Explaining Inception

by on Jul.17, 2010, under thoughts

After first hearing about the movie Inception, directed by Christopher Nolan, the movie seemed… strange. †It was as movie that I knew I would have to see when it came out. †A movie that toyed with your mind. †Exactly my kind of movie! †I would group it in the same category of movies such as Memento, Donnie Darko, Primer, and Shutter Island. †Confusing, but all fully explainable if you can piece everything together.

Eventually, I decided it would be fun to go see Inception at the midnight premier. † The only other movies I’ve seen at their midnight premiers are Harry Potter 6, and Avatar. †Both were just awesome movie-going experiences. †If you’ve never seen a movie at midnight, it’s really something you should try once.

Anyway, I’m glad I went to see Inception, because it really is a great movie! †The problem is… seeing it so early left me no one to discuss it with. †So, I’ve been scouring the Internet for opinions and discussions. †After reading quite a bit, and fueled by inspiration from an article on CinemaBlend, I’ve decided to write my own small FAQ for the movie Inception.

DISCLAIMER: This article contains major spoilers. †Please, please, please do not read this until you’ve seen Inception. †The film is very enjoyable if you go in with an open mind. †Reading too much about it before seeing it could kill the whole experience.

What is limbo?
This seems to be a very confusing point. †I can’t claim the view I hold as my own, because I read it somewhere, but I don’t remember where, so I can’t give credit. †Let’s make this clear, though: limbo is not a description of a place. Limbo is a description of a state of mind. †Limbo is where your mind goes when you forget that you’re dreaming. †For most of us, this is the normal dream world (kind of). †You brain enters limbo when you, for example, die within a dream within a dream, you forget you’re dreaming, so your brain enters limbo. †Because you died, you expect to go back to reality, but really, there’s another layer of dream left, so you get stuck in limbo.

How does your brain get “burnt out” in limbo?
This is a tricky one, and I hope I’m getting it right. †You can only get burnt out by coming back to reality. †The problem is that your brain thinks you’ve experienced many, many years, while in reality, you’ve only experienced a couple hours. †The sudden realization that you’re not old can cause your brain to get confused and “burn out”.

How did Saito get to limbo?
Saito was shot in level 1, the van, but died in level 3, the snow fort. †So, his brain got stuck in limbo, where he lived until he became an old man and Cobb rescued him.

In the end — dream world, or not?
This is the trickiest question of the movie, and I really do believe it’s up to individual beliefs. †However, let me attempt to explain my viewing of the movie. †In the end, Cobb is in limbo, meaning he is still in the dream world. †I think that when he was put under the first time by the chemist, in order to test the formula, we never actually saw him wake up. †Evidence:

  • After this, we never actually see the top fall once spun. †Right away, Cobb tries to spin the top, but it’s knocked off the table, so Cobb can’t finish his test.
  • Cobb’s children at the end are the same age as in his mind. †Cobb has been gone for quite a while. †Shouldn’t his children have aged at least a bit? †At the young age they are, even a couple months should show a difference in†appearance.

Just to be fair, though, here’s some evidence against this theory:

  • Cobb never seems Mal unless we see him go into a dream. †Refute: perhaps Mal only appears once he’s two layers into the dream world. †Or perhaps his†subconscious†just doesn’t let her interfere.
  • Cobb isn’t wearing a wedding ring at the end of the movie. †If you pay attention carefully, Cobb is always wearing his wedding ring when he’s in the dream world. †At the end of the movie, however, Cobb’s wedding ring is absent. †Refute: this could be a product of Cobb accepting his wife’s death. †Even though he’s still in limbo, she’s no longer bothering his subconscious
  • We see the top wobble a bit at the end. †Refute: kind of hard to say on this one. †Although, there are some that claim the top didn’t wobble. †It was very subtle. †I think that even in the dream world, the top wobbles while it’s spinning forever. †We just didn’t see it long enough to balance itself out.

And that’s all I’ve got for now. †Something else confuse you? †Let me know, I’ll see if I can answer it.

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