Shout Out / Inception

There's a great deal in this complex film:

  • Ariadne in Greek mythology helped Theseus go into the Labyrinth to defeat the Minotaur. Ariadne here helps our heroes go into the labyrinth of the human mind. The maze she draws for Dom to pass his test is the Labyrinth of Minos. Not only that, but the mythical Ariadne gave Theseus a sword to slay the Minotaur, and a string to find his way back out of the maze. This Ariadne gives Cobb the means to finally let go of Mal, whom he's imprisoned in the labyrinth of his mind.
  • Cobb's name comes from Christopher Nolan's early film Following, which featured another thief with the same name.
  • As shown in the prequel tie-in comic "The Cobol Job", the corporation that hired Cobb and his team to raid Saito's brain is named "Cobol", possibly after the business-oriented programming language.
  • Nolan has said the third dream level is a direct shout out to his favorite James Bond film, On Her Majesty's Secret Service.
  • The central structure of the third-level dream's fortress greatly resembles the University of California, San Diego's Geisel Library.
  • The music used to warn dreamscapers about their imminent awakening is a song by Edith Piaf, whom Marion Cotillard played in La Vie en Rose (La Môme). When she was cast, Nolan says he even considered changing the song used in case the obvious real-world connection of Coutillard and Piaf might be jarring to people's suspension of disbelief. However, too much of the score had already been composed around motifs from 'Non Je Ne Regrette Rien' so he went with it. Another shout out from the score: One composition is titled "#9 Dream Within a Dream". "#9 Dream" is the name of a song by John Lennon (reaching, hilariously enough number nine on the Billboard Hot 100) from his 1974 album Walls and Bridges.
  • There are a couple references to M. C. Escher, a graphic artist famous for his paradoxical architecture. Maurice Fischer is named after him (his full name was Maurits Cornelis Escher), and he also learned a lot of his mathematics from Roger Penrose, the man behind the Penrose Steps. Also, one of Escher's sons was named Arthur.
  • Eames is named after Charles and Ray Eames, two American designers who made sizeable contributions to architecture and furniture. Charles in particular was a fan of the banana leaf parable, which details how a banana leaf starts out simple, but becomes more detailed as decorations are added until it is amazingly intricate and ornate. Kind of like Eames' opinion on the idea of inception.
  • Robert Fischer is named after Bobby Fischer, the genius chess player who famously went insane and started making vitriolic statements against his own country and people, much like this Fischer is turned against his own subconscious and made to believe that he can't trust his godfather.
  • At the very least, Nolan says Ariadne's character was inspired by Paprika. Also, Ariadne shatters a mirror by touching it, Paprika did this too.
  • The math of general relativity is horrifically complicated, but the most fundamental idea behind it is the principal of equivalence: gravity is equivalent to acceleration. Albert Einstein realized this by visualizing himself in an elevator, and realizing that motion in a still elevator in a gravity field is exactly the same as motion in an accelerating elevator without a gravity field. Yes, this movie manages to include a shout out to physics.
  • The starmaking film Titanic (1997) features a dead Leonardo DiCaprio being dropped in the sea at the end of the movie. Inception starts with the same actor waking up on a beach.
    • This also may be a reference to Edgar Allan Poe 's poem "A Dream Within a Dream" where the "waking up on the beach" scene is decribed by the narrator.
  • After invading Fishcher's consciousness, the first person we see is Yusef, from the back, standing on a corner waiting for the crew to pick him up. Instantly brings to mind the first shot of the Joker in TDK, when he's standing on a corner waiting for the clown crew to pick him up.
  • In The Bridge on the River Kwai there is a Japanese man named "Saito" who is filled with regret over the actions of one of his subordinates in regard to the building of a structure that at first crumbles because its foundation is built on mud in the midst of a jungle where there is no escape.
  • Oancitizen spent an episode of Between the Lines pointing out Inception's indebtedness to surrealist films The Blood of a Poet and Man With a Movie Camera.

That sound you've been hearing from the start of this article isn't wind—it's your kick!