Nolan Fans Forum – My Theory on Cobb and the Ending

by InceptionEnding

in Inception Ending

“I am convinced that Cobb is still dreaming at the end from some pretty cohesive clues; of course, please debate with me on my theories! I’m quite sure now, but I might not have caught something that you did .

1) The two sets of children: In the credits, there are two sets of children of differing ages. This is easily explained; during the beginning scene where Cobb calls his children, the voices are obviously older than the age they appear as his projections. (Phillipa sounds five, older than she appears.) They are credited for this off-screen role. The real children are 5 and 3, they are the voices and the ones Cobb left behind- the children in reality. The projections are Cobb’s manifestations of what they looked like when he left them.

2) How can the children wear the same clothes, have the same hair, and not visibly age in the time that it took Cobb to fly around the world, create a new line of work for himself as a top-notch extractor, and made contacts/coworkers such as Eames and Arthur, where he says himself he’s worked with on previous jobs?

3) Many it-was-real theorists noted that Cobb always had a ring on when he was dreaming, and in the end he didn’t have a ring (and some suggests that the ring is Cobb’s original totem). However, I think that the ring was on par with Mal; they are manifestations/projections of his guilt over Mal’s death. It is a symbol that he hasn’t let go of his guilt. During Cobb’s epiphany that Mal is just a shadow, he has finally let go of Mal and thus, let go of the ring. In the end scene, where he believes it is reality, he is still dreaming but he has let go of Mal/the ring.

4) The dreamer’s totem trick does not indicate that it is reality; it simply indicates that they are not in someone else’s dream since no one else knows the mechanics of their own totem. Because the dreamer knows how their own totem works, if they were trapped in their own dreams, their totem would work accordingly since they *know* how it works.

5) Whether or not the totem falls is not an indication of if it is a dream or not; it is an indication of whether Cobb believes it’s a dream or reality. In a scene, Mal calls Phillipa and James and tries to get them to show Cobb their faces; this is heavily implied that once Cobb sees their faces, he will finally believe that his dream is a reality. In the end, Cobb sees their faces; it is then accepted that Cobb believes his dream is reality. Since Cobb controls the totem, if it falls, it means he has wholeheartedly accepted his dream as reality. If it doesn’t fall, but wobbles, it indicates that Cobb has a wobbly grip on reality; while he still has his doubts on whether or not it is reality, he has more or less accepted that his dream is reality (with a much higher chance of ‘coming back to reality’ than if it topples completely).

Nevertheless, whether or not the totem topples over is moot; Cobb is dreaming.”

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