Okay, this is technically NOT a review. But it definitely has tons of spoilers. It’s not so much a judgment of the merits of the film, but more of a discussion on what’s out there…and boy, are there tons of stuff to sift through! The theories abounding is about as convoluted as the plot of the movie itself. True, the basic premise is simple enough to be “gotten” by most, but it’s the tons of details that people are quibbling about. There is so much out there, that I don’t know where to start.
So I decided to share with you the path that I took. It all started when I read the review of Entertainment Weekly’s Owen Glieberman, where he felt like either he’s the only one who did NOT get the film, or everyone’s just pretending to get it, but deep inside actually doesn’t. He didn’t say it directly, but many assumed he was arrogantly implying that if he didn’t get it, then everyone else is lying so as not to appear stupid in the face of global acclaim for the movie. Personally I don’t think he meant it that way, but I think he struck a chord in the heart of the phenomenon. There truly are 3 types of people who watched Inception: the ones who didn’t get it, the ones pretending they got it but actually didn’t, and the people who “got” it. I put air quotes because ask the hundreds of your friends who are RAVING about how great the movie is, and trust me, you’ll get a hundred versions of what they “got”. It’s funny, there are those who loved it, those who hate it because everyone else loves it, and the backlash to the backlash saying they loved it because there are people who hate it just because everyone else loves it. Get it?
Read the full review HERE.
Anyway, back to “getting” the movie, someone actually made a chart explaining all those dream levels and who was dreaming what:
If you want the full-sized version click HERE.
Of course many found flaws to this chart. Level 5 is not limbo, it’s the scene where Cobb talks to Mal in their dining room. Limbo is Level 6, where Cobb meets the old Saito. So there are 6 levels, not 5. And why is Saito much older? Because he died earlier than Cobb, and since time moves faster the deeper the level, a few minutes in a higher level could translate to years in lower levels.
Another contention is, who was dreaming what? Some say Fischer dreamed everything because they couldn’t plant an idea unless it was his dream. Some say Fischer dreamed up to the 3rd level (the hotel), then Eames dreamed the 4th level (the snow fortress), then Cobb dreamed the 5th level (the dining room), and limbo is a shared state. Now many point out that the answer was actually explained in the film earlier. Fischer did NOT dream any of it. That’s why they had an architect create the different levels, they created dreams for Fischer to enter and inhabit with his projections, making him believe that those were his own dreams. So each team member, the one left awake at each level to administer the kick, is the one dreaming that level. So for instance, on the plane, they entered Yusuf’s dream, that’s why they told him he should’ve gone to the bathroom because it was raining in his dream. Since it’s his dream, he stays awake in the van while the rest sleep to go the next level, which Arthur dreamed (the hotel). Since it’s Arthur’s dream, he stays awake to administer the kick later, while the rest sleep, and so on.
Another major point of contention is: was the ending reality or was it still another dream? The spinning totem wobbled, but nothing was definite. The most gripping argument is that even the ending was a dream. The biggest proof? Why did his kids look exactly the same, even the clothes, even the movement, even the lighting, just like the recurring image he has replaying in his mind throughout the whole movie? If that scene hadn’t happened yet, why did he keep seeing it even in the lower dream levels? The strongest argument is that Mal was right. They were still in a dream. When Mal jumped off the building, she woke up in the real “reality”. So when Mal was asking Cobb to question what he considers reality, she wasn’t telling him that reality is limbo (which is below), but that reality is one more level up. She could very well have been trying to wake him up.
And these are just a FEW of the so many details people are debating about, even as I write this. The ones I wrote about is just the tip of the iceberg. But the most compelling argument, the one that quieted all the screaming questions in my head, states that the whole movie was not so much a dream, but a metaphor. Christopher Nolan likens the film watching experience to entering a dream world that it’s creators have manufactured for the audience to enter. Cobb is the director, the architect is the scriptwriter (creating the backbone of the dreams), and so on. And Fisher is the audience, brought into the dream world by its creators to plant ideas in his head. That’s why Ariadne was tasked to not mess around too much with the reality of the dream because if cities started folding, then the dreamer will be suspicious that what what he sees is not real. Much like the audience of a movie, if the plot is too incredible, then the suspension of disbelief ends, the watcher is not drawn into the world of the film, therefore the dream fails.
Read the full article HERE.
The explanation is so simple, yet so brilliant. But of course, only the filmmakers know for sure what the real score is. And I truly hope they never reveal the soul of their work by explaining it. It’s like a poet explaining what his poem was all about…not cool. Before reading this, I thought Inception was a good movie. Now, I concede that it could be one of the greats. And it’s much better when you know your reasons whenever you call a movie good or bad, even if it means getting your answers from other people. There’s nothing wrong if you LOVED the movie. It is equally alright if you HATED it. Just try to figure out the reasons why you say what you say. The true beauty of the film is that it got us all talking. Whether you loved it or you hated it, the movie planted a seed in our collective thinking and pulled us into its world whether we ended up liking what we saw or not. We were exactly like Fischer, unwitting pawns in the hands of a master manipulator, so good that we didn’t even know we were dreaming.