On Music and Repetitive Image in Christopher Nolan's Inception

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Scott Stedman On Music and Repetitive Image in Christopher Nolan’s Inception Christopher Nolan’s 2010 action blockbuster Inception explores the world of dreams and the concept of shared dreaming in radical and mind-bending methods. Specifically, the film’s original score (written by Hans Zimmer) addresses the theme of time distortion in the way it changes to mirror the film’s concept of time exponentiation and subdivision in subsequent dream states, ultimately lending a modicum of realism to the narrative; additionally, the repetitive image of a perpetually spinning top plays a large part in separating reality from dreams on a formal level (not merely within the plot) within Inception’s overarching mystery, its eventual solution, and its ultimate climax back into ambiguity. When Inception first presents the concept of time distortion within a dream, it explains the simple concept that 5 minutes of sleep in the real world will give you 1 hour of dream time, as the mind is working much faster than normal. In order to produce a “kick” to remove dreamers from their sleep, the Edith Piaf song “Non Je Ne Regrette Rien” is used in headphones of the sleeping dream extractors . The song is in waltz time (3/4) and has a basic accented cadential structure of “one-TWO-three-one-TWO-three”, in which the accent lies in the middle of the triplet pattern, and the second note is the strongest beat. The concept of dream time distortion is crucial; as the characters descend into dreams within dreams (and the time distortion effect multiplies exponentially), Zimmer’s score follows the action down. At the topmost level of the film’s plot, the score often includes small retrogrades and inversions of Edith Piaf’s original song (retrograde=flipping the order of the notes in a given phrase. Inversion=reversing the intervals between pitches while retaining the same rhythmic structure),

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