Kranzky – Movie Science: My Theory of Inception

by InceptionEnding

in Inception Ending

“I loved Inception, and I’m convinced that, unlike many movies that leave questions unanswered, there exists a single correct explanation of what happened (I reckon Nolan does know the answer, and will have placed enough evidence throughout the movie to allow others to find it). Here’s my theory. I plan to re-watch the movie to see if this holds water, and I’ll update this post as I gather more evidence (and perhaps change my mind entirely).

Is Reality a Dream?

I say yes! Cobb’s “reality” is a dream of his own making. There are lots of clues during the movie that this is the case, from Miles (his father-in-law) telling him to “wake up” to Saito appearing out of nowhere to pull him into a car in Mombassa to the chase that saw him squeezing through a narrowing gap to him suddenly appearing in different places and so on. It’s a popular theory, and I’m subscribing to it. The entire movie is a dream.

The only time we see Cobb actually having a dream of his own, rather than entering someone else’s, is when he visits Mal (his wife) in their apartment. Ariadne follows, and chides him for recreating reality. Because that’s exactly what his “reality” is; a perfect recreation within his own dream, so believable that he’s convinced himself it is real.

How Will Cobb Wake Up?

So Cobb is stuck in his own dream. Ariadne and Miles are attempting to rescue him. In “proper” reality the three of them are dreaming together. When Cobb witnessed Mal commiting suicide, he created a complicated dream world in which he was on the run, exiled from his country and unable to see his children. Ariadne and Miles (and perhaps others) need to make him realise he’s dreaming by leading him to his real totem. They do this by constructing an elaborate scenario that allows them to perform inception on Cobb – making him truly believe that he is able to finally return home.

However, we know it is possible, with practice, to appear in a dream as somebody else. Therefore, I believe that ARIADNE IS MAL, in a different form. Cobb’s wife has entered his dream, with her father, and they are working throughout the movie to guide him out of it. This explains why Ariadne is constantly attacked by the projection of Mal. And it explains why Ariadne works her way so deeply into Cobb’s subconscious, ultimately convincing him to let go of the projected Mal.

While Cobb is sleeping, the kids either talk to him Cobb directly, or over the phone (imagine Mal holding it to his ear). Cobb can hear his kids within his dream when they speak to him, in the same way that Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien is used as a signal to the dreamers (they hear the song within their dream when headphones are placed on them in real life). Within his dream, Cobb explains away the fact that he can hear his kids by imagining that they call him on the phone.

Further evidence in support of this theory (that Mal’s parents are helping to rescue Cobb): Miles, the father-in-law, seems to exhibit no emotion at all over his daughter’s death. He’s happy and friendly and helpful, not resentful of Cobb at all, even though he could rightly blame Cobb for her death. Not to mention the fact, of course, that he pleads with Cobb to “come back to reality”.”

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  2. Patricio-INTP – My Inception Theory “…Okay, from the last shot we know that he is still dreaming. I actually suspected this from an earlier scene, mentioned below, but also because his kids seem to not have grown any. Before I went into the theater, I had numerous theories about what the ‘twist’ is, knowing this...
  3. PhyWriter – My crazy ‘Inception’ theory “…My theory about what the true story behind the film is a little out-there, but is, I think, defensible. This line of thinking started when Mike Findlay reminded me of the totem’s wobble at the end of the film. I’d forgotten the wobble. That wobble changes everything. Ok, I’m going...
  4. IMDb – FAQ for Inception “Was the end a dream or reality? Although no one can prove it one way or another, unless that person is Chris Nolan, it is hard to say. But the more likely answer, is that the end was reality. This can pretty much be proven without any holes. Explanation: The...
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