“…take a leap of faith" — Meaning?

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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This phrase is repeated three times.

Saito says it first in the Helicopter Airfield scene. He says to Cobb: “So do you want to take a Leap of Faith, or become an old man, filled with regret, waiting to die alone?”

Then, in the flashback scene, we hear Mal say it before she jumps from the hotel ledge. She says to Cobb: “I’m asking you to take a Leap of Faith.”

At the end of the film, we hear Cobb say the phrase to Saito in Limbo. He says: “Yes, and to take a Leap of Faith.”

Isn't this repeated phrase a clue that Cobb is just dreaming the whole time, making everything up? A repeating phrase is a dream sign. Right? Isn't this the kind of inexplicable thing that can happen when you’re dreaming?

In Cobb’s case, Saito and Mal may just be his projections. So, Cobb may just be talking to himself, using the same phrase over and over. It’s a phrase that Cobb is possessed by, and assuming he's dreaming throughout, it’s functionally important in completing his dream narrative—it’s his subconscious talking to itself.

His projection of Saito is urging himself to take a leap of faith and try to pull off the Fischer inception job to get back home.

His projection of Mal is asking himself to take a leap of faith and jump off the hotel ledge—Cobb is worried here that he may be dreaming.

In his created Limbo, he’s asking his projection of Saito to take a leap of faith and come back to where he thinks reality is—he’s telling himself he needs to kill himself to get back to the real world.

But, could it be that this repeated phrase is just a matter of coincidence?—and that Saito and Mal just use the phrase in their everyday discourse?

What are your thoughts on this repeated phrase?—a year and a half later after the release of Inception.

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when Saito says "take a leap of faith" he doesnt know that the phrase has a meaning for Cobb. Because it strikes an emotional chord in Cobb's memory, it convinces him to do the job for Saito. The 2nd time we hear the quote, it serves as a revelation as to why the phrase had so much meaning for Cobb when Saito said it in the chopper. The 3rd time, Cobb is simply reminding Saito what Saito once asked Cobb to do, serving as a moment of ironic resolution. Everything comes full circle. Saito once asked Cobb to take a leap of faith, and now Cobb is asking Saito to take a leap of faith. Now these words hold meaning for the both of them in the context of their relationship. It's just clever writing. It probably is meant to make you question whether he is dreaming, since that was one of the director's intentions, but it's not evidence of him dreaming since we can easily provide an explanation for it. Which I have done.

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In Reply to mchekhov,

Thanks for providing an explanation. It's a nice valid angle! And yes, it does show that the "all dream" interp can't be proved (but neither can any other interp). So, I take it you favor the interp that Cobb is in the real-world in the final scene.

By the way, unrelated, Did Daniel Day-Lewis really say that about Tom Hardy? I mean, Hardy is a superb actor with natural raw talent—and can't wait to see his range in the Dark Knight Rises. But in my opinion, Daniel Day-Lewis is arguably the best actor alive.

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CobbisDreaming wrote:In Reply to mchekhov,

Thanks for providing an explanation. It's a nice valid angle! And yes, it does show that the "all dream" interp can't be proved (but neither can any other interp). So, I take it you favor the interp that Cobb is in the real-world in the final scene.

By the way, unrelated, Did Daniel Day-Lewis really say that about Tom Hardy? I mean, Hardy is a superb actor with natural raw talent—and can't wait to see his range in the Dark Knight Rises. But in my opinion, Daniel Day-Lewis is arguably the best actor alive.

he did, and the top fell

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In Reply to mchekhov,

But even if the top fell, it doesn't prove that Cobb isn't dreaming. A totem can only tell you that you are not in someone else's dream. But it can't tell you that you are not in your own dream, since you know the unique way it behaves in the real world. Cobb could simply be dreaming that the top falls. Plus, the top used to be Mal's, and he basically told Ariadne how it behaves in the real world (and in a dream), so he could be in Mal's or Ariadne's dream. And to top it all off, everyone knows that a top falls in reality, so anyone that pulls Cobb into a dream, would naturally make the top fall every time — which makes us wonder why Cobb and Mal didn't make the spinning top's unique real world property be that it continually spins (which is impossible), and in a dream, it falls. That's how it should be! But notice, it's reversed. The reason why it's reversed is a clue that it's all a dream (my opinion). Cobb has just made up the concept of a totem, and the the totems we see, to further his dream narrative along to reach his goal of having an emotional cathartic experience. And according to Nolan, "dream emotion" is as real as "waking emotion"—and this is one of the points he's driving home with Inception—Cobb is experiencing something real even though it's all a dream.

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CobbisDreaming wrote:In Reply to mchekhov,

But even if the top fell, it doesn't prove that Cobb isn't dreaming. A totem can only tell you that you are not in someone else's dream. But it can't tell you that you are not in your own dream, since you know the unique way it behaves in the real world. Cobb could simply be dreaming that the top falls. Plus, the top used to be Mal's, and he basically told Ariadne how it behaves in the real world (and in a dream), so he could be in Mal's or Ariadne's dream. And to top it all off, everyone knows that a top falls in reality, so anyone that pulls Cobb into a dream, would naturally make the top fall every time — which makes us wonder why Cobb and Mal didn't make the spinning top's unique real world property be that it continually spins (which is impossible), and in a dream, it falls. That's how it should be! But notice, it's reversed. The reason why it's reversed is a clue that it's all a dream (my opinion). Cobb has just made up the concept of a totem, and the the totems we see, to further his dream narrative along to reach his goal of having an emotional cathartic experience. And according to Nolan, "dream emotion" is as real as "waking emotion"—and this is one of the points he's driving home with Inception—Cobb is experiencing something real even though it's all a dream.

uhhhh, that was my response to your question about DDL.


I'm well aware that there are plot holes with the totems and how they behave. But if you're suggesting that Dom is in a dream in that apartment scene, then it means he is in a dream the entire time, so what would be the purpose of the movie? Nothing happens? There's no reason for the viewer to have any emotional investment in the characters. It totally defeats the purpose of making movies.

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In Reply to mchekhov,

My bad on your reply being about DDL, LOL.

Well, even if it's all a dream, the film can still be meaningful. You like all kinds of fictional movies that involve fictional realities (like The Dark Knight, The Shawshank Redemption), and you emotionally invest in them. Why can't you emotionally invest in a film that is a fictional dream? It doesn't matter whether the film is depicting a fictional reality or a fictional dream—it's all fiction. None of it is real. And yet, you can have genuine emotional experiences that are meaningful.

The point Nolan is trying to make is that dream emotions are as real as waking emotions. He's saying that we have genuine emotional experiences when we dream—they're real. Hence, Nolan's idea that "the dream is real"—which is the slogan he fittingly chose for the Inception posters.

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CobbisDreaming wrote:In Reply to mchekhov,

My bad on your reply being about DDL, LOL.

Well, even if it's all a dream, the film can still be meaningful. You like all kinds of fictional movies that involve fictional realities (like The Dark Knight, The Shawshank Redemption), and you emotionally invest in them. Why can't you emotionally invest in a film that is a fictional dream? It doesn't matter whether the film is depicting a fictional reality or a fictional dream—it's all fiction. None of it is real. And yet, you can have genuine emotional experiences that are meaningful.

The point Nolan is trying to make is that dream emotions are as real as waking emotions. He's saying that we have genuine emotional experiences when we dream—they're real. Hence, Nolan's idea that "the dream is real"—which is the slogan he fittingly chose for the Inception posters.

fictional reality is not the same as a dream. In fictional reality, things actually happen to the characters in the world that they inhabit, creating stakes, where as in a dream, things arent actually happpening, creating a void of stakes.

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mchekhov wrote:when Saito says "take a leap of faith" he doesnt know that the phrase has a meaning for Cobb. Because it strikes an emotional chord in Cobb's memory, it convinces him to do the job for Saito. The 2nd time we hear the quote, it serves as a revelation as to why the phrase had so much meaning for Cobb when Saito said it in the chopper. The 3rd time, Cobb is simply reminding Saito what Saito once asked Cobb to do, serving as a moment of ironic resolution. Everything comes full circle. Saito once asked Cobb to take a leap of faith, and now Cobb is asking Saito to take a leap of faith. Now these words hold meaning for the both of them in the context of their relationship. It's just clever writing. It probably is meant to make you question whether he is dreaming, since that was one of the director's intentions, but it's not evidence of him dreaming since we can easily provide an explanation for it. Which I have done.
This bit is the most important - there are many moments in the film in which emotions, memories and thoughts become objectified through words ('take a leap of faith'), objects (the pinwheel) and even people (Mal, Dom's guilt). Throughout the film, Nolan is clever to show the association between our thought processes and the worlds around us - the pinwheel is Fischer's only happy memory with his father, and in the dream it becomes a literal symbol of the happiness shared between them, triggering an emotional response that is Inception. The same thing happens here - there's a part of Cobb that regrets not taking a 'leap of faith' with Mal because of how much he misses her - when he hears the words again, his emotional response makes him inclined to do so. At the end, the words will have the same meaning for Saito, which shows how Cobb has gotten over Mal. The physical manifestation of thoughts and feelings happens in both the real world and the dreams, which is where the different departments the Inception crew worked on become important - the architectural design of each dream seems to mirror the characters to me (the idea that the Japanese castle is a mix of old and contemporary eastern architecture mirrors Saito, a modern businessman with old age principles). The costume design has the same effect - Eames' tweed jackets and paisley shirts just really define him as a character to me. The music, furthermore, mixes melodies with ambient, unique soundscapes to provide a unique, more emotional response from the audience (where the influence of directors such as Mann and Scott come in to play on this film - their soundtracks have that ambient sound that you come to associate with the overall atmosphere of the film.

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mchekhov wrote:
I'm well aware that there are plot holes with the totems and how they behave. But if you're suggesting that Dom is in a dream in that apartment scene, then it means he is in a dream the entire time, so what would be the purpose of the movie? Nothing happens? There's no reason for the viewer to have any emotional investment in the characters. It totally defeats the purpose of making movies.
I reject this notion completely. I see the entire film as a dream, and it does not ruin the film for me. It reveals a much deeper meaning, the real agenda of the film.

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