“…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 to go off the ranch here and suggest that it’s possible that, the real story of Inception is all a dream, but not Dom Cobb’s dream. Specifically, Miles is not a Professor of Architecture in Paris (nor Dom’s real father-in-law), Dom doesn’t have any real children with Mal (pronounced ‘Moll’ in the film,) and (finally) Dom Cobb isn’t an Extractor at all.
Yeah, let that sink in for a moment.
It is useful to have seen the very good Inception infographic at this point as a reference. Matt Sinopoli created it for Cinema Blend, and I highly recommend it. It’s not flawless (I think) but it’s very good and a great starting point for discussion.
Follow me on this: In this theory, the real inception planted here is at Level 0, planted by Miles, the character played by Michael Cain. In this theory, Dom Cobb isn’t an extractor himself, but merely a mental patient of Cain’s. Dom is under Cain’s care because he did kill his wife, and is still violent, and the only way for Miles to pacify Dom is create the dream and to allow Dom to divert the blame initially over to his dead wife. This would give Dom the rest of this fiction as a ruse in order for Dom to create his own worth (as an Extractor himself). Furthermore, the only way for him to find any peace is to go deep enough to create faces for the ‘children’ Miles gives him as projections.
In other words, Dom starts the real story as a violently deranged lunatic who had already killed his wife (who is in no way really related to Miles; that’s a fiction to give Miles an identity in Cobb’s dream structure). Miles is the original dreamer, and Dom follows him down the rabbit-trail, which exists not for corporate skullduggery, but for therapeutic resolution. Dom ends the story as pacified and free to live out the rest of his life content within the loose framework that Miles created for him, and which Dom filled with his own imagination.
This would, I think, explain a lot of things, such as Dom’s finger-pointing at Mal instead of accepting his own culpability. It also explains why, at one point, Dom holds a gun in what he thinks is reality (but is really the first level in Miles’ dream) and seems to be thinking about shooting himself in the real world. Dom knows he’s guilty and deserves punishment. Because he believes that negative inception is bad (which Miles suggests to him as a way of explaining that Mal’s death was bad without overtly telling him he was directly responsible), Dom waits for a more positive solution to work itself out, as it eventually does, but even then, something within him cries for justice.
Everything else is part of Miles’ dream for Dom, and not Dom’s dream for Fisher. Just as Fisher had to take Dom’s suggestion of his father’s forgiveness for him and make it his own idea, Dom has to create the faces of ‘his children’ himself in order to fully embrace them as his own, thus the purpose of the film. The children are the projection that Miles creates for Dom’s healing. All that about Fisher is just part of the ruse, the mechanism to achieve the real purpose, for Dom to find some mental healing and cease to be violent.
Dom can’t deal with the reality that he’s responsible for the suicide of his wife. The purpose of the events of the film is to provide inception of an idea into Cobb’s mind, planting the idea that he and Mal had children. He goes into the dream seeing their backs but has never seen their faces because he hasn’t imagined them yet. He has to go that deep in order to create their faces when he comes out of the dream, just as ‘Fisher’ has to go that deep in order to ‘create’ the unlock sequence he’ll use to fully accept the idea that breaking up his father’s companies is his own idea.
I think Cobb never had any children to begin with, and Miles is the only real Extractor here. I think the rest of the characters may be people on Miles’ staff, or are simply figments of Cobb’s fevered imagination.
I think the ‘antagonists’ in Dom’s version of things are his own inner demons, or maybe just an excuse for Nolan to show the film during the summer, whichever makes more sense.
Let’s return to the wobble before we leave this theory. What does it mean? It’s the last thing we see before the lights come up, right? I think the meaning is twofold:
1) Dom is free to go off into his dreamworld with his ‘children,’ safe and peaceful, no longer a menace to society.
2) It is where Miles receives his own Kick and returns to wakefulness, leaving Dom to his new lucid dream ‘reality.’…”
- FratBrotha – My theory of Inception – SPOILER “My theory is that Cobb is never really awake but is lost from the very beginning in some sort of limbo that he has created for himself. A world that is complete utter hell because from the very beginning he is possessed by his own guilt. That guilt is projected...
- Film School Rejects – The Kicker: 3 Explanations for ‘Inception’ “…What follows is three different explanations for the film. You can decide how correct any or all of them are. The Jungian Archetypes Rich Knight at CinemaBlend offers a great portrait at what the characters of the film may represent personally to Dom Cobb by using the age-old Jungian archetypes....
- Nolan Fans Forum – My Theory on Cobb and the 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...
- ‘Lost’ Showrunner Damon Lindelof’s Theory ...