Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Question for the Week of Aug 20-26: Inception's End

So what does the ending of Inception mean?
Yes, I say let's jump right in to this week's Question. But it's all a big fake-out, as I can actually wrap this one up quickly. Did you read my Inception review from last year, or the F Yeah Strutting Leo post I made because I had to celebrate that meme? Go do so now if you haven't - I don't spoil anything in those two.

Or, if you read my Inception Double Dip, you'll know I covered some of the themes and a Nina Simone track that I think matches the film perfectly. Obviously, I liked Inception a lot, and and the Double-Dip is considered a spoiler warning, as should whatever I type below this link. Dear readers, decide for yourselves if you want the answers.

So what does that ending mean? For me and many others, when I see that crazy little top spin for so long, I assume that Cobb is stuck in the dream world, forever. He's delusional, sure, and in a perma-coma, but... at least he's happy, right? Right?...

Other people claim that, despite that freaking top, the end is perfectly open to interpretation. That's certainly what Chris Nolan claimed, more than once. I suppose that there is room for debate, but - to me - the sheer length of time that top spends spinning sure seems improbable, doesn't it?

But it sounds like even that might not be a problem. There are tons of Youtube clips where people show a top spin on its end for 4 minutes straight! Some of these people actually bought a replica of the one from the film! Sure, I guess some might be faked, but... as fake-looking as it was to watch on-screen, I should accept that it's at least possible.

So finally we come to the idea that I've accepted as the solution: the man who played Cobb's father in InceptionMichael Caine, spoke up some time after the film's release to definitively settle all the confusion. And I suppose that it's really surprising, since the movie isn't even about (those self-centered actors, huh?) his part, but Caine's logic is both clear and very hard to argue with:

Simply put, Michael Caine claimed that Leo made his back to the real world, after all. What's the clue? The simple fact that the elder Cobb never once appears in the dream world.

It makes total sense. The fantasy world is occupied with the characters played by Ken Watanabe, Tom Hardy, Dicaprio, JG-L, Cotillard, Cillian Murphy, and the looks-so-young-here-it's-creepy Ellen Page, but not ever by Michael Caine. So, if gramps is present at the end, it means that his son finally managed to get back home and reunite his two kids.

Considering how sad the end of Inception seems without this explanation, and how neat Caine's explanation is, I'm inclined to agree with him. Even if that weird doodad seems to stay upright for ages. Scroll back up and watch that again and tell me it doesn't feel like it's announcing a sad ending...

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