Sound Masters: Inception

By Gabe Cowan
Ten years ago, Christopher Nolan released a film that not only changed the industry but solidified his identity as a filmmaker. As an action, sci-fi, fantasy heist film of epic scale, Inception manages to bend genre while delivering a meticulously crafted story.

A film about dreams had to come with a total reimagining of visuals, and the same had to be done with sound. In a dream, any sound is possible—however nonsensical. For the sound team behind Inception, this meant finding a way to blend real-world sounds with fantastic synthetic ones, all while adhering to Nolan’s intricate narrative. They created the rich dreamscapes heard in the film using slowed-down sounds, reversed sound, and heavy processing. Rather than playing to audiences’ reality-based expectations, each sound was crafted to represent what a character would hear in a particular moment of their dream.
On this ten-year anniversary, we recognize the team that, when faced with a staggering and cerebral piece of work, took an inventive approach to sound design and dared to dream a little bigger.
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