If you have not seen the movie, stop right now. I am going to be dropping spoilers so fast you'd swear I had rotten apples in my pockets.
First, let's watch that awesome trailer again, shall we?
"Well, it's not strictly speaking...legal."
"I think I found a way home... and this last job is how I get there."
"I have it under control."
"I'd hate to see out of control!"
"You mustn't be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling."
O.K. Those quotes are worth the price of admission alone. PLUS and amazing ominous and beautiful score by Hans Zimmer, how bsed this incredible beat on a very, very slowed down version of a classic French...uhm.. 'swooner' song: Non, Je ne regrette rien ["No, I have no regrets at all"]. YouTube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3Kvu6Kgp88 .
This song is used while the team is in France and under deep sleep in the dreamworld to warn them it is time to wake up. In a BEAUTIFUL double-entendre', the catharisis for our hero Cobb, played by DiCaprio, is him having to learn to let go of the woman he loved - even though he feels great guilt about her death. Cobb has regrets - and this song tortures him to let them go so he can live in the real world.
So THIS song is playing in real time, but what do our heroes and heroine hear down in the dreaming worlds they have entered? In dream worlds that progress in time at 1/20th the rate of real time?
Not the brisk Duh, de duhn, de duhn , de duhn joyful gallop of a love song, but "DUHNnnn - DUHNnnnn - DUHNNNnnnnn.." - bells tolling that the time to 'die' is here.
Oh yeah - to wake-up from the dream world, you have to die - you know how that wakes you up in real life? Or when you feel like your falling off a cliff? Both of those can wake a dreamer.
In this scenario, Cobb and his team have taken a sedative SO powerful that to die is to drop into LIMBO - and be essentially lost in a vast wasteland of dreaming. It would take you - at THAT level - YEARS to escape. But as they get trapped, they find the only way out is the way THROUGH and so Cobb willing goes down to confront the subconscious projection - i.e. 'ghost'- of his late wife and rescue the team benefactor who was lost to Limbo. [lit. fans see an Orpheus & Eurydice reference here? I do.]
This movie has so many notable allegories, its hard to organize them.
Let me mention one I haven't yet seen on any review on the web. It's probably out there, just I haven't seen it yet.
Cobb and Ariadne are the architects of the dream world. She's even better than him, we are told.
Do you know where the name Ariadne came from? It's based on the myth of Ariadne, the "Mistress of the Labyrinth" who led the hero Theseus out of the Minotaur's maze. Since Ellen Page's character has to learn to build mazes and such, it's a nice touch from the filmmaker, no?
But did you know Cobb means spider? It's an Old English reference and where we get 'cobwebs' from. [See here: http://honkytonkhumunculus.xanga.com/142620535/item/ ]
So as we watch, Christopher Nolan our fine director is weaving and spinning a tale to knock the dust off of your brain, with a man trapped in a web of his own making and a young girl trying to lead the hero safely out of the maze of his heart.