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Will Hans Zimmer’s Piaf-Inspired Inception Score Be Eligible for an Oscar?

Earlier this week, some sharp-eared nerd noticed that the most recognizable musical cue in Hans Zimmer's score for Inception sounds uncannily like a slowed-down version of Edith Piaf's "Non, je ne Regrette Rien," the song Yusuf the chemist uses as the "kick" to wake the film's dreamers. Which is a neat trick, since, as Inception's characters point out over and over, time slows down in dreams (and more so in dreams within those dreams, etc.). Zimmer has acknowledged a few times that this was no accident, and it was actually Christopher Nolan's idea ("He had the Edith Piaf song always written in the script, the 'da-da, da-da' ... It was like huge foghorns over a city, and afterward you would maybe figure out that they were related," he told ArtsBeat yesterday). But what will the uptight music branch of the AMPAS — whose byzantine rule system seems to disqualify at least one acclaimed score every year — think of all this?

Can Inception be nominated for Best Original Score? Some annoying recent history: Zimmer's score for The Dark Knight was initially deemed ineligible in 2008 for supposedly having too many composers (that decision was later reversed). The year before that, Jonny Greenwood's awesome score for There Will Be Blood was disqualified because it was "diluted" by preexisting music. So, while we freely admit that we know nothing, it's not inconceivable that AMPAS might have trouble embracing a score built partially from slowed-down pieces of a song from 1960, even if it is just a measly couple of notes. (Would the original songwriters be nominated? Would Nolan, since the idea came from his screenplay?)

For his part, Zimmer doesn't seem to give a crap: "I didn't use the song; I only used one note," he tells ArtsBeat's Dave Itzkoff. "But look, I so couldn't care less about awards. I know I'm not supposed to say this. But when you work with Chris Nolan, when you work on a movie like Inception, it's for the adventure." Too bad he might not get to say that at the Oscars.

Hans Zimmer Extracts the Secrets of the ‘Inception’ Score [ArtsBeat/NYT]

Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images