!!!SPOILER ALERT!!! SPOILER ALERT!!! SPOILER ALERT!!! IF YOU IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN INCEPTION I HIGHLY SUGGEST THAT YOU DON’T CONTINUE READING THIS POST UNTIL YOU DO BECAUSE CRUCIAL ELEMENTS OF THE PLOT AND CHARACTERS WILL BE REVEALED AND DISCUSSED IN THIS POST!
Inception Inception Inception… I barely know where to start. Once again if you haven’t seen the film and are staunchly against spoiler alerts, then stop reading right now, walk to your local theater (IMAX preferably) watch Inception, and then read this post (and comment). It will still be here waiting for you. I am writing this assuming everyone watched Inception already so I won’t bother to attempt to write a condensed and probably confusing summary. If you need one read the wiki.
I thoroughly enjoyed this film. I am a fan of Chris Nolan’s films and I think the world is a better place with his versions of Batman and Inception did not disappoint. The cinematography was nothing short of amazing and I’m glad Nolan didn’t whore himself out and jump on the 3D trend. The no-gravity fight scenes were some of my favorite! Not many films stay with me after the theater and Inception definitely did that.
What I loved about it so much was the ending, which ironically enough is why a lot of people hated it or didn’t get it. Yes everyone is entitled to their own opinion blah blah blah, but I think these people didn’t like it because Inception made them feel uncomfortable. By uncomfortable I mean that the film doesn’t spell out for you its meaning and more importantly it doesn’t give you a definite ending. We have been conditioned by eons of storytelling that there is always a beginning, middle and end which is told in a linear fashion. It wasn’t really until postmodernism arose in literature, and consequently film and media, that authors/filmmakers started to stray from the linear method of storytelling. Nolan’s Momento is a perfect example of a postmodern film and of course so is Inception.
Another part of the film that I loved, and the haters hated the most, was the ending. Does the top fall? Does it keep spinning? Is he dreaming or not? And Nolan goes all Sopranos finale on us and give us a big black screen. We as an audience are used to being told the ending of a film, but not this time. He gives the viewer power many filmmakers never do; the power to make your own decision about the ending. I think he was dreaming of course. If the big secret is that Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) wasn’t dreaming that would be very lame. I also don’t think that the essential question of Inception is if Cobb was dreaming or not but rather, what part of the film is a dream and what part is reality? Or taking it even further, was the entire film a dream and if so whose dream is it?
Now this isn’t going to be one of those reviews that I, the writer, has devised a theory and stands fully behind it. If you were expecting that sorry guys. I will admit I have to watch Inception at least one more time and catch details I may not have noticed before because I have way too many questions still (see below). I hear theories and may consider them but then something always comes up to contradict the theory and I’m back to where I started.
But this is what I do believe. The fact that there isn’t a clear-cut theory or ending tells me that the message of Inception (what Nolan wants the viewer to get from the film) isn’t in the theories or ending. I believe through Inception Nolan was planting an idea in our minds. Nolan is an auteur and he shows us through the film that although an individual may not be experiencing “reality” or something true, the emotions they feel from their experiences in that false reality are real. Just like Robert Fischer, jr. (Cillian Murphy) picked up that windmill in his fathers safe and cried and felt his father truly loved him; that was a false reality but very real emotions. He woke up with the inception. Another example is at the end of the film when Cobb is finally reunited with his children and you as the viewer feel his happiness, but then we wonder is he still dreaming? Whether he is or not, Cobb’s happiness is real.
Nolan wants Inception to do the same thing to us. We experience the film, connect with the characters, question parts of the film, maybe question the entire film, and leave the theater with the ideas from the film implanted our minds. Some consciously and some unconsciously. Therefore the film Inception is an inception itself.
I think the essential question we (or at least I) left the theater thinking was how do I know what I am experiencing is reality? Like the characters in Inception they didn’t realize they were dreaming until they woke up or until someone in their dream, like Cobb, tells them it’s a dream. Trying to even explain what reality is without using the word “real” proves itself difficult. Try it. Yeah I know, isn’t as easy as you thought. How do we know what we perceive as reality is in fact just that?
Here are some theories I’ve gathered (some with Google’s help):
- Inception is a film about dreams about a film. ← The best theory I’ve read so far!
- All of Inception is a dream.
- Inception is all Mal’s dream and she’s trying to wake Cobb up.
- Mal and Cobb are still in limbo.
- Everything after they “woke up” in the plane is a dream.
- Everything after Cobb’s sedation test is a dream.
- Saito is the architect, pulls a Mr. Charles on Cobb.
- Ariadne is the architect/Cobb’s therapist.
- We do see reality during the film, but Cobb is still in a dream at the end of the film.
- We do see reality during the film and Cobb is in reality at the end of the film.
Questions Questions Questions: Okay so I have a some questions about a few things that happened in the film. If you have an answer or theory comment and let’s discuss!
- When Cobb and Mal (Marion Cotillard) were in limbo they were there for about 50 years and grew old together. But after he did the inception on Mal and they laid down on the train tracks to kill themselves/wake up and they were young. I don’t understand that. If they were in limbo until they were old wouldn’t they have been old when they killed themselves? Some people say it’s a plot hole but I think it’s way too big for it to be a plot hole. Some people say it was Cobb’s dream. What do you think?
- In the first layer of Fischer’s dream, when Eames (Tom Hardy) tells Arthur something like “You gotta dream bigger” and pulls out the bigger gun, did he think that into existence? Is it because he’s a forger? If so why wouldn’t he think up all sorts of weapons to use against the projection army? Or did he just think it was a witty line and he had the gun the whole time?
- When Cobb woke up from the chemically induced sleep by Yusuf (Dileep Rao) he’s in the bathroom splashing his face and drops his totem (the top) and Saito (Ken Watanabe) picks it up. Now if you remember in the scene with Ariadne (Ellen Page) and Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), Arthur tells her not to let anyone touch her totem because only she can be aware of its weight. So since Saito touched Cobb’s totem does it lose its value?
- Also the top wasn’t Cobb’s totem, it was Mal’s, so does it even work for Cobb?
- If the dream they enter at the end of the film belongs to Fisher Jr., then why does Cobb enter the limbo he built with his wife? Shouldn’t it be Fisher Jr.’s limbo?
- Why is Saito old in limbo and Cobb is young? Yes Saito was in there longer than Cobb but it seems if Saito is that old then Cobb should have aged more right?
What would your totem be?
After discussion with my friends on what our totem would be I decided mine would be pink lipstick, I’d change the weight of it somehow like Ariadne did with her chess piece. I picked lipstick because whenever I set foot in Sephora I end up with a lot less money than when I walked in, and pink because, well, I love PINK! Leave a comment below on what your totem would be and why?
Also check out me and Otakus & Geeks discuss Inception here on this podcast.