As much as I love Christopher Nolan’s Inception, hunting for the film’s shooting locations was never part of the itinerary – we simply chanced upon it by pure coincidence. On our way to the Eiffel Tower to meet friends, we dropped off at Bir-Hakeim, the nearest Metro Station to the tower.
(above) View from Bir-Hakeim Metro Station, looking towards the direction of the next stop, Passy. The long bridge/walkway where Cobb ( Leonardo ) and Ariadne ( Ellen Page ) hold their exchange runs underneath the train tracks. (below) Some screen caps from the film.
…and the location in real life. ( below )
(above) Let me digress a little here and talk about how a simple, yet elegantly lighted shot/shots, coupled with great editing can add great emotional impact to a scene. ( If you have the dvd or blu-ray for Inception, play back this sequence and watch the filmmakers work their magic here. )
In this sequence, both Ariadne and Cobb are in a shared dream. Ariadne has just created a location ( this bridge ) from a real memory, as she has to walk pass this bridge to school everyday. Cobb recognizes this bridge too, and he has a flashback ( screen cap above), memories of happy moments he spent with Mal at this location. Notice by comparison, how these two shots of Cobb’s memories are lit with a warm, fuzzy look, which immediately convey feelings of happiness, intimacy and bliss ( Leonardo and Marion’s performance also intensify that effect, of course. ) when juxtaposed with the much cooler, more clinical look of “mundane life” in Cobb and Ariadne’s shared dream.
The effect is subtle, and you probably won’t even notice it working as you are watching the film but it definitely registers in one’s mind and triggers an emotional response. Had those two shots been lit the same way ( a cooler palette ) as the rest of the sequence, the emotional impact intended would have been significantly reduced and weakened.
(above) By power of imagination Ariadne creates a small bridge to take her across the road. This location is just below the Passy Metro station. ( below )
(above) View of the bridge from the Seine riverbank. (below) An artist at work – everywhere in Paris there are beautiful sculptures and architecture that can serve as subjects for the painter.