Saturday, 27 September 2014

Everything you need to know about Inception (2010) Explained - Part 4

SPOILER ALERT: This article is mainly about the film Inception (2010). Please do not read this article if you haven’t watched the film and if you do not wish to know the specific details of the film. It contains heavy spoilers which will certainly affect your viewing of the film. If you haven’t seen Inception yet, please stop reading and watch it, because it's a great film. 

The purpose of this article is to provide detailed explanations about the terms, various interpretations for one of my top favourite films, Inception (2010) that's written, directed, produced by Christopher Nolan so that people can have a greater understanding of this unusually complex yet fascinating film.

Note: The following explanations are provided based on my personal understanding of the film and what I learned after watching it 5 times in the cinema 4 years ago. (Believe it or not, I wrote this myself 4 years ago!If there are any mistakes found in these articles, please kindly provide any feedback comments below so I can rectify it. 
Q & A for Inception - Part 2

There are total of 44 questions with answers provided for each of them. Brace yourselves.

Some Questions are added by me and some are taken from the following sites:

Note: Some answers are modified or changed completely according to my own views about the film. Answers with ‘A:’ are left unchanged from the sites.

15. While entering a new dream level, how do the characters in the shared dream know they're in a dream? How do they know what they are supposed to do?

A: It is made apparent throughout the film that the people who create and operate in the dream are fully aware of what they're doing because they've trained ahead of time. Imagine, if you will, that you could predict what dream you were going to have tonight and you could prepare for it, when you arrived in the dream you would be aware what it was because you have prepared yourself for it. Throughout the film Cobb's team prepares thoroughly for the Inception job; they study Ariadne's models, they go through the scenarios, etc. By the time they are actually ready to enter the dreams, they have fully prepared their minds for what they're about to experience and their minds can thus recognize the reality that they are in a dream while Fischer, on the other hand, has not had any prior knowledge of this and can thus be fooled by the illusion.

16. Both Saito and Fischer are powerful men in the same energy industry, why Fischer is unable to recognize Saito?

Saito never actually met face-to-face with Fischer in the real world throughout the film, only in the dream. A dream isn't real and remembering what’s happening in reality before entering a dream is important. Fischer doesn't know that he’s dreaming and can be easily fooled by illusions in the dream. It could also be that Fischer did recognize Cobb’s team on the plane but he perhaps thought it’s just a normal dream.

It’s the same as why:
  • Cobb managed to pull a ‘Mr. Charles’ on Fischer.
  • Eames, as Browning, changes back to himself in front of Fischer and he didn't even realize it.
  • Fischer doesn't even seem to recognize Cobb when they’re collecting their baggage at the airport near the end of the film. 

17. Is Mal in the window after Cobb wakes up from Yusuf's sedation test?

Yes. But this is probably a hallucination due to the fact that he just woke up from dreaming about he and Mal spent time at Limbo together during Yusuf's sedation test. There’s a close-up shot of Mal sitting on the ledge of the hotel room where she committed suicide too. It could have been his haunted memories (memories he regrets/want to forget).

18. When Mal commits suicide and jumps off the ledge, is the room behind her trashed?

No. The room behind her is fine. She deliberately lures Cobb to the wrong room so she can talk and try to convince him to die with her without letting him have any chance of stopping her. That's why she gets a room across from the one he's in.

19. Assuming that the ending is real, why the police investigation regarding Mal’s case puts all the blame on Cobb and thinks that he killed her?

Mal told Cobb her plan to incriminate him if he won’t jump with her. Mal went to 3 different psychologists to prove that she’s mentally sane, then sent a letter to their attorney that Cobb is trying to kill her and papers indicating her mental state. Considering that Mal had deliberately staged a struggle in the hotel room before she jumped off the ledge of the opposite room, this is why the police refuse to listen to Cobb’s explanation that she’s mentally unstable and conclude that he killed her.

However, one could argue that the police should be able to know the location where Mal jumped out from the forensics, records that Mal rented 2 hotel rooms and there should be fingerprints on the ledges of the window. It is uncertain whether Cobb did inform the police that she jumped from the other side of the room or not. No one knows what actually happened after the incident.

20. It is mentioned in the film that 10 hrs = (1 week in level 1 dream) = (6 months in level 2 dream) = (10 years in level 3 dream) while in heavy sedation. However, it seems that not even a day has passed in level 1 dream throughout the whole mission. Why so?

That’s the original Inception plan. However, due to unforeseen circumstances such as Fischer’s subconscious is trained (heavily armed and capable of finding the intruders quickly) and Saito is hurt and dying, their mission needs to be completed as quickly as possible.

This is one of the weaknesses of the film, however. The "reverse time dilation" effect slows the van drop down greatly, but it is not clear that the appropriate lengths of time pass in the lower levels. For example, if the stated time slowing occurred as predicted, the team would have spent much longer in the snow fort than shown - days instead of the at-most hours indicated. One can only guess that the location of the snowy mountains could be in places like Alaska where there's continual daylight during the summer.

21. How did Cobb and Mal end up in Limbo in the first place?

The movie suggests that it was an accident. Cobb and Mal took a normal sedative (otherwise he would need a Chemist) and entered a shared dream from their living room, exploring the concept of dream within a dream. Cobb was curious and wanted to keep going deeper. So he went in deeper with Mal by intentionally killing themselves or through another dream machine on that dream level, just to see what would happen and ended up in limbo (although they realized it, but they lost sight of what was real after they built ‘their world’ in limbo) and grew old together until Cobb can’t take it anymore. So, it’s old Mal that puts the top in the safe and old Cobb that spins the top in the safe.

Cobb:”We lost sight of what was real. We created; we built the world for ourselves. We did that for years. We built our own world…it wasn't so bad at first, feeling like ours. The problem was lonely and none of it was real. Eventually it just became impossible for me to live like that…”

22. If Mal and Cobb grew old together in Limbo, and we see them as an elderly couple, why are they young when at the end of the time in limbo they kill themselves on the railroad tracks?

The first time we see Cobb envisioning them killed by the train, they're young. (There's a close up shot of their young hands as well) This could be from the dream that Cobb had during Yusuf's sedation test.

The scenes where the young Mal put the top in the safe and young Cobb spins the top in the safe when Cobb explains to Ariadne on the first dream level, the younger versions of them killed by the train near the end of the film could be from the memories that Cobb regretted/wanted to forget (memories constructed by Cobb that Ariadne visited) since this is where his guilt comes from, as these scenes are shown when Cobb reveals that he performed an inception on Mal near the end of the film.

Later at the end when Cobb tells the real story of how they escaped limbo, we see their older and wrinkled hands hold firmly on each other on the rail tracks. We also see the older Cobb and Mal walking through the city while Cobb talks about them growing old together. As Cobb finally gets over of his wife's death and guilt at the end, he finally manage to forget the memories of the younger versions of them killed by the train and we finally get to see the truth.

Dreams seem real when we're in them. Therefore, remembering what happened exactly in dreams takes years of experience.

23. Why is Saito so much older than Cobb in the final dream level (limbo)?

Saito dies in Eames' dream and enters limbo minutes before Ariadne leaves Cobb's dream level with Mal. This could mean that Saito has been within limbo for quite some time. By the time Cobb found him, he’s become as old as we saw from the film. It could be that Cobb knows he's in limbo and this keeps him from aging visibly. Saito on the other hand seems to have forgotten where he isunable to perceive reality and so time in the dream (which could have been centuries and Saito died countless times since time runs faster the deeper you go) has more of an effect on him. Similarly, the first time Cobb and Mal end up in limbo they aged because they've lost, forgotten where they really are and accepted it as their reality.

24. What causes the loss of gravity in the hotel dream world? 

A: As it is in real life, the dreamer's dream can be affected by things happening outside the dream. If it gets cold while you’re sleeping, sometimes people dream of ice or snow. If a person falls out of bed, sometimes they’ll dream of skydiving or falling in their dream. So when the van in the dream level above the hotel falls off the bridge, the motion of those inside the van is thrown off, and that feeling of falling carries over into the dream, making it as though there’s no gravity in the hotel level below the van.

25. If the dreamer's body's sense of gravity changes and it alters the gravity in their dream, why then does the van's free fall only alter Arthur's gravity in the hotel? Shouldn't the rest of the team suddenly become weightless in the snow covered mountainside (and below)?

In the film, it shows that Saito shows less pain (as mentioned by Cobb) and was able to walk in deeper levels of dreaming, albeit still capable of bleeding and die at the third level of dreaming. It shows the perception of physical sensation is harder to reach when there’s a level in between. It only affects the level that’s directly below the level where the van falls off the bridge. Cobb and the rest are three levels down, so the imagined van’s free fall has no effect on them.

26. How did Mal get involved in all the dream invasion stuff to begin with?

A: It’s seems pretty clear from the context of the movie that Mal and Cobb were married and engaged in legitimate dream exploration together before Mal’s death. After her death, Cobb was forced to use his knowledge of dreams to become a thief.

27. Why did Cobb perform Inception on Mal?

A: Cobb and Mal were trapped in Limbo for 50 years, unaware that their world wasn't real. Cobb eventually discovered the truth, but Mal refused to accept it. In order to get Mal to kill herself and return to the real world, Cobb performed Inception on her, planting the idea that the world wasn't real in her mind. This worked; they killed themselves and escaped Limbo. Unfortunately, the idea remained in Mal's mind and once they returned, she was unable to accept that the real world wasn't a dream.

28. Why did Cobb need to use Inception on Mal to convince her to kill herself? Couldn't he have simply snuck up on her and shot her?

Mal needs to be fully aware that she’s dreaming. It could also be Cobb, madly in love with Mal, simply couldn't bring himself to do it. Remember, he was barely able to shoot a projection of her. It might be difficult to kill the real Mal, no matter how important he thought it was to do so.

29. Arthur blows up an elevator to create a Kick in anti-gravity. How does that work?

A: Since there is no gravity, Arthur disconnects the elevator from the cables and then uses an explosion to propel it. When it hits the bottom they're shaken around, creating a Kick. Arthur uses the elevator because he needs a way to insure that the Kick occurs quickly and to everyone at once so he doesn't have to do them one at a time, in much the same way the falling van drops them together.

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