“…Nolan: I was concerned, but I was invigorated by the challenge. And the crosscutting at the end of the film and the interrelationships between the levels were the jumping-off point for the whole project. That was what I first conceived of, and for 10 years I was trying to figure out how to get to that point at the end of the film. One of the things that gave me that confidence was that the last 20 minutes of The Dark Knight are based on very similar principles of crosscutting, parallel action. So we went into the climactic action of the film knowing the things you need to know to distinguish environments. One of the limitations we put on ourselves—Wally Pfister, my director of photography, and myself—is that we didn’t want to do any post-processing on the image. We wanted to have the distinctions there in the design and the feel, so I wrote it into the script. It’s raining in level one, it’s a night-interior in level two, and it’s an exterior with snow in level three. Even if you’re cutting to a close-up of Yusuf in the van in level one, you know where you are because the rain is there.
Wired: Let me try another reading on you: When Cobb and Saito are in limbo, they agree to a reality where Cobb can see his kids again—and at the end of the movie we’re still in limbo. Care to rule that out?
Nolan: If I start ruling things out, where do I stop? I will go as far as saying that wasn’t the way I read it. [Laughs.] How did you read the end of the film?
Wired: My reading is that the movie has purposefully done a couple of things to point you in different directions. I think at the end you’re supposed to remember the line about taking a leap of faith. For your own personal catharsis as an audience member, you have to decide what is real for yourself. So I personally choose to believe that Cobb gets back to his kids, because I have young kids. I want him to get home.
Nolan: People who have kids definitely read it differently than people who don’t. Which isn’t the same as saying there’s no answer. Sometimes I think people lose the importance of the way the thing is staged with the spinning top at the end. Because the most important emotional thing is that Cobb’s not looking at it. He doesn’t care.
Wired: Either way, he has found a reality where he got what he needed. I know that you’re not going to tell me, but I would have guessed that really, because the audience fills in the gaps, you yourself would say, “I don’t have an answer.”
Nolan: Oh no, I’ve got an answer.
Wired: You do?!
Nolan: Oh yeah. I’ve always believed that if you make a film with ambiguity, it needs to be based on a sincere interpretation. If it’s not, then it will contradict itself, or it will be somehow insubstantial and end up making the audience feel cheated. I think the only way to make ambiguity satisfying is to base it on a very solid point of view of what you think is going on, and then allow the ambiguity to come from the inability of the character to know, and the alignment of the audience with that character….”
Acclaimed filmmaker Christopher Nolan directs an international cast in this sci-fi actioner that travels around the globe and into the world of dreams. Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is the best there is at extraction: stealing valuable secrets inside the subconscious during the mind’s vulnerable dream state. His skill has made him a coveted player in industrial espionage but also has made him a fugitive and cost him dearly. Now he may get a second chance if he can do the impossible: inception, planting an idea rather than stealing one. If they succeed, Cobb and his team could pull off the perfect crime. But no planning or expertise can prepare them for a dangerous enemy that seems to predict their every move. An enemy only Cobb could have seen coming.