This might very well be a film about the perfect crime (or the art of film making, depending on how you look at it). Inception is a story about a group of people that infiltrate a target’s subconscious through a dream to steal or plant ideas and information. Leading this operation is former dream architect, Dominic Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio), who has stopped designing alternate realities as a result of his deceased wife, Mal, showing up in dreams and sabotaging missions. His current project architect is not doing a great job. We learn early in the film that “specifying the wrong carpet can piss off the target” – don’t we know.

Enter Ariadne (Ellen Page), a bright young architecture student with a knack for “designing mazes”. And where there’s an architect, you’re sure to find a few models.

inception 6 maze

Inception is one of many films that utilise models in the planning of a crime – usually a heist or the infiltration of a secret compound. The model is usually seen in an exposition sequence wherein the plan is explained in detail. In Inception the models are shown, but details aren’t shared. Later, in the different levels of the dream, we see the models realised in these dream environments. The fading art of model making is tackled by film writer/director Chris Nolan who, like many architects, makes sure to depict the big idea through a series of models.


ArchiModels is a monthly series by Suné Horn; showcasing short explorations into how architectural models have been utilised as supporting characters in film.