Monday, August 24, 2009

"Inception" Teaser 1 breakdown and analysis

Last week, we got the teaser for Christopher Nolan's latest, "Inception." Secretive to the utmost, the auteur has kept much of the film under wraps, save the logline:

"A contemporary science fiction tale set within the architecture of the human mind."

If you haven't seen it, find it here.

Now, seeing as I'm spending all day watching it anyway, I might as well do one of those analyses, see what we get.

Let's break it down shot-by-shot, shall we? (Click on thumbnails for enlarged views.)

1) the WB logo - depicted as an overhead view of a city, confined by the outer rim of the logo; perhaps suggesting the city within the confines of the human mind?

2) spinning top - a top spins on a water-stained surface, also marking the first of MANY times WATER appears in the trailer. Possibly significant as the film's site is a replica of this shot, but could just be a red herring.

3) overhead shot of the city - possibly just an establishing or POV shot, but important because only one building has a readable SIGN here, that being "MITSUI GARDEN HOTEL" on the upper left. This could be the hotel hallway that figures LATER in the trailer.

4) shot of Leo looking through a rainstreaked window - Leo seems to be looking on with apprehension at something going on outside his vehicle. There is at least one other person there with him, and an "EXIT" sign is visible in the background. And look there's the water again. My guess is that this shot is connected to shot 5, since it is-

5) POV shot through rainstreaked window - the view is of a helipad with two men escorting actor Lukas Haas (Brick) away from what seems to be a helicopter window. Upon close inspection, he has a bloody lower lip. Perhaps a fight breaks out just before? Maybe he's pursuing Leo, if shot 4 is indeed connected, explaining Leo's apprehension?

6) a glass of water on a wooden table - significant, if only for the fact that the table and glass stay completely still, yet the water inside is tilting to one side. I believe this to be indicative of the perspective-altering properties of the "Inception" world we are about to see in the Hallway Fights.

7) title card graphics "YOUR MIND" - the text "YOUR MIND" appears centered in the screen, between buildings and quickly rotates ALONG WITH the cityscape. This may be yet another conveyance of the properties of "Inception's" world.

8) Leo notices something, the skyline behind him - here, he seems to be on a roof, as there is no glass obscuring the city behind him. Also, not much surprise is registering with him, so whatever he's seeing can't be too astounding. A minor revelation here, at best. Perhaps the least telling shot.

9) title card graphics "IS THE SCENE OF THE CRIME" - yet another title card. Here, the buildings actually seem to be moving, most evident at the tail of this shot, and again, a possible sumation of "Inception."

10-11) Hallway Fight, 5th Floor - now for the meat of the teaser. Here, a black man and Joseph Gordon-Levitt run at each other from opposite sides of a hallway. At the left side of shot 10, you can make out a room number (526), so now JGL is on the 5th floor of this building (possibly the hotel in shot 3). Maybe he is trying to get to the top floor or...?

12) Leo or JGL emerging from a tub of water - the most significant looking water shot. Someone bursts out of the water. Doesn't seem pleasant, and watching closely, you can see that water is escaping the man's mouth.

Maybe he was being drowned. On the other hand, it's very reminiscent of Neo's awakening scene in "The Matrix;" it could be something else completely. I lean towards the latter.

13) Hallway Fight, 4th Floor, Part 1 - JGL continues his fight as the room's perspective shifts, taking them along the walls. This time, his opponent is white, and from the room numbers and the large sign in the back, he is now on the 4th floor. Of course, trailer's can be cut out of order, but maybe he is making his way down?

Still, here is where we get the best glimpse into the fight mechanics of this scene and maybe even the film. Watch the CART in the background; it seems to be falling UP. More evidence in shot 16.

14) insert of a clock ticking to 12 - not a lot to say here. It's a Sunday.

15-16) Hallway Fight, 4th Floor, Part 2 - JGL seems to be slamming his opponent into the ceiling as the perspective continues to shift. As the two fighters go up to the ceiling in shot 16, we can still see the cart (albeit out of focus) falling up. But the most telling bit is in shot 17.

The camera seems to be recreating the current perspective of the world as the opponent seems to be falling away, TRYING to hold on to something, while JGL has to hold on to the notches on the left side to keep from doing the same.

17) Leo waking up or being startled - too little context to guess much about this. He starts with his eyes closed so either he is waking or just being shocked by something. All the same, we see light flash just outside to the left of him.

18-19) title reveal - starts off as a skyline shot of a city before becoming the "Inception" logo. Again, not much here EXCEPT it looks an awful lot like the logo for Syncopy, Nolan's production company:

For bonus, way-out speculation points, "syncope," from which syncopy is derived, is the medical term for fainting. Thanks, Wikipedia!

In closing?

- Water seems to figure largely into the plot.

- People are subject to their environments not the other way around. As in shots 13, 15, and 16, we can guess that JGL and his opponent are not manipulating their world, but rather playing by its rule.

- Too early to tell, but my Hail Mary guess is that one technique Nolan will employ in "Inception" is the use of camera perspective to actually affect what is going on in the scenes. My only basis is shot 16 - how he uses an "overhead" perspective to the hallway while the combatants seem to be falling sideways in "reality."


- I have no life.

I'm sure I missed something, so discuss! We've got till Summer 2010 anyway.
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