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Inception Ending

July 19, 2010 1 comment

Spoiler Alert…Obviously

In the last scene of Inception, Cobb makes it back home and is finally reunited with his children. The last shot shows the metal top (his totem) spinning on the table. It starts to shake and swivel a bit, and then the movie cuts to black and the credits.

What is the significance of this final image? Earlier in the film, Cobb had said that this totem, which had previously belonged to his wife Mal, would continue spinning forever in the dream world. Also, in the previous seen with Cobb and Mal together, she is trying to convince him to stay with her in the dream world.

The question, therefore, is did Cobb actually return to the real world, or did he decide to remain with Mal in this subconscious alternate reality? Christopher Nolan does not show us whether the top falls or keeps on spinning, so it is up to the audience to decide.

This is a Matrix-esque idea that is definitely an interesting one: how do we define reality? What makes the world we live in any more “real” than the dream world? Mal says to Cobb at the end that he has been going back and forth between the two realms for so long that they are both equally real to him, and in which case, why not remain in the dream world with her? If you feel you are stuck in a dream, do you accept it or jump out of a window to escape from it? This idea is well reflected by the old men who come to Yusef, not to be put to sleep, but to be woken up. They are more at home in the dream world than in “reality”.

Just like the Matrix, Inception has some great action and special effects, but it is the central ideas that define the film. This subject matter is great for philosophical questions and debate. Try this one on for size: what if we are all “dreaming” now and when we die we are awoken into an entirely different universe.

Sweet Dreams

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