled Schumacher.
    If you think Nolan is an average filmmaker who just got lucky, either you're out of your mind, or jealous that the guy can't seem to direct a bad film. He's set the bar quite high for himself, so it's inevitable that he will eventually direct something that doesn't meet our expectations, but I doubt "Inception" will be that film.

  10. Mike Winder says:

    Cannot wait for this! The "Batman" films are great, but I like Nolan's other work even more, particularly "The Prestige."

  11. Chris says:

    Is there anyone else who hates Leonardo DiCaprio for single handedly ruining some of the best movies of all time? Every time I see him in a movie it reminds me how genuinely stupid hollywood is.

  12. Faith says:

    While I do love his past work, the trailer for this move leaves me underwhelmed. I'd need a lot more info about what the plot of the movie is before I'll run out to see it.

  13. John Wesley says:

    I've seen the trailer on this one, it's a cool movie.. Can't wait to see this film :)

  14. batman09093 says:

    I'm sick of christopher nolan he's taking 2 long 2 put any info out on the new batman. lets get this started and just get a new director. da hell with him!

  15. Man, talk about an incredible cast. Christopher Nolan is one of the few directors who could release a movie that I know nothing about and would feel confident in paying $10 to see without issue.

  16. Mitch says:

    I agree we deserve another Batman movie… PLEEZZZE!!

  17. MovieLover says:

    After watching The Dark Knight, I'm really interested in waiting for "Inception". When is it going to hit the theaters?

  18. Blaine Beasley says:

    Ever since last July, when I first heard of Christopher Nolan's new film Inception, I had a funny feeling that it would be a film not to be missed. Since the 2008 release of his highly anticipated film, The Dark Knight, everyone that i run into say that it's Nolan's best film to date. I on the other hand disagree. My favorite film by Christopher Nolan would have to be The Prestige. Nolan's gift to play with the subconscious mind is almost innate, given the fact that all of his films toy with that idea in one way or the other. In films like The Prestige (and possibly Inception when it comes to theatres), Nolan sets the territory on his own playground (which is the human mind) and in return calls all the shots. In his 2010 release of Inception, from what i have gathered, it seems almost as if Nolan is doing a parody of all of his previous work.
    In his new film, Nolan is making a moral statement on what we as human beings must come to value most, the human mind. It is a gift that ironically enough, Nolan would use as the object of corporate greed rather than money to serve as the thematic home front for Inception. This idea alone, in my mind is the parody that ties all of Nolan's films together. The human mind is a gift as well as a curse, and with the common flaw of human nature, we are not ready to explore it's true potential. This is Nolan's gift to cinema. The mind truly is the scene of the crime.

  19. Nolans a good director buuuuut im still not sold on this movie
    it looks like one of those movies that doesnt make sense where they just make up rules as they go. like the matrix.
    wont see it unless i see a better trailer that describes this whole 'scene of the crime is in your mind' thing.

  20. Nolan is approaching film making legend status the more that he takes on these big projects and is able to make them work so well.
    If he can make people believe in Gotham City again I have no doubt that Inception is going to be huge!

  21. Micah says:

    This is very strange. I’m in Thailand watching this movie right now on vcd. It’s good and wanted to know more about it because I’m watching it in Thai. To my surprise it’s not even out yet!

  22. maria says:

    .,i'm really curious about this!!! i want o watch it!

  23. Reception Center says:

    Inception must have been a huge challenge to understand. It was hard enough just watching it. I can't imagine how much work he must have put into it though.

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