Christopher Nolan (Somewhat) Explains INCEPTION

by     Posted 3 years, 147 days ago

Inception is a fun movie to talk about thanks to its ambiguity.  If writer-director Christopher Nolan were to come along and tell you exactly what happened, he would only be destroying the ambiguity he built into the film.  In the latest issue of Wired (issue 18.12), Nolan provides a little clarification on some of the debated points about his film, but doesn’t spoil the whole thing.  Wired lays out the article as a chart with different arguments about the text (“The Entire Movie Is a Dream”, “Just the Ending is a Dream”) and the sub-text (“The Movie is a Meditation on Architecture”, “It’s About Movie-Making”).  Hit the jump for Nolan’s responses to some of the theories.  Obviously, spoilers ahead.

Thanks to Wired for this awesome article.  The whole issue is great and you should definitely pick it up.

Inception-movie-image

What’s happening in the movie: After the first extraction fails, Cobb spins his top to check if he is in a dream.  It falls over.

“The Ending Is Not a Dream” Argument: This establishes context for the audience—the movie is not all a dream.

Nolan’s Comment:  “This gives Cobb a base-line reality.  But he’s an untrustworthy narrator.”

Inception-movie-image

What’s happening in the movie: Saito says he’ll clear Cobb’s name if he takes the job.  He asks Cobb to take “a leap of faith.”

“The Entire Movie Is a Dream” Argument: The phrase “leap of faith” occurs over and over.  It’s an artifact of Cobb’s subconscious.

Nolan’s Comment: “I don’t think I’m going to tell you about this.”

Inception-movie-image

What’s happening in the movie: Cobb starts assembling his team and trains Ariadne in dreamweaving.

“Actually, It’s About Movie-Making” Argument: All the roles correspond.  Cobb: director.  Ariadne: writer.  Eames: art director.  Saito: producer.  Fischer: audience.

Nolan’s Comment: “I didn’t intend to make a film about film-making, but I gravitated toward the creative process that I know.”

Inception-movie-image

What’s happening in the movie: Cobb goes to Mombasa to get Eames the forger and Yusuf the chemist.

“Or Maybe It’s a Meditation on Architecture” Argument: A beautiful pan across the rooftops of Mombasa.

Nolan’s Comment: “I wanted to show the potential for the real world to have analogies to the dream world.  The mazelike city of Mombasa does that.”

“Actually, It’s About Movie-Making” Argument: Smash cuts, mysterious chases, implausible coincidences—the grammar of film is the grammar of dreams.

Nolan’s Comment: “I wouldn’t say that I tried to use the grammar of the film to tell the audience what is dream and what is reality.”

Inception-movie-image

What’s happening in the movie: Cobb confronts Mal in limbo, and Fischer is incepted in the hospital.

“The Entire Movie Is a Dream” Argument: Mal challenges Cobb’s reality.  Faceless corporations?  Chased around the globe?  Really?

Nolan’s Comment: “For the ambiguity at the end to work, you need to see that Cobb’s world and the dream world are very similar.  And you need to doubt Cobb.”

Inception-movie-image

What’s happening in the movie: Cobb washes up on the beach (full circle with beginning).

“Just the Ending Is a Dream” Argument: Saito honors his agreement.  They build limbo to be their reality together.

Nolan’s Comment: “Uh…that’s not how I would have read the movie.”

Inception-movie-image

What’s happening in the movie: Arriving home, Cobb finally sees his children’s faces.

“The Entire Movie Is a Dream” Argument: The kids haven’t aged!  And they’re in the same clothes!  This is clearly all a dream.

Nolan’s Comment: “The kids are not wearing the same clothes at the end!  And they do age!  We were working with two sets of kids.”

“Or Maybe It’s a Meditation on Architecture” Argument: It’s the golden-lit craftsman dream home…with a house made of blocks on the dining table.

Nolan’s Comment: “The film is about architects.  It’s about builders.”

Inception-movie-image

What’s happening in the movie: Cobb spins the top—it’s still spinning when the movie cuts to black.

“The Entire Movie Is a Dream” Argument: The top doesn’t matter—Cobb can finally see his children’s faces.

Nolan’s Comment: “The important thing is that Cobb’s not looking at the top.  He doesn’t care.”

“Or Maybe It’s a Meditation on Architecture” Argument: The top itself is constructed—topologically, it’s a pseudosphere, every point curving away.

Nolan’s Comment: “The prop guys just made a top that would spin for a long time.”

“Actually, It’s About Movie-Making” Argument: The audience has to “take a leap of faith.”  Nolan uses ambiguity as a storytelling tool.  There isn’t just one answer.

Nolan’s Comment: “Oh no, I’ve got an answer…”




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  • Joey

    He’s such a brilliant little cocktease.

    • http://twitter.com/gimmesumsuga Mathieu David

      I love that the magazine is throwing all this pretentious over-thought twaddle at him and Nolan bats it away in a perfectly grounded, down-to-Earth manner. He’s far less full of himself than his fans would have his critics believe.

      • http://twitter.com/grapenutsrbt Jim Goff

        Exactly; he easily could have patted himself on the back the entire time, praising his own “masterpiece” but he doesn’t. You CAN tell though that he makes movies that he would love, and love is something he pours into his movies. They are all labors of love that he puts his all into.

      • http://twitter.com/grapenutsrbt Jim Goff

        Exactly; he easily could have patted himself on the back the entire time, praising his own “masterpiece” but he doesn’t. You CAN tell though that he makes movies that he would love, and love is something he pours into his movies. They are all labors of love that he puts his all into.

      • Jack

        How is that pretentious over-thought twaddle? Those are genuine thoughts you come out of the movie with, and a lot of people argue for those interpretations. Nolan bats them away because he’s always been short-lipped when it comes to talking about his work, giving non-answers is usually what he’s great at. I would rather see theories like this thrown at him rather than, “So, what’s it like working with Leo?!?”

        And I like the film theory. It kinda excuses the film’s issues: badly cut action scenes (outside the 0 gravity fight), coincidences, and just small details that would be considered stupid in a bigger and more realistic action film; the elevator moving that fast in 0 gravity, why is there 0 gravity in the 2nd dream level but not the third, and a few other details.

        Quick question, no one has ever been able to give me a genuine response, but how does Eames dream up that big gun? How do they get their weapons? He says, “Don’t be afraid to dream a bit bigger, darling,” so, did he dream it up?

      • Jack

        How is that pretentious over-thought twaddle? Those are genuine thoughts you come out of the movie with, and a lot of people argue for those interpretations. Nolan bats them away because he’s always been short-lipped when it comes to talking about his work, giving non-answers is usually what he’s great at. I would rather see theories like this thrown at him rather than, “So, what’s it like working with Leo?!?”

        And I like the film theory. It kinda excuses the film’s issues: badly cut action scenes (outside the 0 gravity fight), coincidences, and just small details that would be considered stupid in a bigger and more realistic action film; the elevator moving that fast in 0 gravity, why is there 0 gravity in the 2nd dream level but not the third, and a few other details.

        Quick question, no one has ever been able to give me a genuine response, but how does Eames dream up that big gun? How do they get their weapons? He says, “Don’t be afraid to dream a bit bigger, darling,” so, did he dream it up?

      • http://twitter.com/gimmesumsuga Mathieu David

        It is better to let go, to accept the film for what it is. We should embrace its mysteries rather than strain to dispel them.

      • Jack

        I don’t think those questions, like how 0 gravity works in the world or Eames, are mysteries. Just something Nolan didn’t delve much into, which is surprising since it felt like 80% percent of the film’s dialog was pure exposition. It’s just messy world building and action movie storytelling, I think.

      • Anonymous

        Here’s my response to it, no he didn’t dream up the gun, If i remember correctly JGL goes behind the van and comes back with a gun so that suggests some kind of weapon stash next to it. I assume that the gun that Eames picks is already there in the stash. The “don’t be afraid be afraid to dream a little bigger” isn’t a clue that he dreamt the gun up, just a jab at JGL whose character always thinks in precise, specific ways as opposed to Eames freefrom, ‘i’ll respond to the situation as it happens” kind of thinking. Arthur is rigid, lacks imagination, Eames thinks differently. On the other point, it’s made clear at the start that unless the action is big enough that it would have an effect on the next level, so for example a car exploding near the building they’re in on one level leads to some kind of ‘earthquake’ like effect in the next. The reason for zero gravity, ask yourself this, why would the lack of gravity have an effect on both the second and third level? The lack of gravity on the second level is a response to the 1st, I don’t see how it could affect the 3rd. At least those are my thoughts.Oh and if i’m correct in thinking, JGL puts several charges on the elevator, he cuts the coil that holds the elevator in place and then another set of explosives gives the elevator some propulsion therefore explaining the velocity of the elevator, that idea i took from IMDB ;)And why must people always say that the action scenes are poorly cut? Could it not be that the director and editor were simply aiming for a different kind of momentum and/or feel with the editing rather than your conventional action film editing. It’s always used as an excuse for a director not familiar with action but why can’t it be that the director simply wants their own action style rather than this ‘standard’ way of shooting action that people think all directors should adhere to.

      • Senthil Neo

        For someone who has taken masterclass action films like ‘Batman Begins’ & ‘The Dark Knight’, taking action scenes and doing conventional editing is a piece of cake. What Nolan tried to show in this movie was totally different. You don’t see your typical hero bashing the bad guys fight!! Rmbr the “bad guys” are actually Fisher’s imagination here….

      • Senthil Neo

        For someone who has taken masterclass action films like ‘Batman Begins’ & ‘The Dark Knight’, taking action scenes and doing conventional editing is a piece of cake. What Nolan tried to show in this movie was totally different. You don’t see your typical hero bashing the bad guys fight!! Rmbr the “bad guys” are actually Fisher’s imagination here….

      • Angelamour7

        That question is one I’ve been wondering for a while…because if you could just manipulate your dream like that, where you’re in control of what you can dream up, that would defiantly cause a lot of gaping holes and leave questions in the plot…..

      • Jardoss

        This movie is based on something called Lucid Dreams. Nolan himself admit that is a so called Lucid dreamer, which is where he got the idea from when he was a teenager. Based on what ive read in on lucid dreaming (which is being conscious in a dream) you cant manipulate everything. Well, you can, but your brain will eventually run out of “energy” which will cause your subconscious to arrive at the scene and bring up nightmares. It takes a lot of time to mater full-dream control. And remeber, when you are in someone elses dream, which inception is all about, you DON’T have control

      • Falcoxcalibur

        There’s 0 gravity because in the previous dream they were falling to the river.

      • Satyam Avadh

        U r right….
        thats d simplest and best answer………

  • neo

    Chris is a genius

  • MrLuddite

    That Magnificent Bastard!

  • http://twitter.com/cablebfg Bill Graham

    This better be arriving in the mail today. I saw this issue (With TRON on the cover) yesterday at Borders.

  • Anonymous

    THere it is from the man himself. I always said the movie was straight up and COBB wasn’t dreaming at the end. It cut to black on the top spinning because as Nolan said “..Cobb is not looking at the top. He doesn’t care.” He doesn’t care because he knows he is awake.
    And NOLAN also says “The kids are not wearing the same clothes at the end! And they do age! We were working with two sets of kids.”
    Nolan’s film are always based in reality and pretty straight forward.

    The movie ends with COBB awake and it cuts to black because COBB didn’t need to see the top fall and neither did we. Nolan made a clear cut ending. It’s just his good fortune that people saw what they wanted to see. But this movie was needlessly picked at and analyzed. Thus the discussion started about was COBB really awake or not.

    If someone tells me that COBB was dreaming after what NOLAN has said then, I’m just walking away.

    • Sly

      Like everyone else “picking” at the film, you are just seeing what you want to see. The point of Nolan’s comments are that he is NOT telling you one way or the other.

      If the children had not aged and had they been wearing the same clothes, it would Obviously be a dream. The fact that many people think they were the same kids and he points out they were not does not prove anything.

      Cobb didn’t need to see if the top fell or not because he no longer cared. He could finally see their faces. The fact that he didn’t care to see only proves that he didn’t care.

      Don’t feel bad. Everyone needs to feel that they KNOW everything all of the time. That is why we have religion. But Nolan worked pretty hard to keep his intentions to himself so these statements do not prove ANYTHING, but they only disprove some things. Word.

      • Anonymous

        Don’t you see that’s the beauty of what NOLAN is saying. He is never going to flat out say if it’s a dream or not. Even though he is pretty much saying that it is all real. He doesn’t want to ruin the mystique of the movie. He just got lucky that people DIDN’T see the clear ending. It made so much more money because of it. And it “makes” it a better movie as well.

        You’re right. I am seeing what I want to see. And Im seeing clear cut facts.

      • Rmactodd

        What I took away from it is that whether he was a awake or not simply doesn’t matter. Cobb had what he was looking for, he believed/accepted it for what he saw (as you are doing now), so gave up trying to unravel the truth. He ended up happy even though there was the huge possibility of what he saw not being real (wow this really is sounding like you, junierizzle).

        None of it *had* to be real. At the same time, all of it could have been real. But what is real and what isn’t all comes down to your perception. That’s why it can be seen as such a personal film.

      • Anonymous

        I see your point about it not really mattering. But to me there isn’t enough ambiguity to question it.

      • AKSchampion21

        Okay, so let’s say for the sake of argument that he IS dreaming the whole time. So that means that his subconscious was causing the top to fall, because it was what he wanted to see, and it happened many times in the movie so that’s indisputable. If his subconscious is strong enough to do that (with plenty of practice from those “years” in limbo) then why couldn’t he imagine his kids in other clothes and a bit older? Now I’m not saying what I believe the ending to be, I’m just saying there’s still enough ambiguity for you to be “wrong” (though I don’t think there really is a right or wrong in cases like these, regardless of Nolan).

      • AKSchampion21

        Okay, so let’s say for the sake of argument that he IS dreaming the whole time. So that means that his subconscious was causing the top to fall, because it was what he wanted to see, and it happened many times in the movie so that’s indisputable. If his subconscious is strong enough to do that (with plenty of practice from those “years” in limbo) then why couldn’t he imagine his kids in other clothes and a bit older? Now I’m not saying what I believe the ending to be, I’m just saying there’s still enough ambiguity for you to be “wrong” (though I don’t think there really is a right or wrong in cases like these, regardless of Nolan).

      • KG

        I guess the point is, in asking if it’s real you’re asking the wrong question. What’s important is that Cobb accepts what he has, rather than asking “what if”.

        He isn’t sure it’s reality (after all, he just spun the top) but he has decided to accept it and to stop wasting his time doubting.

      • Kevin

        Bear in mind that the totems only exist in order to prove that the person isn’t in someone ELSE’s dream, because that someone else doesn’t know how to manifest the totem. If Cobb is in his own self-constructed dream, the top would fall over anyway, because he knows that it should if he’s not dreaming.

      • Sly

        Good point Kevin.

        And BOOM goes the dynamite.

      • Sly

        Good point Kevin.

        And BOOM goes the dynamite.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=503263779 Leon De Beer

        Except, he doesn’t dream anymore… as is shown in the scene from Mombasa.

      • Grygon

        and boom goes the dynamite.

        i love how much debate this film inspires, even after nolan gives us “answers”.

      • Grifter

        A self-imposed subconscious thought. If he believes himself to be real while in the dream, he’ll act on things that he knows would happen by too much exposure to invading dreams of others. So naturally, if he is dreaming it all, it’s acting on those principles. That too much exposure to another dreams will make it impossible for one to dream on their own without the help of the tech. His subconscious acts on this. This would be why he thinks he cannot dream anymore, yet he can. Or simply take that very first idea. After too much exposure/invasion of someone’s dreams, you can only dream by means of the dream tech. If it is all a dream, he is still hooked up in the real world to the dream tech.

      • Grifter

        Ok. I probably made that too complicated. To sum it up. His subconscious could be acting on pre-conceived notions about the effects of invading dreams. Also, if it is all a dream, in the real world he is still hooked up on the dream tech which in turn makes it viable for him to be able to dream it all…even though he mentioned he couldn’t.

      • The_Welsh_Idiot

        @Junierizzle – He just got lucky that people DIDNT see the clear ending.

        No no, he just works on a level a mile above your head. Luck had nothing, and I mean nothing to do with the way you feel at the end of this film.

    • Gregory TimpleBottoms

      I think the intent with what Nolan said and with the whole ambiguous ending is to make us wonder if it would be so bad if Cobb were still dreaming. He gets to have the life with his kids that he always wanted. To those who say it isn’t real, what truly defines reality? This is why I love Inception as much as I do, because in the end it’s not about whether or not it was a dream, but how all of us define reality.

    • Dtms

      Cobb doesn’t look at the top because he doesn’t care if he is in reality or not. He has accepted his current state for the present. The kids simply aged in “his reality.”

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=503263779 Leon De Beer

      There is a God! Thank you for actually paying attention.

  • neo

    looks like the whole film was a dream and Cobb just don’t care in the end.he is guilt free.i haven’t seen that much complicated movie in my whole life.both side’s arguments are very strong.

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  • http://twitter.com/Dledee Nisa Sampaio

    I feel good Nolan kind of confirmed my theory..
    “The important thing is that Cobb’s not looking at the top. He doesn’t care.”, it doesn’t matter if it’s a dream or reality cause seeing his kids makes Cobb accept that world as his reality, no matter what the audience thinks.

    • http://www.hiddenchaos.com Matt_Bacon

      But it DOES matter. Nolan let the audience keep their gaze on the top, therefore he caused to BE important.

      • http://twitter.com/Dledee Nisa Sampaio

        He kept it to cut without giving the answer, isn’t that saying you don’t need to know that to enjoy the movie?

      • http://twitter.com/Dledee Nisa Sampaio

        He kept it to cut without giving the answer, isn’t that saying you don’t need to know that to enjoy the movie?

      • http://twitter.com/grapenutsrbt Jim Goff

        No, that’s exactly the point. He stayed on the top because of course the audience wants to know the answer, but he doesn’t show it because it doesn’t matter. If it mattered he would have showed it, but because Cobb feels fulfilled finally at the end, that’s what is important to the story.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=503263779 Leon De Beer

      Yet, he 5 minutes earlier, explained to Mal how she doesn’t exist and isn’t good enough and he has to let her go.

      So suddenly… he is happy with fake children?

      COME ON PEOPLE! Seriously…

      • Grifter

        Well. I agree. But consider the time it took him to accept that of Mal. To let go and move on. It wasn’t an easy task. It would be easy to live in a dreamworld with his memories of her. But he always that present, and at the same time that going back to his kids would be his most important thing, if not salvation. Now if it is all a dream, couldn’t you see that maybe it’s just another blindspot (like Mal was for so long) for him…or something he doesn’t want to deal with at the moment, as he postponed dealing with “dreamy” Mal for all that time?

  • InfiniteMonkey

    Bastard is laughing all the way to the bank and all his little minions are laughing with him…me too. LOL

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  • Twojawas

    I love Nolan and I love smart films, but having just watched Inception again, I have to say that this film is not the masterpiece that many claim it to be. I found the amount of exposition that was spoonfed to the audience to be insulting and I was actually quite bored watching this a second time. I suspect that this film will be all but forgotten in a few years. I will eat my words if I am wrong, but I cannot see this film ever being spoken about or discussed, like The Matrix for example, in ten years time.

    • http://twitter.com/grapenutsrbt Jim Goff

      I already am starting to feel The Matrix slipping away from the film lexicon and I guarantee will be forgotten sooner than most people think. And for good reason; it really isn’t the end-all-be-all of films. Its pretty unremarkable really.

      • Anonymous

        It’s still being talked about 11 years later. THE MATRIX is here to stay.

      • http://twitter.com/EShy E-Shy

        It is? when matrix came out, two other movies with the same exacy idea came out (same month) thirteenth floor and existenze. both had better plot and less BS. Matrix was a success because of the cool action scenes, all that discussion about that movie was ridiculous, that movie never intended to go there.
        I haven’t heard anyone discuss it since the third movie came out, it’s totally forgotten by now

      • Anonymous

        Thirteenth ??? Exi–what?? JK. Ive seen those movies and those are the ones people forgot about.

        To this day, you cannot do an action scene in any type of slow-mo without people saying *matrix rip-off*cough**

      • Grifter

        If that’s what you consider talking about the Matrix after so many years, then it’s pretty dead. Slow-mo is what people mention? From a movie with a rich story like that, from various philosophical influences (or just blatant rip-off of Grant Morrison’s The Invisibles), slow-mo, is what is talked about? Tis only remembered for the action sequences then.

      • Anonymous

        No. The story too. One of the first reviews of INCEPTION called it “James Bond meets THE MATRIX.”

        Tarantino even had it in his Top MOvies since RESERVOIR DOGS came out list.

      • Anonymous

        No. The story too. One of the first reviews of INCEPTION called it “James Bond meets THE MATRIX.”

        Tarantino even had it in his Top MOvies since RESERVOIR DOGS came out list.

      • Leigha7

        I’ve actually never heard anyone say it like that. I’ve heard plenty of people talk about Bullet Time or say something like, “Hey, that’s like what they did in The Matrix,” but I’ve never heard anyone complain about something being a rip-off of The Matrix.

        The Matrix is good, but it’s not The Most Amazing Film Ever. It struck a chord with the audience for some reason (my guess, a combination of the basic premise, the tone, and the style of the action sequences–all of which are plenty easy to find in other movies, but not necessarily in that particular combination–as well as when it was released), and that’s why it has staying power. But it really could have been a lot better.

    • Thinkpro

      You are so right. I, too, was bored. I hardly ever fall asleep in a film, I mean never, but the only two time I have, have been the Nolan films. You hit the dot. The exposition was absolutely amateurish in it’s cinematic unfoldment. Expositions should be wrapped with ingenuity and not just becoming a long talkie. Any way, glad to know that there are some who didn’t find the story challenging at all. The most important and visible flaw of Inception compared to Matrix is that what is at stake in the Matrix is by and large important, the survival of humanity. Inception does not have any monumental stakes that Cobb needs to pursue. Hence it’s dramatically weak and non-existent. The film is just visual fx for sake of visual fx, not for the sake of dramatic and character growth. Neo grew in to his savior-ship. Cobb, doesn’t do anything, or grow at all.

      • http://twitter.com/grapenutsrbt Jim Goff

        I find it so fascinating when he seems like two people can watch the same movie and see a completely different film.
        No monumental feat in Inception? Cobb wanted is family back. Way more monumental to HIM maybe then you, but just as important.

      • Thinkpro

        In comparison to Taken, Ransom, and other family gone missing films, the children are the objective, and not the side subplot. If in Taken, the daughter is not the sole objective of Neeson’s pursuit, it would weaken it. The objective must the goal, must be the CAUSE for the action, not a REWARD for the action. In Inception, the children are the reward. The premise (the film does not have a clear moral premise, just a plot/premise) of the movie is not about the return of the children, but about a mission, whose reward includes the children. His children’s lives are not at stake here. If they kids were in peril in the dreams, then yes, but they are not. They are a subplot, a minor plot, hence the film does not have the overarching want to save the kids. In Taken, the rescue is the mission, Neeson did not accept another job to free his daughter in return. This is why it’s a better rescue movie. In RESCUE dramatic stories, the object of rescue must either want to be rescued, refuses to be or is incapable of participating because of confinement. Taken upholds this dramatic structure, Inception does not. Rescue movies have little room for breaking this proven structure, any novelty is more about the pursuit’s objective of what, where, when and how, than about the journey that is not directly related to the rescue. Cobbs kids are an after thought, not the sole, unrelenting goal of Cobb’s.

      • http://twitter.com/grapenutsrbt Jim Goff

        I find it so fascinating when he seems like two people can watch the same movie and see a completely different film.
        No monumental feat in Inception? Cobb wanted is family back. Way more monumental to HIM maybe then you, but just as important.

      • shortchop

        Not even close to true. The whole point of the movie was Cobb’s development. If you watch from the beginning, when Cobb first spins the top to see if he’s in reality or not, he’s holding a gun, ready to kill himself if the top keeps spinning. He’s so obsessed with what is reality and what isn’t because of Mal. But as it’s been said, he didn’t care to look at the top at the end because he had accepted the reality that he was in. Whether that was the first level of reality, or a sub-level and dream didn’t matter to him. He found a reality that he was finally happy with, and that was all that mattered.

      • Grifter

        I completely agree with you, shortchop. But again, no matter what people say, no matter what people that even “snored” in the movie like “Thinkpro”…they’re still talking about it. Also, given that…how can someone that actually slept during the movie be anyone at a position to talk about it in that depth? ;)

      • Grifter

        Thinkpro…Cobb the character, undergoes a pretty big character growth. Being it all a dream, he pushes past a subconscious issue that was preventing him from moving forward onto the next challenge, his kids. Being it all real, he does the same thing, moving on from loss, pain, longing and an ideal dream world with the woman of his life. That’s character growth for anyone alive. Think like a pro, dude. Earn your nickname.

      • Grifter

        Also. One thing I forgot. The exposition. I absolutely agree with you. Now. Consider the following. If it is all a dream, the exposition could be being used exactly to throw the viewer off and further ambiguity. And again I will point out that saving the world like Neo did, is monumental, but letting go of an ideal dream life with the woman you love, moving past the grief and the pain that you were responsible for her death (or maybe not), is not small feat for any individual in whatever reality. ;)

      • Leigha7

        I found it kind of refreshing to see a movie that WASN’T about saving the world, actually. At LEAST half of all movies are about that, and while it may be more exciting, it’s also completely unrealistic. The number of times, in all of human history, where the fate of humanity has rested in the hands of a single person is probably pretty close to zero. It’s nice to see a movie where the problem is something actual people could potentially deal with (even if the movie deals with an unrealistic fantastical element, like Inception).

  • Dogg

    I guess I’m the only one who found this movie extremely overrated. Look! You can fold the world up like it’s origami….now forget how cool that was, because we’re going to wrap up the plot with the standard Hollywood gun fight. Nolan had the balls to bring the big concept, but not quite the balls to unleash it. Dark City did it so much better and with 1998 technology.

    • John

      Dark City is garbage. Terrible acting ruined it. Story was good though.
      Alex Proyas is a joke of a director.

      Nothing compared to the Almighty Nolan.

    • Thinkpro

      Kudos. I’m with you on this.

    • Anonymous

      You have a point there. I was hoping for more in the dream world to be a little less grounded. I still loved the film however and will probably always enjoy Nolan’s skill at grounding his films as well as he and his cohorts do…

    • Anonymous

      That’s an interesting note. But the whole point of the dream world was to NOT have it like a dream.

  • pgitt

    They should’ve filmed all these explanations and put them in at the end of the movie and called it “Vanilla Sky.”
    http://www.youscreeniscreen.com

    • Mike91

      Love this comment (and love Vanilla Sky)!

      • Shawn

        This entire move is bull, its purposely designed to confuse you so you can talk about it and create a “buzz”, dont try to understand it or theorize over it, its all a joke, and Chris Nolan is laughing all the way to the bank. Chris Nolan, be a man and tell us the real explanation of the movie, I bet he doesen’t even know which THERE IS NONE!

      • Leigha7

        Even if the entire purpose of the movie is to get people talking about what it could mean and what the real ending is (which is true), and even if there is no real explanation, that doesn’t make the movie “bull” or “a joke.” There’s nothing remotely wrong with a story with an ambiguous ending that forces you to think about it. That’s not a FLAW. Movies SHOULD create thoughtful dialogue, but we’ve gotten so lazy that people don’t know how to deal with anything that makes them actually have to think.

  • Andy247

    Maybe when you’ve all finished blowing Nolan you can admit the film was 90% hype, and will never find a place in history as a classic.

    • http://twitter.com/grapenutsrbt Jim Goff

      No.

      • Sly

        nice

    • http://twitter.com/grapenutsrbt Jim Goff

      No.

    • Thinkpro

      Absolutely you are right. No one will remember it. Long live the Matrix.

      • Grifter

        Go read The Invisibles by Grant Morrison…then watch The Matrix. Long live it? And I say this as someone that loves The Matrix, but is realistic enough to be not be bias.

  • Hippychimes

    What a bunch of crap. He doesn’t outright tell you, because he doesn’t outright know. If he ever does come out and tell you what it all means, I bet it’s exactly like one of the theories already around… Leaving a film open to interpetation means one of two things. Either he doesn’t know himself. Or he wants it to be thought about. Either way it’s unsatisfying… Just throwing in a bunch of inconsitancies, crap theories and overelaborate dream rules just muddles things further to hide the fact it doesn’t work.
    His answer about Cobb ‘not being a reliable narrator’ sums it all up nicely. It’s Cobb’s story, but you can’t believe anything he says.
    Yeah, that satisfies me, like being interputed on my vinegar stoke.

    • Thinkpro

      YOu are so right. The twisted the film in his script so many times, he lost account of what the film was about altogether.

      I hate to be the editor on this film. He must have gone crazy.

    • Grifter

      I am pretty sure that to Nolan the film is what he knows it to be. If to Nolan the story he told is all a dream…it’s all a dream. If it is real to him, it is real to him. This is pretty black & white. But the main thing you should understand is that no matter what the real answer is, the movie is to many different people, many different things. And frankly, that, is the magic and purpose of cinema. To make you wonder.

    • Grifter

      I am pretty sure that to Nolan the film is what he knows it to be. If to Nolan the story he told is all a dream…it’s all a dream. If it is real to him, it is real to him. This is pretty black & white. But the main thing you should understand is that no matter what the real answer is, the movie is to many different people, many different things. And frankly, that, is the magic and purpose of cinema. To make you wonder.

  • Mikeyaks

    EXPLENATION: in all the dream sequences cobb always wears his WEDDING RING! in the real world he doesn’t! (the flashbacks of course don’t count)
    in the end he doesn’t wear his wedding ring, so it’s real.
    furtheremore: michael caine already said, that all the scenes with him are in the real world.

    –> THE END IS THE REAL WORLD

    i didn’t find the movie difficult to understand at all (at least that i know of)… it’s just what nolan said in interviews over and over again: it’s a action-heist-movie. it plays on 5 levels: 4 different dream levels (including limbus) and the reality.

    this movie isn’t matrix and it doesn’t try to be. the only thing that i don’t get is what nolan means by “But he’s an untrustworthy narrator.” (talking about cobb)

    • Anonymous

      What I foot from this is he’s using Mai’s totem so the audience believes it symbolizes him dreaming/not dreaming when in fact his real totem is the wedding ring. Thus he’s being untrustworthy by deceiving the audience.

      • Anonymous

        Autocorrect *what I got…using Mal’s totem…

  • Mikeyaks

    EXPLENATION: in all the dream sequences cobb always wears his WEDDING RING! in the real world he doesn’t! (the flashbacks of course don’t count)
    in the end he doesn’t wear his wedding ring, so it’s real.
    furtheremore: michael caine already said, that all the scenes with him are in the real world.

    –> THE END IS THE REAL WORLD

    i didn’t find the movie difficult to understand at all (at least that i know of)… it’s just what nolan said in interviews over and over again: it’s a action-heist-movie. it plays on 5 levels: 4 different dream levels (including limbus) and the reality.

    this movie isn’t matrix and it doesn’t try to be. the only thing that i don’t get is what nolan means by “But he’s an untrustworthy narrator.” (talking about cobb)

  • Alex

    The premise is all that matters and is loved in the film, everything else was just lame.

    But at least Nolan’s consistent.

  • DamnBASTERD

    What was confusing about Inception? You want to be confused, watch ‘Lost Highway’.

  • Michael Interbartoloiii

    what about that the movie was really about inception for Cobb. Caine’s character planned the whole thing to get Cobb to let go of his guilt for his wife.

  • Aeonstrife

    Like others have said it was clear as day in the end that Cobb was in the real world. The focus at the end on the top was symbolic of life no matter how real still having a dream quality but when life finally gives you what you want the dream is over which makes the top meaningless so it fades away into darkness.

    Seriously I can’t believe so many people had a hard time understanding Inception when the film has a simple story that explains everything. Yes the narrative structure is complex because Nolan uses various narrative devices of alternate perceptions, but the story itself is basically a professional thief with relationship issues manipulates a guy to get his kids back. I mean come on people, Avatar has a more complex story which is at times ignored because it has a simple narrative structure, but Cameron like Nolan could have used flashbacks as well as dreams to make his story seem more complex than it is which would probably have silenced most of the critics. Ironically these are probably the same people that don’t understand 2001: A Space Odyssey or The Fountain which also have simple stories despite having complex narrative structures.

    • Grifter

      Avatar = Pocahontas. The big bad advanced civilization comes onto the new world looking to explore it’s resources and throw out the natives because they view them as savages. Then someone from the big bad infiltrates the natives and learns theirs, falls in love with “Pocahontas/Natiri” and goes rogue trying to mediate peace and the like. Sure there’s the whole subtext message that we’re destroying our world…but it’s being done for centuries. Avatar really doesn’t have a complex story…as long as you’ve taken fourth grade history classes.

      • Grifter

        their ways*

    • bgurrl

      Thank you! Avatar is a simple story. I mean Cameron gave us exposition of why the mercenaries were in this other galaxy/planet and you still have folks asking or debating on why the mercenaries were there. The same thing with Inception.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Vimax-Review/100001853212331 Vimax Review

    Absolutely not. The riddler wasn’t a tall brooding type. I think no one could be a better Riddler than Jim Carey was. But Paul Bettany would be a good choice I think. The Riddler is a genius puzzler.
    http://vimaxmaleenhancementpills.com

  • Mememe

    “Oh no, I’ve got an answer…”

    Teasing mofo.

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  • Avin09

    The man ruined my life, now I can’t sleep anymore…see the irony! GIVE ME AN ANSWER!!

    • qwerty

      I wish I had an answer too from Nolan.. but being the huge believer of multi-perspectives that he is, I doubt he will ever give a concrete answer or definitive explanation on the film. To do so would only end speculation and discourse, which would be defeating his whole purpose for making the film anyway. And by the way, I don’t think The Matrix is *already* forgotten. Anyone who watched the latest Resident Evil movie can attest otherwise.

  • Turgai

    Oh man, no matter how improbable this sounds, after reading the answers, I am pretty sure Nolan is secretly developing a sequel to the movie, which actually would be awesome. A lot of the rules seem to be still untold. Like, I would guess the totem should logically not function as a reality-check device if you are in your own dream – your mind would replicate all its properties, because it would believe it is real.
    Supported by the above, and by Nolan’s reply – the fact that totem falls over does not mean that this is ultimate reality, it could be that Cobb is within his own dream, and his mind believes that he is in reality.
    OK, kids grow – different set of kids, but how probable is that they are in virtually same position Cobb saw them last and in which they appear throughout the movie?
    There are a lot of unanswered questions.
    What happens in Levels 2 and 3 if you die while sleeping in Level 1 just before the kick – as what happened to Cobb?
    What happens if you die in Limbo and there is no ‘kick’? Do you just re-spawn?
    And – important question – if you get to Limbo through the device, like Cobb and Mal did in the past – and then you die (crashed by train), do you wake up in reality or just in next-level-up dream? … Logic tells me Mal was right killing herself – and she knew that the totem was not the real deal – it was her totem, she must’ve known better. And apparently they were in Cobbs dream.
    Dreams are strange – it is strange that just because Cobb couldn’t see his kids faces the last instant, he cant seem to ever see their faces, even in his dreams.
    Anyways, I could go on and on…
    Sequel can be awesome, remember my words. :))

  • Jbirdpurplehaze

    He didnt clarify anything? And aside from the childrens size, we never see they’re faces til the end of the film. How do we know if they’ve aged.

    • Pyr0uz

      You surely know, that apart from aging from face, people do grow in length.

    • Pyr0uz

      You surely know, that apart from aging from face, people do grow in length.

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    Leonardo DiCaprio Confused With Inception Script http://bit.ly/hFQsY1

  • The Doctor

    If Cobb doesn’t care if the top is spinning or not at the end, then why did he set it spinning in the first place?

    • Anonymous

      Interesting point.

    • Grifter

      Because at first he couldn’t accept his life…and eventually he did. He learned to let go and move on.

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  • Anonymous

    I didn’t realize moviemaking had a grammar. This changes everything!!!

  • Anonymous

    I didn’t realize moviemaking had a grammar. This changes everything!!!

  • Shawn

    This entire move is bull, its purposely designed to confuse you so you can talk about it and create a “buzz”, dont try to understand it or theorize over it, its all a joke, and Chris Nolan is laughing all the way to the bank. Chris Nolan, be a man and tell us the real explanation of the movie, I bet he doesen’t even know which THERE IS NONE!

  • Jihoon

    This gives my wondering away!!

  • Keith

    I thought that Inception was very easy to understand. Everything before he wakes on the plane is a dream and he knows no one on the plane. The movie is about him going through the final stages of grief over his wifes death. The two riddles are clear: the train riddle talks about a journey with no end destination planned (marriage). Cobb expected to spend his life with Mal, but the journey ended too soon. The second riddle is the logic he must accept: life goes on and you cannot live off of a memory.

    Ariadne tells Cobb that dreams are more about emotions than visuals. The scene where Mal commits suicide is how Cobb feels inside as he deals with her death and not how she really died. At the end when Cobb is getting to acceptance he walks in and sees her with a knife. This is because he now sees her memory as a threat to his happiness and realizes that she is not enough to live the rest of his life on; he cannot live on a memory alone. Cobb’s dream about being chased around the world by anonymous corporations is exactly the same criminal feeling a man would have if his wife committed suicide: everyone would be supportive but inside wonder what he did or didn’t do to cause her to go over the edge.

    At no point is Cobb antagonistic to Mal throughout the dream because he loves her. Many times his anger and pain are turned around such as when she yells at him and Ariadne in the elevator “You said we’d grow old together!”. When you love someone deeply you can never view them in a negative light.

    Characters like Fischer are great opposites that highlight Cobb’s problem: Fischer has everything to gain by his fathers death but wants nothing more than to know the he loved him. Cobb knew his wife loved him and had everything to lose by her death. Ariadne and Arthur represent younger and more idealistic versions of Cobb and Mal. The old men living in the dream world off thoughts are what Cobb has to fear most.

    • bgurrl

      Everything before is not a dream except the beginning which is just the ending and of course when they all go in the dream. That’s all that is the ending being shown at the end. Nothing more. Hell Scorsese did this with Mean Streets .

  • fuck you

    This movie is BULLSHIT, WAKE UP YOU STUPID FUCKS!

  • fuck you

    This movie is BULLSHIT, WAKE UP YOU STUPID FUCKS!

  • See Chelle

    I don’t care what anyone says, this film is awesome. Nolan is by far one of the best, every single movie I’ve seen from him has had me watching with eyes glued to the screen. I do wish that they had expanded more on the dream process rather than Cobbs subconscious (Mal) which of course dreams can contain things, places, people that are very real in waking life but something is always…off. Not neccessarily vast landscapes or anything wild. All in all, the film is smart, intense, interesting. It was a great idea, and I loved it. I don’t want to guess if he was dreaming or not in the end, the fact was, he didn’t care that the top kept spinning, right?

  • kat.ka

    Heh, audience hasn’t to take ‘leap of faith’ – it’s clearly show, that top is going to fall…if they end movie when top is still straight spinning, it would make an effect…

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  • http://twitter.com/EShy E-Shy

    There’s a big hint at the end of the movie that most people missed. When you watch it again pay close attention at the airport scene.

  • Jeeva

    i ve seen all nolan’s films. .. really i don know how tat guy thinks tat much.. each movie is really master piece.. and this inception is a bit ahead of all.. u rock man..

  • Ryan

    Cobb’s wedding ring is his totem. It appears in dream sequences but not in reality

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