“…Nolan is an established winker; he winks at the audience at every turn. To cover his tracks Nolan has the characters consciously and unconsciously breaking their own rules, particularly Cobb, just as he does. And he frames his film to match his characters’ frames of reference. The four (and maybe more) levels of the central dream reflect the infinity of folds that are already occurring between the audience, the projected film and its filmmaker. He makes us participants in real and multiple ways, particularly with the (apparently much-misunderstood) final shot. Without spelling it out, let’s just say it has to do with totems. Totems, as Nolan has confined their definition, tell the dreamer when he is in someone else’s dream, and hence in danger. Nolan wraps his film by hinting that the line between reality and projection is not simply confined to the theater. Memento ends similarly with Lenny closing his eyes and remarking: “I have to believe in a world outside my own mind… that when my eyes are closed, the world’s still there.” Here as elsewhere Nolan takes us beyond the Allegory of the Cave… by folding it.
I suspect critics will still have trouble digesting this one for a few years. And crazy internet fans will masticate on it too much. Even as I write this I feel some massive insight is eluding me. Someone somewhere will survey this on home video and find revelation. There are so many intertexts occurring here, especially literary, and simply so much to say about it that even the most thorough report will have to be glossed considerably. A number of writers believe they’ve figured it all out. One has remarked that because Nolan suggested that Memento has only one, true interpretation that therefore Inception does as well. I’m not sure Nolan ever uttered those words about his previous film, but either way we can’t assume this is true of Inception. Considering the various theories being peddled in the blogosphere, any one of them (even the most plausible) carries with it inconsistencies. While this was reportedly a 10 year undertaking for Nolan and it seems as if every nuance was carefully crafted, a common fallacy is to presume that every aspect of a film (any film) is intentional. There may be plot holes and, yes, even subscribing to the “it’s all a dream” theory, while it resolves many inconsistencies, creates some problems not neatly resolvable. There are many interesting and labored articles out there, so your humble writers at Cinelogue will not attempt a thorough analysis of these interpretations or even support one over others. Some advice: ignore the theories, don’t think too hard about the film’s _super_structure and enjoy getting lost in someone else’s mind for a few hours—in high definition.”