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Dileep Rao answers all of your lingering Inception questions

07.21.2010

I thoroughly enjoyed INCEPTION, and think it’s one of the best films of the year (though in 2010 so far, that's not exactly a terribly high honor). It had all of Nolan’s typical complexity and brilliance, but one thing I didn’t think was that it was particularly open to debate or interpretation. As complicated as it was, it all seemed pretty decisive to me in the end.

But I know many of you have been arguing various aspects of the film with your friends since this weekend, and what better person to discuss the intricacies of the film than with someone who was in it?

Vulture has a very lengthy, in-depth interview with Dileep Rao, who played the chemist Yousef in the film where nearly all lingering questions with the film are discussed in great depth. It’s an interesting read, and I’ve posted perhaps the most prevalently asked question about the film below. Obvious SPOILERS ahoy.

So what about the final shot, when the top seems like it could keep spinning before we cut to black. Let's call it the n-1 theory, where the whole film is all a dream, even the "reality" level. In other words, every level is one lower than we think it is.

Yeah. I don't think the "It's all a dream" theory makes much sense to me, because where is "the real" Cobb? We never see n. We never see reality. We have no idea who this man is, what his circumstances are. To me, there's really only two paths: Either it's a wobbling top, which it does sound like at the end, and it's real; or the whole thing, regardless of totems, moments, girls, children, people, machines, the whole thing — it's all some dream. And that's more philosophy. I think the film does this wonderful exploration of the entire idea to the nth degree. It feels so full. Because of that, there's so many weird bits that seem to warp our sense of the real and unreal.

After this, there’s a particularly interesting bit about whether or not Cobb himself might have actually been incepted, too lengthy to post here. Check out the rest of the interview over at Vulture.

Extra Tidbit: I've never seen a movie theater so tense as when that final top was spinning.
Source: Vulture

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1:22AM on 07/22/2010

Okay, chew on this:

I propose that it doesn't even matter whether the totem stops spinning or not. The totem is there to make sure that other agents don't infiltrate his dreams, because they wouldn't be able to replicate his unique totem. That's why you don't let others touch it. However, Cobb knows exactly how it feels, so wouldn't he be able to trick himself since he wanted to be with his kids so badly? I say it would have fallen whether he was dreaming or not.
I propose that it doesn't even matter whether the totem stops spinning or not. The totem is there to make sure that other agents don't infiltrate his dreams, because they wouldn't be able to replicate his unique totem. That's why you don't let others touch it. However, Cobb knows exactly how it feels, so wouldn't he be able to trick himself since he wanted to be with his kids so badly? I say it would have fallen whether he was dreaming or not.
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2:24AM on 07/22/2010
I think he nails it in the interview, the point of not knowing whether or not the top falls is that it doesn't matter. What matters is that Cobb is able to walk away from it and see his kid's faces, so whether he's dreaming or not is irrelevant. ... but still fun to think about :)
I think he nails it in the interview, the point of not knowing whether or not the top falls is that it doesn't matter. What matters is that Cobb is able to walk away from it and see his kid's faces, so whether he's dreaming or not is irrelevant. ... but still fun to think about :)
10:08PM on 07/21/2010
I have no idea if the top kept spinning or not. And really, it doesn't matter, because the point the movie was trying to make is that the emotions you feel in a dream/in a movie are real, even if what happened isn't.
I have no idea if the top kept spinning or not. And really, it doesn't matter, because the point the movie was trying to make is that the emotions you feel in a dream/in a movie are real, even if what happened isn't.
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8:00PM on 07/21/2010

I got it!!!

Leonard is really Sammy!!!


oh, wait...
Leonard is really Sammy!!!


oh, wait...
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6:29PM on 07/21/2010

When tops begin to topple

they fall over
Nolan just wanted the ending to be a little more stylish.
they fall over
Nolan just wanted the ending to be a little more stylish.
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7:55PM on 07/21/2010
but, you would have to know the behavior of an "ever-spinning" top, to assume that one would not stagger...how many "ever-spinning" tops have you encountered?
but, you would have to know the behavior of an "ever-spinning" top, to assume that one would not stagger...how many "ever-spinning" tops have you encountered?
5:10PM on 07/21/2010

Is this so hard to believe...

that everything up until the plane was reality, and then, they do the inception, or at least attempt to, and when he goes to see Saito, unable to convince him or something (I'm sure an alternate theory could work here) he simply dreams waking up and going home. The last few minutes are just shot in such a quiet, dream-like way that that was the only time that reality felt like a dream. So if the ending wasn't real, thats how I imagine it would work.
that everything up until the plane was reality, and then, they do the inception, or at least attempt to, and when he goes to see Saito, unable to convince him or something (I'm sure an alternate theory could work here) he simply dreams waking up and going home. The last few minutes are just shot in such a quiet, dream-like way that that was the only time that reality felt like a dream. So if the ending wasn't real, thats how I imagine it would work.
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+5
4:04PM on 07/21/2010
The end was a very big homage to Blade Runner, which was one of Nolan's favorite. I like that Nolan invites you to decide on what it is rather than spoon feeding you. It's good to see a director give his audience credit. The only thing I'm vague on and I've seen it a couple of times [link] was Cobol hiring Cobb to extract from Saito? He says it was an audition to see if Cobb was capable, but, yet, Cobol was still chasing Cobb because he didn't get what he was hired to do....it's relatively
The end was a very big homage to Blade Runner, which was one of Nolan's favorite. I like that Nolan invites you to decide on what it is rather than spoon feeding you. It's good to see a director give his audience credit. The only thing I'm vague on and I've seen it a couple of times [link] was Cobol hiring Cobb to extract from Saito? He says it was an audition to see if Cobb was capable, but, yet, Cobol was still chasing Cobb because he didn't get what he was hired to do....it's relatively minor, but anyone?
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10:04PM on 07/21/2010
Cobol hired Cobb. Saito simply allowed Cobb to enter his mind as an audition to see if he could use him for something else.
Cobol hired Cobb. Saito simply allowed Cobb to enter his mind as an audition to see if he could use him for something else.
+3
2:59PM on 07/21/2010

this whole thing

reminds me of the ending of Total Recall now.
reminds me of the ending of Total Recall now.
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2:29PM on 07/21/2010

i believe

that the spinning top was a question that Nolan wanted the viewers to answer for ourselves. He wanted us to choose what to believe, what was reality, what was a dream. and that's the magic of INCEPTION. I'm positive if Nolan were to be asked about the spinning top and if Cobb was in reality or a dream, i'm almost positive he would answer "i dont know" Nolan couldn't have ended INCEPTION any better. the top will just be an unanswered question and one of the most nail biting scenes in movie
that the spinning top was a question that Nolan wanted the viewers to answer for ourselves. He wanted us to choose what to believe, what was reality, what was a dream. and that's the magic of INCEPTION. I'm positive if Nolan were to be asked about the spinning top and if Cobb was in reality or a dream, i'm almost positive he would answer "i dont know" Nolan couldn't have ended INCEPTION any better. the top will just be an unanswered question and one of the most nail biting scenes in movie history. and leave it that way Nolan! no sequels!
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2:22PM on 07/21/2010

End of the movie...

SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS!

In our IMAX theatre, the entire theatre (which was packed) went dead quiet and most of us were leaning forward in our seats watching the final scene.

When it cut to black, myself along with almost every guy in the theatre let out a collective "Fuuuuck!". Then we all started laughing and sat back in our seats in amazement. What a movie!
SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS!

In our IMAX theatre, the entire theatre (which was packed) went dead quiet and most of us were leaning forward in our seats watching the final scene.

When it cut to black, myself along with almost every guy in the theatre let out a collective "Fuuuuck!". Then we all started laughing and sat back in our seats in amazement. What a movie!
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2:34PM on 07/21/2010
your comment didnt have spoilers but thats funny lol
your comment didnt have spoilers but thats funny lol
2:43PM on 07/21/2010
In my opinion, "cutting to black" is a spoiler but that's me. I'm spoiled by even that shit.
In my opinion, "cutting to black" is a spoiler but that's me. I'm spoiled by even that shit.
1:57PM on 07/21/2010

You could hear the audience's groans

when the screen suddenly went black.

BTW, Paul, you really should pop a SPOILER ALERT on this story. I know it's a shocking concept but some people might not have seen the movie yet.
when the screen suddenly went black.

BTW, Paul, you really should pop a SPOILER ALERT on this story. I know it's a shocking concept but some people might not have seen the movie yet.
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2:25PM on 07/21/2010
he did. read the whole article
he did. read the whole article
2:23AM on 07/22/2010
It says "Obvious SPOILERS ahoy." before it gets to the interview.
It says "Obvious SPOILERS ahoy." before it gets to the interview.
+5
1:49PM on 07/21/2010

Well....

How about this? If it was all a dream and none of it was real why doesn't Mal EVER show up in what are supposed to be the 'real' world scenes? I mean i'd have to watch it again but i wouldn't put it past Nolan to have her in the back ground of 'real' scenes to make it all a dream but i don't recall seeng her...


Not that i was really looking though but that's what the second viewing is for :D
How about this? If it was all a dream and none of it was real why doesn't Mal EVER show up in what are supposed to be the 'real' world scenes? I mean i'd have to watch it again but i wouldn't put it past Nolan to have her in the back ground of 'real' scenes to make it all a dream but i don't recall seeng her...


Not that i was really looking though but that's what the second viewing is for :D
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10:05PM on 07/21/2010
Because if it is all Cobb's dream, he doesn't believe he's dreaming in that world, as thus, the world plays by his rules.
Because if it is all Cobb's dream, he doesn't believe he's dreaming in that world, as thus, the world plays by his rules.
1:49PM on 07/21/2010
I believe the final scene was reality. If you take close notice, his children, though in similar positions as in his dreams, are actually wearing different clothes. Nolan shot the ending this way to keep us talking and start a debate, which was brilliant.
I believe the final scene was reality. If you take close notice, his children, though in similar positions as in his dreams, are actually wearing different clothes. Nolan shot the ending this way to keep us talking and start a debate, which was brilliant.
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1:32PM on 07/21/2010
Still somewhat confused. I really want to see this movie again, to get a better understanding.
Still somewhat confused. I really want to see this movie again, to get a better understanding.
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1:09PM on 07/21/2010

It's quite simple...

The dream is real people!!! The dream was his "reality!" He wanted to see his kids so badly, that after he finally let the memories of his wife fade, he dreams of seeing his kids again, that's his new dream! His "reality."
The dream is real people!!! The dream was his "reality!" He wanted to see his kids so badly, that after he finally let the memories of his wife fade, he dreams of seeing his kids again, that's his new dream! His "reality."
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10:06PM on 07/21/2010
Maybe. Maybe not.
Maybe. Maybe not.
12:54PM on 07/21/2010
I side with the top wobbling as the movie fades to black. Cobb and the plane was the reality and the final scene was reality.
I side with the top wobbling as the movie fades to black. Cobb and the plane was the reality and the final scene was reality.
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12:42PM on 07/21/2010
that didnt help at all
that didnt help at all
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