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So here it is everyone! The Inception discussion thread!. So far this is definitely the best movie of 2010 IMO and in my book probably one of the best movies I've ever seen. Here you can discuss more specific thoughts you have on the movie. I found the plot to be pretty deep (3 levels of dreams deep ) and contained quite a few subtle and hidden points and as a result deserves some discussion in order to be sorted out. Also one viewer may have not caught on to something someone else had while watching the movie, so this thread could be helpful in answering any questions one may have in regards to the movie. As well with the ending the movie had you could even discuss what YOU THINK actually happened at the end. This was such a great movie and I hope that we can strike up some great conversation on it. Enjoy everyone
*And remember, if you haven't seen the movie then ignore this thread until you have!!!
Last edited by Arrogance; July 19, 2010 at 11:50 AM.
I'll start with my minor criticisms. First, I felt the essence of layer manipulation could have been better. My understanding was that for Fisher's inception, an idea is planted in a higher layer and then has a dramatic effect on the lower layer, and this process is repeated until the cathartic experience (the perfection of a memory). Now, what I didn't understand, or rather what was inconsistent, was how Fisher could remain ignorant of the manipulation.
In the first layer/reality, Eames and Cobb had made pronounced introductions of themselves (Cobb with the passport and Eames with the jacket). This doesn't appear to affect anything in the second layer. In the second layer, Fisher saw Eames again (in the taxi), along with the faces of Saito and Arthur. In the third layer, Fisher sees Eames, Cobb, Saito, and Ariadne, who continue to the next layer. In layer three, Cobb claims to be a projection for the gambit. From Fisher's perspective, it would be counterintuitive for Cobb, as a projection, to continue to the next layer and for the cathartic experience to occur. That is, they claimed Browning wasn't a projection and that they were extracting information from his mind. If they were in Browning's mind, the projection, Browning would theoretically have knowledge of the will in the safe, which would have ultimately been constructed by Fisher. However, Browning wouldn't have the particular information regarding Fisher Sr's death confession (that is, the con should definitely fall apart there. The easiest way to spot a con is that it appears perfect).
In regards to Cobb's claim of being a projection, the team indicated that probing a projection would be the same as continuing into another of the subject's layers. Since Cobb claimed to be a projection, Fisher should have questioned the idea of a projection going through the process of continuing to another layer. If everything was a dream, it would make perfect sense that a projection can go down as many layers as the subject desires (though that would be fishy to Fisher). That is, Cobb populated the first layer with his team and everyone else and his polished team of projections (each member had a totem) continued with him down the rabbit hole (the meta is fun to toy with).
So, my problem is how the idea/presence can have noticeable effects on the lower layers, going so far as to perfect a past experience (something Cobb claimed to be unable to do on his own), while Fisher remains ignorant of the manipulation, despite the pronounced presences of the con artists in various layers (he had been trained...presumably to a level somewhat lower than Saito's). Nolan appears to capitalize on this notion with Saito's recognition of Cobb after "years" in limbo, but does little with it in regards to Fisher.
Second, and this isn't a major issue, was the team distribution in the fourth layer (snow). Cobb and Ariadne were paired, Saito and Fisher were paired, and Eames was by himself for most of the time. Why would Cobb pair the two least experienced/capable dreamers with one another? I can understand the fact that Saito was having mortality issues and that pairing Saito with Fisher would put Saito in less danger as a sniper. That is, presumably, Fisher's projections are not going to try to kill Fisher. That means Saito would be relatively safe using a sniper rifle to shoot at somewhat distant projections because the projections would not shoot at someone right next to the subject.
However, from what I could tell, Ariadne and Cobb didn't really do anything in that layer until they arrived at the safe room. So, why not pair Ariadne with Saito and Fisher, and have Cobb join Eames or use some other distribution? As the architect, Ariadne wouldn't have been in danger of giving Cobb, and thus Mal, information regarding the maze's layout and Fisher would have an additional safety net if Eames ended up giving Cobb that information. This would have made it more difficult to proceed to the next layer, as Fisher's "death" necessitated the fifth layer, but I feel the writing/development in the fourth layer could have been more sound.
While everyone, on imdb at least, seems to aggressively debate over whether the top falls or not, I don't think it's important, even though I consider it all a dream (thank you, Zhuangzi). Some people over there have commented that such a debate wasn't the point of the ambiguous ending, and as I said in the movie thread, one should read the butterfly dream before or after seeing the film. Cobb finished the film doing what he couldn't throughout the film: he chose his reality. The events of the film portrayed his cathartic experience, regardless of whether everything was a dream or not.
Hearkening back to the scene in the dream den (opium, eat your heart out), one is fulfilled by whichever reality he or she commits to. In one of the early scenes of the film, Cobb was holding a gun in his hand, and the top was spinning. If I remember correctly, his possible suicide coin flip was interrupted so he didn't shoot himself (that's when I realized he could ultimately be in a coma). Regardless of whether everything was a dream, he seemed to be confident of the first layer/reality. However, he hadn't necessarily chosen a reality as his wife had done. That is, he hadn't made a leap of faith.
A point that I consider related to this is the ambiguity of the nature of Cobb's totem. Early in the movie, he said that the top he used was his wife's totem. He had become familiar with it prior to his wife's "death" as she had trusted him enough to grant him access to it. That is, he knew what her totem was but not vice versa. This allowed him to exploit her trust and plant the inception. After her death, he began using her totem as his own.
However, I don't think that's the entire truth behind Cobb's totem. Instead, I think Mal was Cobb's totem, albeit an aggressively, somewhat self-aware totem after the inception had been planted. That is, Cobb made no mention of what his totem had been in the false reality they had created for themselves in limbo. Even so, throughout his entire stay with her, he was confident in the first layer as being reality. The way I see it, the only thing that could have been his totem was Mal herself, with the presence of the children being what affirmed the first layer/reality (I guess it is sort of a layered totem involving multiple elements. It would be considerably more intricate than a customized game piece). This is actually ingenious as making her his totem resulted in his hiding his totem in plain sight, and it's practically impossible to perfectly recreate a person in a dream state (Cobb said so himself when confronting the shade/totem near the end).
He was always with her, and her presence and the lack of recognizable children perpetually affirmed his recognition of the false reality as such. After her "death," he created a shade that would ultimately act as an aggressive totem in any layer beneath the first. He kept the top as an artifact of her in the first layer (I don't think he ever left the top perpetually spinning beneath the first layer except in his wife's inception, which made it an extension of Mal as shade totem. As such, the top was a red herring/unreliable totem anywhere beneath the first layer). That is, the top and the questionable nature of the children defined the totemic question of the first layer after Mal's "death."
Now, this is important because Cobb appears to abandon his totem in the final portion of the film. He eliminates the shade of his wife, who ultimately brought the reliability of a totem into question. This would prevent her from ever again appearing in any of the layers (he killed her in the first one with the inception). When Cobb arrives "home" he casts off the top, leaving it spinning as he walks away to embrace his children, and the children's faces are revealed. By doing so, he abandons the possible totems of the first layer. The children at the end could also be an additional layer of shades/projections, but it is a layer he chose to accept.
p.s. Always keep in mind that there are generally three major agents to each layer: dreamer, architect, subject. Fisher and Ariadne were the subject and architect, respectively, in most of the layers. Second layer, assuming reality to be the first layer, was the Chemist as dreamer, third was Arthur as the dreamer, and fourth was Eames as the dreamer.
p.p.s. While I obviously can't ask Nolan if Mal was Cobb's totem, I am 90% sure that if I found the opportunity to do so, Nolan would contemplate the question and then answer yes, even if such a notion was originally an unintended consequence of the execution.
p.p.p.s. I apologize for the length.
Last edited by kaliayev; July 21, 2010 at 08:44 PM.
Man that was heavy and long and I don't think I retained everything. The sad part is in general I'm a very heavy thinker which is why I loved this movie but I think the length of your post was what killed me .
Anywho I will at least take a shot at your first point you made and then hopefully work to other ones later on. See in your first paragraph you state how inception in a first layer has an effect on other layers. See that isn't how it worked. The whole set up was to infiltrate the last and most deepest part of Fishers mind (the subconscious) and then to plant that one single idea there. And once it is planted in the subconscious it would grow and develop in his conscious state later on and because it was his subconscious he would then not be able to understand why he had this idea but it would be prominent in his everyday life, and as a result he would dismember the company. So the point of the 3 layers of dreams was to go deeper and deeper into Fisher's mind and that took different stories in each layer. The first layer was established as the reality, the second was the dream in which they convinced fisher that the first one was really the real reality and he was actually kidnapped, and the 3rd was him attempting to crack into his own mind which they told him was Browning's. Once there he accessed his own safe in his mind and then the scene in his mind with his father dying was forged and thus inception was placed in the deepest part of his mind.
Now in regards to what happens in reality it apparently didn't effect the dreams for whatever reason. The passport introduction was quite a brief experience. Plus on top of that Fisher was convinced that the first dream (the kidnapping) was indeed reality later on and as a result he wouldn't even be thinking about the airplane. On top of that, when you dream in general, you usually don't recognize your dreaming until the end, and the setting of your dream seems like the reality. So while you dream, your not conscious your really asleep in your bed (or in this case the plane) meaning he would have forgotten Cobb anyway. So for me that wasn't really a problem.
I will try and tackle more of your comment later, but the key to everything working out was convincing Fisher that the first dream layer, wasn't a dream but that was reality, and that was Mr. Charles job in the second layer. So to fisher there was only 2 layers of dream, and one of them was his own while he though the second was browning's.
Overall you got come good input and I'm awaiting to have my mind be blown even more in this thread and to also give some of my own opinions later on .
I'm not sure I understand your line of thought in response to the first issue I brought up. In the second layer, Eames, as Browning, planted the idea of a secondary will and Cobb asked Fisher for the number to the safe. That number was random, but it had a dramatic affect on the subsequent layers. In the third layer, we saw that 528 was directly above 491, even though that would make no sense in the layout of a hotel. In the fourth layer, the combination to the safe was 528491 and the will that had been planted in layer two was completely fleshed out in layer four. The plants of the previous layers had given Fisher what he needed to perfect a memory.
Additionally, the music that occurred in a previous layer served as the soundtrack for the particular dreamer of the next layer (i.e. in the second layer, chemist put headphones on Arthur, who then played the music throughout the third layer) and it was raining in the second layer because the chemist needed to pee in the first layer (dream within a dream within a dream with each "reality" having an effect on its respective dream). When you dream normally, events that occurred during your waking state have a profound effect on your dream state (i.e. when you fall off your bed in reality, you imagine you're falling off a cliff in your dream). The dream state is an attempt to come to terms with or solve problems one encounters in the waking state.
For example, let's say you have a crush on someone you see everyday, but you are unwilling to confess your feelings to her. In your dream state, your subconscious attempts to resolve this conflict by drawing on various elements of your life to present a scenario that enables said resolution. Let's say you're dreaming about some portion of your life that is completely unrelated to said crush, but she suddenly appears in that setting. The displaced object of your affection and you are given an environment that is more familiar to you in order to assist you in resolving the conflict by confessing. Her appearance, albeit somewhat incongruent, is within the reasonable realm of coincidence because your subconscious is inherently aware of the fact that you are dreaming about what is familiar to you.
Nolan takes this further by suggesting dreams within dreams and artificial tampering of the dream state. The dream state becomes the new real state and another dream state is created thanks to the con artists, and this new dream state draws on the experiences of the first reality and the second "reality." The subconscious then works through a new scenario that allows for the resolution of conflicts from the first and second realities, while more artificial ideas are planted by the con artists.
Now, what I am saying is that, regardless of any of the other layered effects, the appearance of Fisher's father, while congruent with the idea of diving into Fisher's mind, is inconsistent with the idea of diving into Browning's mind. The encounter with the father would exceed the reasonable realm of coincidence in the dream realm that had been presented to him. This would immediately jolt his subconscious and he would be aware of the false nature of the layer. That is, he would immediately conclude that he, and not Browning, was the subject.
p.s. Fisher had been trained to notice these things. He wasn't necessarily as adept as Saito appeared to be, but he had considerably more clues.
Last edited by kaliayev; July 19, 2010 at 04:54 PM.
Hey guys, I'm just posting quick so I can come back later when my brain can wrap around the convo thus far. The ADDs are distracting me with shiny things. XP
Hmmm, just remembered something so I have to make a slight addendum. When "Browning" and Fisher were in the hostage room together, Fisher mentioned the fact that Fisher Sr had voiced disappointment in his deathbed confession to Fisher Jr. This would give Browning some information in terms of perfecting the memory, but I'm still not sure I buy it.
The specific elements of the memory of the deathbed scene that Fisher perfected would still be unknown by Browning. That is, Eames made a point of saying that he wanted to know what was behind the vault door after Fisher got shot. This means the confession Fisher made to "Browning" about "disappointed" would not have been enough for Browning or Eames to construct a memory that Fisher could perfect.
Earlier in the film, Saito detected the falsity of his reality because of the feel of a rug in his girlfriend's apartment. The fact that the memory Fisher perfected was so perfect was because it was something he had intimate knowledge of. For example, if the thread count of Sr's sheets had been incorrect, Fisher would assume that he was dealing with someone else's construction. This is the basis behind the totem. However, the reverse should also hold true. When you are told that you are diving into someone else's mind, the perfection of the realm/memory/totem would be a reference point that one can draw conclusions from. That is, Fisher dove into Browning's mind but encountered his own, complex memory, which he perfected (if you want to go meta, there's something similar happening with Cobb, and all those "subtle hints," such as the freight train, from Mal should have told Cobb that the mission was part of a dream). Neither Browning nor Eames could simulate that. Again, super jolt for Fisher's understanding of the fourth layer.
Last edited by kaliayev; July 19, 2010 at 07:01 PM.
Ok I understand that you were worried about with result of the final layer and forging that. See its not to odd because Fished told "Browning" in the first dream layer of the situation. As well Browning is well aware of his fathers death bed since he was in the room often. On top of that, the deathbed scene was supposed to be different, in that Browning's mind, well what fisher believed, held the truth to what his father really wanted from him. When Fisher Sr died, Fisher only had the word "disappointed". What they did then was "Browning" convinced Fisher that there was more to the picture. As a result the scene itself did not need to be specific other than the setting which they did know because Browning was studied for a few weeks so he could be forged properly. After that everything else was made up and that was the point. It was supposed to be new information in which the death scene was lengthened and Fisher got the disappointed statement extended, changing his meaning to a positive one, thus letting him open the safe, finding the will, and thus inception took place. So I don't see a problem with him know the exact event because he didn't need to because they were making a new one anyway. All they needed to get right was the death bed setting and then expand upon it and everything was fine.
Also on a side note I think your defining your layers differently from mine. Your calling reality layer one while I'm calling the first dream layer one excluding reality as being a layer. I just want to clarify that with you before continuing the conversation. The only change I would call the reality level a layer is if the whole movie was a dream to begin with, which based on the ending could be a possibility but that one I would put in last place. In regards to the way the movie ended I guess I personally found 3 possibilities for how the movie went:
1) Cobb was indeed back in reality at the end of the movie and the top stopped spinning
2) Cobb didn't make it back to reality and actually remained lost in the limbo state. The last thing Ariadne said to him before she jumped in the limbo was for him not to get lost in there and there was the chance that he actually did and as a result never actually woke up from the limbo state as he thought
3)The third is that the whole movie from the beginning was actually a dream. Cobb was never actually in reality to begin with since going into limbo with Mal the first time, and everything generated afterwards was him being lost in limbo in which he actually thought he was in reality.
In regards to these possibilities, the answer I don't think is clear. I would like to hear what you think or if you could think of any other possibilities but after thinking about it all those were the 3 I settles with.
At this point, I'm no longer sure I consider the issues I raised as problems. This position is more of an acceptance of everything the meta likely implies than anything else. Fisher wouldn't have reacted because the nature of the entire plot was to provide Cobb his catharsis. That is, Fisher executed the role Cobb needed him to, not the role that would assume a centrality and egoism for his character. It slightly lowers the film's quality of execution, but Fisher remaining ignorant of the manipulation would have been enough to convince Cobb, just as the actions of the other projections were enough to convince Cobb, even though they may not have been entirely faithful to the subterfuge of an undeniably egoistic projection. While the second issue, regarding team distribution in the fourth layer, probably could have been executed better, it would have prolonged the movie so I accept it as it is (I can't imagine American audiences going anywhere near the film if it had been longer than 2.5 hours).
Alright, I'll try to explain my position more thoroughly. The way I see it, there are two major camps among viewers who wish to think critically about the film (foreshadowing, I consider myself in a third). They both are grounded heavily in the ambiguity of the spinning top as the film concluded. The first camp believes that Cobb was ultimately successful in his mission. The catharsis the team manufactured also manufactured the catharsis that Cobb underwent. As a result, he was able to completely transcend the dream states and come to terms with his wife's death. He takes a leap of faith and this allows him to finally confirm that reality isn't a layer (he had had doubts thanks to Mal).
The second camp believes that the ending confirmed that Cobb's final layer was a dream state (there were a number of questionable aspects after Cobb awakened on the plane but the top served as the final clue). There are several divisions of this theory. The first, as you pointed out, was that Saito trapped Cobb in limbo. What followed was Cobb losing himself in a limbo layer that fulfilled his desire. The second argues that the reality was another layer. Mal was right and she was the one who escaped the dream state. As such, she has probably been hovering over his seemingly brain dead body with a look of deep concern and regret (his inception caused her to lose what fulfilled her: him...remember the train riddle). This would presumably mean that the reality layer was fleshed out into its current structure after Mal's "death," though the reality layer could have also been another dive. The third division is that the entire thing was a dream, including the original image of Mal. That is, Cobb was a lone dreamer who eventually created Mal and all the other characters, presumably subconsciously (as far as I can tell, he didn't say much about the origin of their relationship).
There is a third camp that seems to be gaining members, though not noise. This is where I consider myself. Presumably, the members of this camp arrived by joining other camps and then extending the ideas of those camp further. The immediate question was whether or not Cobb's was dreaming. The immediate answer was yes or no, but what underlies the arguments for both leads to another answer: regardless of whether or not Cobb was dreaming, Cobb chose the reality that would leave him with a sense of fulfillment (again, dream den). After performing that extension, they could see that the extensions of the other camp(s) led to the third camp. That is, a viewer from the third camp would have his/her personal preference (for me, everything was a dream), which led him to the third camp, but that doesn't really conflict with any other preference as they all lead to the same answer. Perhaps there were some in this camp that immediately understood the primary message and how to express it in their own terms, without joining either of the immediate camps. While I had an inkling of third camp's answer, I don't consider myself that gifted as a viewer, and I took a somewhat roundabout route (granted, this took less than a day, but the progression from "B-->C-->A and B don't matter" seemed somewhat agonizing at the time).
Now, I can give you my reasoning for thinking everything was a dream. Outside of the top in the final scene, the movie as film is designed to make one question the nature of Cobb's reality. I'll only provide one of the more concrete examples (some of the others, such as the paradox line of thought, require a better memory or immediate access to the film). Freud and Jung theorized that the subconscious incorporates myths and basic symbols to help the individual come to terms with reality and one's experiences in it (that was probably a bit of a butchering, but that's not important atm). Now, if one were in a coma for the rest of one's life, and assuming one would dream in that state, the subconscious could theoretically use this same process to help the mind come to terms with unreality. When we apply this to Cobb and the film, everything seems outside the realm of reasonable coincidence for Cobb's reality to not be a layer. Look at the names of the characters. In Greek mythology, Ariadne aided Theseus in navigating the minotaur's labyrinth. In the film, she serves a similar purpose by helping Cobb navigate his own internal conflicts, albeit in a relatively perverse way on the meta level. In English folklore, Arthur is the invincible, sleeping king who united the people of England. In the film, Arthur is a dream agent with incredible martial prowess. He literally unites the characters in his attempt to provide them with a kick. Eames appears to be a union of Charles and Ray Eames, who were significant in the progression of what is now considered modern, functional art. They were architects, designers, etc. In the film, Eames is a forger with a penchant for reaching beyond convention in a way that is useful to the characters. The possibility that his character is a union of two individuals would help explain his ambiguous sexuality. Mal is latin for evil. In the film, she is presumably evil, as she persistently disrupts Cobb's missions and challenges the reality that he is more inclined to accept. I'm not sure who Saito is a reference to, but I think he is likely to be an aggregate of Japanese figures (I'll let someone else delve into that name. I will mention the interesting tidbit that a Saito coined and researched the term hikikomori). In Arthurian legend (uh-oh, we already have an Arthurian figure...layer within a layer within a layer), the Fisher king was charged with keeping the holy grail, which Galahad and Perceval searched for. His kingdom is also suffering because of an injury he received earlier in life. In the film, Fisher is the mission that contains Cobb's catharsis...his holy grail, if you will. Fisher also appeared to have been psychologically wounded by his father and was unable to direct his corporation in that state. These names appear to have been purposefully chosen by Nolan in a way that extends their significance beyond the simple allusions directors are fond of making. It challenges the nature of Cobb's allies and foes by suggesting that just like a film is the dream of a given director, Cobb's supposed reality is a dream state, populated by individuals whose names and functions are drawn from something above the narrative itself, such as myths and symbols that are significant to the meta-conscious.
After that lengthy example of why I think it was a dream, I feel I should reiterate that I don't think such an answer is the film's ultimate answer. That is, the question most discussed simply provides an answer within/that contains an answer. Perhaps Nolan specifically designed the film for that purpose. That is, his presentation would challenge the audience to the same difficult issue of subterfuge that the characters tried to deal with in the film. Like the characters, a large majority of the audience would be stuck on the basic question of the film: was Cobb in a dream state? However, to me and others in the third camp, both the yes and the no seem to lead to the more important answer to the film: taking a leap of faith and choosing the reality that leaves one with a sense of fulfillment. Obviously, I didn't formulate the entirety of my opinion until I thought about it more, though I found myself remembering the butterfly dream, which assisted in navigating the film's maze, before, during, and after the film. Personally, I increasingly appreciate the film as I try to unravel more of its layers. The idea of a purposefully and well hidden answer adds significantly to that appreciation. Jebus, I hope that didn't sound too snobby.
p.s. Remember the conversation between Miles and Cobb in the lecture hall.
p.p.s. From my standpoint, regarding the entire film as a dream appears to leave the greatest allowance for reconciling the characters and making Cobb more ethically likable. If Cobb's reality is reality, Cobb still killed his wife. He has left Cobb with an inception that could ultimately ruin his life, just as the Mal inception ruined Mal's life. Cobb is a massive dick. If the ending is a dream and Saito trapped Cobb in limbo, Saito comes off as a massive dick. If Mal escaped the dream world, Cobb still essentially killed her. That is, by not leaping with her when she did and choosing the first layer as reality, Cobb left her completely alone in the real world. That is, he's still a massive dick. If everything is a dream, then everything in the film was a projection created by Cobb's subconscious to help him choose his reality. The lengthy history implied by the film was the cathartic event that his mind was seeking. Cobb is not a massive dick, but everyone else is a perfectly functioning projection. How can those well-tailored pants that perfectly accentuated JGL's butt just be a projection?
Last edited by kaliayev; July 21, 2010 at 08:45 PM.
Haha, the last paragraph was amazing . Man you must be into psychology or something cause your really love and go pretty in depth with this film. (O and I agree with you that Freud overdid it a bit with the myths, but yes that is for another time )
The one thing I find though is that in the situations for the movie in which I came up with, I realized that this movie was made in a way in which any one of those answers could have been correct with us not knowing what the top does at the end of the film. My only other thing was if anyone would have caught something along the way that would have given the movie away or put it in favor of one of the positions (or camps as your saying).
The point you give up in regards to the names it very interesting. I knew Mal meant evil in latin but Leo and his tough guy accent pronounced it wrong and thus it sounded like it was a nickname for Malorie the whole film. That being said its not uncommon in movies for their names to hold meaning that reflect their characters so either way this is another situation I find that could go either way. It could just be nolan getting witty and naming all his characters after his role. OR The whole film was a dream and these characters were given just perfect names for their roles by Cobb's subconscious. It seems like Cobb was an educated man meaning he would know all these myths and legends (even latin ) and would be able to fill it all in subconsciously and influence the world that was his reality but instead a dream.
Now the only thing though is that it really depends on his wife Mal and at which point the viewer thinks the dream started. If Leo was in reality at first and once he went into Limbo with his wife Mal then that was when the whole thing started and he never actually ever got out of limbo in the first place. What that would mean is that Mal is an actual person by which his subconscious didn't just build her into a role which was reflected by her name like the other characters. Instead she would actually be a character who was given that name by Nolan which would reflect her role in the plot of the story, which thus undermines the credibility of all the characters in Cobb's "dream/reality" being formed of his subconscious.
So for me I feel that she is the pinnacle of that point holding up or by which that position holds its significance. Without a doubt the characters are related to mythology and legends but I feel that when the dream starts (if even the whole movie is a dream) effects what type of projection she is in Cobb's mind and depending on what she is effects what the rest of the group and their name's significance are. Now of course if she really did kill herself then there is the other chance that Cobb got lost in his dream when trying to construct a world based around his memories of her. From what he know he had been doing that for a while and by the time the movie starts he could have already been lost because of that in his own reality. Thus Mal would be the only projection based on someone while his mind filled in everyone else with the mythological referenced names.
See in the end it really ends up going back and forth between position and more and more possibilities open up . The movie itself was made by the architect Nolan as a labyrinth and as a result we are lost and struggling trying to figure out if it was a dream or not .....wait....MAYBE I'm DREAMING RIGHT NOW!!!
Damn you Nolan for making such a great movie!!!
Exactly, there isn't necessarily a right or wrong answer to the immediate question the film raises. The answers to that question contain another answer, which is supposedly cathartic for us as the audience.
In regards to the names, I've dug up a little more info thanks to another forum. Mal is the abbreviation of Malachi in the Bible like Gen is the abbreviation of Genesis. In Hebrew, Malachi means messenger, or in the narrative context, angel. This seems to support my theory that Mal was Cobb's totem as her name would have ambiguity in meaning both evil/bad and messenger/angel. Saito is likely a reference to the daimyo from the Japan's Sengoku period. Yusuf is the Islamic version of Joseph, who was a prophet and interpreter of dreams in the Old Testament's narrative. Meanwhile, Cobb shares his name with a character in another of Nolan's films: Following. In it, Cobb is a thief and con artist (sounds familiar). As such, his name is the common strain within the Nolanverse, making it the element that is exclusive, as opposed to Ariadne, who is a shared mythological figure. The exclusivity of his name further reinforces the position that everything was Cobb's dream, which in turn was Nolan's dream.
I found this article a little while ago: http://chud.com/articles/articles/24...ION/Page1.html. After reading it, I felt that it is probably one of the best analyses, floating around the internet, of the absolute meta that the film presents: film as dream (like the author wrote, this kind of stab at the meta is what is likely to become canon over time). Hopefully, it will help illuminate things for anyone reading this thread, as it seems to capture the devotion with which Nolan imbued every layer of the concept over what was roughly a decade.
Last edited by kaliayev; July 21, 2010 at 08:45 PM.
Thats a great article and analysis. I see a lot of good points in that as well. After reading that comparing it to other things I've thought of I'm coming to the conclusion that this is just going to be one of those movies with no answer, or its just going to be viewed as a piece of art in which it can be whatever you want it to be or the answer is in the eye of the beholder. Now I'm not one person to look at life and things and say "Its relative to the person" and look at things in an objective manner and the belief that something has an answer to it. Unless of course the purpose of this movie and Nolan was for their to be multiple answers and he made it in a way that he as the director and his vision of the movie was never meant to be one answer but instead many. In his mind, when he made the script, his plan could have been not to mess with the readers head and give them the conclusion that their were many outcomes while there was actually one that people needed to fish for, but instead he never came to a single conclusion in the first place and made the movie in a matter that it was supposed to be open and thus interpreted by everyone. That being said the concept of the whole movie being a dream may very well seem like its the case because it does reflect on the creativity the viewers need to make in order to try and interpret and use their own minds to sculpt and be the architect by which they try and "solve" this labyrinth.
But in the end I think I am leaning more towards it being a dream because as I sit here and try to think everything out, I feel that more and more the movie itself is comparable to Ariadne building a layer. Maybe the only way we could get an objective answer is if their is a short cut in the layer and we could climb through the air duct right to the center of the labrinth where the objective answer from Nolan is .
I remember talking to my brother and cousin about how vague the premise of the movie still was, despite how in depth the characters were at explaining how Shared Dreaming worked.
It now makes perfect sense that the entire thing was a dream.
But wow, what a fantastic movie...a tour-de-force. Beautifully shot, incredible cast. Easily one of the most unique movies I've ever seen.
Yea I agree with you xi0. As much as things gradually were explained as the movie went on, we still never learned of the premise for dream manipulation or how the job of extracting came about. It was mentioned at one point that the military used it but other than that, the machine itself was never clearly explained and what it actually did to the user wasn't mentioned much either. That was something that we had to learn threw observation. Who specifically made the technology or how it was discovered it still in the dark. But I guess we as viewers were thrown into this world and also just assumed that in this world dream manipulation was a reality and we just went on with it, never stopping to really think that the whole movie was actually a dream. The more I think about it the audience itself faces inception and is planted with the idea that the movie we are seeing is a reality. But remember, the movie begins in the heat of the action and we have no background but we just go with it, only to be filled in later on by Cobbs and his story. It was also stressed that one does not usually know how the dream starts to that could be a sign the movie was a dream because we were thrown into the heat of the action. Then without knowing how we got to where we were, we were filled in on this strange universe and convinced it was a reality when really what may have actually been going on was a Mr. Charles effect on us in which we were convinced of what the reality really was although it was a dream.
Man this movie really has multiple layers of symbolism and thought and there are just so many possibilities to what the movie as a whole really is (other than a masterpiece and a work of art).
Loved the movie! But I'll be honest, I could not read all those text walls
But in regards to the ending, it almost makes it seem like it was all a dream, but the top-thing definitely starts to wobble a decent amount before the end seeming like it will fall. Imo, it is real but leaves that slight air of mystery simply to stir up doubts in the viewer.
I hope you enjoyed my dramatic reenactment of my final moments of the movie . Honestly at this point I'm really leaning towards more towards the whole thing being a dream but at which point the dream starts I just can't tell. This movie just has way too many symbolisms and hints that correspond to it all being a dream that I just can't ignore them and go on and say that they were there just to make us doubt (even though thats a secondary trait to them). I'm actually at the point now where I would be more disappointed if the whole thing wasn't a dream because after looking into the movie and seeing everything thats pointing to it it would actually be a let down if it was just an ordinary movie with a problem and a solution .