Saturday, 27 September 2014

Everything you need to know about Inception (2010) Explained - Part 2

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 these articles is to provide detailed explanations about the terms and various interpretations for one of my top favourite films, Inception (2010) that's written, directed, produced by Christopher Nolan (and other details as well) so that people 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. 

4 interpretations of Inception:

I think, the reason why numerous interpretations for the film exist is due to the fact that Nolan wanted the film to be an ‘Inception’ itself, by planting an idea of that the top keeps spinning continuously, and wobbles before the screen turns black at the end of the film. The fact that people stretching their imaginations too far to create stories that I think even Nolan didn't intend for in the first place (Cobb is the one being 'incepted' with an idea, Ariadne is Cobb’s therapist, etc) proves that his ‘Inception’ worked, that a single idea can grow and become contagious, transform the world and rewrite all the rules.

1. Reality exists during the film, but Cobb is still in a dream at the end of the film.

This is the common interpretation that people would normally fall for the first time they watch the film, especially when the top is keeps spinning near the end of the film. The moments that are most likely reality are the train ride in Japan, Cobb's time in Paris/Mombasa, the plane ride, the warehouse, etc. This interpretation suggests that Cobb trapped in Limbo in the end, thinking that Saito honors their agreement, finally live happily in a dream where he could be with his kids.

  1. The top. The top keeps spinning and the screen never shows it truly stops.
There’s no other evidence to indicate this interpretation is true. It’s just a mere preference by some viewers, especially first time viewers. The evidences presented in the film suggested that if reality does exist, the ending must be real as well. This makes this interpretation highly unlikely. Read the FAQs about the film to know more.

2. The whole film is a dream.

The whole film is actually Cobb’s dream. This interpretation doesn't completely negate the emotional breakthrough that Cobb has, albeit a negative one. It means that it could be Mal who’s successfully return to reality, now she tries to help Cobb realize this, but he refuses to listen to his wife’s plea that the world is merely a dream and is lost within his mind or Mal is just simply another projection of his mind.

However, I personally think this interpretation is too far-fetched and renders the interesting technical concepts of inception and extraction, rules of the dream to be pointless and useless considering nothing in the film can be confirmed true. The characters established are meaningless considering they’re just projections.

Worse of all, the actions that are shown throughout the film are meaningless and invalid. Nothing can be considered real or anything that happened in the film ‘actually happened’. It just makes people think that: "Well, none of this happened, so nothing matters and I have no explanation" or “what is real?” or “The mind perceives the reality”.

What are the evidences that show the whole film is a dream?
  1. Repeated lines of dialogue shared among the characters (Mal and Saito both tell Cobb to take a "leap of faith", Cobb predicts what Saito will say in limbo).
  2. Numerous improbable or coincidental events that happened during parts of "reality". Cobb is saved by Saito coincidentally during the chase between Cobol Engineering agents and him, Cobb squeezing through the walls during the chase, to what certain extend the power that Cobol Engineering and Saito possess, etc.
  3. The line from the old man in the underground lab of Yusuf, “Their dream has become their reality. Who are you to say otherwise?" or even Miles line: “Come back to reality, Cobb.” or even James, Cobb's son when Cobb asked: “What you've been painting?” and he said at the end of the film: "We're building a house on a cliff".
  4. We never get to see Ariadne or Arthur use their totem. Why so?
  5. The clumsiness of the homicide police investigation regarding Mal’s case and put the blame on Cobb entirely.
  6. The top at the end of the film. The top is a totem used to help verify whether Cobb’s in reality or in someone else’s dream, but not his. He knows the exact weight, composition and how it should spin. So whether the top stops or continue spinning, it’s not important as even when it stops, it could be that Cobb believes that he finally reunite with his family, hence his dream fully becomes his reality.

3. Reality exists during the film and Cobb is in reality at the end of the film.
(Note: This is the interpretation of which I highly think is true.)

The technical aspects, rules of extraction and inception are valid in this interpretation and coincide with Nolan’s initial notion of making the film: "exploring the idea of people sharing a dream space — entering a dream space and sharing a dream. That gives you the ability to access somebody’s unconscious mind. What would that be used and abused for?”, "to make sure that the emotional journey of the character was the driving force of the movie."

There is so much more to explore and understand about the dreams if this interpretation is true.

Most importantly, the emotional depth that you've obtained throughout the film with this interpretation is immense. You can feel and empathize with Cobb’s guilt of performing inception on his wife, his love for her (his projection of her frequently appears uncontrollably in the dream throughout the film, his inability to remove the memories he regretted/wanted to forget), how he strongly wants to see his kids. The actions that are performed in the film are ‘actually happened’ and valid as well.

This film is considered original. Why? Because the technical aspects and the rules presented in the film makes it original. If the whole film is a dream, it’s just primarily explores the idea of “what is real” or “the mind perceives what is real”, which is not original (shown in film like The Matrix, Dark city, The 13th Floor, Paprika, etc.)  If you’re willing to put some thoughts into the technical aspects of Extraction and Inception, the rules of the dream, the results of the actions performed throughout the film, you’ll have a full appreciation of the film.

What are the evidences that show Reality exists during the film and Cobb is in reality at the end of the film?

1. The wedding ring on Cobb's hand that's present in dreams but absent in the real world.

2. Cobb's kids, Phillipa & James. The kids at the end of the film are different and are older compared to the younger ones we've seen throughout the film. Their clothes are slightly different. The girl has a white shirt underneath her red dress and his son was wearing shoes instead of sandals at the end. This is the most solid evidence. Observe carefully.

If he was dreaming, he wouldn't be able to know what his children's faces would have looked like turning around and seeing him as he cannot change a memory. He even said himself earlier in the film that no matter how hard he tried, he “can't change this moment.” He will never see his children's faces unless he really gets back to them.

3. The top. There's a significant difference between the top that keeps spinning flawlessly when he’s in a dream and the top that's spinning at the end of the film (it clearly wobbles, loses momentum and does sound like it is stopping.)

4. It is showed at the end that Cobb and Mal did grow old together for 50 years in Limbo with them walking the streets as old men, two old hands hold together on the train tracks.

5. The rules, technical aspects of performing the Extraction and Inception in the film.

6. Cobb remembers exactly how he got to where he is, which he wouldn't know if he was dreaming.

7. The emotional depth of the film. If the ending is real, it shows that Cobb does go on an emotional journey, to take a 'leap of faith' to believe that Saito will honor their agreement so he could go home and see his kids and finally get over with his wife's death and guilt. The scene where Cobb talks with old Saito is significant as it shows they've grown and become friends, as Cobb had said to him: "Come back and let's be young men together." He's 'transformed' because of his leap of faith and he’s rewarded by finally reunited with his kids. Everyone's so concerned about whether the top falls or not, but no one seems to care that Cobb walked away without caring as soon as he sees his kids. The top is actually Mal’s totem, a keepsake and remembrance of the love and guilt that he had for her. Since he ignored it means that he finally let her go.

8. When Cobb is explaining to Ariadne about Mal's death, there’s a flashback sequence where Cobb takes the children away from Mal while arguing in the real world. She yells: "You think I don't know my children?" Next, the conversation is:

Cobb: If this is a dream, then why can't I ‘control’ this?
Mal: Because you don't know you're dreaming!!

Throughout the film, we never see Cobb controls anything in a dream. Instead, he’s afraid of controlling anything. It’s mentioned that if Cobb knows the layout of the maze (designs of the dream), it's easier for Mal to corrupt the mission. From the conversation between Cobb and Miles, when Cobb asked for an Architect, Miles said “Design it yourself.” Cobb replied: “I need an Architect as good as I was.” This gives the impression that he used to be an excellent Architect. In the film, Ariadne had shown that the qualities that best Architects possesses are to be able to create mazes that are difficult to solve, have good imagination, able to alter or change things swiftly in the dream.

4. Interpretation 2 and 3 are both true.

Is it possible that the "whole film is a dream" and "Reality exists during the film and Cobb is in reality at the end of the film" interpretations are true?

Why not? As you're watching the film, you're in fact pushing yourself through different layers of psyche (reasoning) in your mind to understand the film, right? From the progressive hints from the start, till the end of the film, it's still possible to say that an 'Inception' is actually performed by Nolan as we go deeper to the conclusion of the film. The idea planted by him would seemingly be ‘The whole film is a dream’, which is similar to what Cobb had done to Mal with the idea of ‘The whole world is not real’. This could mean that Nolan incorporates postmodernism in the film (no objective truth) and both interpretations are actually simulacrum where none of the two is a copy of the real, but both of them becomes truth in its own right as the line where what is real or fake depends on the perception of an individual. Since interpretations come from ideas, an idea can be a parasite and become contagious, can be a seed that grows in a person’s mind, once 'incepted', can take over one's psyche.

The fact that people stretching their imaginations too far to create stories, making countless interpretations that I think even Nolan didn't intend for in the first place (Cobb is the one being 'incepted' with an idea, Ariadne is Cobb's therapist, Saito pulled Mr. Charles on Cobb, etc) is the evidence that shows this could be true.
If interpretation 2 is true (when the whole film is a dream (or dream within a dream, or dream within dreams), rules, logic, words doesn't apply anymore. All a person need is just pure imagination. Every result is pure creation. There are countless possibilities. Everyone can come up something different based on their imagination. However, if interpretation 1 is true (when reality exists during the film and the ending is real), it’s very difficult to know the truth since logic, rules and word (dialogue) apply. In order to obtain the correct result, a person has to be very careful not to break any of them. That's why both interpretations can be true. They complement each other (real and unreal, polar opposites).

NEXT: PART 3 --->

No comments:

Post a Comment