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Inception ending explained?

Inception.jpgThere are hundreds of people writing about their interpretation of the ending of Inception (Filmstalker review - No spoilers) and what the story meant, and I've kept well clear of it until now as I thought it only fair to leave it to people to make up their own minds, and I've been revelling in the mystery of it myself, not quite sure either way.

However one of the crew members on the film has a unique insight into the final scenes and what the real answer was, and it sounds rather solid, in fact it sounds like it would have been a Christopher Nolan decision without a doubt.

Obviously, before you continue on, be aware the ending of Inception will be discussed here, although my review doesn't talk about it, this article definitely will, in a bit of detail, and even if you've seen the ending, this looks like it will end the mystery.

So if you don't want to know the ending, or you're happy with the mystery, turn away now. I'll give you time. A few sentences in fact.

There. You should be gone if you wanted to by now.

Okay, so let's get onto the reveal. The clever guys over at The Playlist caught an interview on Clothes on Film with Jeffrey Kurland, the costume designer for Inception, and the man revealed something very interesting.

When asked about the ending which has people guessing, his answer was very interesting.

You'll remember that the ending of the film showed the spinning totem, seemingly spinning far too long, suggesting that Cobb might have still been within the dream. However it wobbled slightly, just as the film cut to black. The mystery was set.

Just before that we saw Cobb arriving home and seeing his children. He'd already mentioned during the film that if he looked at their faces in the dream then he wouldn't be able to leave, and each time we saw them they were just as he had seen them for the final time, from behind, playing from a distance.

In the final scene, just before we see that spinning totem, we see the children again, and this time, as he spins the totem, they look round at him and he looks to them, they are reunited and we return to that totem. Is it a dream, or is it real?

Real says the Inception (Filmstalker review) costume designer.

Q: How much does costume reflect the inner machinations of the plot, particularly in a film such as 'Inception?' For example, Cobb’s children are wearing the same clothes at the end of the story as they are in his dream ‘memory’ throughout the film. Is there something to be interpreted here?

A: ...On to the second part of your question, the children’s clothing is different in the final scene… look again…”

Kurland gives an interesting answer to the first part of the question, which you should read over on Clothes on Film, but the final piece there is the killer that I'm interested in, the clothes are different at the end?

Are we certain the clothes are the same every time we see the children through the film? I'm not because I can't remember, but it's definitely a reason to go back and check with the film. If they were different at the end and nowhere else then perhaps that's a very strong indication of reality and the totem was about to wobble and fall.

The more important point is what does it matter? If he lives his life with his children perfectly unaware then it matters not a jot, what is reality after all?

What do you think? Can you remember the costumes? Was this the only scene they were different and does it explain it all for you?



Then again, that might be still just a little detail to keep people guessing. Maybe his own mind is playing tricks on him, he could be imagining them in new clothes so that the illusion is greater.

Or maybe I'm over analyzing this.

Cobb is either in limbo the whole movie with Ariadne and Miles trying to save him, or as I reckon..he gets home in the real world. The totem at the end is to point out that - hey audience..you are in a shared dream..watching this movie..and I (chris nolan) am in charge of it. He's messing with us, because he can ;)

or maybe not..great film though.

Here's my short take at [Link removed, it's on your name - Richard]

At the end of his travels through various dream/real states, Dom has chosen a spinning top - a "totem" - to represent his connection to reality. The character has been told that if the top keeps spinning, the dream world is still in effect. But if it stops, he's living in reality. Nolan stops short of telling the audience what exactly happens to that top, but we have an idea.
There is a THIRD possibility -- It neither stopped... nor kept spinning. The story ended before either could happen.

Cobb IS in a dream at the end. And he KNOWS this because HE BUILT IT. That’s why he sets the top to spin infinitely. To remind him that he’s in a dream so he won’t get completely lost in it. He’s basically using the infinitely spinning top to do an inception on himself, just like he did to Mal!

I’ve made a blog post that explains it:

[URL removed and put in the URL section provided - everyone's just using this post as an advertisement for their own site. Add something or lose the comment - Richard]

A SCIENTIFIC POINT OF VIEW REGARDING THE TOTEM.Once an object is spinnning along its axis at constant velocity in order to keep spinning constantly it needs A MOTOR .In COBBS world the dream is the motor so the totem keeps spinning which makes him aware of where he is. In the real world there is no motor only manual temporary rotation ..The point load provided by weight of the totem has to maintain a 90 degree perpedicular relation to the horizontal surface.When the oject loses speed the axis changes causing a wobble then ultimately a colapse due to energy loss. The axis is shifted the totem now lays on its side.Now if you were paying attention in the movie and not only seeing but listening ..you will hear the spinning sound slowing and becoming a more scracthy sound....you look closely you see the wobbling started..The producer creates confusion now by cutting the scene....COBB is in the real world like it or not

Nice walk through KC, however the rules of science don't apply in a dream so we can't use science to say definitely one way or another. In the dream state the totem could easily start to sound scratchy, wobble, and still keep going, considering all the other physical laws that are broken in the dreams it's not out of the question.

The daughters outfit is subtly different at the end (at the beginning it's a full dress, at the end it's a dress over a white top, she has white short sleeves)

Whether this has any bearing idk.

The viewer takes from the film their own interpretation, that is really what Nolan is playing with here. Plus the guy is a genius filmmaker, he knew this would set the internet alight for a good while.

Possibly the best director in a long while.

The kids also wear different clothes in the beach scene. The ending the girl is also wearning white shoes with the white undershirt.

A very good movie, loved it!

I totally agree with you Christian Knudsen


The director mentioned in an interview that its not what you should be looking for, at the end he just wants to show us that Cobb does not care anymore weather if he's in the real world or not....its the emotion that he wants to create.

On the other hand Michael Caine(The professor) pretty much puts an end to the mystery. You'll have to find that out by reading.... http://news.softpedia.com/news/Michael-Caine-Talks-Inception-Mystery-If-I-m-There-It-s-Real-163339.shtml

I'm sorry I mean I agree with with kc not Christian Knudsen

I just watched this movie, and it was awesome. And I was like everyone else apparently, the ending totally confused me, real or not. Since, I've looked online at all the possibilities, my one question is this, isn't the only 2 options that it is real, or he is still dreaming from the Fischer caper. I've read about all these things about the whole movie being a dream or a dream from a certain point on, but isn't that over thinking it by way too much. Why would Nolan start the dream anywhere else but where it starts in the movie? Yes, it would be a total mind bender, but so few people would ever even guess that. And what good does that really do; would he sit around feeling awesome b/c no one or so few would know the truth? That just seems a little too crazy. Just my thoughts. Unfortunately, it still gets to me that there is no real answer at the end though, I like closure. One of the most interesting movies of the last decade though.

I think what he gets is what so many writers and directors want from their film, to get people talking and thinking about their film and not just forgetting it and moving onto the next one.

His answer is what he intended for the story, but different people can take away different things from a story, and see things perhaps the maker never intended them to see, or to focus on.

I do believe it's those kind of films that are the best and the most successful, it's those kind of films that live longer than most.


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