Sunday, July 18, 2010

The End of Inception

SPOILER ALERT: Its probably obvious from the title but I will be discussing the end of this movie so if you haven’t seen it yet then stop reading and go watch it! I’m basically gonna cut right to the chase on what I think this movie means- and I want to hear what the rest of you think.


MY ORIGINAL PREDICTION: Halfway through this movie I thought I figured out how Inception was going to end…

It started when Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) was “checking his reality” in the bathroom with the spinner. Saito (Ken Watanabe) walks in, which makes Cobb fumble with the totem, and Saito gives him this look that screamed “foreshadowing” to me.

I think it was when they first got to the snow level dream when I theorized that Saito was doing an Inception on Cobb, making him think he was doing an Inception on Fischer- but it was truly Saito who planted the original idea in Cobb’s mind. So the entire movie is an Inception itself- especially since they establish that dreams start in the middle of a scene and you don’t know how you got there- like how the movie, itself, starts.

Whether this was going to be the ending or not I thought it was a fun idea and I chose to watch the rest of the movie unfold through this filter. And it seemed to check out…

Especially when Cobb is on the plane at the end and everyone is looking at him (which could also mean he was in a dream at that point). But the look he gives Saito was if he was deceived by him the whole time (as I read it at least)- and that was enough to put me over the edge.

But especially the scene right before where we’re back in Saito’s temple -or whatever it was- and he’s old. He starts repeating everything we’ve been told throughout the story, about being an old man, alone, etc. Cobb is realizing that he’s been duped somehow.

So I’m patting myself on the back at this point for being right, even though I didn’t get the sense that it was explained thoroughly and I wasn’t sensing that “aha” moment from the rest of the crowd.

And that’s when the real ending came…


OPEN-ENDED MIND-FUCK: What everyone ends up talking about at the end of this movie is whether Cobb is living in reality or a dream by the end. I’m not going to go into much detail but I’ll give you a couple arguments for both sides…

Reality:

A) This is the first time he sees his kids faces.

B) Cobb only wears his wedding ring in his dreams and at the end he doesn’t have it on.

C) The totem wobbles at the end.

Dream:

A) Miles (Michael Caine) apparently switches clothes while leading Cobb to his home, suggesting Cobb’s lack of care in defining the world of a dream. And everyone at the airport seemed to be looking at Cobb when he got off the plane.

B) The kids are wearing the same clothes as always and should have aged more over the many months that have passed

C) We never actually see the totem topple.

The reason I don’t spend much time with these theories is because I don’t think you’re really going to find an answer to the question. The point of an open-ended mind-fuck is to polarize the audience to choose one side or the other- to keep us arguing and guessing. Even though everyone apparently had some sort of “aha” moment at this point in the movie, I doubt you’ll ever hear a distinct answer from Director Nolan one way or the other- it would ruin the mind fuck…

And to be honest, I don’t think he knows. I’m comfortable accepting the mind-fuck and releasing myself from guessing as to whether or not he’s dreaming. With that said, I choose to believe that it doesn’t matter whether he’s dreaming or not because Cobb doesn’t care. He’s decided to accept wherever he’s at as his reality. This is evident by the fact that he spins the totem but doesn’t wait to see whether it topples or not.


MY NEW THEORY: As I said, toward the end of the movie I grew more and more certain that I was on the right track that an Inception was being performed on Cobb by Saito. But I grew a little queasy with the idea that Cobb- our main protagonist- was a victim to someone else. While I felt it was a compelling plot twist there was something unsatisfying about it…

And I started thinking that I wasn’t digging deep enough…

And I was confused as to why Nolan had us focus on this open-ending instead of what I really though this story was about…

Which made me think these two ideas were somehow inextricably linked…

And that’s when I theorized that Cobb was doing an Inception on Saito… giving him the idea… to do an Inception back on Cobb. So, in essence, Cobb was doing an Inception on himself so that he could effectively plant the idea to convince himself to accept his dream as reality.


WHAT MAKES ART: At this point, I can’t quite back this theory up with facts from the film; and I plan to give it another watch to see if my new theory makes sense. Honestly, I feel that many possibilities can be justified, especially when alternate realities- specifically dreams- allow anything to happen. And I’m sure people can disqualify my theory with other theories but, again, the cheat- and the brilliance- of this movie in particular is that anything can happen.

But to me, that’s the very definition of art… and in fact…

The greatest art makes the observer, through interpretation, an artist himself.


~ JW

2 comments:

  1. Impressive. I'll have to extract this information from my dream, so that I can enjoy the ending fresh....

    So not where I was going with that....

    Impressive that the studio got you to pay for the movie twice.... I think this means, you've been duped, and they win :)

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