INCEPTION Retrospect, My 2nd Opinion On That Mind-Bender

by on July 13, 2011

in Entertainment, movie reviews

Since Inception came to HBO, I thought I’d watch it… again… and again… and… well, you get it. But this time around, with the ending of the movie fresh in my mind, I watched the project continually applying my observations or questions from the ending, to each act, scene and action taken by the characters. And yes, I think I need some counseling when this was all said and done.

Inception was brought to us by Christopher Nolan, who wrote, directed and produced (Along with his wife, Emma Thomas) and starred Leonardo DiCaprio as Cobb, Marion Cotillard as Mal, and Ken Watanabe as Saito, amongst others.

Christopher Nolan directing 'Inception'

The movie’s basic premise takes place in a world where technology exists that allows people to enter other people’s dreams to obtain information. In most examples, it’s corporate information that is sought after and experts at such a mental ruse are folks like Cobb.

I’ve previously noted in my first Inception perception on the ending that I felt that Cobb did not want to come out of a dream so that he could finally be with his kids. I thought that he gave up. I even added a quote from Nolan who said that the way he ended the movie, cutting away from the spinning top during a wobble, felt like the appropriate kick to end the movie on. Kick?

Once I get an idea in my head, it won’t go away until it’s set right. While I was writing my previous article, something came to me, but I finished out the other piece first. That other idea was what if Cobb was never in the real world during the movie? What if everything was just in his head and we were never in the real world? What if something already happened that trapped him in this delusional dream state? That’s how I started looking at the movie the last time I watched Inception.


Here were some points that help me believe that the entire movie is a dream?

I started to think that if the entire movie was a dream, then indeed the final scene where we cut away from the top as it starts to wobble is our “final kick” that sparked our imaginations and made us go “What!?!?!?” And we woke up from this particular dream of a movie.

One item that I focused on was the aspect of the defect called Mal. Mal was a part of Cobb’s subconscious, and that subconscious is an uncontrollable part of the dreamers mind and environment, as he put it. If there’s a factor that is making parts of a dream out-of-whack, then who is to say that the totem that Cobb uses, the top, would even spin properly in a dream. Meaning, continue to spin on endlessly. What if that flaw made the top fall over?

Leonardo DiCaprio in 'Inception', watching his totem spin.

Then there’s the hard-core rule to use your own totem. Yet Cobb is using Mal’s totem after she killed herself. The same totem they locked away in a safe somewhere deep in his dreams.

I also noticed that on a few occasions Cobb actually doesn’t test his Totem.

After they lived 50 years in their dream and come back to reality, Mal and Cobb were at odds. She believed them to still be in a dream and Cobb did not. But if they were still in a dream when Mal killed herself, I could see that act in and of itself could conceivably really mess with HIS mind and root him there as he tries to deal with her suicide. Plus, in his dreams, she was always interfering.

I also found it interesting that Mal, looking to kill herself, was in the window of an apartment across the street. That was a tiny detail that bugged me a bit.

At the snow fortress Cobb forces the architect to tell him about the map breaking his own rules, yet one more time. Then when he sees Mal, he hesitates to shoot her because he argues that Mal may be real. WTH is that? Has he already lost it at this point, or reestablishing that he’s lost it? Why would he question her existence in any dream?

I remember the quote from Cobb at one point in time, saying

“An idea is like a virus, resilient. The smallest seed of an idea can grow. It can either define or destroy you.”

Then, when Cobb gets what he needs, and rescues Saito many dream levels down, after having lived in his castle on the beach for however many years he was there, Saito comes to on the plane, in perfect mental tranquility. That seemed to buck the trend of the premise of what happens to people that both go too many levels deep and stay in their dream world for too long.

Of course, the closing scenes seemed mellow or maybe even dream-like.

Now here are my two final clues that I’d like to present for you, my readers review:

Christopher Nolan called the final scene when they cut away from the spinning top, the final kick. As if we need to be snapped out of the movie/dream.

Then there’s one other thing: Cobb spins the top. I have that top. I’ve spun the thing hundreds of times and on average, it spins for around 20 seconds. That last scene, the top spins for 48 seconds before starting to wobble.

Therein lie my ideas that lend themselves to the idea that the entire movie was a dream and we were never in “the real world.” Nolan presented this movie in such a way that this movie was like a piece of art… where each viewer could watch Inception, and come away with different perceptions about what they just saw.

That’s it. I’m done beating myself up and tormenting you with my ideas on this movie. Feel free to discuss away!

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