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Leonardo DiCaprio talks Inception's complex plot structure

Mar. 16, 2010by: Paul Tassi

With INCEPTION currently most people's #1 most anticipated for the year, any new bit of knowledge about the film is worth reporting on. Leo DiCaprio recently talked to Empire about SHUTTER ISLAND, and he had a little bit to say when they questioned him about INCEPTION.

"It is complicated. It's a complicated story-structure, but it's sprung from the great filmmaker Christopher Nolan's mind, and he's been able to take highly complex jigsaw puzzles in a narrative and put them together like we've never seen."

"This is a plot-structure that's working on multiple layers simultaneously - and quite literally when I say simultaneously, I do mean multiple narratives simultaneously. So everyone's going to be in for a treat when they see it, including me."

Nolan has long been known for his unusual plot structures (the most notable of which you’ll remember in MEMENTO), so I’m incredibly curious to figure out just what the hell Leo means by “literal” simultaneous layers. This has to be a level past “things all happening at the same time,” but I really have no idea how to interpret that.

Watch Leo say it on video here, and see if you can pick up any clues from his facial expressions.

Extra Tidbit: It is one of my worst pet peeves when people list "MOMENTO" as one of their favorite movies on Facebook.
Source: Empire

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+4
11:43AM on 03/16/2010

Ace

Excited? Yes.
Excited? Yes.
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2:57PM on 03/16/2010
Looking forward to this one. Really enjoyed Memento, would never say it on Facebook though. :P
Looking forward to this one. Really enjoyed Memento, would never say it on Facebook though. :P
11:55AM on 03/16/2010
For sure excited about Inception, but can't say it's my most anticipated movie of the summer. That's reserved for Iron Man 2. I love Christopher Nolan, even though I'm one of the few that didn't love TDK, The Prestige and Memento are among my favorite films.
For sure excited about Inception, but can't say it's my most anticipated movie of the summer. That's reserved for Iron Man 2. I love Christopher Nolan, even though I'm one of the few that didn't love TDK, The Prestige and Memento are among my favorite films.
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-39
12:05PM on 03/16/2010

TDK makes me think this'll suck...

If his plot is as sloppy as the Dark Knight's this is going to be awful. Hope I'm wrong.
If his plot is as sloppy as the Dark Knight's this is going to be awful. Hope I'm wrong.
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12:08PM on 03/16/2010

boo

everything christopher nolan's done to this point in his career has SUCKED! make a movie worth watching.
everything christopher nolan's done to this point in his career has SUCKED! make a movie worth watching.
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7:18PM on 03/16/2010
INTERNET TROLL

[link]
INTERNET TROLL

[link]
3:10PM on 03/16/2010
you've got to be shitting me
you've got to be shitting me
1:56PM on 03/16/2010
See it's ppl saying things like TDK is Nolan's best work is why ppl are worried about this movie. TDK is probably his worst movie.
See it's ppl saying things like TDK is Nolan's best work is why ppl are worried about this movie. TDK is probably his worst movie.
12:25PM on 03/16/2010
Haha, that's actually somewhat funny :)
Haha, that's actually somewhat funny :)
12:17PM on 03/16/2010
were you in a coma for 2008? cuz this movie came out called the Dark Knight, dont know if you heard of it but u should check it out.
were you in a coma for 2008? cuz this movie came out called the Dark Knight, dont know if you heard of it but u should check it out.
12:10PM on 03/16/2010

3 Movie I Love to Hate:

Memento, Donnie Darko, and Requiem For a Dream.
Memento, Donnie Darko, and Requiem For a Dream.
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12:28PM on 03/16/2010

Below me, Idiots

first off, nolans movies crush, unless you are an idiot...if you didnt like TDK, you must have liked batman forever, so shut up king douches. 2nd Leo crush's as well, inception will be amazing...look at nolans last couple films, They have all been great, dont try and stick out by knocking him, we all know you love it....But predators is a little higher on my want to see list than this, just saying
first off, nolans movies crush, unless you are an idiot...if you didnt like TDK, you must have liked batman forever, so shut up king douches. 2nd Leo crush's as well, inception will be amazing...look at nolans last couple films, They have all been great, dont try and stick out by knocking him, we all know you love it....But predators is a little higher on my want to see list than this, just saying
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12:46PM on 03/16/2010
i have a thing called a sense of humor and use a thing called sarcasm. if you really got pissed and offended about movies (especially comic and sci fi movies) sorry sir, but you are king douche.
i have a thing called a sense of humor and use a thing called sarcasm. if you really got pissed and offended about movies (especially comic and sci fi movies) sorry sir, but you are king douche.
12:36PM on 03/16/2010

I'm scared.

I know the film is four months away, but I'd think we would have gotten more set pics, clips, or heavy marketing from the studio. And I love hearing about the complexity of this film, it just scares me because audiences are generally more interested in flat plot lines that have to be feed to them (Avatar).
I know the film is four months away, but I'd think we would have gotten more set pics, clips, or heavy marketing from the studio. And I love hearing about the complexity of this film, it just scares me because audiences are generally more interested in flat plot lines that have to be feed to them (Avatar).
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2:14PM on 03/16/2010
I wouldn't worry. It's March, and movie promotion doesn't begin until roughly a month before a movie's release, and WB has shown they know how to promote good movies.

As for the plot, I seriously don't think that will be a hindrance. Shutter Island proves that people will gravitate to a movie with a twisty plot, so long as it's well done.
I wouldn't worry. It's March, and movie promotion doesn't begin until roughly a month before a movie's release, and WB has shown they know how to promote good movies.

As for the plot, I seriously don't think that will be a hindrance. Shutter Island proves that people will gravitate to a movie with a twisty plot, so long as it's well done.
+4
12:37PM on 03/16/2010
Can't wait, Nolan = Awesome!
Can't wait, Nolan = Awesome!
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12:38PM on 03/16/2010
I always forget about this film because not much has come out about it but I think this will be an amazing movie. I don't think it will do well at the box office though because people don't want to see a movie that involves thinking. Nolan has made masterpieces his entire career and I think this will be another one.
I always forget about this film because not much has come out about it but I think this will be an amazing movie. I don't think it will do well at the box office though because people don't want to see a movie that involves thinking. Nolan has made masterpieces his entire career and I think this will be another one.
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3:31PM on 03/16/2010
I see your point and I must agree with your Shutter Island argument. At the same time though, Shutter Island had more marketing for it. I hope your right though.
I see your point and I must agree with your Shutter Island argument. At the same time though, Shutter Island had more marketing for it. I hope your right though.
2:17PM on 03/16/2010
I agree about the film's potential quality, but I think you are seriously underestimating its potential for success. Shutter Island shows that people will go to a movie with a twisty plot with a high-caliber cast. Avatar shows that a non-sequal sci-fi film can break out, and TDK shows that summer movies can be smart and still succeed.
I agree about the film's potential quality, but I think you are seriously underestimating its potential for success. Shutter Island shows that people will go to a movie with a twisty plot with a high-caliber cast. Avatar shows that a non-sequal sci-fi film can break out, and TDK shows that summer movies can be smart and still succeed.
1:55PM on 03/16/2010
CAN'T wait for this masterpiece!!
CAN'T wait for this masterpiece!!
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2:25PM on 03/16/2010

btw

the hotel that Will Smith stays in and ultimately (SPOILER ALERT) kills himself in, in Seven Pounds is the same hotel Guy Pearce stayed in in Memento
the hotel that Will Smith stays in and ultimately (SPOILER ALERT) kills himself in, in Seven Pounds is the same hotel Guy Pearce stayed in in Memento
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2:26PM on 03/16/2010
I'm glad Leo, Chris, and the others are keeping mum about the plot. It annoys me (and others here) when the plot is divulged before the movie's even out.

As for those fretting about commercial success...relax! First off, it's March. INCEPTION doesn't come out til mid-July, meaning its promotion won't really start until May (beginning, most likely, with a new trailer accompanying Iron Man). Secondly, this is Warner Bros. If there's any studio that knows how to make and sell good movies, it's
I'm glad Leo, Chris, and the others are keeping mum about the plot. It annoys me (and others here) when the plot is divulged before the movie's even out.

As for those fretting about commercial success...relax! First off, it's March. INCEPTION doesn't come out til mid-July, meaning its promotion won't really start until May (beginning, most likely, with a new trailer accompanying Iron Man). Secondly, this is Warner Bros. If there's any studio that knows how to make and sell good movies, it's them. Thirdly, I'll cite some previous films whose success bodes well for INCEPTION: Shutter Island shows that a well-cast film with a twisty plot can succeed (even in the wastelands of February), Avatar and District 9 showed that sci-fi films not based on any previous material can still be winning proposition. Lastly, TDK proves that summer films can be smart and still succeed. Have some faith in Nolan, guys! He knows what he's doing.
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4:50PM on 03/16/2010

Nolan = Overrated

He made one good indie film with Memento, and one fun comic book movie with The Dark Knight. Other than that his work is mediocre at best. Honestly, I'm sick of hearing how "great" he is. Yawn.
He made one good indie film with Memento, and one fun comic book movie with The Dark Knight. Other than that his work is mediocre at best. Honestly, I'm sick of hearing how "great" he is. Yawn.
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1:19AM on 03/17/2010
Let me guess. Are you the kind of guy that thinks Nolan is"overrated" but you enjoy movies by people like Paul Anderson, because they are "stupid fun"? The man made Memento, The Prestige, Following, Insomnia, Batman Begins, and TDK, all of which were damn good films.
Let me guess. Are you the kind of guy that thinks Nolan is"overrated" but you enjoy movies by people like Paul Anderson, because they are "stupid fun"? The man made Memento, The Prestige, Following, Insomnia, Batman Begins, and TDK, all of which were damn good films.
5:56PM on 03/16/2010
The Prestige is an awesome movie and a lot of people think Batman Begins is actually better than TDK. I wouldn't describe TDK as just a "fun" movie. It was more complex than any other superhero film. Iron Man was fun but TDK was fun and complex.
The Prestige is an awesome movie and a lot of people think Batman Begins is actually better than TDK. I wouldn't describe TDK as just a "fun" movie. It was more complex than any other superhero film. Iron Man was fun but TDK was fun and complex.
-4
5:10PM on 03/16/2010

complicated plot-structure my ass...

Memento... just a a lame copy of the book "soldier of the mist" by gene wolfe from the 80's. and knowing that christopher nolans brother is a huge fan of sf-books - it's clear: "homage" (my ass)

lame,lame. lame - and not fair regarding the good ol gene wolfe!!!
Memento... just a a lame copy of the book "soldier of the mist" by gene wolfe from the 80's. and knowing that christopher nolans brother is a huge fan of sf-books - it's clear: "homage" (my ass)

lame,lame. lame - and not fair regarding the good ol gene wolfe!!!
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5:25PM on 03/16/2010

wow

i'm surprised at the Nolan hate.
i'm a big fan of his. i'm not going to say he's some seriously hot shit director. i think he has a vision with his films and he's a good competent story teller. we don't get a lot of good directors that pop out good movie after good movie and improving on their previous films. i think he takes chances and it's paid off so far.
i want to see more of his work.
i'm surprised at the Nolan hate.
i'm a big fan of his. i'm not going to say he's some seriously hot shit director. i think he has a vision with his films and he's a good competent story teller. we don't get a lot of good directors that pop out good movie after good movie and improving on their previous films. i think he takes chances and it's paid off so far.
i want to see more of his work.
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6:49PM on 03/16/2010
Christopher Nolan has yet to disappoint.
Christopher Nolan has yet to disappoint.
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-7
7:21PM on 03/16/2010
The complexity of Nolan's films is nothing more than just a gimmick. Slight of hand really. He writes plots so dizzying that it hides the fact that he is very weak at writing characters, especially female characters. His needlessly complicated plots are like Shyamalan's needless twist endings, it's just a crutch that people will soon get tired of.
The complexity of Nolan's films is nothing more than just a gimmick. Slight of hand really. He writes plots so dizzying that it hides the fact that he is very weak at writing characters, especially female characters. His needlessly complicated plots are like Shyamalan's needless twist endings, it's just a crutch that people will soon get tired of.
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12:36PM on 03/18/2010
Ha ha owned
Ha ha owned
10:05PM on 03/17/2010
I would consider it more of a style than a gimmick. Just like people would consider the gothic atmosphere in Tim Burton's films to be a part of his style rather than a gimmick he uses. I am interested in hearing the plot holes Nolan leaves in his films though.
I would consider it more of a style than a gimmick. Just like people would consider the gothic atmosphere in Tim Burton's films to be a part of his style rather than a gimmick he uses. I am interested in hearing the plot holes Nolan leaves in his films though.
8:45PM on 03/17/2010
3D is a format. Yes it is a technical gimmick to make theaters stand out from home theaters, but it has nothing to do with the actual movie, at least storywise. I'm talking about story gimmicks.

Like I said, Shyamalan's twist endings are a gimmick, Bay's unmotivated action is a gimmick, and Nolan's overly complex plots are a gimmick. He flings as much shit at the wall as he can in hopes that something will stick. His plots are like taking a 100 piece puzzle and cutting it up into a 1000
3D is a format. Yes it is a technical gimmick to make theaters stand out from home theaters, but it has nothing to do with the actual movie, at least storywise. I'm talking about story gimmicks.

Like I said, Shyamalan's twist endings are a gimmick, Bay's unmotivated action is a gimmick, and Nolan's overly complex plots are a gimmick. He flings as much shit at the wall as he can in hopes that something will stick. His plots are like taking a 100 piece puzzle and cutting it up into a 1000 piece puzzle, then losing half of the pieces. He tries to make his plots so complex that he leaves behind plot holes big enough that an army of Harry Knowles clones could march through.
12:34PM on 03/17/2010
O I am over the fact that not everyone likes Nolan's work but to say complexity is a gimmick makes no sense. Complexity is subjective. What may be complex to one person may be an obvious simple story to someone else. 3D is a gimmick, but complexity? Doesn't make sense.
O I am over the fact that not everyone likes Nolan's work but to say complexity is a gimmick makes no sense. Complexity is subjective. What may be complex to one person may be an obvious simple story to someone else. 3D is a gimmick, but complexity? Doesn't make sense.
7:52PM on 03/16/2010
Whoa dude, pull Nolan's dick out of your mouth for a sec and get over the fact that not everyone thinks Nolan is a work of genius. And no, a complex plot does not equal a good story. Day time soap operas have insanely complex plots, doesn't mean a thing.
Whoa dude, pull Nolan's dick out of your mouth for a sec and get over the fact that not everyone thinks Nolan is a work of genius. And no, a complex plot does not equal a good story. Day time soap operas have insanely complex plots, doesn't mean a thing.
7:44PM on 03/16/2010
Complexity is a gimmick? Are you fucking kidding me? Funny seeing someone with a Bond avatar even mention gimmicks when putting down a director's work. I mean, talk about gimmicks.
Complexity is a gimmick? Are you fucking kidding me? Funny seeing someone with a Bond avatar even mention gimmicks when putting down a director's work. I mean, talk about gimmicks.
8:38PM on 03/16/2010
Can't wait for this film
Can't wait for this film
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10:35PM on 03/16/2010
I would like to hear who the Nolan haters actually think are better driectors than Nolan, because right now the man has one of the strongest track records in hollywood, IMO.
I would like to hear who the Nolan haters actually think are better driectors than Nolan, because right now the man has one of the strongest track records in hollywood, IMO.
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-2
12:19PM on 03/17/2010

over-rated

yeah, tdk was the best batman movie - but that doesn't mean it's the best movie ever or even the best picture of that year. i liked the movie a lot, but it was still far from perfect. and the best thing about it did when an oscar - heath. but ppl seem to look past A LOT of the plot holes with how the joker set everything up (got the guy in the cell with the phone/bomb in his stomach, took the cop hostage in the interrogating room). He is a very talented director and has a good record, but
yeah, tdk was the best batman movie - but that doesn't mean it's the best movie ever or even the best picture of that year. i liked the movie a lot, but it was still far from perfect. and the best thing about it did when an oscar - heath. but ppl seem to look past A LOT of the plot holes with how the joker set everything up (got the guy in the cell with the phone/bomb in his stomach, took the cop hostage in the interrogating room). He is a very talented director and has a good record, but he is over-rated for sure. Actually my favorite movie of his is insomnia. I think the prestige is pretty over rated and I don't like how it started to use "real magic' at the end. this movie will be good im sure, but i'm WAAAAY more excited about ironman 2.
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+0
12:27PM on 03/17/2010

oh and

oh and pta and tarantino are just two directors waaaay better. hell, scorsese. adam mckay. fincher. i can keep going...
oh and pta and tarantino are just two directors waaaay better. hell, scorsese. adam mckay. fincher. i can keep going...
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