a traumatized vietnam war veteran finds out that his post-war life isn’t what he believes it to be when he’s attacked by horned creatures in the subway and his dead son comes to visit him.
dir.: adrian lyne
drama / horror
tim robbins as jacob singer
elizabeth peña as jezzie
- all sfx were filmed live, with no post-production. for example, to achieve the famous ‘shaking head’ effect, lyne simply filmed the actor waving his head around (and keeping his shoulders and the rest of his body completely still) at 4fps, resulting in an incredibly fast and deeply disturbing motion when played back at the normal frame-rate of 24fps.
- the bergen street station in the film was actually an abandoned, lower level portion of the station, which had to be re-tiled and fixed to look as if it was still in working condition.
- all ads in the subway and bergen street station are anti-drug ads.
- according to the original script, after jacob is nearly run over by the subway train, a sequence involving a man being raped in the subway station mens bathroom was supposed to occur. it was filmed but deleted from the final cut (parts of the scene can be seen in the making-of featurette building ‘jacob’s ladder’).
- lyne made sure jacob and his visions never appear together in the same shot.
- the closing legend of the film mentions the testing of a drug named bz in vietnam. bz is nato code for a hallucinogen called 3-quinuclidinyl benzilate, which was rumored to have been administered to us troops during the vietnam war in an attempt to increase their combat abilities.
- for all of the chiropractor scenes, lyne ensured there was a real chiropractor on-set, who would work with actor danny aiello so as to ensure authenticity. according to lyne, chiropractors often approach him and thank him for going to the trouble of getting what they do exactly right.
- according to lyne, most of the dialogue in the opening scene between the soldiers was improvised on set by the actors themselves, especially the conversation between george (ving rhames) and jacob (tim robbins) about masturbation.
- lyne also heavily rewrote the scene involving the biblical jacob’s ladder at the end of the film. writer bruce joel rubin had written the scene to involve a massive staircase ascending into the clouds, with crowds of people lining it, towering columns, and huge gates at the summit. again however, lyne felt that such an image could come across as preposterous (he refers to rubin’s original conception as the liberace scene’ on the dvd commentary track). as such, lyne rewrote the scene to involve simply the staircase in jacob’s house, basing this on the principal that heaven is wherever you were happiest.
- in the original screenplay, writer bruce joel rubin had created a typical biblical hell, complete with winged demons, cloven hoofed devils with horns, people with beaks and strange objects lying randomly around (director adrian lyne likens rubin’s vision to the work of hieronymus bosch). as with rubin’s general depiction of demons however, lyne felt that such scenes could very easily make an audience laugh. as such, he decided to rewrite the scene of jacob’s descent into hell; ultimately coming up with the hospital sequence where jacob is wheeled on a gurney into a metaphorical hell which becomes more and more grotesque as he moves.
- in bruce joel rubin’s original screenplay, all of the demons who appear throughout the film were typical biblical demons with horns, wings, cloven hooves etc. lyne felt that this kind of imagery could very easily come across as comic, which would destroy the film. he felt that the fact that the imagery was so far from human lessened its impact, and as such, he decided he wanted the demons to be humanesque, but not quite human. during his research into this (which was when he discovered the photography of joel-peter witkin), lyne came across the thalidomide scandal. thalidomide was a drug made available for purchase from 1957 to 1961. ostensibly, it was designed to treat pregnant women; primarily as an antiemetic to combat morning sickness, and secondarily as a sleeping aid. however, prior to its release, inadequate clinical tests were carried out, leading to roughly 10,000 children in africa and europe being born with severe physical deformities because their mothers had taken thalidomide during their pregnancy. the most common defects were phocomelia, dysmelia, amelia and polymelia; all conditions which affect the appearance of the limbs. during his research, lyne studied the thalidomide case, and came to feel that the birth defects caused by the drug represented the perfect starting place for his redesign of rubin’s demons. the thalidomide scandal was also the inspiration for david cronenberg’s scanners.
- according to lyne, the drug aspect of the story was inspired by the martin lee and bruce shlain book, “acid dreams: the cia, lsd and sixties rebellion”.
- lyne used the art of painters william blake, h.r. giger, and francis bacon and photographers diane arbus and joel-peter witkin as his primary influences for the visual style of the film.
- in an ironic reversal, lyne turned down directorial duties on the bonfire of the vanities so he could direct jacob’s ladder. his first choice for the role of jacob singer was tom hanks, but hanks turned down the film so he could make the bonfire of the vanities.
- actors who were allegedly interested in playing the leading role of jacob singer included dustin hoffman, al pacino and richard gere. for the role of jezzie, director adrian lyne auditioned roughly 300 women, including julia roberts, andie macdowell, madonna and jennifer lopez. the role eventually went to the very first person who auditioned - elizabeth peña.
- the track “rabbit in your headlights” from UNKLE takes its title from a quote from the film; dialogue from the film is also one of many samples on the song.
song: strange powers
band: magnetic fields
usa - 1994
and i can’t sleep
cause you got strange powers
you’re in my dreams
+: video @ youtube
+: trent reznor @ his blip.fm account: “try starting with ‘holiday’, then dive into the opus: ‘69 love songs’. there are more ideas on that record alone than most bands’ entire careers. if you get hooked, check out ‘i’ next.
"sweet dreams (are made of this)" is the 1st and only single and the 6th track of the first ep smells like children, originally written and performed by eurythmics in 1982. the song became an mtv-staple and helped to establish the band in the mainstream. manson often comes up with song inspiration in his dreams, but the idea to cover this song came from his 1st acid trip, according to his autobiography, the long hard road out of hell. he says that he hallucinated a “slower, meaner” version of the dance hit playing, sung in his voice. the earliest recording of the song dates back to june 29, 1994 at the portrait of an american family release party.
marilyn manson added some extra lines to the lyrics that are not present in the eurythmics version: “i wanna use you and abuse you/i wanna know what’s inside you” and “i’m gonna use you and abuse you/i’m gonna know what’s inside you”.
the video for manson’s cover contains several clips of manson and bandmates in what appears to be an old cathedral. in between the clips are a number are surreal shots of manson wearing eccentric outfits, manson wandering around an abandoned street in a tutu, and him riding a pig wearing a cowboy hat and covered with grease.
manson’s version of the song was featured in the circus starring britney spears 2009 tour.
your mind is the scene of the crime.
director and writer: christopher nolan
action / mystery / sci-fi / thriller
leonardo dicaprio as cobb
joseph gordon-levitt as arthur
ellen page as ariadne
tom hardy as eames
ken watanabe as saito
dileep rao as yusuf
cillian murphy as robert fischer
tom berenger as peter browning
marion cotillard as mal
pete postlethwaite as maurice fischer
michael caine as miles
- during production, details of the film’s plot were kept secret. christopher nolan, who wrote the script, cryptically described it as a contemporary sci-fi action thriller “set within the architecture of the mind.”
- the labyrinthine style of the movie’s logo resembles the logo of christopher nolan’s production company syncopy.
- evan rachel wood was christopher nolan’s 1st choice to play ariadne, but she turned it down. nolan considered casting emily blunt, rachel mcadams and emma roberts, but chose ellen page instead.
- christopher nolan’s 1st film since his feature debut, following (1998), that is a completely original work. all of his films between them are either remakes or based on comics, novels or short stories.
- leonardo dicaprio was emma thomas and christopher nolan’s only choice for the role of cobb.
- the name of leonardo dicaprio’s character is the same as that of one of the main characters in christopher nolan’s first feature film, following (1998). further, both the characters have the same profession - they supposedly play thieves.
- christopher nolan first pitched the film to warner bros. after the completion of his 3rd feature, insomnia (2002/i), and was met with approval from the studio. however, it was not yet written at the time, and nolan determined that rather than writing it as an assignment, it would be more suitable to his working style if he wrote it as a spec script and then presented it to the studio whenever it was completed. so he went off to write it, thinking it would take “a couple of months”, but it ultimately took nearly 8 years.
- there are a total of 5 academy award nominees in the cast (tom berenger, leonardo dicaprio, pete postlethwaite, ken watanabe, ellen page) and 2 academy award winners (michael caine and marion cotillard).
- the use of the édith piaf song “rien de rien” is used as a plot device. marion cotillard played piaf in la vie en rose (2007). christopher nolan has stated that this is “pure coincidence”. after cotillard was cast nolan intended to change the song to eliminate speculation on the subject, but composer hans zimmer persuaded him to keep it.
- the 3rd christopher nolan movie in 5 years in which cillian murphy’s character spends a significant portion of his on-screen time with a cloth bag over his head.
- “yusuf” is the arabic form of “joseph”, the biblical figure from genesis 37-50, who had the gift of interpreting dreams. he was sold out by his brothers to pharaoh. through his gift of dream interpretation he helped pharaoh to prepare for the disaster of the “7 lean years” and was rewarded as a result. the same character is also a prophet in the koran.
- prints of the movie were shipped to theaters under the name “hour glass”.
- contrary to popular belief, hans zimmer did not compose the music that appears in the third trailer for this film. the track, titled “mind heist”, was actually composed by zack hemsey.
- the “paradox staircase” (with a woman perpetually picking up papers) that arthur shows ariadne is a reference to a lithograph print by the dutch graphic artist m.c. escher. the print is usually called “ascending and descending” or “the infinite staircase”, and was first printed in march 1960; escher is well-known for his drawings exploring optical illusions and real architectural, mathematical, and philosophical principles rendered in fantastical ways.
- according to cinematographer wally pfister, warner brothers executives approached christopher nolan about making the film in 3d, but he refused the idea, claiming “it will distract the storytelling experience of inception”.
- joseph gordon-levitt performed all his own stunts during the fight scene in the spinning hallway.
- just as cillian murphy’s character was named robert fischer jr. as a tribute to champion chess player bobby fischer, his father’s (pete postlethwaite) character is named maurice fischer as an homage to artist m.c. escher (full name maurits cornelis escher), whose art was clearly an inspiration for many of the special effects in the film.
- the slow, gloomy, blaring trombones in the main theme of the film score are actually based on an extremely slowed down version of the fast, high pitched trumpets in the beginning of the édith piaf song “non, je ne regrette rien,” which is used as a plot device in the film. furthermore, when music is heard by someone who is currently within a dream, the music is perceived as slowed down. thus, the main theme of the film score is almost exactly what the beginning of “non, je ne regrette rien” would sound like to a dreamer. this thematic device is brought to its logical conclusion when the song plays at the end of the credits, signaling that the audience is about to ‘wake up’ from the film.
- the barrel chairs in saito’s dining room were designed by frank lloyd wright for his famous house, fallingwater. the owners of fallingwater didn’t like them, so they were never used there.
- ariadne, in greek mythology, was the daughter of king minos of crete and his queen, pasiphaë, daughter of helios. she aided theseus in overcoming the minotaur by giving him a ball of red fleece thread that she was spinning, so that he could find his way out of the minotaur’s labyrinth. the name is also a reference to hugo von hofmannsthal’s setting of the myth for richard strauss’s opera ariadne auf naxos (1988). the opera is a play within a play, just as the movie is a dream within a dream.
- the film has around 500 visual effect shots.
- the 5th christopher nolan movie to enter the imdb top 250, along with memento (2000), batman begins (2005), the prestige (2006), the dark knight (2008).
- phonetically, “cobb” means “dream” in sanskrit, hindi, urdu, and punjabi.
- the character of eames is named after charles and ray eames, a married couple well known in the fields of furniture design, buildings architecture and avant-garde / documentary filmmaking.