Inception Aftermath: Theories, Thoughts, Oscar Buzz & More

July 21, 2010


To put a final cap on our two-year coverage of Christopher Nolan's Inception, I wanted highlight a few of my favorite articles found around the web discussing different theories, explanations, and so much more related to Nolan's mind-bending action movie. One reason I absolutely love Inception is that it inspires such an immense amount of intellectual discussion, and there are a lot of great articles that I wanted to point out in that realm, for the sake of anyone looking to delve further into that discussion on Inception. Since there's so much out there, I thought I'd highlight the best pieces to read. So without further ado, let's dive right in!

Warning: This post contains major spoilers related to Inception, so please do not continue reading and discussing unless you have already seen the movie, as I don't want to ruin it for anyone who wasn't seen it.

From Vulture: Inception's Dileep Rao Answers All Your Questions About Inception - This very fascinating piece is an interview with another one of my other favorite actors, Dileep Rao, who played "The Chemist" Yusuf in Inception. Instead of asking him simple questions, Vulture had him answer some of the challenging questions that the movie brings up, and also explain some of the complex concepts regarding entering dreams and so on. Even if you don't have questions about Inception, this is a must read piece.

From Film School Rejects: The Kicker: 3 Explanations for Inception - FSR's Cole Abaius delves into some rather intriguing topics and theories found within Inception surrounding Jungian archetypes, the importance of Cobb's totem, and thoughts on the ending and what the truth may really be (we'll get into more of those theories next).

From Vulture: The Hidden 'Inception' Within Inception - One of my favorite theories regarding the end and, essentially the overall point of the entire movie, involves the idea that the whole thing was actually an "inception" itself. Vulture's Bilge Ebiri brings this up in a great essay about that "hidden inception" and finishes by referencing a brilliant moment from the movie that most have probably forgotten: Or, as the old man in Mombassa puts it, referring to the opium den of dreamers in Yusuf’s basement: "They come here to be woken up. Their dream has become their reality. Who are you to say otherwise?"

From CHUD: Never Wake Up: The Meaning and Secret of Inception - If you really wish to dive fully into some of the many theories that Inception contains, this piece written by Devin of CHUD is actually a fantastic article about those "secrets." Check this out, from the article: "In Inception Nolan is examining the ways that cinema, the ultimate shared dream, can change an individual. The entire film is a dream, within the confines of the movie itself, but in a more meta sense it's Nolan's dream."

From Wired: How Inception's Astonishing Visuals Came to Life - If you're interested in learning a bit more about how Chris Nolan seamlessly integrates CGI visuals into his always beautiful films, Wired has a great interview with Nolan's visual effects supervisor Paul Franklin, who talks about how they made the Paris-folding sequence and the "Limbo City" at the end, which was one of the most challenging "grand illusions" to pull off.

From Reuters: Oscar Speculation Underway for Inception - Of course, there's already some Oscar buzz for Inception (it deserves it!) and that's honestly not too surprising considering it's probably going to be called the best movie of the year by most people. This article looks at its true Oscar potential and competition and is worth reading at least as a consideration. Now, it's all a question of how the industry responds over the coming weeks and months.

From Heat Vision: Damon Lindelof Weighs in on Inception's Ending - This one is just for fun, but it also brings up an interesting theory regarding the ending. Lost showrunner Damon Lindelof tweeted some statements about the ending that should make your mind spin like crazy (just like Lost!). There is a THIRD possibility -- It neither stopped… nor kept spinning. The story ended before either could happen. Discuss.

From Cinema Blend: 5 Ways To Know If Inception Really Will Save Hollywood Blockbusters - In this article, CB's Katey Rich tries to address the claims that because Inception is such an incredible movie (and is making lots of money) that it's going to change Hollywood movies forever (which a few predicted after The Dark Knight). Before it was released, many filmmakers (including even Richard Kelly) were saying that it was important for it to succeed because it would mean so much for original movies in Hollywood. How big of an impact will it have? What will it change in Hollywood, if anything, and how long will it last? Those are some of the questions she addresses in a very smart, thoughtful piece.

I've been discussing different theories on Inception for the last week since it was first released in theaters. Almost every friend I've talked to that has seen it usually ends up in a heated debate about what they think did or didn't happen in the movie, and I love talking about those ideas. I loved Inception and there really is no end to the discussion about the movie, which is what makes it so brilliant. I hope you found some great ideas to consider from the articles I highlighted above. For those wondering, the theory that I personally like the most is one that the end may have still been a dream or a part of limbo. Who are we to say otherwise?

Finally, this visual guide to the 5 Levels of Inception is mesmerizing to look at and very informative, and deserves the final spot below. Although I'm sure most readers already understand all of the different levels, this is still a great guide that should help clear up any confusion. (Designed by and found on Cinema Blend.)

The 5 Levels of Inception

Find more posts: Discuss, Editorial, Opinions



Awesome thanks for posting this, here are some thoughts I had on the film, although they are entirely malleable at this point once I see the movie again and discuss it with others... To get too wrapped up in the plot is exactly what i think nolan wants from the audience. Truly he created a film that is aware that it is a film, unlike his previous efforts this movie is not expecting the audience to accept anything as truth, but the real truth is to see the film as just that, a movie we are watching, a shared dream as it were, and nolan has created an avatar of himself as Cobb(btw he shares the same name with the protagonist of "following")to take us on a journey exploring his terrible guilt he feels for an ideal relationship he destroyed or feels incapable of fixing. This film is super super deep, but its this exploration of the use of film to explore manufactured emotional catharsis(inception ie. Watching and experiencing the movie) or non catharsis(cobb doesnt gain it truly, while murphy does) its a symbol or another layer. Murphy is the audience being taken on this ride and nolan is cobb. The author or filmmaker who can manufacture catharsis fornother but will always feel a deep troubling void himself. The plot, machinations & tech of Inception are not the point, that is why they are given such little context in the film. The big picture, leaving the theater and having these thoughts emerge from the viewer is the point in my opinion.

Barfy mcbarfly on Jul 21, 2010


Great post Alex.

ProMovieBlogger on Jul 21, 2010


The only reason I couldn't buy the ending as happy was its visual similarity to the exact same framing and feel of the previous illusions of him seeing his kids again. Maybe in the end, he incepted himself in a fashion...convinced himself he was back with his children and he was ready to accept a lie. Also, in the upper layer of reality, isn't it strange that everyone is after Cobb in a similar fashion to the projections attacking in the dream realms?

Barfy mcbarfly on Jul 21, 2010


gotta disagree. They cut into the scene of him already in his home, just like they cut to every other scene in the movie about a half minute into every conversation or introduction.

Barfy mcbarfly on Jul 21, 2010


***spoiler ending alert*** when Cobbs spun the totem and then went to the kids, it appeared to have been still spinning as if a dream, but the last second of it all showed it shaking from slowing down meaning that he was in reality, every time we see the totem spin in a dream it is perfectly still in its spin. Christopher Nolan doesnt make a trick like that by mistake so he lets the observers figure out its reality.....

Jericho on Jul 21, 2010


This film would've been perfect if it offered the emotional catharsis that Nolan dreamed of, only the characters experience it, we, as the spectator do not. Isn't that what films are suppose to do, the dream within the dream to achieve a purpose or nirvana.

Vic on Jul 21, 2010


I also thought this article was very impressive, it comes by the way of Cinematical.com. http://www.cinematical.com/2010/07/19/dissecting-inception-six-interpretations-and-five-plot-holes/ Make sure to read the comments below the article. Some of the people who posted caught some very interesting things in the movie that may better explain that ending we've all been talking about!

Icefilm on Jul 21, 2010


I don't even want to read too much into these. I loved this movie and didn't understand the ending. Than I thought for sure he had to be awake because it was the happy ending. Than I read other peoples very valid points about it being the same exact memory with the kids and how they hadn't aged. So I figured he must still be dreaming. Nolan is great. I personally don't like the Batman movies but all his other stuff is great. Memento is wonderful but I always forget what's going on no matter how many times I've seen it.

brian ricci on Jul 21, 2010


Crap!!! I can't read any of this!!!!! I haven't seen the movieeeeee and I'll be able to do it until next friday, daaaaaaamn!!!

leinergroove on Jul 21, 2010


wow nobody was even paying attention at the end. the totem started to fall at the last second.

Cianan on Jul 21, 2010


That 5 levels chart is all WRONG... each of the levels apart from Reality and Limbo are ALL dreamed by Fischer... otherwise the whole idea of the inception wouldn't work! How can they miss such a basic premise as that!?! Level 2 (The Van Chase) even had projections of Fischer's extraction security chasing them - they say in the film it's a technique taught to him to protect from Extractors, proving they are in HIS subconscious. Level 1 - Reality IS definitely a dream: 1) As people have pointed out, he's stood in the SAME position in his house as in his memories with something in his hand (in his memories it was a plane ticket) with someone stood beside him (a travel agent maybe in his memories). 2) The children have NOT aged. 3) The spinning top stuttered but didn't fall. 4) He said he couldn't land in the USA without being arrested (he said that Saito needed to make sure the phone call was made before the plane landed). So how did he get back to the USA to speak to his dad and recruit his new architect at the beginning of the job? In a dream, travelling to a destination isn't necessarily logical, this fact alone proves that it's all a dream. 5) The whole Inception of Fischer was a hint to him performing his own Inception. At the end of it all, the dream sharing might not even be possible, this could all be his dream in the standard sense of the word. John

Big John on Jul 21, 2010


#12 read #9, u r not the only one who paied attention !

Terminator on Jul 21, 2010


Well I think it was implied he wasn't meeting his Dad in the US, Big John. Also SHERO, were you being condescending or agreeing with me, with the broken English you used I honestly couldn't tell. I'm not saying he had to show every single moment of him driving home. I'm just pointing out the obvious facts: every scene starts about part ways into a conversation or a scene...its more than a little odd, it's definitely an intentional choice to always throw us off an it connects to the rule that we never remember the beginning of a dream. But it doesn't matter: the whole film is a dream and I agree with CHUD's Devin Faraci on the meaning of the film. It's not meant to be taken as reality.

Barfy mcbarfly on Jul 21, 2010


Unless you saw it fall it didn't fall. That's the reason why he didn't show it. If it doesn't exist you can't prove it. I'm pretty sure everyone saw it NOT FALL just like you did. Sure it was spinning and wobbling, but it wasn't really getting worse, something was definitely strange about it.

Barfy mcbarfly on Jul 21, 2010


Can I just say I hate the idea that the whole thing was an Inception from start to finish because it completely destroys the point of the totems, which are supposed to help the audience distinguish between real life and the dream. If everything was done to get Cobb home, then why was he so surprised when the man said that he had recruited the two, and why did Cobb almost walk away?I think that it is an unfair guess because if it is true that that was the whole point, it destroys the point of anything else happening in the movie, i.e. why have the plot about Moll?

Ravek018 on Jul 21, 2010


@Barfy, If you watch the movie twice, at the beginning, the firat time he spins it in the real world, it takes a long time for the top to fall. I mean a LONG time. It spins for like 7 seconds of screen time, then cuts to Cobb, then cuts back to the top before it finally topples. I think the ending was just to remind you that you are supposed to remember the ideas in the film rather than remembering Cobb's story as the only important thing. Also, If the top fell in the real world, and then they descended 3 or 4 dream levels, followed by rising back up through the same levels, mathematically and logically they are again in the real world.

Ravek018 on Jul 21, 2010


The idea that the real world is a dream destroys the purpose for anything that happened that was unrelated to Cobb getting home... believing that the top fell allows for the story to hold together with a happy ending. Honestly wouldn't the movie just be confusing , misleading, and all around terrible if it were true that two and a half hours of screen time were spent not helping lead the audience to the truth? Oh and whoever said this was right the kids do have older actors for the ending, that scene was just to show Cobb,s victory in changing a moment he wanted. Your supposed to say, "HORRAY SUCCESS!," but instead most of you are just destroying the conclusion of his story by nitpickuing things that are already explained to you if you watch hard enough.

Ravek018 on Jul 21, 2010


I agree with Vultures theory. In fact thats what I was thinking the minute i left the theatre.

Al on Jul 21, 2010


@Big John, sorry dude but you're wrong. They were in Fischer's subconscious, but the dreamers were different for each level. That is why Yusef stayed in his dream(The van), then Arthur in his(Hotel), and Eames in the third level. Also, his Father was in Paris, not The U.S when Cobb meets Ariadne. Watch it again you'll see. Oh yeah and the whole movie is NOT a dream, Why were there scenes with just Arthur and Ariadne if it was all Cobb's dream? If it was in fact all a dream, Mal would have shown up constantly and ruined everything, like in the beginning. Also, Cobb's subconscience would have been attacking everyone else, not chasing him through Mumbassa.

theotherbluth on Jul 21, 2010


I think he was in reality, and you can't prove me wrong, just like I can't prove you wrong.

Xerxex on Jul 21, 2010


@14 Big John was going to say it myself but read#22 The only problem I have with the chart is calling level 5 limbo. I thought u had to die in one of the stages to reach limbo under that much sedation. But leo and ellen just got hooked up and went in. Were they able to go right into limbo beacuse hes already been there before? Also in the movie if someone can explain, leo said they grew old together and it showed them old holding hands but when the train hits them they were young. Did it just show them young because leo was telling ellen what happened and never mentioned how long they were there and she can only picture them as how shes seen them. Maybe I just answered my own question lol

Hale18 on Jul 21, 2010


oh also level 4 is wrong. Its fishers dream and not eames. They said that in the movie so he can break into his safe even though fisher thought it was berengers dream.

Hale18 on Jul 21, 2010


Just face it everybody Chris Nolan did his job the way he intended to and that is INCEPTION. He Incepted all of us (planting an idea in our heads) with the smallest thing like the totem (spinning and about to fall at the end) to make us keep talking about the movie for years to come.

trixster on Jul 21, 2010


@ BIG JOHN I like your thinking but BIG JOHN your #4 point that your trying to make is rediculous. His father dosent teach in the US, Nolan made that a point to spell out in the film. I think you do have a valid possibility of it being a dream and i like that, though IMO its obviously not a dream. See it again.

Travis on Jul 21, 2010


@Ravek018 & trixster: i agree with both of you, good posts. Nolan did his thing here. The basic plot of the film is that they are trying to plant an idea in this guys head, right? we can all agree on that. Nolan, simply put, did that to everyone who saw the film. is that cool or what? he planted the possibilities and its up to us to figure out, our choice. the idea sticks or it doesnt. I personally love the vaild points of this being all a dream but there are way too many valid points that say the whole film is not a dream. Look at cobbs wedding ring, when is it on and when is it off? yes we didnt see the totem fall, how many old horror movies have you seen where it never show the killer actually stabbing someone? alot. does that mean they didnt get stabbed? no. it was falling hands down like 6:30. but what was interesting is that the kids have the same cloths on, and they seem like they are the same age so that raises red flags. why did nolan do that? why are they in the same cloths? to create more talk, to make us think and question things. society doesnt question things enough. he could have made that ending cut and dry and this still would be the masterpiece it is, but he didnt to make us ask these questions (and to see it again lol).

Travis on Jul 21, 2010


I have to say after reading some of the actors take on the film and they say the ending is reality in there opinion then ill take it as that. Thats what i thought from the beginning. I do agree #28 how nolan did an inception on us which is brilliant

Hale18 on Jul 21, 2010


I find it amazing how a movie can provoke such thought in people. I haven't watched something that's got me thinking is so long. I don't care if the top stopped or not, the fact that a movie was able to move me that much is the best satisfaction I've gotten from the theaters in a long time.

Sabes on Jul 21, 2010


Cobb is inmate #528491 in an insane asylum on Shutter Island

Leo on Jul 21, 2010


"PI IS EXACTLY THREE!!!" (with apologies to Professor Frink) Now you've all stopped arguing - what the hell did Maurice (Pete Postlethwaite's character) say to Cillian Murphy's character at the end? I couldn't make it out... Thanks, and I'm enjoying the postings and thoughts that have been generated here nd elsewhere, ta for bringing them together. AND THE TOP FELL 😉

Mike Kingscott on Jul 21, 2010


For me there are two possibilities which Nolan left for us to decide: 1-Cobbs conscious was real, Moll did kill herself, and he really got back to his kids at the end. 2-It was all a dream which Moll successfully escaped from, Cobb was happy to stay in the dream with fake kids. As the film finished with the totem still spinning we are left to answer it ourselves, though there's no definite proof either way.

Jon on Jul 21, 2010


@#14 Big John, concerning Fischers extraction security, they're just projections of his subconscious. And we're told that no matter whose dreams it is, another persons projections can appear in them, i.e, Cobb's wife. Fischer's training allows his subconscious to determine when someone else is influencing his dreaming.

Yorick Brown on Jul 21, 2010


Nolan= Superman Leo=Bizarro

Boris on Jul 21, 2010


Ravek918 you actually have some good points.

Barfy mcbarfly on Jul 21, 2010


Cronenberg and eXistenZ anyone?

FlaWiio on Jul 21, 2010


I posted it before but what is the point of the kick in level 2 (the van falling), if all they had to do was wait out the timer? It's more obvious in chart form, why didn't they wake when the van hit the water?

Yorick Brown on Jul 21, 2010


Well, first of all, the film never specified how long Cobb was away from America. It could have been six months, a year, whatever. His children might not have looked that different. Also, people wear the same clothes more than once, so it's not improbable that his children would be wearing the same thing as his last memory of them. I think it was also a cinemagraphic technique to relate the contrast of the dream and reality. In the dream, he never saw the faces of his children. Why then, if at the end he was still dreaming, would he have seen their faces? What was the difference between one dream and another? Another thought: Cobb planted the idea into his wife's head that it was necessary to leave limbo, and to do so required death. However, he was so successful that when they returned to reality (or another layer of dream), she believed it to be a dream as well, one that again required their death to leave. If she was right, and she did return to reality after jumping (leaving him behind in a dream), the idea that he placed in her would still remain, and she would have killed herself again and died for good. This would leave Cobb inside a dream, with her dead in reality. I've a question. When Cobb and his wife delved into dreamland in their experiments, did Cobb go into his wife's dreams first, or was it the other way around? If he went into his wife's dreams first, than would the layers be Reality>Mal's Dreams>Cobb's dreams>Limbo? Or Reality>Cobb's dreams>Mal's dreams>Limbo? Or did they only enter one of their dreams before going to limbo? Is it strange that to die in a sedated dream send you to limbo, but Cobb and Mal had to die in limbo to get back up a layer? Did they die in a dream to reach limbo? To answer 24's question about limbo: To reach limbo, Cobb and Adriane (Ellen Page) hook up to Fischer, who has died and gone to limbo himself. Just a thought, but the idea of a totem is that it's an object that only you are familiar with, right? The problem is that Cobb uses his wife's totem, and thus one that could be constructed by her in a dream. So it's possible that, if Cobb actually did spend the entire time in a dream, it was actually one of his wife's construction, and because she knew the properties of the top as a totem, she could simulate it in a construction made for Cobb? I don't know if any of this is making sense, but this is what I've been thinking of since seeing the movie this afternoon.

CAGodwin on Jul 21, 2010


Was thinking the same thing #4 I don't think this film will pick up much at the Oscars except for technical stuff.

dom on Jul 22, 2010


saw inception last night,fucking amazing film.as for the ending i would like to believe that the totem fell & that he was seeing his children in a proper reailty & not in a dreamstate. oscar buzz,i think personally it should get it all best film,best director,best special effects,best actor,best actress,best surporting actor & actress. FILM OF THE YEAR.

deadpool72 on Jul 22, 2010


does the "intellectual discussion" on this movie boil down to "so was the last scene a dream or not?" oh,come on. overrated,half-baked sci-fi,although good entertainment.

twispious on Jul 22, 2010


I finally got a chance to see Inception last night! I was planning on seeing it at a midnight premiere, but due to extensive traveling, I was forced to delay my screening a few days. I've been following the coverage on this movie for the past 2 years, and it was most definitely everything I was hoping it was going to be. It definitely puts that final staple for Christopher Nolan onto the bulletin board of "favorite directors" for me. I love this movie entirely, and will get defensive over it. Just sayin.

Lacey on Jul 22, 2010


The end credits show 2 sets of kids playing Cobbs children meaning we should be seeing them at two different ages.

Craig on Jul 22, 2010


every news outlet is trying to explain what inception means (there's a good list here: http://www.themarknews.com/articles/1910-inception-explained). bottom line: all this coverage in the news & amazing ticket sales are evidence that somewhat smart blockbuster movies are actually what audiences WANT, not fluffy romantic comedy b.s. kudos to nolan.

mar1080 on Jul 22, 2010


hahha its so good to see people arguing over the points of a movie again.

doomcanoe on Jul 22, 2010


Either level one was always a dream. or When Cobb and Saito "hoot themselves" (because the audience never actually sees this) the awake in a different dream. How you say this is so? Well the kick that wakes everyone else one level 4,3, and 2 never woke them up! There fore they are not in reality. Then at the end of the film when Cobb is reunited with his children, the children are young and seen the same way as in his projections. Earlier in the film we hear his daughter's voice and son's voice, while in reality one, which from the sound of the kids sound much older than the projections. Then the giver that verifies this is that the totem keeps spinning for ever. tan tan tan ..... !!!! my two cents 😛

DaftPUNKFAN on Jul 22, 2010


I think that Cobb & Mal were in limbo and they put there heads on the train track, although theygot a kick to bring them back to reality they had been in limbo that long that Cobb's brain was set so every time he went into his own or someone elses dreams he went back to his limbo straight away (as limbo is a dream space that can be shared and you create it when your there and that’s why the girl could see his limbo when she went down in the lift)and that he actually only came out of limbo when he let go of his wife it broke the limbo loop (the loop of going through the same pain and argument with his wife and not seeing his Childrens faces)

CMQ on Jul 23, 2010


omg. i was just re watching inception and figured it out. I support this theory: http://www.chud.com/articles/articles/24477/1/NEVER-WAKE-UP-THE-MEANING-AND-SECRET-OF-INCEPTION/Page1.html which vaguely stated that inception was all a dream. And while re-watching I found indisputable proof. Ok here is it: I noticed this after the dream in a dream and after the train scene. Its when Cobb is in a hotel room by himself in what seems to us to be the real world for the rest of the movie but in fact is a dream because in the scene where Cobb is alone in a hotel room and then takes out this totem for the first time and begins to spin it. What happens to the totem is proof that the real world we believe in the movie is a dream. ok here is it: Cobb spins the totem and it spins counter clockwise then as it slows down naturally and begins to spin on its side it suddenly changes rotation and spins the other way and then the scene cuts. It hardly noticeably the first I watched it. -Igor P.S someone needs to make a youtube video of this scene.

igor on Jul 23, 2010


My issue is this. So they are doing all of this in an AIRPLANE??? If anyone flew from Europe to USA over 8 or 9 hours, and in the movie they say its 10 hours flight.. And the drugs have been specifically made that you wake up when you loose or sense loss of gravity.. well, they would have been awaken probably into the first hour of the flight. No freakin' way you can fly for 10 hours without some light turbulence. When they were testing the drugs, people woke up just by falling off the chair.

itsME on Jul 23, 2010


#50 spin a totem like cobbs and see what it does. of course its spins the other way when it hits the sides its called physics. trust me just get a top like cobbs and try it. lmfao

wowwee on Jul 23, 2010


#50 go here to see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFmSIdtCois

wowwee on Jul 23, 2010


Great reference list of Inception sites. One of my favorites was one I came across that deconstructed a lot of the character's names. It's interesting stuff. http://listofnow.com/arts-culture/movies/playfully-deconstructing-inception/

Darcy Garrett on Jul 23, 2010


Just wondering... Is it at all possible that Limbo is actually just another dream layer, and not actually limbo? That there possibly is no Limbo at all?

Josie on Jul 25, 2010


Why wasn't the loss of gravity carried forward to level 3 onwards? While "The kick" carried to all levels, gravity-loss was carried forward to only one level (from van chase to hotel).

Pankaj on Jul 26, 2010


The spinning totem was perfectly spinning in dream levels. And stopped spinning in reality. The final scene with the wobbley totem suggests that it is reality. Although we do not see it fall the unperfect spin would again suggest its reality. This is probably also the easiest way to leave with the happy ending conclusion. Their also could be some distrubance in the last scene if it was a dream level which would explain the un perfect spining of the totem. I thought the best scenes were with cobb and mal and the fighting/action scenes were pretty subpar . no way this gets a 10/10 rating. 8/10 from me.

filmfan111 on Jul 27, 2010


Cobb walked away from the Totem before it fell because he no longer needed it to validate his reality. Seeing his children's faces (something he was NEVER able to do in his dreams) was proof enough to him that he was in reality. So as the audience, WE didn't need to see the totem fall. That in itself if the beauty of the ending.

sweetye on Jul 27, 2010


The top is Mal's totem not Dom's. What does this mean?

Totempole on Jul 28, 2010


Regardless, if Moll had indeed moved on to reality when she had kicked (jumping off the building) she would have woken up beside a SLEEPING COBB. Would she not then hook herself up and shoot him in the head? Forcefully jumping him either back into reality or one level above herself. The fact is Moll died. Plain and simple. No way in or around that fact. Unless she took her sweet ass time to go hook up and go back and save Cobb. In which case she is a complete waste of time anyways, and to the extent that they were in love seems impossible. Cobb was in reality. If he was not his wife would have come back for him and jumped him, or in the MULTIPLE kicking scenes he would be jolted back to reality 🙂 There is a fix for your minds

Reason on Jul 28, 2010


I also kept in mind the fact that every level increases the time you can remain, i.e ( level 1 5 minutes means level 2 you are in there for an hour. Even if this time lapse would be a counter to my argument the show ran over days and days, once again falling back to the principle that no wife that loved her husband that much and was actually one level above him either in reality or another dream state would leave him sleeping for that long without coming back to KICK him.

Reason on Jul 28, 2010


I think the truth is pretty simple - Christopher Nolan wanted to leave the ending uncertain, so the top stutters but does not fall before the end credits. While that certainly stirs up conversation and adds to the buzz about the movie, the truth is that's not very deep and is kind of a heavy-handed device. That said, because the top fell earlier in the top level, if I thought there was complete logical consistency to the movie it would have to be real. If Nolan really wanted to leave the ending up in the air, he should have made DiCaprio always stop it before it fell and just say that it falls in reality. The only other logically consistent possibility (assuming the totem works the way he says it does) is that someone slipped him into a deeper dream sometime between when the top fell and the end, but that would mean Mal was still dead.

Dave on Jul 28, 2010


SPOILER ALERT*****SPOILER ALERT********SPOILER ALERT*********** READ ONLY IF YOU SEEN IT OR DON'T CARE ABOUT KNOWING. Well I just got done watching it for the second time and now I might have to see it again to answer some more questions that I found and have had answered. First for the person that asked about the Totem, yes it was Moll's and she locked it away so that she wouldn't know for sure that where she and Cobb were was a dream for sure. After she died he (Cobb) took it and made it his. And we saw this after the first dream state in which he was in the hotel and it the top didn't stop he was going to put a bullet in his head. A question rose about how do you know whose dream you are in, for me it made sense that who & how the person connected to the machine was the dreamer. Meaning like in a computer which is the master and slave depends on how the connections are placed. This meaning that the lead dreamer would be wearing the master lead on their wrist, and everyone else would be in series to the dreamer. Some have brought up that in his dreams that Cobb wore a wedding ring and when he wasn't dreaming he didn't have one on. But here is the one question that came up after so many others were answered, remember when they first met the chemist? Cobb asked let's see what you can do, and he was throwing water on himself? First the test of the drug would be to see how deep I am assuming which would mean a dream within a dream. So when Cobb woke up he was washing his face, he tried to spin the top. But he never did to make sure he was awake. So was he really awake after that dream or like the old man said to them they come here to be woken up. Another point brought up was that when they (Moll & Cobb) were lying on the train track they were both young. Well at the end when he told her that they did grow old together that the two pair of hands holding each other at the train was coming were old hands. Meaning that she (Moll) didn't remember that, because she was trapped there as Cobb's dream or memory. And finally as I said I just seen it and so the final two answers that I had were the children real or not and the spinning top. There are those that said the child are wearing different clothes at the end, and yes they are. And as for the top even though you don't see it stop spinning you hear it start to wobble. And as for the kick to bring them back remember if you die in the dream, even in limbo you wake up.

PirateDan on Jul 28, 2010


Re the levels guide above, I think the snow fortress is Fischer's dream and not Eames' as I seem to remember Eames musing on why he couldn't have dreamt up a warmer location (apologies if it wasn't Eames who said this).

Andy on Jul 29, 2010


Is it me or Cobb's kids always have the same clothing on and also didnt they sound older on the phone?

Dave on Jul 29, 2010


#64 Fischer was complaining that they didn't dream up a beach instead

az on Jul 29, 2010


confirmed based on the credits from IMDB Claire Geare ... Phillipa (3 years) Magnus Nolan ... James (20 months) Taylor Geare ... Phillipa (5 years) Johnathan Geare ... James (3 years)

Dave on Jul 29, 2010


OK so I had to see it again to try and figure some more things that were brought up here and other places. Now if you look up above at my first post, I was watching for specific things the second time. But this time I paid more attention to the things that were being said. And it struck me odd that people were saying the same thing over and over again. For an example Saito, on the helicopter asked Cobb to take a leap of faith. The same line was repeated by Mal when she was on the hotel ledge before she jumped. Having said that one could say that it was all a dream, because if a person is having one as you seen with Fischer. His projection of his uncle repeated what was said to him in an upper level. But having said all this is it still a dream or was the ending real. All I know is that in the final dream we see Cobb & Mal together she dies, which in a dream means you have finally worked out the problem that has been bothering you. And I do give credit to the writing and keeping things consistent, after the first dream we see Cobb say he is getting off at Kyoto. Asked why because he hates trains, it was a train that killed him and Mal in limbo and there was one that ran down the center of the street in first level of Fischer's dream.

PirateDan on Aug 1, 2010


Concerning the ending, I think he had woken up. A few comments here mention the fact that his children don't seem to have aged. But we do know how long it has been since he last saw them: it could be 3 years, or 3 months. Also, from the scene where he speaks to them on phone, one of them asks about their mother, implying that it has not been that long since she died. Then again, this would all be invalidated if the entire story was an inception in an inception.

Nahabi on Aug 2, 2010


Just seen the movie. Majorly perplexed - although here are my thoughts. 1. Notice how when Leo and wife get hit by train to come back to reality it's only her who sits up. and...... 2. When Leo's relaying to someone (sorry can't remember) about what went on with him and his wife's dream world, it's during that time (dream time) that she becomes pregnant and moves into that house!!!! As in she got pregnant in dreamland and not reality!! Oh and just had another thought. Doesn't this movie have a similar ending as Basic Ending? The point is that maybe we're not supposed to have a definite yes or no revelation? Anyway who cares! Leo's a total babe and does any movie justice!!

LisaPisa on Aug 8, 2010


whoops! Basic Instinct! Sorry need sleep now.

LisaPisa on Aug 8, 2010


P.S Maybe the movie should have been called "Conception?" LOL.

LisaPisa on Aug 8, 2010


The Inception was made to Cobb. The inception of the film is the moment when the seed was left in his mind. He then believes he is dreaming since the beginning which then make he finally believes that when he woke up in the plane he is in the reality. The Architect (Ariadne) is the key. She is a lot more skilled than Cobb, she knows how to manage gravity (so the totem) and made Cobb and all spectator believe that the inception mission to Fischer was the reality. Observe also that Ariadne learned a lot about Cobb’s psychology and Limbo, she is the only one allowed or that had succeeded to enter his Limbo so whenever she got that she would be able to architect the “reality” Cobb was looking for.

Architect on Aug 10, 2010


Very good explanation. I have a few theories and ideas of my own regarding the whole concept of inception as well as limbo that I have posted on my blog, check them out and see if you agree.

Inception Ending Explained on Aug 11, 2010


Limbo will last forever if not strong minded. But it will take time to break free if the mind is strong to break itself from the barriers within. the age in Dreams is much faster then the time it is perceived in Real life. therefore the kids are still the same age, and y the same day since 10 hours can be 1 week and 1 week in second stage can be 6 months, and that 6 months can be 10 years. . . and then you hit LIMBO that could be infinite. The "Dream" is the "TRUTH", the Truth that he holds insides his dreams which is locked up and held with deep sorrow and unforgiveness. The "Reality" is the "REGRET", Regretting is only as real as the dream. When the truth of denying is revealed is when a man will forgive his regrets to make better for one self. This movie made me come to my senses of a few things i still try to understand. But quite Honestly, i am stuck in my own Limbo of Regrets.. Alot of truth in one movie.

Bill kim on Aug 16, 2010


Inception's ranked the third best film on IMDB's top 250 list. But do you really think it deserves the spot? You can't really judge ANYTHING by IMDB's list. Read this artcile on Inception and about IMDB's list being bogus: http://cinematicjackass.wordpress.com/2010/08/16/on-inception-and-imdbs-top-250-list-being-total-crap/

Uploader on Aug 16, 2010


As Cobb has spent so long inside the dream world, like Mal said, "You don't believe in one reality anymore." There are similarities the whole way through the film between dream and reality, and I think this is just to show how dream and reality have merged for Cobb. Whether the totem fell over or not, Cobb has accepted that he has come home to HIS reality. He believes it to be real, so for him it is. That's my interpretation anyway 🙂

Harriet on Aug 20, 2010


This movie is definitely the best movie of the year....but one thing I didn't understand about the movie: how cobb and Saito got out of limbo in the end? If they simply shot themselves as said above, it won't make any sense since if u can get out of limbo by just killing urself (as Cobb and his wife did before), why would they be so concerned when someone is killed in this dream and go there (the sedation isn't that strong once ur there?).I just thought that the machine shut off because there was no time left and they woke up. Second, If u remember that before they went for their mission, Ariadne wasn't going to be part of the team at first but she is the architect: how can she design the dream if she isn't in it? And finally in the shared dream we see the subconscious projections of the target (a.k.a Fisher jr.) and also Moll which is Cobb' projection but no subsconsious projections of the others were seen. I thought at first that only the target's subconsious will be in the dream since it is invited to it, but why is Cobb's subconsious always appearing (a.k.a Moll)? At # 14, Fisher didn't dream any of those dreams. the chart is correct at this subject. And Fisher's subconsious was dragged toward the dream whish is designed by the architect and conducted by the dreamer.

mk on Aug 25, 2010


To add to my final question I know that cobb has deep issues in his subconsious that he can no longer control but my question is where is the dreamer's subconsious and the subconsious of the others.

mk on Aug 25, 2010


I disagree with the graphic "The 5 Levels of Inception" at the top of this page. For Limbo Level 5 it states "Cobb & Saito shoot themselves". This would not get Saito out of Limbo and would put Cobb into Limbo. They were using the powerful drug that that they could only be awoken from with a kick. So how did they get out of Level 5 as they missed all the planned kicks? Remember that Ariadne knew that Cobb would get out if he went after Saito. She said so just before she jumped off the building in Level 4 for her kick. Was this just wishful thinking? I dont think so. So what did she know that nobody else did? Much was made of the mazes in dreams and when things started getting tight at the snow fortress, Cobb (I think) asked the architect where the short cut / bypass was. It was the ventilation duct. In the same way, Cobb had designed into his dream a short cut or bypass. But this was a vertical bypass, to move between dream levels. Ariadne had been in it - the elevator. So Cobb took Saito by the hand, led him down onto the beach (which is where the elevator was) and they rode the elevator back to Level 1.

Brendan on Aug 30, 2010


Sorry, Ariadne, kicked out of Level 5, not 4.

Brendan on Aug 30, 2010


This is a great film. Nolan never dissapoints. He makes you think a lot, but i think i figured it out. the ending: It was real, Cobb was really home with his kids. You have to remember that the spinning top was his wife's totum. And when she died, yes, he took it. But he didnt make it his totum. Cobb's totum, was his wedding band. He said, that when he was in Inception, he wouldn't be wearing his ring. So when he was dreaming, if he wasn't wearing his ring, he was dreaming. Thats how he knew.. So if you notice, when he's in inception, he's not wearing his wedding band. and at the end of the film when he spins the top, it had to eventually stop, cause he was clearly wearing his wedding band.

Mr. Big on Sep 13, 2010


Here may be an answer to an issue raised by Panjak (#56). "Why wasn't the loss of gravity carried forward to level 3 onwards? While "The kick" carried to all levels, gravity-loss was carried forward to only one level (from van chase to hotel)." Pankaj on Jul 26, 2010 I think a sense of falling, not a loss of gravity, would cause a kick. Remember how the kick was administered manually by tipping sleeping people over. The acceleration caused by tipping over, or falling, will cause the subject's inner ear to tell them to wake up. The weightlessness of the second level is caused by the dreamer (Arthur) falling with the van in the first level of the dream. Because the team "missed" the first kick of the van crashing over the bridge, the freefall will cause Arthur and his dream world to experience weightlessness. But because Eames was not falling (only experiencing weightless) in Arthur's dream, he will not experience weightlessness in his own dream (third ice fortress level). In conclusion, a feeling of falling (or accelerating) is not the same as the feeling of weightlessness (no acceleration). Thus one dreamer could be falling, the second dreamer in the next level could be experiencing the first dreamer's weightlessness, and the dreamer in the next level won't feel anything because his inner ear cannot feel the acceleration caused by falling (because he isn't!) If my explanation was too confusing, please ask me via email! Just mention this website and inception, and I will try to explain more clearly ^^ at ... (Nervouskull at hotmail dot com) This is to deter spammers 🙂 Source: Me (University Physics student), and my intuition :P.

Kent on Sep 22, 2010


"Manifestation of the Realm", is the Realisation that Time is Reality; from which Existence is the Dream State. RJDart

RJDart on Sep 23, 2010


I just watched Inception and is an AMAZING movie! I believe that he was really home because his son was talking, a three year old is a lot more articulate then a 21 month old.

Erin on Dec 14, 2010


My biggest question on the movie is: Their plan to perform the inception in Fischer’s mind was one and it was altered when they got into the first level and discovered that Fischer had a defense. And what were the consequences of the defense? Accelerate their plan to do the inception and get out as fast as they can. But the point is: since they were sedated and the machine that put them all together in the dream as a timer, rushing the plan just would not help… They would finish the job faster and them what? Sit and wait for the sedative/dream machine to end? What I mean is: the time they would be supposed to spend/stay in the dream was set from the outside, from the machine in the plane, was not set by them who are inside the dream. And then an unexpected problem in the dream (Fischer’s defense) changed their plan and they set a new time to stay in the dream from inside?

Joao Leal on Dec 25, 2010

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