Inception Ending: The top falls and here is the proof

By titling this post “Inception Ending” it goes without saying we’re about to embark into Spoiler territory, but since I said it anyway, if you are a non-Inception watcher, put your earmuffs on.

Now then, the brilliant final shot of Christopher Nolan’s movie leaves us with the top spinning, though with a slight wobble. Then darkness. It’s up to you to decide how the thing ends. This leads us toward two conclusions:

1)      The top falls, Cobb made it to reality, has reunited with his kids against all odds and gets the happy ending.

2)      The top never falls, Cobb never escaped Limbo and has created a happy ending fantasy in which he is reunited with his kids.

I’m here to tell you the top falls, and to explain let’s observe something about each dream within Inception. Of course, I’m talking about all the scenes in which Nolan made it clear we are in a dream (as opposed to the theory that the entire movie is a dream, there is no such thing as dream sharing and Cobb is actually just an overweight insurance salesman who fell asleep on the bus. I casual dismiss this theory because I don’t believe Nolan would make a movie in which nothing happened as to say, “It was all just a dream. BOO!”). Now if you look at every “dream” you’ll notice they are populated by only two types of people: the dreamers and the projections. Now think back to the Saito mind heist. When Arthur is awoken from Nash’s (the first architect) dream, he disappears. Dreamers don’t stay in the picture once they have awoken. In the end, when Cobb is walking through the airport, Nolan’s camera ponderously pours over each face of Cobb’s team, almost as if to say “and you were there, and you were there and you too” (a nod to another movie about a dreamer awakening). We know Cobb’s team got out because we saw them get their kicks (so to speak).  In no other part of the movie does Nolan allow people the dreamers know into the dreams unless they are dreaming as well. The exception here is, of course, Mal but she represents Cobb himself, or at least his subconscious trying to pull him down to Limbo where he can live without the guilt of his wife’s death. If a dreamer could just conjure up the people he knew, why would Cobb need a team? He could create dream versions of Arthur and the rest. The answer is you can’t, not by the rules set up in Nolan’s shared dreaming universe.

A lot of people get hung up on this fact. Real dreams are chaotic and non-linear, but Nolan’s shared dreams have structure, rules and order.  The truth is, though it talks a lot about dreams, Inception isn’t really about dreams at all. Not the ones you and I experience at least. It might have alleviated confusion if Nolan left the word “dream” out of the movie and just called shared dreaming what it really is: invading other people’s mind. But then Nolan would have had to call the movie Mind Hackerz, and that’s just stupid.

Still not convinced? How about this, if Cobb is in Limbo, living out the fantasy of his happy ending, why isn’t Mal there? After all, Limbo is a place where, if you succumb to it, allows limitless delusion. It doesn’t really matter how he justifies her return, maybe her suicide was itself a dream, maybe she bounced or maybe he doesn’t justify it at all. Point is, if he has dreamt up his ultimate happy ending, then Mal would most certainly be there.

Other quick thoughts:

It’s been pointed out that Cobb wears his wedding ring in all the dreams, but never wears it in reality (kind of a cold move, but okay). In the final scene Cobb is not wearing the ring.

If he was in Limbo, and the totem is designed to never drop while in a dream state, why would it wobble at all?

Now, I’ve already written about how the purpose of Nolan’s ending is to leave the viewer in doubt (an anti-conclusion that imparts a message of its own), but as you can see, by observing the rules and structure created for dream sharing, he has left us breadcrumbs to find the ultimate truth.

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172 Responses to Inception Ending: The top falls and here is the proof

  1. sunny says:

    look i dnt agree at all how can u leave the fact that cobb sees his kids in the same clothes and the age i mean if u v seen the film well once his kids call the voice of his daughter is too matured which means she has grown up so obv cobb is still dreaming maybe its his personal dream this time where he sees what he always wanted to c

    • Monica M says:

      Sorry hun, the costumer designger stated that the clothes that the children were put in were different, not the same if you looked closely. They did that on purpose to make you THINK that they were in the same clothes. Also, that Cobb was gone for less than one year. So in the end, his children would not have changed much.

    • stephen says:

      his children weren’t the same age. if you did some research like going to imdb, you’d know that the children at the end of the film were different actors than the children in his memories.

      • Steve says:

        IMDB had two sets of names for the kids because of this: The kids he last sees are girl-3 and boy-20mon. When he is in “reality” he talks to them on the phone. At this point the kids are older (girl-5 and boy-3) thats why there are two sets of credits. 1 set on the phone the other set the ones you see.

    • Joseph Hackney says:

      If you observed well enough you well notice that in Cobbs dream state his children are wearing different shoes then they wear in the dreams. And if he was dreaming he could of vary well just have gone home. That being said, one can believe that this was his dream to go home and thus made it a reality. So in the end how can anyone but the director know how the story ends if it does end at all.

    • Jacob O says:

      I have to disagree with u because when he was in a dream we would never look at his kids. he said ” I want to see them on the outside.” so that just adds that he couldn’t be under.

      • Kari says:

        Ok after just watching the movie again, I have to ask, didn’t Cobb tell Mal that they did grow old together, because they were together 50yrs, but like they say that in a dream what happens in 5 mins, once your dreaming it can take like 30mins or so, I don’t remember the exact figures, but why did Cobb always stay the same age & why did the kids stay the same age & will all the stuff that he went threw with Mal that had to take place over a few years, those kids couldn’t have been playing in the same location & in the same spot, I don’t think Cobb ever made it back from Limbo. I think he gave himself a happy ending. He said his goodbyes to Mal & that’s way she wasn’t there in the last scene. I don’t know, everyone has there own take of the movie & I guess that’s exactly what the writer & director of the film wanted to happen

      • Aaron says:

        I just gave MYSELF a happy ending

    • soniainos says:

      the people dont attack him. so i think its real.

    • Dave Danger says:

      Y’all are way to linear… It doesn’t matter whether the top falls or not… Cobb turns away from the top to embrace his own reality, whatever it is. It just doesn’t matter anymore! Nolan has said as much in interviews. Watch it again. It sheds a whole new light on the movie.

      • emma says:

        I never thought of this, but it’s wonderful. It gets to the point where he doesn’t care if it’s real or a dream; he’s with his children, he’s happy, that’s all that matters.

      • poopy poo says:

        Exactly what emma said

    • priinnz says:

      i dont understand why people keep harping “kids are in same clothes” get some good quality glasses. throughout the movie when Cobbs imagines them Phillipa is wearing an orange spagghetti strapped dress but in the last scene there is white shirt below the orange dress thing. Also the hem, the fit and sleeves of dress are different. Also the boy… he is wearing trousers , and then shorts…

    • himangshu says:

      Different shoes!

  2. cimiller says:

    The one thing that bothered me at the end was the fact that his children hadn’t aged at all, and were wearing the same outfits that they were the whole rest of the movie (a.k.a. Dreamland). How long do you think Cobb was away? A year? Two? Kids age fast and they would have changed dramatically. There old outfits wouldn’t have fit. And why would the house look exactly the same?

    • Bob says:

      That just isn’t true. We don’t know how long he was away for, but even if it was a year you wouldn’t see much difference between a 5 year and 6 year old. It could all have happened in the space of 6 months or less though for all we know.

      Their outfits and shoes are different, you just have to look closely. They look similar, but that’s the whole point: to cause doubt in the mind of the viewer. Does the top wobble because Cobb is simply losing touch with reality, or does it wobble because he is in fact in reality. We don’t know.

      In my opinion there is no right or wrong answer to this one. Nolan designed the movie so it incepts the idea of questioning reality in our own minds and he did that exceptionally well.

      My own personal opinion is that the dream doesn’t end… but not for the reasons you gave.

    • Azmera says:

      It can’t have been that long, because James and/or Phillipa didn’t know their mom was dead– I remember one of them saying “When is mom coming back?”, or something like that, over the phone. If she’d been dead for more than a year or two, they (or at least Phillipa) would have noticed and figured it out.

      • Jacob says:

        I think that’s more just a case of childhood innocence and not understanding the concept of death. Cobb does reply that “We talked about this, Mommy’s not here anymore”. James simply isn’t old enough to understand that his mother has passed away.

  3. cogamble says:

    @ Sunny. I’ve heard that bit about the daughter’s voice being older on the phone before. It’s a pretty strong piece of evidence against my case. I don’t know how to chalk it up because Nolan creates many moments that use Hollywood cliche (such as Saito’s fortuitous appearance in Mombasa) which are taken for granted in most movies but seem like dream evidence in Inception. What ever actress Nolan got to talk on the phone had to be older than the actress used as the daughter because such a young kid would not be able to reliably deliver lines. Just a bit oh Hollywood trickery or a clue? We may never know.

  4. cogamble says:

    @ James. Nope, there is a difference between divining what Nolan actually meant and coming to your own conclusion and both ideas are valid. In art, the artists intent is no more important that the interpretation of the viewer. This post is my answer to the clues left by Nolan to divine his ultimate meaning. I still hold by my earlier post as to my “interpretation.” Confused?

  5. Ryder says:

    I agree with cogamble simply because the story fits that way, meaning the simplest ending would seem to be the most rational ending. I believe he simply used the same clothes and the same actors to portrey cobb’s children so it would be clear to the audience that it in fact was his children and by using the same scene but with his children actually looking toward him, it gives a more dramatic effect to the audience. Or maybe he just thought that using the same actors as the daughters would be a more dramatic effect than having to change actors which could confuse or get rid of any dramatic effect of being reunited with his children. Point is, looking at the facts, in no way did I see Nolan giving obvious hints that Cobb was, in fact, still in limbo except for the ending in which the top does tilt. And let me point out that if he were still in limbo, why would the top even tilt at all? Shouldn’t it just keep on spinning straight like the scene in his wife’s safe? It seems pretty clear to me that Cobb had a happy ending since most if not all the facts point to it.

    • graceanne says:

      It was a daughter and a son you half wit. Phillipa and *David*. I don’t know if David is a girl name wherever you’re from, but in Australia it’s traditionally a boy name.

  6. sunny says:

    @cogamble agreed regarding hollywood tricks but tell me isnt comparing the voiceover to the saito appearance a bit too farfetched i mean cmon the voiceover is pretty strong clue for an observing audience to find out about the climax anyways do alos think of the point that during the climax the films pacing suddenly changes from the moment cobb is left alone to sink so that he can find saito i think the last part where dom wakes up and goes home is his PERSONAL dream which he wanted to c like all of us who like to see happy things in our dream and the totem part for me becomes a tool of getting ooh and aaahs in the cinema hall

  7. Shane says:

    The thing with the daughters voice being older. Having a daughter myself she sounds much older on the phone than she is in real life so that can’t be a determining factor.

  8. Michelle M says:

    There are two sets of actors credited with playing the children at different ages.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1375666/fullcredits#cast

  9. franky says:

    I’d like to believe that the ending was Nolan’s conclusion of portraying the idea what is dream and what is reality.
    but the whole thing about his kids and wearing the same outfits it actually incorrect.
    the little girl is wearing a white shirt under the red dress at the end (she wasn’t in dream) and both kids were wearing shoes at the end (in dream sandals).

    • rielle says:

      Definitely true! I watched it on my phone and I have to pause it when the scene is showing Phillipa wearing red dress with a little sleeves and also wearing black sandals (dreamland) while on the last scene I paused it again so I can look closely, Phillipa was wearing sleeveless red dress with white shirt under it and also wearing rubber shoes.
      With that said, Cobb also was not wearing his wedding ring at the final scene.
      So for me,Cobb really made it to reality. :)

  10. franky says:

    I’d like to believe the ending was Nolan’s conclusion to the films portrayal of what is dream, what is reality.
    but the whole thing on the kids with different outfits is incorrect.
    in the end scene the little girl is wearing a white shirt under the red dress (she wasn’t in dream) and both kids were wearing shoes (in dream were wearing sandals).
    hope this helps in any way

  11. mishi says:

    we can only look at facts. and the fact is that the top didn’t fall. end of story -no assumptions.

    • Bob says:

      The fact is that the top wobbles right before they cut to black. We don’t know whether it falls or not, leaving it open to assumptions.

      • Rabo says:

        you can see the wobble growing, the kids are wearing different clothes, Cobb doesn’t have a wedding band, and the team is there AND they recognize them.

  12. Monica M says:

    “use your ears not your eyes”. Did anyone else listen to the credits?! The sound of the top dropping is heard in the credits

  13. aaron says:

    You have a slight problem in your theory. Fischer’s godfather DID appear in Fischer’s dream as a subconscious projection. So, people you know in reality can appear as subconscious projections in the dream level.

    • Jacob says:

      You could argue that he was the projection of Fischer’s doubt and suspicion, in the same way that you could argue that Mal was Cobb’s projection of his guilt in his subconscious. But honestly I think there is no right and wrong answer. Christopher Nolan is a genius and he masterfully designed the movie to make the audience question what is dream and what is reality. Both in the movie, and in their everyday lives.

  14. George says:

    The fact that the top begins to wobble leaves more reason to believe that it fell. If a top were to spin forever, it simply means that the forces that normally bring a top to fall (gravity and friction) are not having any effect and the top can spin free of any external interference. But if these forces are applied to a top (as they would be in reality) then it begins to slow down from the moment that it begins to spin. And so if the top begins to wobble, we can assume that is slowing down, we can assume that its due to friction and gravity and we can assume that these forces (unchanged) will relentlessly bring the top to a halt.

  15. Who cares says:

    Throughout the whole movie he was trying to make a point that no one can be certain what reality is. Cobb struggles throughout the film about which reality he lives in. When both worlds seem so real it doesn’t matter what reality really is it is only what Cobb chooses it to be and he chose his kids over his wife. So it doesn’t matter whether the top falls because Cobb chooses to believe that his kids are his reality.

  16. Joseph says:

    This theory is so stupid “If Cobb was in Limbo, why wasnt Mel there?” because if Mal was there then he would have known that he is in Limbo, and the whole thing about his kids with different clothes, well maybe again he made them have different clothes to make him think that it was reality. And even if his kids have different clothes THEN WHY DIDNT THEY AGE? He hasnt seen them for years so why have they not changed?

    • Jacob says:

      They did age. There are multiple comments here that state that different actors for the children were used at the end. The clothes were so similar, and the aging was so slight, for a reason. To cause this exact debate. For the audience to question what is a dream and what is reality.

  17. Chucky says:

    Dunno if you might consider this, but as you go further down into the subconscious (as Cobb does), the mind is increasingly vulnerable to the conception of ideas, including the idea of Cobb finally concluding that his wife isn’t real (“You’re just a Shade, you’re just a Shade of my real wife”). There is also the fact that COBB WAS STABBED in the upper torso area by the Mal projection. He very well could’ve died in that dream and been plunged into limbo as a result (and, as Cobb no longer believes the Mal projection to be remotely real, he wouldn’t have his wife be with him in limbo). Now, another thing: at the start (and the end), Saito TOUCHES COBB’S TOTEM IN LIMBO (thus, if Cobb has remained in limbo, that means the totem itself is corrupted). With the ending, we also have to consider why Miles is there if hes split up with his wife (the kid’s grandmother, whom they’ve stayed with) and is teaching in Paris.

    I strongly believe Cobb to be in Limbo, yet, my question isn’t whether Cobb is in Limbo at the end, but whether if he is dreaming at times we’d be unsure if he’s dreaming if we’re watching the movie a second/third/etc time, like in Mombasa when he gets stuck between these two walls running from Cobol Engineering Bounty Hunters (that image suggests something).

    • Jacob says:

      Cobb WAS in Limbo when he was stabbed, you can’t go down any further.
      The only difference that Saito touching the totem would make, is if Saito pulled Cobb into his own dream and could therefore replicate the totem, making Cobb believe he was in reality. However, this is highly unlikely judging by Saito’s character. Why would he pull Cobb into a dream? And this is all assuming that touching a totem while dreaming has any effect at all. Maybe it only matters if someone touches your totem in the real world.
      Also to explain why Miles is in America, Cobb gives a bag of gifts to Miles when he visits him in Paris, and tells his children on the phone that he is sending presents with grandpa. Miles obviously takes a trip to America.
      I also agree that during some scenes, I question whether or not it is reality. But then, that’s the whole idea of the movie. And it could also be a lot of Hollywood cliche as suggested by someone else earlier. I don’t believe there is a right or wrong answer on this one.

  18. Matt says:

    The only time Cobb’s top would wobble is when they’re not in a dream, AND…when its Cobb’s dream they’re in. Because Cobb knows how the top is weighted, when he dreams the top will fall as if it were in real life.

    The entire is movie takes place in Cobb’s own dream. At one point Cobb tells Ariadne that he and Mal were experimenting with dreams within dreams. When Mal killed herself by jumping out the window, she was right to do so.

    Toward the beginning of the movie, when Cobb is talking on the phone with his kids, you’ll notice that they called him. At this point Cobb is in hiding from Saito, there’s no way that his kids would have that phone number.

    There was other evidence, but I haven’t seen the movie in a long time.

    • Jacob says:

      Christopher Nolan himself has confirmed that the whole movie isn’t a dream, so we can immediately rule that idea out.

  19. Look it Up says:

    Seriously. Check out the credits. To everyone who keeps saying that the reason the kids are the same age at the end, check the credits. Two sets of kids, listed at different ages. There is never any mention of how long Cobb has been gone. There is no reason to believe he’s been gone for years. Especially with the whole theme of time dilation, he could have been gone for days working and it might seem like years to him. Just an example, he’s gone for an arbitrary amount of time.

    Stop yelling about the kids. Look it up first. Same with the clothes.

    • sean janson says:

      you are rite dont look at the kids the kid don’t matter its all about that top and a part of the moive is said in the dream the top will naver fall it will keep spinning and at the end of the moive to me it look like the top was slowing down about to like when you spin a penny or something when it wobble so to me thats what it look like

  20. roughy says:

    Guys, what do you think of this theory: http://www.reviewmaze.com/2010/12/inception-ending-interpretation.html
    I found it pretty convincing when I read it.

  21. Korbin_Pride says:

    There are a few things you forgot to mention. Cobb said that the dreamers subconscious will attack an intruder. So If it was all a dream then why are they attacking the girl when he is testing her, or when they’re in the targets dream. Cobb also mentions that while in limbo you can only create objects not people. So if he was dreaming in limbo then why are there people. While in Mombasa, if he was dreaming, why didn’t he pull that ending staircase trick and throw everyone to their death? And with the kids, he never saw their faces when he left, while in dreams he couldn’t place their faces on them because he didn’t have the memory. And to end this, Cobb explains that he planted inception into Mal’s mind, thus causing her to go crazy, and jump. So unless Cobb was lying from the very beginning about dreams and controlling them, then this is not a dream and a happy ending. Oh and the children having his phone number, well he wasn’t on the run until after he failed in the beginning of the movie. Now I’ve only seen the movie once, so I might change my mind after a second or third viewing. Will get back to you on that.

  22. Guy says:

    Really enjoyed reading everyone’s theories on what inception is really about. I myself believe that it’s all a dream. Shared dreaming doesn’t, and couldn’t possibly exist in reality. Don’t you think that if Nolan wanted the film to be set in reality he would have tried explaining this “military technology”. The totem is a total herring, because even if it does fall, why does that mean he’s in reality, things that occur in reality can also occur in dreams. There are also many moments in the film when he is supposed to be in reality, but things happen that are synonymous with dreaming. Thinning alleyways, people turning up out of the blue to rescue you, being chased, and even finding the man he needed in a bar in Mombasa with an underground room, Please. I’m also really for the idea that inception is about film making (Cobb being the director), and placing an idea in the audiences mind. The idea that is the film reality or a dream, the same idea Cobb plants in his wifes mind . Pure poetry. Beautiful film.

    • Jacob says:

      As I said before, Nolan has confirmed that the whole film is not a dream. Your idea is really interesting though, I like it.
      Though most of it can be explained simply by the nature of modern film. How many other movies have you seen where the right guy is in the right place at the right time to get the story moving? If Cobb spent months trying to find the people he needed, it would be a very long and boring movie.
      Also Saito explains why he shows up in Mombasa. He says he is protecting his investments. His investments being Cobb. He’s been following him, making sure nothing happens to the world’s most skilled extractor which he needs so much.
      The whole idea of the spinning top as a totem is more for the audience’s sake. The point of it in the film is that only the owner knows the exact weight and balance of their totem. As the audience can’t feel and touch Cobb’s totem, it needed a more visual aspect to it: the spinning.

  23. Guy says:

    Retraction: After reading several number of other theories on the real truth of Inception. I must put the meaning of this film “up to interpretation” Sorry.

  24. RC says:

    The totem wasn’t even Cobbs though it was his wifes so whether it fell or kept spinning it wouldn’t matter

  25. RC says:

    The totem is useless because it was his wifes and not his own so the proof of reality is uncertain throughout the whole movie

    • Jacob says:

      It makes no difference who owned it, only who knew of the exact weight and balance. Only Cobb and Mal knew that, and with Mal being dead, it is a perfectly acceptable totem for Cobb, as he is the only person alive who knows the exact weight and balance.

  26. teddy says:

    The totem does not tell you if you are awake or not.

    The totem can only tell you if you’re in someone else’s dream (which is why only you should touch it). If the totem falls it means only one thing: Someone else is not manipulating your reality. But that also could mean you are asleep in your own dream.

    The fact that Nolan teases us means Cobb might be in someone else’s dream. Its not really about is he awake or not(although that is a possibility). There are 3 possibilities, not 2.

    1) he is awake. 2) he is dreaming. or 3) he is in someone else’s dream.

  27. Jeeves says:

    look up ‘Michael Caine inception ending’ on google and it says that Michael Caine gave away the ending in some interview.
    he claims cobb makes it back to his real kids.
    i dont know if this is his interpretation or if its fact but its what he has said.
    hope this helps

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  29. nicole says:

    look very closely at the scene where Cobb is telling fisher that he is head of his security…. when he see’s his kids you can see that his daughter IS wearing different clothing….. In that last scene of the movie she has a pink dress with a white shirt underneath and in the hotel scene she is ONLY in a pink dress. And i agree with the wedding ring, the other people being in his dream after waking up, and the spinner being very wobbly at the end, Every scene with the spinner in a dream it is straight up and down, not one wobble. I also heard from another that the spinner was his WIFES way of knowing if she was dreaming, They say that his way was seeing his kids…. in his dreams they never turned to him, but in the end he got to see their faces.

    • Sloth says:

      the ‘kids’ theroy is interesting, but the idea that ‘in his dreams they never turned to him, but in the end he got to see their faces.’ is wrong. he doesn’t want to see their faces in a dream. he wants to see them in real life. its a choice he makes.

  30. big bob says:

    anyone that says the whole movie is a dream is wrong because as stated cobb’s totem will keep spinning in a dream state and as you see several times it stops spinning

  31. Bort Plate says:

    -=Listen=-
    Everyone seems to forget: the top DOESN’T MATTER!
    A totem only tells you that you are in someone ELSE’S dream! If you are in your OWN dream, you know how your totem works, and thus the totem is useless.
    So, with this information presented, feel free to throw out 75% of the theories out there.
    I think it’s great how Nolan made a movie with so many loopholes that there is no true answer. That’s the whole point; -reality is subjective-.

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  33. Bret says:

    Okay. So what I got from the movie is that. 1.) The totem tells you if you’re in ANY dream because if you want it to keep spinning in your own dream it will. As you saw in the beginning when he demonstrated dreaming to the girl. She was able to manipulate his dream. Which made his subconscious go after her. So in any dream you can manipulate your totem and decide weather you are in a dream or not. 2.) In the dreams his totem didn’t even wobble it spun perfectly. In the end it starts to lose balance. Why would it do that? There’s also the possibility that when he saw his kids after spinning the top he got distracted and stopped focusing on the top and it started to fall. I have only seen it twice. So I’m still in some doubt about the ending, but I have a strong belief that it was reality at the end.

  34. Milt says:

    If it had been reality, Nolan would’ve had no reason to show the totem. That’s basic storytelling. He specifically concentrated the final shot on the top to show that it wasn’t falling over. Besides, we see Cobb spin that top at least 3 times in the movie and it falls over within 5 seconds (get your dvd and go watch it). In the last scene, the thing is spinning for several minutes. Not possible. All the other supposed “evidence” is irrelevant, like Mal not showing up (she shows up at random times in every dream, who’s to say she doesn’t show up after the film cuts to black) or Cobb seeing his kid’s faces (I’m sure Cobb has a vague idea of what his kids look like, just not that particular memory when he split the country). Face it, Cobb is in Limbo and when his cohorts awaken on the plane, they find him comatose. Sorry.

    • cogamble says:

      Can’t agree. What about the wobble? The fact Dom spins the top and then walks away is what’s important. If you see my original post on the subject, Nolan’s point isn’t whether Dom is in reality or not, but the fact he’s given up obsessing about it, making him simultaneous dreaming and not dreaming (it’s a Schrodinger’s Cat thing).

    • Jacob says:

      Nolan didn’t concentrate on the spinning top at the end to show it wasn’t falling over. He showed the top to make the audience question whether or not Cobb made it back to reality. Christopher Nolan creates films with a lot of depth. If Nolan decided Cobb made it make to reality, he would still have shown the spinning top. He wouldn’t have just had Cobb walk in and hug his kids and have such a blatant happy ending. That’s just not his style. He put the top there to make us question it, and to make us really think about the themes of the movie. There is no right or wrong answer.

  35. kyle says:

    His dad looks to be wearing the same clothes as well in the last scene. Which would make sense because that was what he last saw his dad in, same for kids. And maul wasn’t there because he finally let her go in his subconcious before the last kick in limbo, therefore no ring either. In other words he was finally able to make limbo as close to reality as possible. That’s my take on it.

  36. izsrael says:

    Does anyone take in mind that the proof of the end being reality is all in his kids faces. He says it clearly that no matter how hard he tries he cannot put faces on his kids. He’s been at it for 50 years in limbo and never could so what makes you think he all of a sudden can???

    • cogamble says:

      It’s not that he can’t do it, it’s because he doesn’t want to because to see their faces may lead to giving in a letting the dream become his reality.

  37. ashley says:

    In the last scene the daughter has a white shirt on under the pink dress, yes. BUT the top dosent stop spinning. In the scene with mal’s safe, as he closes the door it wobbles. So its got nothing to do with wobbling. Why didn’t any of his team say a single word to him in the airport? Because they were projections. He is perfectly capable of bringing his dad into the dream. (Fosters uncle was projected at the hotel.) His father worked at a college in another country, so why was he waiting at the gate in america? He made his own happiness in limbo. The end. If you knew you were never going to wake up, wouldn’t you?

    • Jacob says:

      What would you say after such an ordeal? Remember what they were doing was illegal so you wouldn’t exactly go talk about it at an airport.
      I agree that the wobbling doesn’t really tell us anything.
      The reason the grandfather was in America is because he went to visit the grandchildren. At the start in Paris, Cobb gives the grandfather a bag of gifts to give to the kids, and he tells them on the phone that he is “sending presents with grandpa”
      It’s perfectly possible for Cobb to wake up from Limbo, he’s done it before.
      But still, I believe there is no right or wrong answer. The whole point of the movie is to make the audience question what is a dream and what is reality.

    • ashley2 says:

      This is quite a few months late, but…the whole assignment was for them to be conspiring against Fisher. When they walked on the plane, they acted as if they didn’t know one another. When Cobb came back to consciousness, of course they weren’t all like ‘hooray! you’re alive’ because that would be a HUGE cover blown. And like someone said, they weren’t doing anything illegal.

      I also saw somewhere else that someone mentioned he woke up differently then anyone else had before in the movie. Well, as seen in the scenes with Cobb and Saito are old men, they have been in limbo for YEARS. So, coming back to reality had to be a bit of a jolt after that long in limbo, whereas the other times they were just in ‘dreams’ for a week or so, and their concept of reality wasn’t as skewed.

      Just some thoughts.

  38. Jacob says:

    I also noticed that in Limbo, Cobb always wears that old jacket. At the end, he is wearing the suit he boarded the plane wearing. Not something to prove anything, but something to think about.

  39. Sipher says:

    I was wondering, the spinner was originally Mal’s totem so wouldn’t it be fair to say that the spinner falling isn’t a sign of a dream or not. because as Arthur said, your totem needs to be unique to you, only you should know the feel. so because the spinner is Mal’s when Cobb spins it in the end of the movie could it be that he has only escaped to a level of dream where he was the dreamer but where Mal was still the owner of the spinner totem?

  40. ibizafx says:

    COBB
    I thought about calling out, so
    they’d turn and smile those
    incredible smiles… but I’m out of
    time-
    The Thin Man thrusts the paper into Cobb’s hand.
    THIN MAN
    Right now. Or never, Cobb.
    Cobb nods, turns from the window-
    COBB
    Then I panic that I’ll always wish
    I’d seen them turn, that I can’t
    waste this chance…
    Cobb TURNS BACK to call out- but the children RACE OFF…
    COBB
    But the moment’s passed. And
    whatever I do, the dream’s always
    the same… When I’m about to
    call… they run.

    he said whatever he do, the dreams always the same the kids run away, so when they went towards him he didnt care for the top to stop spinning because it isnt a dream.

    • ibizafx says:

      well i watch it again last night to be sure and now im unsure. i think it could of been ARIADNE manipulating the dreams at the end.
      -Cobb told her that the top keep spinning in dreams but not reality.
      -she knows that in Cobbs dream he cant see his kids.
      - ARTHUR said he’;; be lost… ADREADNE No. He’ll be alright. scene cuts to Cobb in the shore face down in limbo, but wasnt he already in limbo with MAL. why is he facing down like he just got there?
      -who built the japanese palace i thought the only construction in limbo was done by MAL and COBB.

      so to sum it up ADREADNE is controlling the dream, she lets Cobb sees his kids, she doesnt let the totem spin forever but she just didnt know how long it should spin thats why it wobbles at the end.

  41. cogamble says:

    Hold up there. The Japanese temple is there because Saito is also in Limbo.

  42. AeonSpiral says:

    who’s to say this isn’t mal’s dream? maybe shes the one who feels guilt because (as the movie elaborates many times towards the end) She left the kids. And mal is in EVERY dream….. And the top never stops spinning because mal never stopped dreaming for the sake of her children etc.

    Far strecth, but isn’t the whole movie a far stretch in the first place?

    • AeonSpiral says:

      and the fact that The totem was his wife’s she put it in the safe, in her dream house, in her limbo.

      I don’t think the movie actually has a whole lot to do with Cobb himself at all.

  43. Victoria says:

    it doesn’t even matter whether the top falls or not! The cliff-hanger ending symbolised that you should accept happiness over the realism of the world. He was with his kids! He was happy! He didn’t need anything else. What a non-materialistic ending :D

    • Sonja says:

      I totally agree. Even Nolan agrees with that idea. Through the entire movie, Dom is totally obsessed with the question of reality. At one point in the movie, he sits and watches the top spin. He holds a gun at the ready. If the top keeps spinning, he will shoot himself. He spins the top constantly to see if he is in reality or not. His happiness is second to this obsession. At the end of the film, he spins the top. But, after his kids call to him, he leaves. He does not even look back at the top. He just doesn’t care about the top any more. He has given up his obsession in order to be truly happy. This is the idea that Nolan is trying to convey. He did not make it a cut and dry ending because he wants us to question what is real. Does it matter if something is real as long as we are truly happy? Whether the top falls or not is totally irrelevant.

    • Matthew says:

      I have to agree with you there. I was so annoyed by the ending when I first saw the it in theatres. But I read the screenplay afterwards and the script does say that the top keeps spinning as it fades to black. After reading it, I realized that whether or not the top kept spinning was irrelevant. The screenplay actually gave a clearer picture of what was driving the characters. The entire movie was really about Cobb wrestling with the guilt of killing his wife. It seemed like the entire theme of reality and dreams was more of a subplot than anything else. When he walks away from the top (Mal’s totem), He’s finally able to forgive himself and face whatever reality he’s created for himself.

      I also realized that most of the characters had no real motive to help Cobb in the first place. It led me to believe that they were all a part of his subconscious. Ariadne, staying true to her name, was supposed to guide him out of the labyrinth that is his mind, but he eventually let her go and stayed with Mal in limbo.

    • Gary says:

      Although the ending was pleasing on several levels, I can’t disagree more. I might be understanding this incorrectly, but stating “you should accept happiness over realism” is sheer lunacy. So, if a person loses a grip on reality and decides their happiness is going on a shooting spree, go for it? And if your happiness is only your mind’s construct and not true, tangible, real-life feelings, does it not lose its meaning and value?

  44. ColT says:

    Has anyone noticed that there are comments within comments within comments if thats not irony I don’t know what is. Lol

  45. Cissa says:

    Inception is one of the most incredible movies made! I was thoroughly impressed, but here is what I almost know is going on! Let me know what you all think because I watched it twice confused the first,but the second time it all became clear. The movie is shot from POV by the characters in his team, besides Cobb himself. Making him the Main character aside from his wife Mal whom was haunting his subconsciousness. This is how I figured it out by watching the ending! When he left his children we didn’t know what their faces look! The entire movie was about his longing to see his children faces again. The Architect, Ellen Page, was the only person to know about his reoccurring issues with his memories/dreams of his wife Mal, and that he couldn’t control his subconscious once under inception. They never warned the other team members because they were heavily sedated if they perished in the dream world they would be in limbo for possibly eternity! I don’t see Cobb as this sadistic character! So keep in mind what I just told you!
    Another fact supporting my theory; The Architect, Ellen Page, was the only person to go as far a level down with Cobb, she was also the only person to know the layout of her design. Remember, when Cobb told Page how if you plant an idea it can grow beyond your subconsciousness and cross paths into your reality? Like his wife taking her own life? And, how as you go down each layer into the persons mind time works differently, 50yrs is like 18hours in reality for example! Pay attention to Leo& Ellen’s relationship that is where the answer lye. At the end when Ellen shot his wife made it very clear. Christopher Nolan wanted you to believe that Cobb was in control the entire dream, but don’t forget we are in Ellen’s dream. Meaning she is the one in control, not Cobb, he is not the architect. So when the team awoke, and Ellen’s character spoke with the Supporting Actor (I can’t remember his name). He said “he stayed with Mel”, she said no he stayed to save the other gentleman from limbo. Then he expressed how he would be lost forever basically, she said, “no he will be alright”! Then the film went back to Cobb in limbo with the other guy he wanted to save. The other guy grabs the gun,and then he awakens, leading us to believe it all worked out. It didn’t work, why? Remember, if you told the person under that they were in a dream their subconscious would attack you or get suspicious! Cobb, when he first awoke turned to see if he was in reality, but notice how everyone was looking at him? Even when leaving the airport, everyone stares at him like his subconscious trying to get him to wake up naturally it would be his team members! Then when he gets to the house, the spinning top and finally seeing the faces of his children. Well, if we are in Ellens dream, of course she is the architect, than why wouldn’t he be able to see the faces of his children and believe he is in reality if she wanted him too?! So the top would fall, and it wouldn’t make a difference! And his wife was killed by her the second time! If we aren’t in his mind, than of course she would kill her. Remember when he screamed what are you doing to Ellen when she shot his wife Mal? She did that so he would be happy in limbo! The only realistic thing she could do is kill his wife!!! And because the time is so different from reality& limbo, she would have plenty of time to plant the idea in his head enough for it to grow into his reality! When he was face to face with the lost team member, he had tears in his eyes! He knew he wouldn’t escape, so they kicked him into a higher lever of her mind, hence when he awakens in the airplane. She is the clever character, and shared the main role!

  46. John Campbell says:

    um to everyone that sayz no think no one as the answer we never saw inside the safe when he left it spinng plus to the theory up top cobb would not put mal in the limbo good world because he would do the same thing again plus how do u know we the world arent babies watching our life and learning how to live in a perfect world as we live our lives in this cold,cruel world think.for the record im only 13 so eat that society

    • cogamble says:

      Well put. I’m not sure I understood anything you said.

    • Cissa says:

      Well, I agree with you up top! We are babies, and as we grow older and society re-programs us to think that getting a job, going to college, being wealthy, is top priority! We are moving backwards, as children we see the world as it is and understand why we are here, hence our innocence and uncanny ability to absorb knowledge! But, as we grow older we become apart of a matrix, a world that isn’t ours, and a Purpose we create. We have become more intelligent at being lazy. We, especially America say, we are a democracy and punish those for murder. Yet the media televised a hanging, yet we infiltrate another country looking for one man whom doesn’t even belong to that country, and kill over 30 thousands civilians for 911! Is one American life greater than an Afghanistan? The world is cold and cruel because you haven’t awaken yet! Stop focusing on all the negative, and please don’t watch the news! Everyone, can say what they will, and I am not trying to Preach! But, that void you feel is God’s place! Stop looking for Him in this cruel world, because He is within you, your heart! And We, humans, were created for His Purpose, not our own. So de-program yourself and have Faith! Then you will see just how beautiful and precious this world really is, and not the houses,cars, but you will see How much God Loves Us…you will see how beautiful people really are when they truly awake! This country is driven by fear, and “there is no fear in perfect love, for perfect love drives out fear..”! Something Osama Bin Laden said haunted me, He said all he, himself, had to do was get on television and make a statement and we would terrorize ourselves. America, would destroy itself& live in fear. Good intentions pave the road to hell, that evil man took a group of lost young men, and manipulated them to their demise. And we fed it, the fear, so much so that the very laws of democracy we preach, was blatantly disregarded! We imprison others for murder, and are in Afghanistan to free their public? Yet we killed Osama without trial and the public Praised it, I agree he should have been punished, but you can’t go around invading countries claiming to want to build a Democracy for the People than practice Anarchy!..the Christians danced to his death! You tell me, if someone invaded your land spreading hypocrisy, would you not fight? We are in that country of Opium! Not oil!

  47. derek says:

    At the end if Cobb was dreaming hewould not have known how he got there (obviously his dad took him). But we have no idea how he got on the plane.

  48. Hiworld says:

    More evidence It wobbles and he does not have the memory of seeing the kids faces the are also in a different position

  49. will says:

    people (the kids) can age in dreams. Saito did.. but strangely Cobb did not when they were in limbo together late in the movie.

    Cobb said he and his wife used to experiment with dreams inside of dreams.. but they only show them killing thmselves once by laying on the train tracks. If they’re both in multiple dreams.. wouldnt they still be in a dream whent hey die only once?

    Why did Cobbs projections keep showing up in other peopels dreams? the train, his wife.. etc.. maybe the whole thing is his creation. maybe the entire movie isnt a dream.. it’s possible the flashbacks were real.. but in the end i feel like he finds his peace in another dream

  50. Rebecca says:

    Beautiful comments and beautiful proof. I think it falls. Putting together all the proof:
    1. The totem wobbles
    2. In the credits I hear it fall
    3. He and the kids looked each other in the eyes.
    5. He doesn’t wear a wedding ring in reality
    6. The kids were in different outfits
    SO YAY I am now satisfied. I’ve been holding my breath, lol

  51. Kashelle says:

    The point is not whether or not the top falls over. The point is that Cobb is not looking at it. He doesn’t care. He can see his beautiful children again (those kids are so cute!), and he can always mosey on over to the table again to see if the top has fallen over or not. But that isn’t the point. He just doesn’t care.

    Also, some people say that one can hear the top fall over a few seconds into the ending credits. That is not true. The sound you hear is the slowed down rotation of a spinning top. And it goes on for a long time!… until it stops right in the middle of the ending credits. Just stops.

    Some people say that this is a continuous loop of events, using the differing dialogue in the beginning and ending Limbo scenes to back up their claim. I say that the 2 scenes are 2 differing versions of events. Hear me out now. When everyone wakes up on the airplane, none of them are connected to one another via the machine. And once 2 people are disconnected from the machine, their minds are no longer linked, right? Therefore, one can conclude that the 2 people just start spinning their own versions of events until the sedation runs out. The first scene is probably Saito’s version of events, seeing as he is the one remembering all the events that led up to his descent into Limbo. And the later scene may be Cobb’s version of events. When did they get disconnected? That’s simple. When their dialogue started getting different at the line “Someone from a half forgotten dream.”

    Also, if the whole thing is a dream, how could Cobb have achieved the catharsis that he did? A distrought mind does not just dream up a character like Ariadne who will help them get over their dead wife. It just doesn’t happen. People have questioned why Ariadne was so sure he would be allright when Arthur said “He’ll be lost.” They say it’s because she put him into a dream in which he sees his children and he is over the death of Mal. But it;s actually because she has helped him acieve catharsis (just like the team did to Robert Fischer, the heir to the Fischer Morrow conglomerate) and she knows it. In response to Ms. Cissa, everyone is looking at him when he wakes up because he just lead them in performing what was deemed impossible: Inception. Look at the expressions on their faces. They are not consistent with the curious and faintly irritated looks the projections gave Ariadne or Arthur in their dreams. The team is giving him looks of approval, nods of comradeship. And not everyone in the airport is staring him down, like it was for Ariadne or Arthur. It’s just occasional glances from the team.

    Anyone have any theories on the 2 different Mal/Dom Cobb sucide scenes with the train? There’s one where they are younger, and one quick one that takes place when they are old. My friend Sean says it’s because they had to get back up each and every level they went down by suicide, but I think it’s because they tried it once when they were younger and it failed and they re-washed up on the beach, so they tried again decades later. I think the same thing happened when Mal stabbed Cobb and he supposedly washed up on the shore again. The sedation hadn’t run out, so he ended up back in Limbo. Any other ideas?

    Interestingly enough, every time I watch this movie, I lose the ability to dream for a night or two. Isn’t that weird?

    • cogamble says:

      The fact he doesn’t look is what matters. Exactly. I made this point in my original Inception Post, “Want to Know What the End of Inception Means.” I argued then that Cobb’s reality was a proverbial Schrodinger’s Box, simultaneously a dream AND reality. His acceptance of the fact is his character’s arc.

  52. Ashley g. says:

    Guys, I can fix this! Okay the first evidence of his reality: the top tilts! IT shouldn’t tilt at all!
    2nd: When people say he is still dreaming they are usually talking about he his still in dream 1 (A.K.A. His wifes original dream). Just for kicks, lets say she was right and she killed her self and woke up into reality and he stayed in the dream. Why wouldn’t she just wake him up?! It is a pretty good point, and its great evidence that he was in reality.
    3rd: If he was dreaming he wouldn’t be able to his children’s faces at the end. Because he only saw them in there memory. He wouldn’t be able to see them if he was still dreaming.
    4th: His children were wearing different clothes and had different actors for his dream and then his “reality”. The clothes just looked similar to trick us! :)

    • cogamble says:

      Nicely done, Ashley. I recently brought up the point about Cobb eventually waking up, but I forgot his wife could and would do it if she actually did escape the dream.

    • datruth82 says:

      Actually, the top would tilt if Cobb were still dreaming, but had come to accept his dream(s) as reality. The top would be doing exactly what it should be doing by showing the balance he had reached between both the real world and the dream world.

  53. mike says:

    hahaaha saito touched the top in the opening scene. and if someone else touches your totem it stops working. so regardless of if he was dreaming or not, the top would have fallen because saito had already touched it

    • Sloth says:

      but saito doesn’t know that it is a totem. he may have just thought it was a reguler spinning top. because he didn’t know, it wouldn’t affect its performance as a totem.

  54. iluvusyfy says:

    Okay, so if the ending was reality,how did he make it out? Wouldn’t he have to ride all the layers back up to wake up? How could he do that if the building inthe snow already blew up, the elevator already dropped, and the van was in the water by the time he found saito. i know the deeper you go gives you more time in the dream but that doesn’t add up. And i’m still trying to figure out how cobb washed back on the shore of his subconscious as young man and saito is old? nobody can seem to explain that. everybody’s going off the fact that the totem wobbles at the end and that’s reality and i can get that but fill in the gaps.

    • cogamble says:

      I can address your two big questions. When you die in Limbo, you shoot right back up to reality. How do we know? That’s exactly what Cobb and Mal do when they lay on the train tracks.

      The other question: why is Saito older? He’s been in Limbo longer. By minutes, perhaps, but we know minutes can be years, decades. You could also take this view: age in limbo is just a projection of your perception. Why would you need to age in limbo? You don’t. Limbo is where your unconsciousness reigns and we know from earlier in the film Saito has a fear about growing old and alone. So it makes sense his subconsciousness would fill limbo with a world in which he is old and alone.

      • iluvusyfy says:

        I can get what you’re saying about Saito. That makes sense. And I can get what you’re saying about dying in limbo and shooting back up to reality, that also makes sense. But, i’m confused about when he went down to limbo to get Fischer. If cobb died in limbo when Mal stabbed him, wouldn’t that have brought him back to being in reality on the plane? How then did he go back to his subconscious to get Saito? I guess i’m just reading too much in to it. I just love this movie and all the twists. Just trying to figure it out completely but that’s probably impossible since it’s the director’s creative vision. Thanks for your insight!

    • TED says:

      Thats a really good question iluvusyfy but the explanation for how Cobb ended up getting to Saito seems to be that the stab wound and destruction of the building didn’t actually kill him. If it did, it would have sent him to reality immediately without having the chance to save Saito like it did with him and Mal before. Saito had died in an earlier dream level a while before so a number of years could have elapsed for him in the limbo causing the old age too

      • renny says:

        @iluvusyfy: When Cobb and Ariadne went under to save Fischer, they didn’t enter limbo, but rather created another dream level. Cobb was the architect, which explains why Mal was present and why it looked exactly like their limbo. Fischer was able to be saved because he was still alive when they created said dream level, allowing Ariadne to save his mind while the defibrillator kept him alive. I believe Cobb died a little later in the dream, either by the stab wound or by the dream collapsing, and was again killed in each dream level (body crushed by rubble, body destroyed in the elevator, suffocating in the van) while still sedated, causing him to be sent into limbo; the others escaped the van and waited to be woken up.

        That’s just my two cents. :P

  55. Kashelle says:

    No, he wouldn’t go back to reality because the sedation hadn’t runout yet.

  56. Sloth says:

    but as the docter said, the sedation doesn’t hinder balance, so they would be able to receive the kick

  57. DMD says:

    Why didn’t Cobb just get his father to fly the kids to Paris? France won’t extradite people to the US (think Roman Polanski). Cobb went to a lot of trouble and took a great risk, to get back to the United States for his kids. He could have gotten his father to fly the kids to Paris and they could have lived there. (Maybe he was worried the authorities would track the kids and somehow catch him???) Seems this is a plot flaw… Or, maybe the entire movie was a dream, like some people think. (My position, is that he returns to reality, in the end.)

    • TED says:

      I mean if America was his home and the home of his children their entire lives up until that point and he was making it a point to get those charges dropped, I kinda see why he didn’t just move them out to paris. Not to mention he was doing these obscure jobs in places like Paris because he was trying to get back to the US and to his kids

  58. Steven says:

    I don’t know if this has already been mentioned but Fischer creates a projection of browning in the second level of the dream. This means that you can create projections of actual people so Cobbs team could have been created in his dream.

  59. MiKe says:

    It may sound callus but the ending is intentional to create buss and buyin for a potential sequel. If the box-office draw was substantial we would see if the top tumbles or not!

  60. Numark says:

    Everything you have said made sense but you left out one thing, if cobb was in the real world, then why would his kids still be wearing the same cloths and be the same size, and age as he left them. The reason his wife is not there is he has created another dream where is guilt is washed away by him telling her he planted the idea that lead to her death, but he is choosing to be with his kids. Instead of dream mod. At this rate in this dream he can be a father with no guilt and stop running. He will grow old with his children, in the end he would have had the best of both worlds. He grew old with mod as well, remember.

  61. Hugh says:

    Still just another similar take as before. Cobb boarded a plane and fell asleep and drempt an uncontrolled dream, those can and do go everywhere. Having recentely gone to court to fight for visitataion with my 9 year old, and can tell you, that can produce some extremely distubing dreams. MANY nights, they’re either I am in some huge building, or labyrithe, trying to locate my daughter and the people who have abducted her. As well, same type of building, but I have my daughter and they want to take her from me. Both normal dream reactions of people going through such things. These dreams are scary, dangerous, non-linear… things don’t make sense, and seem to take forever!. If there was “dream control” I would fix the situation immediatedly, but I have no control…So I suffer the dream all night, which, by the way, takes longer than my acctual sleep. Consider this also. Maybe his wife died of, oh cancer. I’ve heard many stories of surviving spouses that claim “they wish they could have done more! They wish they could have saved him/her”. Just those 2 elements combined can provide plenty of “long-running” real feeling terror in dreams. Could be his survivor’s guilt, and longing to see his kids after returning from a trip to spark such a dream. When Cobb “wakes up” startled from his dream, and starts looking around… one of the character smiles and shakes his head. How do we know he was just laughing to himself at the way Cobb woke up!!! I’ve sat next to snoring people on planes that woke up more embarrassed than Cobbs response. As fo having characters on the plane in his dream? thats not uncommon. You ever say to a coworker, “had the weidest dream last night, and YOU were in it!” As with Ellen’s character smiling at him going thru customs… maybe she thot he was cute… happens. Then he gets home and sees his kids, and his nightmare ends. In much the same way my sadness ends when I get to spend time with my daughter, after having dreams that I’m trying to save her during the week. As for all the totems and top spinning, not really neccesary to explain. Maybe the top was a momento he carries of his dead wife, and he spins in in remembrance of her when he gets home to see his kids. Ooops, didn’t mean to mention “Memento!” anyway, still fun to hear everyone else’s interpretations. fun reading! Picassosdog

  62. Anders Q says:

    Also Cobb has felt like he has been away from his children for a really long time, but that is because a dream feels longer than reality. So actually he has proberbly only been away from them in a year or so.

  63. Anders Q says:

    Another way that gets us pretty far in a direction of reality, is that he sees his childrens faces in the end… before he went away he didn’t get to see them, so he wouldn’t be able to project their faces in a dream state without the memory of what they looked like

  64. dave says:

    noland has incepted us all

  65. Dor2thet says:

    My question is when Cobb goes through and explains what led to his wife’s suicide, he opens the safe in the has and the top was not spinning and he purpusely had to spin it to convince her that they were in a dream in order to come back. When supposedly if the top falls it means they’re in reality and when it goes on forever they’re dreaming. How can that be explained?

  66. blake says:

    Ok so i decided that if it was a dream at the end, it wouldnt have ended that way. I think that if it was a false reality it would have ended with mal “waking up” Cobb and she would have asked him why he didnt kill himself in the hotel to wake up. She would have been right that they were dreaming and they could have easily gone back to their kids together. So if i myself could have come up with this way for Mal to still be alive, why couldnt his self conscious do the same when it was obsessed with her? Because she’s dead and it truly was reality. All the things like the top being mals and there being a chance it doesnt work for cobb and the kids wearing similar outfits are all put in the movie to cause controversy and make you think. The point being that reality doesnt matter, what makes you happy does. Im convinced now that Mal not being alive and Cobb not having the perfect happy ending by not including her proves that it was reality. Cobb being relieved of his guilt doesnt mean he no longer loves and longs for his wife. If it was a dream he would have included her. But even if i am wrong the “reality” that i’ve chosen is what i’ve just shared. I believe Nolan wanted everyone else to do the same.

  67. Tylar says:

    If it was all a dream the entire time it would be an M. Night Shyamalan film.

  68. WCMKY says:

    I think one point that needs to be made is this.

    We..
    In fact.

    Don’t know if the Totem things really works.
    The fact of the matter is, that in the dream state the totem is a projection of the dreamer just like everything else. So if the dreamer wants it to fall then it falls. The mind would just need to be sufficiently convinced. ON that note. I don’t think there is a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer.

    I am inclined to believe the ‘Mal was right’ answer.
    But that’s just be. There is just as much evidence to the contrary.

  69. datruth82 says:

    @Aknot:

    Completely agree with you. Cobb’s dreaming for the entire movie (including the ending), and the entire team (including Saito) are projections. There are very clear clues throughout the movie.

    First and foremost, getting out of Limbo requires riding kicks back to the top – one kick isn’t enough to do it.

    How do we know?

    When Aridane and Fischer come out of Limbo, they have to ride several kicks back up to the plane level.

    However, neither Cobb nor Saito have enough kicks to ride back up to the plane level. In fact, every level higher than Limbo, but prior to the plane, would’ve been collapsed, since all of the dreamers would’ve been awake. So, even if the gunshot in Limbo had kicked Cobb and Saito up a level (to the snow fortress), there would’ve been no actual snow fortress level there for them to reach, that level’s dreamer would’ve already been awake.

    Additionally, Mal and Cobb never rode more than one kick – they were hit once by the train and Cobb assumed they made it back to the real world.

    That is why Mal always felt like she was still dreaming – she actually was. Hence, why she threw herself off the hotel ledge.

    Now, since we don’t know how many levels down Cobb and Mal were when they reached Limbo (he simply said he wanted to ‘go deeper’), we don’t know how many kicks it would take for them to get back to their reality. So, when Mal jumped off the ledge, she actually got one step closer to the real world (or possibly reached the real world – again, we don’t know how far down they were). Cobb was left behind because he refused to believe/realize he was still several levels down.

    Another way we know that Cobb was dreaming in the entire movie, is the children in Limbo, as well as, the team’s reaction on the plane at the end.

    If you look at the length of the children’s hair when Cobb sees them in the house in Limbo, what you’ll actually see is that these aren’t the same young kids from the beginning of the movie – it’s actually the older kids from the END of the movie. The clothes are the same as the younger kids, but the hair and height of the children are those of the kids from the end.

    For some reason, most people notice that the kids at the end are older, but for some reason, no one seems to notice that the kids in Limbo are the older kids, as well.

    Also, look at the team on the plane. Do you notice Arthur and Ariadne’s eyes and expressions?

    The lighting on the plane at the end is adjusted so that both Arthur and Ariadne have dark eyes and pallor – which neither character had at any time prior in the movie. They’re now both seen as darker versions (or ‘shades’) of their prior selves, just like Mal was throughout the film.

    They both also look/stare at Cobb in the manner in which projections do throughout the film. He’s now an oddity. He no longer fits in.

    However, look at Saito – his eyes and pallor are the same light and bright colors as before. Why? B/c, by riding the single kick back up with Cobb, he is on the same dream level.

    Saito also still serves a purpose – another reason we know the entire team is nothing more than projections, and the whole movie is a dream.

    Besides the obvious names, do you notice how everyone in the movie serves a purpose, and as soon as that purpose is realized, that character disappears into the background, or into full oblivion? Why? B/c in dreams, people stop mattering and appearing once we move on from a scene.

    Notice – For the first 30 minutes of the movie, it’s all about Cobalt…then, they just…disappear. Then, it’s about Mal, and when he’s finally able to move on, she just…disappears, as well. And, don’t forget about the grandma – at the beginning of the film, she answers the phone, and watches the kids and matters.

    By the time Cobb gets home, grandma is nowhere to be found – why? B/c she no longer matters.

    And, the same thing goes for the team – which brings us back to the plane (and the airport). On the plane, Ariadne and Arthur look and act like projections. The same thing goes for Eames and Yusef in the airport (Fischer does as well, but then he never really new Cobb anyway).

    Why do they all stare at him this way?

    It’s b/c, although they were always just projections, before they were projections with a purpose (like Cobalt, Grandma, and Mal). Saito continued to look the same on the plane since he would be on the same dream level as Cobb, and still served a purpose – Cobb needed him to make the phone call for him.

    But, once at the airport, now that their purpose has been solved, the entire team begins to fade into the background and obscurity (Nolan literally has them fade into oblivion in the camera shots at the airport) – they no longer matter.

    And, again, when Cobb arrives home, where is grandma? She’s nowhere to be found, b/c she no longer serves a purpose.

    And, the kids that rise from the EXACT same playing position on the ground to greet Cobb? They’re the same older kids from Limbo.

    Why can he now see their faces? B/c Cobb has now accepted this dream level as his reality. He’s at peace with his wife’s ‘death’. He’s reunited with his ‘real’ kids. He’s back in his ‘real’ home.

    And, this is why the top wobbles at the end of the movie.

    Cobb is still dreaming, but he has now come to be at peace with and accept this dream state as his reality – so the top is doing exactly what it should. It’s not falling over, b/c Cobb is still dreaming, but it is wobbling as if about to topple, b/c Cobb has returned to [his accepted form of] reality.

    The clues are all there – that’s why Nolan has the top wobble at the end. It’s more than just to make us say ‘Arrgh’. It’s the final tip off (and point of the movie) that what we view is real may only be so b/c we consider it to be.

    • pmayne says:

      I think you’re looking way to deep into things for answers that no one can possibly know. You’re like the art critic who llooks at a painting of a chair and analyzes the wood grain and the arm rests and the backrest to see into the artists mind when in reality its just a picture of a chair plain and simple.
      As for your argument about them needing to ride kicks up to the plane level. It would be irrelevent because the bodies on those levels are already dead and that particular dreamer of that level has woken up so they would skip over that level to the next available level which would be the plane which you argue is a dream anyway. Which i also disagree with, unless you’ve ever had a dream which happens in 4 different places on earth(japan, mombasa, paris, sydney)
      I haven’t but I guess thats just me.
      Mr. Nolan definitely made this movie ingeniously to prompt this sort of personal anlyses, that everyone has voiced in these replies But people who say it doesn’t matter whether he’s in reality or a dream and only his happiness matters, truly are dilusional. So what you are saying is life doesn’t matter because “true” life can only occur in reality. If it was your life I don’t think you would have the same response.

  70. emerson sheffield says:

    Watch the credits. The kids do grow up. Girl at 3 years: Claire geare… girl at 5 years: Taylor geare. Boy at 20 months: Magnus nolan… Boy at 3 years: Jonathan geare. And I believe that he is in reality because Mal isn’t there

  71. Kimberly Jo says:

    Okay, I understand that these are very valid points, except they are not all accurate?? The blog says something about him wearing his wedding ring in all his dreams but never reality and that in the end seen he does not have it on so it must be reality…. He WAS wearing his dream in the end though?? Sooo that makes no sense and actually just goes against the argument that is trying to be made??

  72. MarkP says:

    Of course Cobb made it back to reality… Saito shot him in limbo then himself.. it had taken long enough to find Saito the sedation had sufficiently metabolized.. the kids were in different clothing & the top was toppling.. Great movie..

  73. Ian says:

    What if all of reality itself is a dream? What if we as we are writing these comments are dreaming? What if we are dreaming all our lives?

  74. real says:

    well the fact da kids are wearing different clothes and he sees thier faces makes me believe their in reality and one more key fact his father is thier his father is never in da dreams r projected so its reality

  75. Kiyomi says:

    Okay… so the top falls but from what I understand, once someone touches your totem and figures out how it works it renders the totem useless. When Saito went to limbo and Cobb washed up on its shores, he used the totem. I believe that this made the totem defective.

    If that’s not a good point, a totem MUST be built by you and only you. That’s what the team told Adrianne or whatever her name is. Cobbs totem was built by Mal. So can we trust it at all?

  76. Anon says:

    This is dumb. There is no proof that that picture up there is from the last scene. AND other than that, you asked if it was a dream, why isn’t Mal in it? Well maybe it because in his mind, Mal’s completely dead. Right? I mean it’s his dream. And he thinks his wife is no more. That’s pretty simple why she isn’t in the dream anymore because he doesn’t know it’s a dream, and he knows his wife is dead in reality. That means he brought what he knew in reality to his dream. One more thing, about what you said about “if it was a dream, it would be chaotic. this movie is about hacking minds”…well that’s just dumb. Do you not understand from the beginning? These people are professionals. They can control their dreams. That’s why it’s not chaotic and whatever. You’re kinda dumb reviewing the movie like this.

    • cogamble says:

      Thank you for your rage-fueled, incoherent rant. It truly is an exemplar of intellectual dialog.

      This, by the way, isn’t a film review. It’s just a place to gather and discuss our Inception theories. Your anger seems wildly misplaced, certainly not worthy of a 1 1/2 year-old blog. I suggest maybe seeing someone about your unchecked rage and tendency toward unprovoked attacking. We were having a lively and fun discussion, and despite your tantrum, we’ll continue to do so.

      Make no mistake, this has nothing to do with you disagreeing. Lively debate thrives on well reasoned disagreement, but I’m afraid, “This is dumb and you’re dumb” does not qualify as well reasoned disagreement. It proves to be not terribly intellectually stimulating either.

      You can find plenty of blogs filled with people yelling and ranting at the nothingness all day and night. I suggest you find one of those. I’ll bet you’d fit right in. Otherwise, I’m told the walls of public bathrooms provide a great forum for carved screed of inexplicable fury.

  77. Shaye says:

    Look it’s just a way to set up for a sequel if there is one. Anyway, if it fell, then he is in reality and if it didn’t, then there could be a lot of explanations. One which seems to be the popular belief, is that he is still in limbo and has made his own happily ever after. Another variation could be that he still thinks he is in real life and has involuntarily made an ending of what he expects should happen, meaning, if he thinks Mal is dead and shouldn’t be there then she is dead and doesn’t appear in the last scene. When i first watched the ending i thought that it stays spinning, and that Mal was right, that he was in Limbo and she was in reality, i thought that perhaps Mal was invading his mind the whole time and was telling him to follow her back into reality but that he wouldn’t listen because he thought she was dead. the fact that he thinks he’s in reality, whether it is or isn’t, makes it a plausible theory that he sees what he thinks is real and Mal was bursting through his sub conscience trying to bring him back which he thinks is a projection. It seems a bit confusing but the whole movie is a bit confusing. In the end there really isn’t a right or wrong answer, atleast until a sequel comes out.

  78. Michelle says:

    Thank you, voice of reason!!! I keep being told that the kids look the same so it must be a dream. So? He could have been gone for a month for all we know. And as far as them wearing the same clothes, who cares. I once spent an entire month wearing nothing but a homemade Under Dog costume when I was a kid. And if the whole thing is a dream, Nolan apparently never had a dream. Dreams are self-contained and self-centered. I don’t care if these are “super dreams.” You never have that much outside detail. It’s always first-person POV, so this isn’t in one guy’s head. And, yes, the top wobbles: so there’s your DUH!

  79. Kevin says:

    There’s this one sequence where they were in Africa, Cobb was washing his face and halfway spinning his top when Saito called him out. The camera zoomed in on the fact that Cobb didn’t get a chance to see his totem falter and wobble…

  80. ave says:

    i don’t think the top was his totem at all – he says it was his wife’s, and she hid it in that little safe.

    i think his totem is his wedding ring. every time he’s in a dream he’s wearing one, because they’re together. in the last scene of the movie he’s not wearing a wedding ring.

  81. Andrew says:

    You’re logic is flawed — although I wish it were correct.

    In the film, someone from the dreamer’s real life CAN indeed be in that person’s dream dream. However, they will only be a silhouette of themselves, a shadow of the real person. As Cobb states towards the end of the film in his final confrontation with Mal, she is actually only a figment of the real Mal. She is the best that Cobb could do to piece together the real Mal in his mind. In fact, the real Mal, with all of her “perfection and imperfection” (as he states) was too difficult to create. Surely no person can create a true full person in their dreams. This is Cobb’s point.

    So, getting back to the end of the film, during the scenes on the plane and in the airport — it is possible that when he sees his team, they are only shadows of those people, figments of them in his mind. Unfortunately, their appearance on the plane and in the airport do not prove that Cobb was back in the real world.

  82. Andrew says:

    Your point about Mal not being in the final scene is a good one but also does not prove that Cobb was in the real world. We only see a moment of that scene, we don’t really know whether Mal was there or not.

    Sadly, I think Nolan left it ambiguous plain and simple. If there is a clue somewhere, it will be something esoteric and trivial — like an “easter egg” left by a computer programmer or animator. Maybe it’s Cobb’s ring. I don’t know. Whatever it is, I wouldn’t expect it to be some logical deduction, as you describe. It will be a secret piece of trivia — a tip-off that you have to be told about in order to find.

  83. mailuser@gmail.com says:

    It’s not obvious? Saito runs Cobol engineering. That’s how he managed to set up the “audition” at the beginning. It also explains why Saito suddenly pops up in Mombassa. The bounty hunters still chased though, because he was trying to keep it lose to the chest.

  84. Mike says:

    I don’t believe the pin was even Cobb’s totem, it was only Mal’s. Seeing his children’s faces was his totem – notice how in every dream, he is unable to see their faces? At the end, he sees them. The pin probably falls too, because just like in reality, they don’t spin forever.

  85. Z says:

    The ending is meant to have multiple truths; has anyone read “the giver”? There is also discussion about its ending

  86. Movie TRICK says:

    He’s In Limbo! At the end of the movie the top kept spining, and the camara zoomed in dramatictly onto it. *Dur De Dur* Moment..

  87. redline68 says:

    What a brilliant film to leave so many people with their own take on how it ends. Each to their own, there is no right or wrong answer with a movie like Inception. It is proving to be a movie that stands the test of time.

    The Totems hold no power, it doesn’t matter who ‘creates’ them, they simply have a particular physical action which in the ‘real world’ behaves the same way every time (e.g. loaded dice fall the same way each time, when a bishop tips over it rolls over to the most weighted point). The dreamer keeps the reaction a secret, so that they have something to tell them whether or not they are in a dream, or perhaps in someone elses dream. However, Cobb proved that inception worked. The spinning totem was Mals, but Cobb broke deep into her mind where it was locked away and implanted the suggestion that her world wasn’t real, that at the very core of her dreams, the top was always spinning. Cobb was able to alter the behaviour of the totem by never seeing it fall. This leads to a larger point, in a dream the dreamer populates the reality, however the Totem is not constructed by the architect, it is brought to the dream by the dreamer. Perhaps it can be *controlled*!

    At the end of the movie, at the last second, viewers are taunted when the spinning totem wobbles, as if it may fall or may keep spinning. Cobb has focused on finding reality at each turn, but after facing never-ending limbo he arrives home to his children, his focus shifts from the Totem, it becomes unimportant to him, but not to the viewer. The result of the Totem is up to the viewer, there is no answer other than the fact he is with his children in the reality in which he percieves.

    That said, the sequence is meticulously handled, the timeframes are ambiguous enough to allow for either ending.

    1/ If Cobbs world is what we all percieve as real, we are not told, we are only given the sequence of events that support that real world reality as a complete possibility. Cobb and Saito both died in limbo, and both were dead in each level of the dream, so both arrive all the way back from limbo to reality. The plan supported success, they were on a plane flying to Cobb’s home.

    2/ If Cobb’s world is a dream, then was it a world supported by the architect? Was it his dream exclusively? Was Cobb the recipient of Inception himself? What we do know, is Cobb couldn’t bear to face his children in limbo, part of him held onto the reality that he could not see his children. Perhaps part of it was fear – doing so might be a greater reason not to awake from the limbo. But Cobb identifies his loss, guided by Ellen Page. Cobb chooses to accept, within the deepest part of his dream, a reality that his wife is dead. If in the end Cobb did indeed awake in an alternate limbo of his own creation, it makes sense that it would be without his wife, that it would be a dream of seeing his children without fear of further loss, and he could only do so if he chose to believe that it was reality, that his wife truly did die, that he had been pulled from limbo, and that he was back with his children without his wife. He would choose for the Totem to fall, the outcome would be the dream he would control. He chooses how to populate his reality.

    • Jonathan says:

      Whats so funny about whether or not the spin goes down. What is missed is right at the beginning you see Cobb and Seito when they are much older meaning they are not dreaming as the rest of the movie they are much younger meaning it was all a flashback. And if what we think is reality at first why is there no indication before the spinning totem that is was just all a dream.

      • booboy says:

        The top spinning occurs after the “opening sequence of the film”. The opening sequence or the beginning you see comes to towards the end of the movie. It is when Cobb goes to retrieve Saito (who dies in Level 3 or the Snow Level) from the Limbo. Fischer gets retrieved first by Ariadne in the Limbo (since even he dies in Level 3). So we had Fischer and Saito in the Limbo as a result of dying in Level 3. Now the movie begins from this point where Saito has aged a lot in the Limbo and Cobb is trying to retrieve him. So after the movie reaches this point it proceeds further and then we have the end where the top spins. It is a ‘flashback’ till this point but the subsequent chronology is what follows this.

  88. Bill says:

    One of your reasons is wrong. There are characters that the dreamer knows that are in the dream but are only projections-the billionaire’s business partner isn’t dreaming and he is in the hotel. I know emes is dressed like him most of the time, but there is the part where siao says I see uve changed to the projection thinking its emes but then realizes emes is standing behind the guy so he pretends he thought he was someone else.

  89. Bull says:

    There are some details I picked up in the film, after watching it for the millionth time, that I believe are undeniable evidence that he is still dreaming at the end.
    1. It is made clear from the beginning of the movie that in order to escape a dream, the dreamer would need a kick
    2. The final scenes where Cobb finds Mal is not truely limbo. Limbo is actually a level deeper in the dream which is why Cobb has to die to find Saito.
    3. The sedative used was so powerfull that it was necessarry for the dreamer to have a kick in all levels to wake up.
    4. In the “old Saito” scene, we assume that Cobb and Saito shoot themselves as a kick. However, due to the lack of a kick in the other levels, I believe that they may have just fallen into a deeper limbo.
    5. Futher evidence to support this is that we are never shown a kick on the plane when the all wake up. Instead, Cobb looks around dazed and confused as tho he is unsure of how he got there. This is pure speculation based on his facial expression.
    6. A final bit of evidence to note is as Cobb walks through the airport, one of the civilians hodling the “J. Johnson” sign looks at him suspiciously and then looks away. Exactly the way projections would look at dreamers who were altering the dream.

    In conclusion, the final point leads me to believe that while it seems that Cobb has woken up, after trying to escape limbo with Saito, he only fell into a deeper limbo in which he did not know he was dreaming. While he walks through the airport he starts to question if “this is all real” (sort of a pinch me thing). One can even go as far as to say that the team he sees while going through the airport are in fact projections that are looking for the dreamer. He only convinces himself that he is not dreaming when he sees his father (which also explainss why “J. Johnson” looks away at the end). In my opinion he has conviced himself so much that he is not dreaming that his corrupted totem does not behave as it normally would in a dream. His mind creates his dream while he perceives it and he is so convinced that he is in fact awake that his mind makes the top wobble.

    • Bull says:

      Another explanation for the top wobbling:
      If you payed attention to the movie, things that happened in the levels above became less and less obvious the deeper they went. For example, the scene where the van rolls down the hill showed an extreme shift in gravity in the level below it (the hotel room fight) but nothing was felt in the deeper level. The same is seen whith the first bridge kick where the can crashing into the barrier cause a huge shift in gravity ij the hotel and only a slight tremour in the mountains that caused the avalanche.

      I believe that the wobble was caused by a similar effect in which cobbs team was trying to give him a kick to wake him up, but he misses it and never wakes up.

      • Richard says:

        First of all, there is only one Limbo, and that’s where Mal is.
        Mal has nothing to do with the levels since Cobb can make her visible in every level, but he can’t controll it.

        No one ever seems to think about the beginning, you can shoot yourself, and wake up. But later on in the movie, they took this “sleeping medicine” wich was really strong, and that’s the reason why they needed a kick. However, if the sleeping medicin had passed by later on in the movie when Saito and Cobb is in Limbo, they would just have to shoot themself through every level to get back to reality.

        The first level is controlled by time, that’s why he wake up in the plane. Earlier in the movie, he asks for 5 minutes more and they set the machine for 5 min more.

        Proof:
        1. You can’t remember how you got where you are, if you are dreaming. Cobb remembers how he got onto the plane.
        2. If Mal didn’t kill herself in reality, Cobb wouldn’t be wanted of the American government, and he could’ve seen his kids whenever he wanted.
        3. Fischer was a person from reality, and when he wakes up from the dream on the plane, he remembers how he got there, and he remembers Cobb wich behaved really weird before Fischer fell into the dream. Fischer do not remember Cobb from the dream.
        4. In the beginning when Cobb is eating rice infront of Old saito, the totem spins flawless, and does not wobble at all. But in the end of the movie, it wobbles and does not spin flawless. And you can see how the spinning totem almost losts controll before they cut the scene of.
        5. The daugther of Cobb, is not the same actor, in the dreams as in the end, because It’s reality in the end. Althought his daughter does not wear the same shoes, or clothes, but they are similar, just because Nolan wanted to confuse. Nolan’s clothes designer confessed that they were created to look the same, but was not supposed to be the same.
        6. Everyone on the team, remembers Cobb, and Cobb remembers all of them.
        7. Cobb could not have been in a dream, since it took Cobb and Mal decades to build their own town in limbo, wich the time is as fastest. Cobb could not have built the airport + airplane in such a short time.
        8. At the airport, when he meets his dad I think it is, they talk. Through the whole movie projections had never spoken, and suddently his projection did? It means it’s not an projection. Althought the guy with the J. Johnson sign, looked suspiciously at Cobb, if he was a projection then ALL projections would’ve looked at him, not only 1 person.
        9. Cobb always had his wedding ring on when he was in the dreams, but not in the reality, and in the end when he span the totem, he did not wear it.
        10. In the end Suito remembers Cobb, and Cobb remembers Suito, and the last time he was there. The inception, went inception on itself. It looped the first dream the movie started with, wich means, they was on stage 1 again, that’s why they woke up without going through the other levels.

        As I said earlier, Nolan’s clothes designer, confessed that the clothes was changed and the actors was replaced, to make the audience confused.

        I could come up with thousands of more reasons why he was in reality in the end.

        I’m sorry for my scetchy english, but I’m from Sweden, if that would make any sense!

  90. Athabaskan says:

    Here’s a much simpler way to tell: in every dream Leonardo is wearing his wedding ring. In reality he isn’t.

  91. Lucy says:

    The only reason I can find that is rock solid (so far at least) is that when your in a dream you never know where you come from as Cobb explained in the cafe. Anyway in the ending, Cobb knew exactly where he came from. He did not just appear at the house with his children, instead he appeared in the airplane where he woke up.

  92. booboy says:

    “In no other part of the movie does Nolan allow people the dreamers know into the dreams unless they are dreaming as well” – this is not very correct. The concept of subconscious or subconscious projections allows you to populate the shared dream space with people and places you know. For example you can see Tom Berenger/Peter Browning as a subconscious projection of Cilian Murphy/Fischer who Ken Watanbe/Saito encounters in the hotel (level 2, Charles gambit). Saito mistakes him to be as Tom Hardy/Eames who is impersonating Browning but later realizes (sees Eames behind Browning signalling) that it is the sub conscious projection of Fischer. So yes we do have dreamers having people they know in the dreams as subconscious projections.

    Also Mal is the part of Cobb’s subconscious which he is unable to control. So you can see her popping up in his dream space (shared or unshared). She is a projection herself. It is not any exception to the rule.

    Thus in a shared dream space we have the dreamers and their projections.

  93. booboy says:

    @Richard says: Excellent! I agree with you. Just a couple of things though:

    Your point 8 – “Through the whole movie projections had never spoken, and suddently his projection did? It means it’s not an projection. ” – projections do speak. Peter Browning who is Fischers projection (in level 2) does talk to Saito. When Saito says “I see you’ve changed again” he responds to it saying “I am sorry”.

    Point 10 -” In the end Suito remembers Cobb, and Cobb remembers Suito, and the last time he was there. The inception, went inception on itself. It looped the first dream the movie started with, wich means, they was on stage 1 again, that’s why they woke up without going through the other levels.” – the last time Cobb was there was the second sequence of the movie i.e. when he is doing the extraction on Saito on behalf of his employers. So in the end (which is also shown in the opening) in the Limbo both do remember that they have been in the same place during the first extraction attempt by Cobb on Saito

  94. Rael Thomas says:

    Points that make me think otherwise:

    1. At the end, in the airport, the guy at the immigration desk is seen seconds later playing a different role.

    2. When Cobb tries sedation in the dingy basement and then “awakes”, he is interrupted when he goes to spin his totem. He could be dreaming from then on.

    3. The final scene is exactly the same as his memory (despite his father being present). The kids have not ages and are wearing the same clothes. Also, the way te scene transitions from the airport to the house seems intentionally quick and uninterrupted, then Cobb appears slightly puzzled as if he doesn’t recall how he got there. Thus spinning his totem.

    It’s also possible that he was the one in delusion and thus Mal was indeed correct about being stuck in a dream.

  95. Siegfried says:

    As Rael Thomas says above, we don’t know if Cobb is actually awake from the moment Saito interrupts him after he “wakes” up in the back of Yusif’s shop since the top falls on the floor and so we don’t know if he’s awake or dreaming. Now, ask yourself why Saito interrupted Cobb at that exact moment? Because he didn’t want Cobb to find out that he was still dreaming.

    You’ve all missed the point. The inception is actually being performed on Cobb. The whole Fischer “job” was made up by the team as a way to distract Cobb. The point of Cobb’s inception is obvious. To make him let go of Mal in his dreams, Mal being a representation of his subconscious guilt (in dreams) and that guilt manifesting itself in his conscious reality as a delusion that he cannot return to the U.S., and therefore his children, because he will be arrested for Mal’s death and is also being pursued around the globe by anomalous men. This also brings into play the idea that Incpetion (the film) is Nolan’s analogy for the filmaking process. The characters in the movie are actually actors playing the parts of characters in Cobb’s dream to make him believe something that isn’t true (that they, led by him, are incepting Fischer).

    So, the point is, Cobb is still dreaming at the end because but he has let go of his guilt in his subconscious/dreams so when he does wake up in the back of Yusif’s shop he will be able to return to his kids.

  96. no says:

    if you watch the final seconds in slow motion the top starts to wobble pretty violently and is clearly about to fall

  97. anonymous says:

    sooo, im not saying this is what happened… but. the whole film could have been cobb still in a dream. mal could have been correct about killing herself by jumping off the building and returning to reality. if that were so, then in that dream level cobb would not still see his wife, because he would believe her to be dead. he would only see her in deeper levels. he speaks about how they created their own world, so it could be possible that he recreated his reality and a team in order for him to ‘get back to his children’ in that dream state, when in reality his wife is already back in reality with out him….. just another theory.

  98. Myers Hertz says:

    I’m not sure if anyone has mentioned it, because I cant read through all the comments, but in the hotel there is a projection of Browning that Saito mistakenly says hello to. Browing is never a dreamer. He is only in the dreams as either Eames impersonation or as this projection. This shows that people who are known to the dreamer (in this case, Arthur) can become projections.

    My theory is that the film is as presented up until Cobb, Eames and Saito visit Yusuf for the first time (I believe this takes place in Mombassa). When Yusuf takes them to see the effects of his sedatives, and shows them the addicted dreamers. Cobb agrees to go under sedation to try it out, and when he wakes up he goes to the bathroom to recover. He spins the top, but it drops to the floor. Before he can respin it, Saito walks in and interrupts him. It is my belief that the second half of this film (i.e. from when Yusuf puts Cobb under at this point) is actually Cobbs dream. He is sedated, and therefore the dream could last for a very long time. The question is not whether the spinning top falls at the end, but why did he not get to complete the spin in Mombassa.

  99. Ha! That isn’t proof at all, just a bias opinion. Mr. Nolan (creator of inception) is quite clever. The ending was designed to give NO REAL EVIDENCE of him be awake or asleep. No of what you just said proves anything! If you want ALL the FACTS so u can decide for yourself read the FACTS that are presented here http://screenrant.com/inception-spoilers-discussion-kofi-68330/all/1/

  100. KT says:

    Just a bit of food for thought: towards to start of the movie just after he meets the man who designs the sleeping aid after the dream he awakens and goes to the bathroom where he freshens up a bit before trying to spin his totem where he is inturrupted by his employer. So question is, was anything after that real?

  101. ShNia says:

    Hmm. Nolan actually said he made the ending like that so that it could be open to interpretation, so there is no right answer to the ending, it is whatever you want it to be. Christopher Nolan said that the emotional significance behind it is that he finally saw his kids and he left the thing behind, whether it was a dream or not. This came from Nolan himself, sssoooo yeah. It is all open to interpretation. So there is no “proof” that the top falls, because Nolan (maker of the movie) did not make it that way (As I’ve said before, he said so himself).

  102. Ilya says:

    I can FINALLY rest in peace. Its 5:02 am and I can go to sleep without a doubt in my mind about the ending. I know I’m suppose to embrace the ending of the Movie about Cobb accepting his situation regardless reality or limbo, but sometimes you know you just can’t help it. ;) Thank you for clearing this up for me and many other optimistic viewers of Inception. :D

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