It’s been two years since Christopher Nolan directed a feature film and his latest project Inception has been pegged as the most anticipated movie of 2010. The film follows his record breaking and critical hit The Dark Knight and stars an ensemble cast, lead by Leonardo DiCaprio. Early last year when the cast was still coming together the trades described Inception as a “contemporary sci-fi actioner set within the architecture of the mind.”

For a long time that’s all we had to go off of until a few months ago when Warner Bros decided to amp up their marketing campaign. They gave us everything from the official plot synopsis and viral videos to banners describing every detail of the characters. Suddenly all the secrecy that made the project intriguing was exposed leaving us with just another spoiled film. The advertising has already dissected all the secrets we were supposed to be able to unfold even before we’re able to pay for a ticket. Have all the ads destroyed Nolan’s creation? Lets take a look…

Nolan briefly spoke about the marketing for the film at the official Inception press conference and he made it very clear that he doesn’t believe in spoiling a movie before the audience sees it in theaters.

“My most enjoyable movie-going experiences have always been going to a movie theater, sitting there, the lights go down and a film comes on the screen that you don’t know everything about, and you don’t know every plot turn and character movement that’s going to happen. I want to be surprised and entertained by a movie. So, that’s what we are trying to do for the audience. Obviously, we also have to sell the film and that’s a balance that I think Warner is just striking very well.

I suppose, yes, at a point keeping something secret does lend itself to its own degree of hype, but I don’t really think of it as secrecy. I just think of it as an appropriate – we invite the audience to come and see it based on some of the imagery and some of the plot ideas and premise, but we don’t want to give everything away. I think too much is given away too often in movie marketing these days.”

[Mild Spoilers Ahead]

Earlier this spring, ScreenCrave listed the Top 10 Most Anticipated Films of the Summer and guess who landed at number 1? Inception! It beat out the competition because no one knew exactly what it was about. All we had was a creepy trailer with awesome special effects, a talented director, and an impressive cast. But shortly after the trailer we got the official plot synopsis, which revealed a few key details that let us know what we were really dealing with.

Dom Cobb (DiCaprio) is a skilled thief, the absolute best in the dangerous art of extraction, stealing valuable secrets from deep within the subconscious during the dream state, when the mind is at its most vulnerable. Cobb’s rare ability has made him a coveted player in this treacherous new world of corporate espionage, but it has also made him an international fugitive and cost him everything he has ever loved. Now Cobb is being offered a chance at redemption.

One last job could give him his life back but only if he can accomplish the impossible—inception. Instead of the perfect heist, Cobb and his team of specialists have to pull off the reverse: their task is not to steal an idea but to plant one. If they succeed, it could be the perfect crime. But no amount of careful planning or expertise can prepare the team for the dangerous enemy that seems to predict their every move.

Thanks to the synopsis, we know that DiCaprio has the power to travel through dreams and is trying to plant an idea into the head of a poor unsuspecting soul. Even though that shed a huge light on what was going on there was still some mystery involved. There was this huge cast and we didn’t know who did what or why. All the trailer ever showed were confused or angry faces, guns being pulled and buildings collapsing. There was still some secrecy — until those damn character banners and the character featurette were released.

The banners by themselves weren’t that bad it was the pairing of them with the video that shot everything to hell. DiCaprio was described as The Extractor, Ellen Page The Architect, Joseph Gordon-Levitt The Point Man, Ken Watanabe The Tourist, Marion Cotillard The Shade, Tom Hardy The Forger, and Cillian Murphy The Mark.

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The character featurette was released and gave a complete breakdown of almost every major role.

  • Michael Caine’s character is the one who taught DiCaprio’s Cobb to “navigate people’s minds,” making him The Extractor.
  • Gordon-Levitt is The Point Man who’s responsible for ensuring an escape from a dream once they’ve entered it.
  • Page is The Architect who can build the landscape of any dream.
  • Hardy is The Forger, someone who does the dirty work in their operation, while Cotillard appears as The Shade, somebody with a personal connection to Cobb.
  • Murphy is The Mark, the person whose mind they’re trying to invade with an idea or “seed.”
  • It sounds as if they’re trying to pull off something that’s highly unstable by creating a dream within a dream.
  • We also learned that a “kick” is a falling feeling, which is used to bring you out of the dream state.

Out of these observations, the two that soured my stance towards the film was the revelation that Murphy is the target and they’re attempting to not only plant an idea in his head but build a dream within a dream, which is considered a big no-no. That sounds like a big piece of the mind-crime puzzle that could have been kept under wraps but was unnecessarily spoiled.

Inception is still at the top of my list of films to catch this summer but for a completely different reason. Before it was because I wanted to see the amazing high-concept feature that Nolan’s been working on in the shadows but now I just want to hurry up and watch it before any new trailers come out and ruin what’s left of the plot.

Inception’s come a long way from being just a “contemporary sci-fi actioner set within the architecture of the mind.” The fact that we know 10 times more today than what we did 6 months ago hurts the film-going-experience! Yes people need to know about the film, but what’s so bad about keeping some of it a secret?

Do you think the marketing for Inception has ruined the mystery?