My Theory on Cobb and the Ending

This 2010 contemporary sci-fi actioner follows a subconscious security team around the globe and into the intimate and infinite world of dreams.
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Joined: July 2010
I am convinced that Cobb is still dreaming at the end from some pretty cohesive clues; of course, please debate with me on my theories! I'm quite sure now, but I might not have caught something that you did :).

1) The two sets of children: In the credits, there are two sets of children of differing ages. This is easily explained; during the beginning scene where Cobb calls his children, the voices are obviously older than the age they appear as his projections. (Phillipa sounds five, older than she appears.) They are credited for this off-screen role. The real children are 5 and 3, they are the voices and the ones Cobb left behind- the children in reality. The projections are Cobb's manifestations of what they looked like when he left them.

2) How can the children wear the same clothes, have the same hair, and not visibly age in the time that it took Cobb to fly around the world, create a new line of work for himself as a top-notch extractor, and made contacts/coworkers such as Eames and Arthur, where he says himself he's worked with on previous jobs?

3) Many it-was-real theorists noted that Cobb always had a ring on when he was dreaming, and in the end he didn't have a ring (and some suggests that the ring is Cobb's original totem). However, I think that the ring was on par with Mal; they are manifestations/projections of his guilt over Mal's death. It is a symbol that he hasn't let go of his guilt. During Cobb's epiphany that Mal is just a shadow, he has finally let go of Mal and thus, let go of the ring. In the end scene, where he believes it is reality, he is still dreaming but he has let go of Mal/the ring.

4) The dreamer's totem trick does not indicate that it is reality; it simply indicates that they are not in someone else's dream since no one else knows the mechanics of their own totem. Because the dreamer knows how their own totem works, if they were trapped in their own dreams, their totem would work accordingly since they *know* how it works.

5) Whether or not the totem falls is not an indication of if it is a dream or not; it is an indication of whether Cobb believes it's a dream or reality. In a scene, Mal calls Phillipa and James and tries to get them to show Cobb their faces; this is heavily implied that once Cobb sees their faces, he will finally believe that his dream is a reality. In the end, Cobb sees their faces; it is then accepted that Cobb believes his dream is reality. Since Cobb controls the totem, if it falls, it means he has wholeheartedly accepted his dream as reality. If it doesn't fall, but wobbles, it indicates that Cobb has a wobbly grip on reality; while he still has his doubts on whether or not it is reality, he has more or less accepted that his dream is reality (with a much higher chance of 'coming back to reality' than if it topples completely).

Nevertheless, whether or not the totem topples over is moot; Cobb is dreaming.

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Dana wrote:
4) The dreamer's totem trick does not indicate that it is reality; it simply indicates that they are not in someone else's dream since no one else knows the mechanics of their own totem. Because the dreamer knows how their own totem works, if they were trapped in their own dreams, their totem would work accordingly since they *know* how it works.

5) Whether or not the totem falls is not an indication of if it is a dream or not; it is an indication of whether Cobb believes it's a dream or reality. In a scene, Mal calls Phillipa and James and tries to get them to show Cobb their faces; this is heavily implied that once Cobb sees their faces, he will finally believe that his dream is a reality. In the end, Cobb sees their faces; it is then accepted that Cobb believes his dream is reality. Since Cobb controls the totem, if it falls, it means he has wholeheartedly accepted his dream as reality. If it doesn't fall, but wobbles, it indicates that Cobb has a wobbly grip on reality; while he still has his doubts on whether or not it is reality, he has more or less accepted that his dream is reality (with a much higher chance of 'coming back to reality' than if it topples completely).

Nevertheless, whether or not the totem topples over is moot; Cobb is dreaming.
The totem would still indicate reality as Saito would be sharing his dream as they would still be under together.

Also here's a question. Why would they be stuck in Limbo? You need to argue and prove they couldn't have gotten have gotten out in the first place.

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did he wake up from the last Kick?

We never see him leave the van

Posts: 94
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sickofsickness wrote:did he wake up from the last Kick?

We never see him leave the van
No he most likely died in the Level 3 explosion.

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Jarmel wrote:
sickofsickness wrote:did he wake up from the last Kick?

We never see him leave the van
No he most likely died in the Level 3 explosion.
Then I cant get why we see him get off the plane? Everyone else survives, right?

Posts: 14
Joined: July 2010
Dana wrote:
2) How can the children wear the same clothes, have the same hair, and not visibly age in the time that it took Cobb to fly around the world, create a new line of work for himself as a top-notch extractor, and made contacts/coworkers such as Eames and Arthur, where he says himself he's worked with on previous jobs?.
Well, you're assuming that the flight around the world and his "top-notch extractor" career are realities, and you're assuming that Eames, Ariadne, and Arthur are real people.

How can the children be wearing the same clothes, have the same hair, and not age? Here's one counter-theory: Cobb was dreaming everything that happened before he came home and saw his children. In other words, Mombasa, the snowy mountains, Japan, rainy LA etc. were all dreams and dreams within dreams -- which explains how Cobb was able to do so much within so little "real time." Eames, Ariadne, Arthur and all the others could have been Cobb's subconscious projections.

Perhaps Cobb saw his kids earlier in the day, then fell asleep and had dreams within dreams -- which made all the events appear to take place over a matter of days, weeks, years -- and then Cobb woke up only to see his kids later in the day.

Posts: 14
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Jarmel wrote:
Dana wrote:
4) The dreamer's totem trick does not indicate that it is reality; it simply indicates that they are not in someone else's dream since no one else knows the mechanics of their own totem. Because the dreamer knows how their own totem works, if they were trapped in their own dreams, their totem would work accordingly since they *know* how it works.

5) Whether or not the totem falls is not an indication of if it is a dream or not; it is an indication of whether Cobb believes it's a dream or reality. In a scene, Mal calls Phillipa and James and tries to get them to show Cobb their faces; this is heavily implied that once Cobb sees their faces, he will finally believe that his dream is a reality. In the end, Cobb sees their faces; it is then accepted that Cobb believes his dream is reality. Since Cobb controls the totem, if it falls, it means he has wholeheartedly accepted his dream as reality. If it doesn't fall, but wobbles, it indicates that Cobb has a wobbly grip on reality; while he still has his doubts on whether or not it is reality, he has more or less accepted that his dream is reality (with a much higher chance of 'coming back to reality' than if it topples completely).

Nevertheless, whether or not the totem topples over is moot; Cobb is dreaming.
The totem would still indicate reality as Saito would be sharing his dream as they would still be under together.

Also here's a question. Why would they be stuck in Limbo? You need to argue and prove they couldn't have gotten have gotten out in the first place.
The reason the totem was spinning when Cobb first incepted the idea in Mal's 'safe' was because at that time, the totem was Mal's. Cobb does not know the mechanics or the totem, and hence couldn't topple it over. Even if he did know the totem's mechanics (perhaps if they shared the totem), his objective was to keep it spinning so that Mal will realize it was a dream.

After Mal's death, Cobb owns the totem and now knows its weight/mechanics/etc.

In Limbo, due to non pre-existing architecture, the dreamers construct their own reality (the dreamers are now all architects). Saito sharing his dream/if he's in it or not is irrelevant. Consider the following two paths:

Saito is still in the dream. Even so, Cobb and Saito are now both architects in this level (this is supported by how Mal and Cobb both constructed their world together). When Saito spins Cobb's totem, it cannot topple; this is because Saito does not know the mechanics of the totem, which is why they don't allow each other to touch their totems in reality so they will not know the weight/mechanics. However, when Cobb spins it, as an architect (and especially in 'his' parts of the limbo), the top can topple even if it's a dream, since it IS his dream.

Saito is not in the dream. Saito has gotten out. The above still applies.

They *could* get out, but Cobb didn't. If Saito got out or not is irrelevant to if Cobb got out or not. Cobb is still dreaming.

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blinkuldhc wrote:
Dana wrote:
2) How can the children wear the same clothes, have the same hair, and not visibly age in the time that it took Cobb to fly around the world, create a new line of work for himself as a top-notch extractor, and made contacts/coworkers such as Eames and Arthur, where he says himself he's worked with on previous jobs?.
Well, you're assuming that the flight around the world and his "top-notch extractor" career are realities, and you're assuming that Eames, Ariadne, and Arthur are real people.

How can the children be wearing the same clothes, have the same hair, and not age? Here's one counter-theory: Cobb was dreaming everything that happened before he came home and saw his children. In other words, Mombasa, the snowy mountains, Japan, rainy LA etc. were all dreams and dreams within dreams -- which explains how Cobb was able to do so much within so little "real time." Eames, Ariadne, Arthur and all the others could have been Cobb's subconscious projections.

Perhaps Cobb saw his kids earlier in the day, then fell asleep and had dreams within dreams -- which made all the events appear to take place over a matter of days, weeks, years -- and then Cobb woke up only to see his kids later in the day.
While compelling, that cheapens the whole movie.

So more or less, he had a mid-afternoon nap, and then everything we was was just a crazy ass dream he had.

God, if that were what really happened, Id say I hate the movie.

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Joined: June 2010
Just to clarify here, when we say Cobb is still dreaming, what we are saying is that he is in Limbo, rotting his brain, right? In other words, he cant be woken up.

Posts: 14
Joined: July 2010
blinkuldhc wrote:
Dana wrote:
2) How can the children wear the same clothes, have the same hair, and not visibly age in the time that it took Cobb to fly around the world, create a new line of work for himself as a top-notch extractor, and made contacts/coworkers such as Eames and Arthur, where he says himself he's worked with on previous jobs?.
Well, you're assuming that the flight around the world and his "top-notch extractor" career are realities, and you're assuming that Eames, Ariadne, and Arthur are real people.

How can the children be wearing the same clothes, have the same hair, and not age? Here's one counter-theory: Cobb was dreaming everything that happened before he came home and saw his children. In other words, Mombasa, the snowy mountains, Japan, rainy LA etc. were all dreams and dreams within dreams -- which explains how Cobb was able to do so much within so little "real time." Eames, Ariadne, Arthur and all the others could have been Cobb's subconscious projections.

Perhaps Cobb saw his kids earlier in the day, then fell asleep and had dreams within dreams -- which made all the events appear to take place over a matter of days, weeks, years -- and then Cobb woke up only to see his kids later in the day.
It seems that there are two paths that can be taken.

If everything up till the final 'dream' is reality, then Cobb is dreaming at the end.

If everything up till the final 'reality' is a dream, then Cobb is awake at the end.

The reason I don't believe that it was all a dream until the end is because of a few things; for one, Ariadne constructs three levels of dreams that Cobb does not have the knowledge of mechanics of (since he purposefully shunned himself from that knowledge so Mal won't sabotage it). How can Cobb create an entity within him that can create something separate from him?

Consider how many people have dreams in Inception separate of Cobb; Saito, Nash, Arthur, Eames, Yusuf, Ariadne, and Fischer. Of course, it could also be said that it was all a convoluted scheme of projections, but it seems very overly convoluted.

But then there are events such as Cobb's subconscious attacking Ariadne. Why would projections attack their own projection? Why would Ariadne be more daring than Cobb concretely knows is too far?

What about Ariadne/Arthur's romance? The bickering between Eames and Arthur? Things like that; things that Cobb never witness. Things that have no relevance to Cobb and his understanding/view of the projections.

Anyhow, the concept of the whole thing before the end being a dream seems very unlikely...

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