Inception – Ending & Spoilers (Discussion)

Posted: July 19, 2010 in Uncategorized

This is a place where you can discuss the Inception ending and other spoilers. It will be fun to see what everyone thought of the ending too. You may also post your thoughts on the film otherwise. Discussion can happen in the ‘Comments’ section.

If you’re posting comments here, assume that anyone in the conversation has seen the movie – if you haven’t seen the movie, I would recommend you don’t read the comments here until you have.

Take it away!

  1. Sanjeev says:

    Loved the movie. Think its a must watch. Was it the best movie I saw this year? Yes. Ever? No.

    I didn’t like the growing predictability towards the end of the movie. Especially the last scene (which I hear was toasted by many). I would have prefered him getting killed and waking up as an alternate ending. Another point not talked about as much is the presence of adequate funny humour throughout, making this movie a delicious combo of action, thriller, suspense, psychology and humour.

    Recommend a watch for sure.

  2. Syam M says:

    Superb movie. I wanted Nolan to give something for the viewers to ponder about after the movie. Something which throws in some uncertainity. Instead of movie ending with the totem about to stop spinning, if it was shown like it’s not stopping would have added more chaos into the plot.

  3. Darshan says:

    In order to answer the ambiguous end, I think he was dreaming. Everytime we see the top spinning and stopping it isn’t at Level 0. The one time he does try it at Level 0, Saito comes from behind and Leo stops the top himself.

    Does anyone think Cobb’s totem was his children faces? I mean he can never see them unless it is his own subconscious. Cant explain why he couldnt see them in that elevator building memory which was definetly his.

    I think if you touch someone elses totem it now belongs to you. Leo touched Mal’s totem in the limbo stage. Mal hid her totem in a safe and Leo touched it. This would also explain why Mal was lost when she got out from that limbo stage. She no longer had a totem or her totem was now compromised.

  4. A K says:

    The “whole” movie is either Cobb’s dream or part reality and part dream. I’m more inclined to believe its the former but will decide once I’ve given it a second viewing.(in IMAX.) 😉

    Not like i tried to look for flaws in the movie but 2 instances left me wondering if they were loop-holes in the plot and would like to hear someone else’s opinion on the same:

    A – In the no-gravity dream, how come there is tension in the cable suspending the elevator? and shouldn’t then the dream in the snow also be no-gravity.

    B – Given that they are corporate rivals, a little hard to digest that in today’s day and age Fishcer does not recognize Saito aboard the plane or at the hotel. Any thoughts?

    These may seem silly doubts, but would really like to know if someone can reason this out for me. Ofcourse eventually it’s all a dream so anything can happen. 🙂

  5. Babu Syed says:

    Was the whol movie a dream? (Including the air plane scenes). Recurring images of the kids (similar to the Van falling down the bridge) ..and Cobb joining them in the end at the same place cud be viewed as just another level up in the dream structure?

    View the plot / synopsis here also —>

  6. Pradyut says:

    Me thinks Cobb was dreaming. From what I remember, his kids were wearing the same dress when he finally sees them, the last he saw them and which is how he always imagines them in his dream state. I know it’s a lame point, but still! 😛

  7. Nitin says:

    Here’s my take on the ending – The top would have kept spinning because Cobb was infact in a dream. He was the subject and… *wait for it* Michael Caine’s character was the architect of that dream. Several hints suggesting the same, the most obvious being Mal’s suggestion. Cobb isn’t ever aware of his dream state so the projections behave normally. And you could just get the feeling that Caine knew more about stuff than Cobb would think. Maybe the entire movie was Cobb’s test (again referenced in the movi

  8. AD says:

    There are a few things that cross my mind
    1) On imdb, cobb’s kids are listed twice … maybe the voice on the phone was the reality ?

    2) I think cobb’s mind was all screwed up and he was in a limbo even after coming out to reality. This was probably a plan hatched by everyone (including fischer, saito, aradne and his dad-in-law) to bring him back to consciousness and some sense. So I think probably Mal is still alive … and nolan just wanted to screw around ppl’s mind with the last scene, since the totem had started wobbling towards the end…. maybe a part 2 ?

  9. alwayspissedoff says:

    The cynic in me says it was all a dream – Cobb is in his own personal hell!

    1. While talking to Mal before she dies, Cobb says they aged in Limbo, there is a cut scene where two oldies are walking in his dreamscape but when the go on the train tracks for the kick-up – both are young. Guess they never made it…

    2. Saito recognizes Cobb + Arthur from his dream at the start of the movie supposedly because he has undergone training for it. Why is Fisher unable to recognize any of the 5 co-passengers from the plane & his dream despite having definitely undergone subconscious training?

    I loved the movie – Nolan is an incredibly talented storywriter who doesn’t shy from risks. If this had been made 10 years ago (when he came up with the concept), the comparision to the Matrix would have been devastating. So it kinda helps the Wachovski brother’s fucked up the sequels and completely ruined what an amazing movie the first one was. Nolan popped the blue pill I guess and the top hasn’t stopped spinning since.

  10. Nitin says:

    @alwayspissedoff – That little cutscene where the two of them are shown old has a shot on them holding hands while lying down on the track. Noted it the second time I saw the movie because I had the same doubt.

  11. Sanjeev says:

    After reading comments here and thinking a bit more, I do believe it was a dream. While there are loose ends (that hopefully a sequel will address), now think this movie is not just a must-watch, its a must-watch-again… like Matrix 1 or Sixth Sense.

    @ Darshan, like your totem point. I think Mal did lose her totem but not sure whether that is enough to lose her mind. Movie seems to suggest that Cobb took over the totem, though as mentioned by someone earlier, it never was shown to topple? Otherwise interesting to debate what his totem was (like kids’ faces) – would think it would be something on the person that can be touched and felt?

    @ Pradyut, the kids point is very cool – i.e., that his kids were wearing the same clothes in his memory and in the last scene. Very suspicious indeed! That would be the clincher for me to believe this was a dream. Unless otherwise proved wrong 🙂

    @ Nitin: probably the most different take on the movie I’ve read yet… though why Caine’s character would do so is never referenced. Could it be just a dream without an architect – just a normal dream?

    @ alwayspissedoff: Re your point 2, fair to say Fischer was not nearly as experienced as Saito in this exercise? That should explain his not recognising them.

    Where is Mr Gandhi? Want to hear his views!

  12. Gradwolf says:

    Is this only about the ending/spoilers or also about what did not work the second time around?

    The whole Ellen Page Q&A session felt like it overstayed its welcome the second time around. Of course, I don’t really have an alternative, but I felt a few things could have been left a bit open ended there because as plot points and storyline as a whole, it wasn’t really the “mindfuck” that it was made out to be. Yes, it makes you question some interpretations and form discussions but it’s all in “What did he do in the end?” and not exactly a Kubrickan “What the fuck just happened?” kind of question.

  13. Nice discussion, do read my post on the movie too. Might add some additional insights to the whole thing. Inception: Myth behind the Myth!


  14. @harrycheese says:

    I dunno if anyone noticed, but no one knows how the movie starts … just like one of the dreams … so maybe it is indeed Cobb’s Dream and Mal had realised it and killed herself to land up in the reality.

    But if thats the case, wouldnt she do something in the real world so that there is some kind of a ‘kick’ to bring back Cobb ??

    Lotsa unanswered questions

  15. Darshan says:

    The amazing part is Chris Nolan has put an idea into our head that Cobb was dreaming all along and now we are gonna go back for repeat viewing, we are going to discuss this movie in lenghts & we are going to analyze every screenshot for hints.

    Basically let the idea take over our mind like a virus.

  16. Darshan says:

    Ok, I finally managed to piece together few puzzles.

    Cobb spins the top 3 times besides the final scene.

    1) After the first Saito extraction that failed and immediately after the train escape he sits in his office room, spins his totem. He picks up a gun and looks at the top spinning. The top stops spinning and immediately he gets a phone call from his kids.

    2) After the Paris tutorial with Ariadne where it is ended abruptly with Mal stabbing Ariadne, Cobb gets out spins the top and the top stops.

    I think both these two instances symbolizes that Cobb is slowly losing control of being able to identify what is real or what isn’t.

    3) He is plugged into Yusuf’s formula in the basement. An old man tauntingly points out “their dream has become their reality.”
    Yusuf presses the button to start the formula, Cobb gets flashes of Mal, and we see him get up in the basement, go wash his face, he spins the top but drops it.
    He (& we) fails to see if he is still dreaming or not.

    Post that scene, the top is next spun by Cobb right at the end of the movie

  17. sonika bhasin says:

    No not lame at all. I also thought the same thing. How was it that Cobb saw his children in the exact same setting and the same clothes in the end, as he had seen them in his dreams? It definitely seemed that he was dreaming.

    Also, i agree with AK, how come Fishcer doesn’t know or recognize Saito? if they are business rivals, they should know each other, right?

  18. Rahul K says:

    Okay, I have some doubts.

    Q1: When a person is in limbo, how long is he/she sleeping (or sedated) in the real world?

    Q2: If it was all still a dream, and his wife(Mal) is actually alive in the real world {after jumping off the building in the limbo} , why did’t she wake him up when she is out of the dream??

  19. Bihag says:

    Inception is no doubt a good movie. But does not scale heights to being great! What I mainly disliked is over-focus on high-speed chases and Rambo-like violence rather than on subtleties of dream world. Also, in the end Cobb’s totem is shown is wobbling not slowing down. So it is up to audience to believe whether it stops or not.

    Cobb’s children’s faces can’t be his totems. Only the owner is supposed to know the exact properties of his/her totem. If his children’s faces are his totems, anyone else can also make those faces part of their dream architecture and Cobb will never know he’s in someone else’s dream.

    Mal didn’t lose the perspective of life simply because Cobb touched her totem. She became suicidal because Cobb taught her to constantly question the reality of her surroundings. We might never find out whether Mal was right about it being dream or whether Cobb was right about it being a reality. And that was probably the point of the ending. Once you lose the trust in your senses, there’s no telling whether you’re in dream or not.

  20. Shiv says:

    I’d really like for the ending to be reality but there seems to be too many reason’s for it not to be.
    also, did anyone notice how he automatically jumped from being at the airport to the house with his children in? i might just be reading to much into it but he did say that you never remember how you get to places in dreams…

    another thing that bothered me that has nothing to do with the ending, at the start of the movie (well, near the start) while Cobb is running from the company he’d failed, he squeezes through a gap between two buildings and almost gets stuck, sorry but to me it actually looked like he was really trying to get stuck… he could have gotten though that gap easily!!!

    anyway, apart from that it was a great movie ^_^

  21. ASchuler says:

    1) if you were miffed by the ending, you were expecting closure and you never got it. it was the best possible ending for the movie
    2) apparently effects of dreams aren’t passed down all levels. for the tension in the elevator- on the first level there is no gravity so there is a feeling of no gravity on the second level, and although it feels like there’s no gravity on the second level, there is no reason for gravity to be missing on the second level so it’s not passed to the third level
    3) I think Saito recognized Cobb from his dream because he knew Cobb from before- after all the beginning of the movie was an ‘audition’ Maybe Saito did not remember Cobb in particular, but remembered what the dream was about and knew that someone broke in to his mind (further affirmed by the architect who begged Saito for sanctuary after the failed attempt) so if Fischer didn’t recognize Saito, he didn’t recognize anyone in the dream
    4) the deal behind Mal and her totem was that she locked her totem in a safe place in her sub conscience and purposely forgot to check if her world was real. When Cobb spun the top, it became a constant reminder that her world was not real because the totem in her sub conscience never stopped spinning- this drove her to believe her world was not real and death was the only sensible option
    5) touching a totem is not a big deal, the idea is that you and only you know the properties of that totem so no one else in the world can re-create it. letting someone else touch the totem only makes it useless because then someone else can re-create it in a dream (the top doesn’t matter because once Mal dies, Cobb uses the totem becoming the only living person who knows its properties)
    6) in limbo, hours become many decades, so what could be only a short afternoon nap could be an entire lifetime and a half in limbo which may mess with your mind (“turn [it] to mush”). you only come out of limbo when you eventually die (if you figure out you’re in limbo in time to save your sanity)

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