The Reality of INCEPTION
I am writing this because this particular film from the genius mind of Christopher Nolan has stirred my mind for quite a while now. Its complex storyline poses as many questions as it answers. I will try to answer them all, based on my own thoughts and experiences trough the film.
First off I really want to say that I truly admire Nolan. He is a genus. It is still a mystery to why the Academy hasn’t acknowledged that with a few awards. He is truly inspiring. I know that when I go to a Nolan film, I can trust him that it will be done, as a film should – with a interesting and mind challenging storyline, realistic effects (minimum CGI) and enough action to keep me entertained for two and a half hours. I think he single handedly managed to invent a new genre – the Nolan films. They are different from anything I’ve seen before and just manage to make most of the other movies unintelligent and badly planned.
In my mind his absolutely best creation so far is INCEPTION. This movie is just perfect. It’s just in a league of its own. But what I love most about it that it gives the opportunity for each individual viewer to interpret what’s happening on the screen allowing for different (and sometimes irrational ) theories to arise. Nolan had been working on the script for around a decade, so I have no doubt that everything we seen on screen is perfectly planned and there are no exceptions. Every scene, every object, every word. That’s why I think the movie only gets better each time one sees it.
I also find it amazing that Nolan puts and external interaction with the audience in his movies. For example in Memento, the story is told in a way that the viewer also feels he has lost his memory and is picking the pieces. In The Prestige the whole movie was itself a sort of a magic trick consisting of the three parts – The pledge, the turn and the prestige. So what is Inception’s thing? No, it does not perform an Inception on the viewer. I think that the font of the inception titles on posters and promotional material can give us a hint – the movie is a puzzle for the audience. It has numerous ways one can interpret it, but only one will lead you to the correct interpretation.
Now having said that, I want to begin at the ending. Cobb finally is reunited with his children. Just in case he spins his top and then goes to give them a hug. But we see the top still spinning and suddenly the camera fades out. So what is going on? Is the whole adventure actually a dream, happening in Dom’s head? Throughout the movie Nolan leaves us with little hints, that this might be the case – for example the sudden appearances of Saito, Dom Cobb’s ridiculous occupation, the fast change of locations (just to name a few). The last one really had me confused for a while. At one moment Dom explains to Ariadne that you can never remember how you got HERE, while in a dream. And the same things happens with Dom’s locations – first he is in Japan, suddenly in Paris and then at Mombasa, recruiting Eames and Yusuf. Even Mal (at least his subconscious version of her) questions his grasp on reality:
“No creeping doubts? Not feeling persecuted, Dom? Chased around the globe by anonymous corporations and police forces? The way the projections persecute the dreamer?”
Another strange hint is the spinning top itself. A lot of people think that in the end the top doesn’t work because originally it belonged to Mal and not Cobb. But let’s how totems work according to Arthur: “Nah, I can't let you touch it, that would defeat the purpose. See only I know the balance and weight of this particular loaded die. That way when you look at your totem, you know beyond a doubt you're not in someone else's dream.”
Here is my take on these arguments: The travel between locations is not shown for editing reasons and because they are not important to the plot – however we see that Dom can in fact travel between locations – riding in Saito’s helicopter, making the trip from Australia to Los Angeles.
As a man of many realities he begins to question his own – that’s why Mal says the things about the anonymous corporations, but is just him asking what is real and what is not.
As for the totem – I think it is only valid for people who are alive and sharing the dream with the totem’s owner. This meaning that even though the totem is Mal’s it still would act as it suppose to when handled by Cobb.
My theory is that what happens at the end of Inception is happening the real world. First of because professor Miles is there (and he is never in any of the dreams), second because Cobb is not wearing his wedding ring ( he Is always wearing it in dreams) and third – the children have aged and changed from what we are shown them to be in Cobb’s memories. Of course Nolan, had them in similar clothes, so the viewer would be confused – but if we look closely, we will see that their shoes are different and Philippa has white sleeves on her dress. That for me is enough proof that is not a memory or a dream. I think the real purpose of this seen is to show that Cobb is finally ready to move on, leaving behind the last object reminding him of his late wife – her totem. He just wants to be with his children. Of course the fashion in which the last few seconds of the movie expand are just put there (Behind him, on the table, the spinning top is STILL SPINNING. And we - FADE OUT. )is there to mess with our collective minds and add something to the puzzle that Inception is.
Another interesting question is whether or not someone is performing Inception on Dom Cobb. Is the whole movie a scheme ( perhaps designed by Miles) to get Cobb back to reality and forget about Mal. Now what is Cobb’s problem in the first place? Yes, a lot people lose a loved one. But they manage to move on. So why can’t he? You see it’s because of his special ability – he can go back to her any time in his dreams at it feels as real as it can be. I think that many people would do the same if they had chance, because they can’t bear the pain of never again seeing their loved one.
But I think Cobb isn’t not being Inceptioned. I think he (with the help of Ariadne) has a sort of psychological session so he can finally forgive himself and let go of Mal, because she is never coming back:
“I wish. I wish more than anything. But I can't imagine you with all your complexity, all you perfection, all your imperfection. Look at you. You are just a shade of my real wife. You're the best I can do; but I'm sorry, you are just not good enough.”
That is what I think is mostly going on (at least for now). Inception is really one of a kind film. A huge part of that amazing experience is Hans Zimmer’s music – it’s just tailor made for each scene and the way that the Edith Piaf song (slowed down) is implemented in the soundtrack is nothing short of genius.