********Inception Spoiler Thread **********

Discussion in 'Entertainment Forum' started by Raoul, Jul 17, 2010.

  1. Jul 21, 2010
    #81

    The_Red_Hope Full Member

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    ******************** INCEPTION THEORIES ********************

    From a popular movie blog -

    Interpretation 1: All of Inception is a dream.(Note: This is the Inception theory to which I subscribe.)

    We are never once shown reality. Every frame of Inception is a dream. Whose dream? My money is on Cobb, though it is conceivable that Cobb is simply the subject and that he is in someone else's dream (see Interpretation 3 and 4 below).

    There are a number of key elements throughout the film - lines of dialog shared amongst the characters (Mal and Saito both tell Cobb to take a "leap of faith", Cobb predicts what Saito will say in limbo), acceptance of improbable events during segments of "reality" (Saito saving Cobb in Mombasa) - that support the notion that everything is a dream, but for me it all comes down to a simple question: What is our totem? We learn very early on that the one unimpeachable way to know whether or not you're in a dream world or the real world is to test your totem; an item whose behavior only a single individual can identify and predict. In the case of Cobb, it's his wife's spinning top. Arthur's is a single loaded dice. Ariadne's is a precisely weighted chess piece. But what is the audience's totem?

    What event in Inception is the audience aware of that no one else can know? There isn't one. There's no point in which reality is clearly and unimpeachably established. The film opens in a dream sequence (Saito's limbo) before transitioning to another dream sequence (Saito's dinner party), which then slides into another dream (Saito's secret apartment). The characters supposedly awaken from that last dream sequence aboard a Japanese train, this presumably being our first glance at reality, but one must ask how the characters arrived from the apartment to the train. There's no visual transition; no shot of "tunneling" from one reality to another. One second we're one place, a second later we're somewhere else, but can you remember how we got there? No, because we're never shown it; we're never shown the awakening process that bridges the two. And not being able to identify specifically how you got from point A to point B is clearly established within the film as a sign that you are in a dream.

    That transition, if it existed, would be the audience's totem; it would be the one thing we can cling to, whose behavior we can understand intimately and always predict. By not giving the audience a totem of their own, Nolan has flat out made it impossible to ever anchor any portion of the film as being real versus being a dream.

    Now, that's not to say that the movie is ruined if everything is a dream. It doesn't negate the emotional breakthrough that Cobb goes through, which is ultimately what the film is about. In fact, everything being a dream is the ace up Inception'ssleeve: if it's all a fantasy, then there can be no plot holes; the lack of deep characterizations for anyone other than Cobb can be chalked up to the fact that they are all his projections and thus do not require rich histories or distinguishable character arcs. It's basically a catch-all safety net for any complaints registered against Inception's narrative.


    Interpretation 2: Everything after Cobb's sedation test is a dream.
    If you do not require an "audience totem" to prove that the Japanese train sequence is our first glimpse of reality, then the first moment in the film that begins to shred the line between the dream world and the real world is Cobb's test of Yusuf's custom-made sedation chemicals. After hearing tale of how potent of a mix it is, Cobb goes under to see for himself. After "waking up" we see Cobb in the bathroom, splashing his face with cold water and then spinning his totem. However, he's interrupted before he/us can see whether or not the top falls over.

    He then sees Mal through curtains reflected in the mirror. It's presumed that this is one of the early signs that Cobb is losing his grip on what's real and what isn't, but if you combine his impossible vision with the lack of confirmation that the totem behaved as it should and it is conceivable that everything that follows his sedation test is a dream.

    If that's the case though, what's the benefit of such a "twist" from Nolan's standpoint? It has no real bearing on the overall story and is thus a less-logical intent than if Nolan had scripted that the entirety of the film is a dream.
  2. Jul 21, 2010
    #82

    The_Red_Hope Full Member

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    Interpretation 3: Saito is the architect, pulls a Mr. Charles on Cobb.
    Much has been discussed of deciphering what actually happened in Inception by identifying the layers of reality, but little has been said toward identifying character motivation. Ultimately there are only two characters who have objective-based motivations, Cobb and Saito. Everyone else is either in it for the money or the experience. From this viewpoint alone, everything is either based on Cobb's reality or on Saito's.

    Cobb is under the impression that Saito hires him and his team to plant an idea into the mind of a rival corporation, and in turn Saito will arrange for his legal troubles to be cleared away and that he'll once again be able to live happily with his children. We are then under the assumption that the inception being performed is on Cobb's target, Fischer. However, it's not entirely illogical that everything that happens in the film is actually Saito's doing.

    It makes some sense if you look at the first three dreams (Saito's limbo, dinner party and apartment) as being orchestrated not by Cobb, but by Saito. He's aware that the Cobol corporation has hired Cobb to steal the information regarding a new plant's opening, so half-way through their attempt to do so, Saito actually pulls a variant of Mr. Charles on Cobb by telling them that he knew about their plans all along, that he knows he is dreaming, and that it was all really just an audition for them to work for him instead. Informing them that they failed the audition plants the initial seed of inception in Cobb's mind; that there is a surefire way he can get home to his children. It is that belief that comes to define Cobb for the rest of the film.

    Remember, Cobb believes that inception can work if the idea is born out of a desire for reconciliation. In his case, it's his desire to reconcile with his children that motivates him to accept Saito's challenge of planting the company-dissolving idea in Fischer's subconscious. We can assume that Saito really does want to break up this potential energy superpower, but, other than honor, what reason does he have to make Cobb a free man again? Instead of paying to have Cobb's record completely erased from government records, wouldn't it be cheaper to just create a course of action that leaves Cobb in limbo until his brain scrambles?

    It's a stretch, no doubt, and I don't personally think that's what Nolan intended, but there is select evidence causing people to believe this is the case. The most crucial support for this theory being Cobb's trip to Mombasa, which is when A) Saito improbably saves the day by pulling up in a car right when Cobb needs him the most (this last-minute save being a real world continuation of the Saito-Mr. Charles gambit) and B) where Saito interrupts Cobb's post-sedation bathroom trip, where his appearance coincides with Cobb's hallucination/aborted confirmation that he has returned to reality, thus planting the seeds that will eventually lead to Cobb's decision to stay in limbo.


    Interpretation 4: Ariadne is the architect/Cobb's therapist.
    Hal Phillips' theory that Ariadne is Cobb's therapist and that the real objective of the film isn't to give Fischer an emotional breakthrough, it's to subvert Cobb's deep, deep layers of guilt over causing Mal's death, is even flimsier than Saito as the architect, but it is an intriguing one. I'd recommend reading the full theory right here, but I've extracted the two key paragraphs below to explain generally what is at play:

    Ariadne presents her dream-self to Cobb as someone who will become his confidant. Because she is a neophyte, he can trust her. Because she relies on his guidance, he is not threatened by her. Because she is a prodigy, she can swiftly "learn" everything she needs to know without contradicting the above. And she is recommended to Cobb by Cobb's mentor and father figure; we are told later that someone's relationship with their father informs the path to their subconscious.

    ...

    On level 5, Mal shoots Fischer. The film portrays this as a huge problem that can potentially strand everybody in limbo. Not true! It was all part of the plan. Cobb had to believe that his irrational refusal to accept his wife's death had led to disaster, making his problem as urgent as possible. This is achieved when his refusal to shoot Mal, even though he knows she's not real, leads to her shooting Fischer and endangering everybody. The stakes are finally high enough so that Cobb has both a reason to go one level deeper and a reason to sort his problems out, once and for all. (At the very start of level 5, Cobb wonders what's there for Fischer, and Ariadne says "what's there for you?")
    It's an interesting proposal, that's for sure, but I don't think there's any evidence that this is Nolan's intention; that Ariadne is monitoring Cobb's dreams (everything before she arrives) and then selectively inserts herself at all the key moments to usher him toward the idea that he is capable of letting go of Mal. Also, Cobb being inmate #528491 in an insane asylum is just too much of a stretch (though it is pretty funny).
  3. Jul 21, 2010
    #83

    The_Red_Hope Full Member

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    Interpretation 5: We do see reality during the film, but Cobb is still in a dream at the end of the film.

    I suspect this is one of the most common interpretations of Inception: That the moments that are most likely reality are, in fact, reality (the train ride, Cobb's time in Paris/Mombasa, the plane ride), but at the end of the film Cobb's totem keeps spinning forever, meaning that after he freed himself of Mal's guilt he was finally able to live happily in a dream state where he could be with his family once again.

    The biggest piece of evidence supporting this theory is that Cobb's children do not have appeared to have aged a single day since he last saw them. They may even be wearing the exact same clothes, though I'd have to see the film again to confirm this myself (can anyone recall?). We're never told how long Cobb is on the run, but presumably it's for a long-enough period of time that he has exhausted all possible ways of re-entering the country or convincing his children's grandmother-turned-guardian to bring them out of the United States. At their young age, even a year or two of Cobb's absence should bring noticeable growth when he finally sees them "up there", but the change just isn't apparent enough.




    Interpretation 6: We do see reality during the film and Cobb is in reality at the end of the film.
    If we ignore never being shown how we transition from dream to reality and back again (the audience's totem), then we can accept that the implied moments of reality are indeed reality. What evidence do we have, then, to suggest that the top falls over moments after Nolan cuts to black? Ultimately very little, unfortunately.

    The only evidence we're really given is the slight wobble the top develops right before the cut. But until a physicist whose expertise is calculating torque and rotational momentum examines the footage shown and calculates whether it's about to topple over, that's not solid-enough evidence. We can ignore the curious lack of aging in his children, though, simply because Nolan never establishes a time frame between Cobb's departure and return. It's not likely, but it's also not impossible that it's been only a matter of months.

    So, really, we have to take this particular interpretation all on a leap of faith...
  4. Jul 21, 2010
    #84

    Bilbo Full Member

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    Doubt Nolan will make one, but I think it has massive sequel potential.
  5. Jul 21, 2010
    #85

    DouLou Full Member

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    So did The Matrix...
  6. Jul 21, 2010
    #86

    CassiusClaymore Full Member

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    :lol: That's bollocks to be fair. Do you really need to be a physicist to tell that the top is about to fall over? Of course not. There's the visual evidence and the fact that you can hear it after it cuts to black.

    Then there's the ring evidence....

    Sounds like this guy is just trying overthink it so that it fits his interpretation of the movie....

    Eh? The apartment was a dream. He says that in his first sentence then questions how they arrived from the apartment to the train in the next one. Err...well they woke up didn't they.

    Clearly confusing himself.
  7. Jul 21, 2010
    #87

    DouLou Full Member

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    He really does gloss over the ending which makes the most sense in terms of the narrative and evidence that supports it... It's a lot easier to sound convincing by drawing on complex and obscure meanings rather than choosing the simple explanation.

    I don't want to sound like I don't appreciate speculation and debate about Inception... It's just that particular post seems a bit bias towards some explanations.
  8. Jul 21, 2010
    #88

    CassiusClaymore Full Member

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    None of your business mate
    Absobloodyexactly. I'm all for a film making you think and stimulating debate well after you've seen it and in this case I think that's what Nolan clearly intended but the ending that makes the most sense is that he's back in reality.
  9. Jul 21, 2010
    #89

    DouLou Full Member

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    I really don’t like the everything is a dream theory. I mean I get that a movie like this is going to lead to some wild theories.. but does EVERYTHING need to be a dream? Is the Director meant to pop up and categorically state that we are now in the real world? Come on… This argument is all ‘If you can’t prove me wrong then maybe I’m right’ except it lacks any actual evidence. It’s like arguing with someone who believes in reincarnation or some other concept.. yes it can’t be disproved but it’s not like any proof is being provided for it either. The whole ‘Audiences totem’ thing is a bit naff.

    I think the two strongest theories - or really the only ones that I find logical - are either it's all reality and the end is reality, or it's all reality up until the last scene; implying that maybe Cobb was never able to escape purgatory for the second time. But once again I don't like this theory... The post states that it doesn't effect Cobbs emotional breakthrough if it's all a dream, well yes it does, because he doesn't have an emotional breakthrough if he is willing to accept the false reality of his children.
  10. Jul 21, 2010
    #90

    Bilbo Full Member

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    Incomparable in my opinion. The Matrix still had a story arc to follow after the original, whereas Inception has effectively wrapped itself up. I could see more films could be made simply using different 'jobs' though.

    They obviously wouldn't pack the punch of the original in terms of the audience learning about this new idea of Inception, but on the other hand the only slightly negative feeling I had about the movie (and I should add that it didn't take anything away from how good it was) was that it wasn't what I was expecting to see before I went in there, which was a lot more dream manipulation similar to the Ariadne mirror scene near the beginning.

    Its actually a tribute to the movie that it managed to tell its story convincingly without overdoing that, but I think it leaves a lot of potential for future 'job' ideas. Its unlikely to happen of course, but then this is Nolans baby and he might choose to revisit it one day.
  11. Jul 21, 2010
    #91

    Bilbo Full Member

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    Agree. Its classic internet over-analysis. It looked to me like the totem had clearly begun to slow at the end, and it was more of a cheeky 'had you there for a moment, didn't I?' wink by Nolan.

    The one scene that makes me pause on that is the squeezing between the walls scene that has been mentioned. It seemed unusual and out of place at the time I was watching, and on reflection it was clearly put there for a reason, although most likely simply to give the analysers something to feed on.
  12. Jul 21, 2010
    #92

    jveezy Fo' shizzle

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    I can see that potential there, but I don't know how well it would work for more movies.

    A tv show might be worth a shot though. Although I could see it getting repetitive after a while.
  13. Jul 21, 2010
    #93

    Uncle Junior Banned

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    Did you offer him an aspirin?
    How great was that scene where Arthur is being chased on the stairs and he ends up behind the bad guy (where after getting to the end of stairs, he climbs back to the start)! :drool:
  14. Jul 21, 2010
    #94

    GE Captain Rio

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    Just got back from the cinema. Very good movie, although It was very confusing at times.

    I need to watch it again. I'm off to search for a download link!
  15. Jul 21, 2010
    #95

    ha_rooney Full Member

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    Good film. The first 30 minutes were confusing, but after you get a basic understanding of what is going on, you actually enjoy it.
  16. Jul 21, 2010
    #96

    Cold_Boy Banned

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    Imo he is still in a dream at the end.
  17. Jul 21, 2010
    #97

    GE Captain Rio

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    That's what I thought, as the thingybob didn't stop spinning.
  18. Jul 21, 2010
    #98

    Spoony The People's President

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    Zidane is clearly a greater footballer than Missi.
    Unless the thingybob had no bearing on reality or dreamworld.
  19. Jul 21, 2010
    #99

    Raoul Administrator

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    Just came back from watching it again. This time I left with the distinct impression that he was in reality. The only reason Nolan decided to cut to credits before revealing whether it stopped spinning or not was to create yet more abstract misdirection in people's minds as they left the theater pondering what the hell just happened. For me, this is a non sequel movie that ended with Cobb reuniting with his kids in reality, while successfully causing audiences to question the subjective nature of the ending.
  20. Jul 21, 2010

    Spoony The People's President

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    Zidane is clearly a greater footballer than Missi.
    Did you actually do that? did you think. . .'wow, let me pinch myself, I wonder if I'm dreaming?'.
  21. Jul 21, 2010

    Raoul Administrator

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    Not sure what you're talking about Spoons ? You ok ?
  22. Jul 21, 2010

    Alex Banned

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    He edited his post, Raoul was getting sappy there
  23. Jul 21, 2010

    Spoony The People's President

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    Zidane is clearly a greater footballer than Missi.
    :lol:

    Must be dreaming or sommat.
  24. Jul 22, 2010

    Mockney Not the only poster to be named Poster of the Year

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    Yep...Cineworld in Wandsworth reacted exactly like that.

    Personally, I think they should've had him confront his wife in the snow level, quicker, and then go into Limbo to find Watanabe, rather than dally for what seemed like ages right in the middle of an intense and immersive heist sequence, with a love story we didn't really care too much about, with a very one dimensional woman...

    It certainly would've made far more sense with the whole washing up on the shore thing/begining/ending bit - which we had ascertained was entering Limbo earlier on - rather than go into limbo to confront her (when it's never quite clear why she's there anyway since she's his projection and not a real person), then have a slightly contradictory bit about how easy it actually is to leave Limbo straight away...and then have him wash up on the beach again without ageing, despite already apparently actually being there to begin with and for just as long as Watanabe had been.
  25. Jul 30, 2010

    Bear Attack Full Member

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    Just back from watching it. I'm a tad confused...I thought the scene with the closing walls was a dream.
  26. Jul 30, 2010

    Garethw Full Member

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    I remember watching an episode of Batman the Animated Series from the 90's where Batman works out that he is being held captive in a dream world when he tries reading text and it just appears as gobble-de-gook. If i remember correctly once he awakes he tells the scarecrow that he knew he was dreaming as the brain uses one side for dreaming and the other side for reading, therefore meaning that it is impossible to read in a dream.

    Its a shit example but it backs up your point.
  27. Jul 30, 2010

    Spoony The People's President

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    Zidane is clearly a greater footballer than Missi.
    The words keep changing. . .when I re read them during dream-state. It's usually a good trigger but even then going lucid during deep sleep is virtually impossible. Looking at yourself in the mirror is another give away. . .you can't actually see your true reflection. . .and it's usually someone who doesn't quite look like you.
  28. Jul 30, 2010

    Bear Attack Full Member

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    That's pretty creepy.
  29. Aug 1, 2010

    Jaap Full Member

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    WOW. Just wow. Very impressed - Nolan's become my favourite director & Di Caprio was sublime.

    Make of the ending what you will, I thought it was the perfect way to end the film.
  30. Aug 1, 2010

    MG Full Member

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    Just throwing it out, but when I watched it, the bit at the end when you don't know if the thing (whatever it is) stops spinning or not made most of the audience in the cinema let out a bit of a collective grown, like 'Awwwwww ffs!'. Was quite funny that we all made the same noise at the same time.
  31. Aug 1, 2010

    Uncle Junior Banned

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    Did you offer him an aspirin?
    Awwww.
  32. Aug 1, 2010

    Raoul Administrator

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    A sequel would only be a let down, just as the Matrix sequels were.
  33. Aug 1, 2010

    Uncle Junior Banned

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    Did you offer him an aspirin?
    I don't where people see "sequel potential" in the movie. :confused: I doubt Nolan would even consider this even if the studios were up his ass about it.

    The Matrix had sequels because it a story to finish. Inception's sequel will be a piss-take. It's done; finished.
  34. Aug 1, 2010

    CassiusClaymore Full Member

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    There won't be a sequel no.

    There shouldn't have been any Matrix sequels either story or not.
  35. Aug 2, 2010

    GaryLifo Nice Bloke

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    I have a slight issue with his spinning top totem.

    We all know enough about physics to know that a spinning top will fall over eventually. Therefore anyone who has even seen that this is his totem would know that to trick him they just need to make it fall and stop spinning.

    The loaded die however is different as long as only the owner knew which number it had been set to fall upon.

    Or am I missing something?
  36. Aug 2, 2010

    Peasplease Full Member

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    You're spot on Gary. I think the decision to make the totem a spinner was done for the sake of other scenes, notably the end scene.
  37. Aug 2, 2010

    Jaap Full Member

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    Movie mistakes - goofs, bloopers, pictures, quotes and trivia from thousands of movies
  38. Aug 2, 2010

    gaz1185 Full Member

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    Was just about to post the same evidence myself. I originally believed the spinning top was starting to wobble and it wasn't a dream, but then a load of theorys started to pop up and I doubted this - probably exactly what the ending was aiming to do to us, make us doubt what was real and what wasn't.

    But after noticing on the full cast list here that two different age sets of children were used as Cobb's kids, i'm going to stick with my original thought! :)
  39. Aug 2, 2010

    CassiusClaymore Full Member

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    Yeah, I've seen that since (kids age thing).

    Could be that the kids on the phone were credited as the older ones though. Didn't think of that did ya? :smirk:

    Anyway, this is all moot now that we know that Michael Caine should've just took the kids abroad.

    Leo - "Michael, I need an achitect who can help design an elaborate dream world within a dream where I can plant an idea deep into the subconscious of a high powered businessman who's been trained to deal with mind rapists. If I do this very dangerous mission knowing that your daughter is still trapped deep in my subconscious and it all comes off without a hitch then Ken Watanabe has promised me that he can make a phone call and grant me a pardon back into the States so I can be with the kids."

    Caine - "Sod that. I'll just bring em over to France and you can live there".

    Leo - "I'm not moving to France."
  40. Aug 2, 2010

    manusteve Full Member

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    You need to wait until the credits have rolled, then LISTEN carefully.

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