|Behind the Scenes|
|“||Why is it so important to dream?||”|
Ariadne is a graduate student at the École d'Architecture in Paris. She was contacted by Dom Cobb for a specific job: to design three complete dream layer mazes on the Fischer inception job. Although the job was dangerous, Ariadne was propelled by her intellectual curiosity which made her unable to pull herself away from such a unique opportunity. Her Totem is a slightly hollowed out bishop chess piece. She is portrayed by Elliot Page.
Page concedes that Ariadne, when approached by Cobb for the job that "“isn’t necessarily legal, but she is propelled by an intellectual curiosity that makes her unable to pull herself away from such a unique opportunity” and “immediately displays a natural ability to think outside the box and broaden her mind enough to facilitate what he’s trying to accomplish. She ends up becoming even more involved in the job as she discovers what’s really going on with Cobb and learns about things he can’t control. But, despite the fears that arise, she wants to try and help him in order for the team to succeed.”
According to Christopher Nolan, “In writing the script for ‘Inception,’ it was very important to me that there be a conduit for the audience—a character who is being shown this world for the first time and is eager to explore it. That’s how the character of Ariadne was born. It was also very important for the audience to see Cobb through Ariadne’s eyes and get to the core of that character. And when I met with [Elliot], [they] had the perfect combination of freshness and savvy and maturity beyond [his] years. [He] is an extraordinary performer with incredible creativity and an innate curiosity of [their] own and, therefore, naturally infused Ariadne with those qualities. [Elliot] was able to balance the emotional life of [his] character with the need for Ariadne to bring the audience in and show them the truth.”
Ariadne is Hired
While attending school in Paris, Ariadne is approached by Dom Cobb for a job offer, after being recommended to him by Miles, her professor and Dom's father-in-law. Initially, Dom refuses to tell Ariadne what the job entails, explaining that it would not be entirely legal and that therefore he needs to test her abilities to ensure that she is capable of performing the task. He asks Ariadne to design a maze that takes two minutes to draw and one minute to solve. Her first two attempts fail, but the third impresses Dom, and he decides to hire her.
Entering the Dreams
After stopping by Dom's workshop, Dom and Ariadne discuss dreams at a Paris café. Dom states that when a person dreams, they can never remember the beginning of the dream. He then asks Ariadne how the two of them got to the café. Unable to remember, Ariadne realizes that they are in fact sharing a dream. Things in the dream begin to explode, perhaps because of Ariadne's panic at realizing she is in a dream, and she is killed by falling debris. The two wake back up in the workshop. Arthur, Dom's accomplice, informs Ariadne that she and Dom were dreaming for only five minutes, despite the fact that she and Dom had been at the café for what seemed like an hour. He explains that five minutes in reality equals an hour in the dreams, as brain activity increases rapidly when dreaming.
Dom and Ariadne re-enter the dreams, where Dom teaches her the basics of shared dreaming (ie. projections, dream-manipulation, and the concept of Extraction). After completing some basic dream-manipulation, Ariadne is killed in-dream by Dom's subconscious projection of his late wife, Mal, and wakes up back at the workshop, leaving immediately after commenting on Mal's existence in Dom's subconscious, although later she returns, saying that the concept of dream manipulation was 'pure creation'. Arthur then guides Ariadne through the rest of her introduction to dreams, such as teaching her to incorporate architectural paradoxes into the layout of dreams. Arthur also encourages her to make her own Totem, an object in the real world that appears in the dreams, and used to determine whether or not the user is dreaming. She chooses a bishop chess piece, and hollows it out partially to create a specific imbalance that only she knows.
Note - As Cobb tells the story, the audience and Ariadne both imagine Cobb and Mal as they are young-the only way we know them, because it is from our and Ariadne's point of view. When Cobb reminds Mal that they did grow old together, and we see them as they really were in his memory, walking together as older people, finally we see their aged hands clasped together, shaking as they lie on the tracks. It is then we realize how that final scene really was in Cobb's memory, and we understand the full life that they have shared.
Once Dom finishes assembling his team for the job, the planning stage begins. The job is to Incept an idea into the mind of Robert Fischer, the son of Fischer Morrow CEO Maurice Fischer. The idea is that Robert Fischer should break up his father's company upon the death of the latter, but as Inception is extremely difficult to successfully achieve, multiple layers of dreaming are required. Ariadne is tasked by Dom with being the team Architect: the designer of each dream layer, and the one who creates the maze-like dream layout (the purpose of which is to increase the team's chances of successfully evading the Subject's projections).
Ariadne, well aware of the threat that Dom's projection of Mal poses to the team, realizes why Dom refuses to design the dreams himself: the more he knows about the layout of the dream, the higher the possibility of Mal appearing and interfering with the mission. Witnessing Dom dreaming by himself at the workshop, Ariadne, curious about what Dom dreams about and wanting to discover the reason behind the existence of the Mal projection, joins his dream. She discovers that within Dom's dreams, he relives memories from when Mal was still alive, and Dom's intense feelings of guilt for her death is the reason that the Mal projection appears. Ariadne insists to Dom that either he should tell Arthur about the danger the Mal projection poses to the mission, or that she should accompany them into the dreams to protect the team from Cobb's subconscious projections of Mal. Reluctant to let the others know the extent of his problem, Dom tells Saito to get another seat on the plane for them. In the real world, the mission takes place on the plane.
The Fischer Inception
As planned in the Paris workshop, Ariadne was to play a small part in the actual mission, as she was not initially meant to be joining the team in the dreams. In Level 1 of the heist on Robert Fischer's mind, Ariadne was with Dom in a car separate from the one that Robert was to be abducted in. The plan goes smoothly until a freight train smashes through the streets of the city-like dream (the barreling freight train is a manifestation of Cobb's projection of Mal). The team is then attacked by Fischer's projections, who had been militarized as a result of anti-Extraction training he had undertaken (a detail that didn't show up in Arthur's background check on Fischer that he was responsible for). Saito receives a gunshot wound in the team's attempt to escape from the projections. After eventually evading the projections and meeting up at a warehouse, it is revealed that due to the extremely complex nature of the dream, Saito would slip into Limbo if he died in-dream instead of waking up. Realizing the need to speed up the progress of the mission in order to save Saito, the team immediately got underway with the next stage of the plan.
In Level 2 of the heist, Arthur and Ariadne observe Dom's use of the Mr. Charles tactic (a ruse to make the dreamer aware that he is dreaming, to turn his own subconscious against itself) and Arthur has Ariadne kiss him, supposedly as a method to avoid being attacked by the projections. The team meet up at a hotel room in the dream, and fool Robert into thinking that they will be entering Browning's (Robert's godfather's) mind, although in fact they are infiltrating his.
The final stage of the heist in Level 3 begins, and Ariadne stays with Dom. Problems arise, however, when the "Van breaking through the barrier of the bridge" and the musical kick (that's supposed to penetrate three layers down in conjunction with the other planned kicks in each layer) from Level 1 begins earlier than expected. As a result, the team has to speed up the mission. Dom insists that Ariadne tell him any shortcut features that Eames added to the maze. She explains that he added an air duct system that doesn't follow the maze. Cobb has Ariadne explain this to Saito so that Saito and Fischer can speed up the mission. But it's too late. The "Van breaking through the barrier of the bridge" kick happens, and this kick penetrates down to the Snow Fortress causing an avalanche, thus the team misses that penetrating kick. But, fortunately, there is a second penetrating kick that they can still ride in conjunction with a kick from within in each layer. This second penetrating kick is the "Van hitting the water" kick.
As a result of Ariadne telling Cobb about the shortcut, Cobb's projection of Mal enters the upper tower of the Snow Fortress hospital. Dom hesitates with shooting his projection of Mal, questioning her reality. Consequently, Mal shoots Fischer right outside the strongroom. Cobb shoots the projection of Mal after this, and they rush to the upper tower, although Fischer has already entered Limbo. Ariadne convinces Cobb to enter Limbo in an effort to save Fischer and complete the inception job.
In Limbo, Ariadne and Dom encounter the Mal projection again, in the home Dom and Mal built together. Dom, after revealing that he performed inception on his wife, planting the idea that "this world isn't real" in her mind, is stabbed by the Mal projection, after telling her he was never going to stay in Limbo for her. Ariadne shoots the projection. Ariadne recognizes the lightning bolts in the Limbo sky are caused by the defibrillator shocks that Eames is administering to Fischer's dream self body in the Snow Fortress layer. She improvises a kick for Fischer and kicks him off the ledge of the penthouse. This kick in conjunction with the defibrillator kick is what brings Fischer back to the Snow Fortress layer (two simultaneous kicks are needed when using a sedative); Eames instructs the revived Fischer to enter the strongroom, where he finds a projection of his father on his death bed and the inception succeeds once Fischer opens a safe and finds the supposed new will and a childhood pinwheel.
Seeing that the inception has succeeded, Eames detonates the fortress, causing the violent storm in Limbo. Cobb orders Ariadne to leave so she can ride the kicks back up the first level; she creates a kick by throwing herself off the balcony after telling Cobb not to lose himself and to find Saito and bring him back. She rides this kick in conjunction with the series of kicks occurring above: the collapsing snow fortress, the elevator explosion, and the van hitting the water. Upon waking in the city layer, she and Arthur exit the van with Yusuf, after which she tells Arthur that Cobb stayed in Limbo to find Saito. Upon Cobb awakening he sees Fischer, Arthur, Ariadne and Saito have woken up. Arthur, Ariadne, and Saito stare at him with relief, under realization that inception had worked. Entering airport after leaving the plane. Ariadne sees Cobb passing through security with her (where she is last seen) and is happy that he's legally cleared of his crimes. They go their separate ways like the rest of the team.
Personality and Traits
Ariadne is a naturally curious and creative person. After Dom first showed her the dreams, she refused to work with him and left. She returned soon after, however, as dreams allowed her to satisfy her curiosity and create things that would be impossible in reality. She entered Dom's dreams to discover why the Mal projection appears, and voiced concern about the possibilities of mission success and the safety of the team after she realized the extent of the problem. Despite the dangers involved, Ariadne tried to help Dom and the team by going with them during the inception mission. In addition to being intelligent and creative, she is also very perceptive, especially regarding Cobb's personal issues. When she notices these things about Cobb, she immediately takes it upon herself to psychologically analyze him and point out his faults.
A graduate student studying architecture, Ariadne immediately displayed a natural ability to think outside the box and broaden her mind enough to facilitate what Dom asked her to accomplish. She designed three dream layers for the Robert Fischer inception job, and incorporated paradoxical architecture and maze-like layouts into the dreams. Despite being the youngest and least experienced member of the inception job, she has proved to be more than a valuable asset to the team.
- (After Dom warns her that she will lose track of reality if she builds dreams from memory.) "Is that what happened to you?"
- Ariadne: "What's happening?"
Arthur: "Cobb's drawing Fischer's attention to the strangeness of the dream, which is making the subconscious look for the dreamer. For me. Quick, give me a kiss."
[She kisses him and then looks around]
Ariadne: "They're still looking at us."
Arthur: "Yeah, it was worth a shot."
- [Ariadne clears throat]
Arthur: "Cobb said you'd be back."
Ariadne: "I tried not to come, but..."
Arthur: "But there's nothing quite like it."
Ariadne: "It's just... pure creation."
- "Do you think you can just build a prison of memories to lock her in? Do you really think that's going to contain her?"
- "Cobb, I'm coming with you. The team needs someone who understands what you're struggling with. And it doesn't have to be me, but then you have to show Arthur what I just saw."
- "The truth that at any minute, you might bring a freight train through the wall. The truth that Mal is bursting through your subconscious. And the truth that as we go deeper into Fischer, we're also going deeper into you. And I'm not sure we're going to like what we find."
- "Your guilt defines her. It's what powers her. But you are not responsible for the idea that destroyed her. And if we are going to succeed in this, you have to forgive yourself and you're going to have to confront her. But you don't have to do that alone."
- "You can't stay here to be with her."
- Ariadne's name comes from the ancient Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. In the myth, Ariadne assisted the hero, Theseus, in the labyrinth of the Minotaur by using a ball of red thread to lead them out. The movie's version of Ariadne accompanies Cobb through the labyrinth of his own subconscious and gives him the means to deal with the monster he's imprisoned there. That along with the fact that she wears red for the majority of the movie proves her name to be quite apt.
- Before Elliot Page accepted, Nolan considered casting Emily Blunt, Rachel McAdams, Emma Roberts,Taylor Swift, Jessy Schram and Carey Mulligan .
- She was known as The Architect in some promotional material.