What really happened in Inception

Inception - a guide through our dreams?

First of all, of course: Since I've been dealing with this film for a long time and it is one of my favorite films, a purely objective view on my part is of course not entirely possible.

But since this is also my first article, please bear with me - I try to keep any errors as low as possible.

This should not be a pure criticism or interpretation, but rather a collection of thoughts on Christopher Nolan's masterpiece Inception.

In the following, various theories and interpretations of individual aspects and the entire work of the US science fiction heist film Inception, which appeared in 2010, are dealt with.

Nobody needs a table of contents ... But in advance a rough outline of the main themes (1.) of Nolan's masterpiece is given; even if you are interested in it - all film data simply does not stay in our turnip. If you've just watched the movie, you can of course scroll down from here on ...

1.1). Dreams and reality

At Nolan, reality differs objectively from dreams in several ways. Although the dream appears real to the dreamer, regardless of the architect or the abundance of details, while he is dreaming, the dreams can be recognized at several points.

With "dream sharing", the functionality of which is not explained in more detail, there is always a constant structure: There is the architect who creates the dream and all the things in it with his mind and enriches the dream with details. And there is the dreamer who perceives these things and "populates" the dream with his subconscious.

The dreamer projects people into his dream. The architect has no influence on the dreamer's projections, as these are controlled solely by his subconscious. These two main actors must inevitably be present, the number of other participants is irrelevant, they contribute nothing to the dream world except their presence. In the Fishers Inception project, these pairs form

(Architect = A, Dreamer = T):

In the

1. Dream level Yussuv (A) - Fisher (T)

2. Dream level Arthur (A) - Fisher (T)

3rd dream level Iams (A) - Fisher (T).

All dream constructs were prepared in advance by Ariadne. The subconscious always notices the presence of the architect and attacks him sooner or later - this can be delayed by the complexity of the dream. The more complicated the maze, the later the attack will take place.

In addition, the subconscious can be trained so that all "foreign bodies" (Cobb compares the dreamer's subconscious with white blood cells) can be fought particularly quickly and efficiently, as is the case with Fisher during the inception.

That means, one always notices that one is in a dream world without being the dreamer by being persecuted and / or attacked (through the dreamer's projections).

Another aid is a totem (s. Leitmotifs). The conclusion from the concept of "dream sharing" is that you are neither persecuted nor your totem is of any use if you are in his own Dream is (both dreamer and architect is), because everything is created unconsciously and there are no "foreign bodies" in the dream world! (Exception: Cobbs gyro (see p.Leading motifs)) That makes the distinction between reality and dream particularly difficult in these cases, since everything appears real to you during the dream. What about the concept dream is still particularly important is:

1. that one wakes up when one dies in a dream or experiences a "kick" (sudden feeling of falling) and

2. Depending on the sedation, the time in the dream runs faster.

1.2) The limbus

The limbus is described as a "raw subconscious" and an "undesigned dream construct". If you die in a dream but you are too numb to wake up,

or a dream becomes too unstable, one "falls" into the limbus.

The limbus differs from a normal dream level in several aspects: Time also runs more slowly in relation to reality.

When Cobb and his wife fell into limbo for the first time, a few minutes / hours turned into around 50 years. - Everyone is an architect and a dreamer - Anyone can change the reality of the limbus. Mal and Cobb create an entire city together, later Saito builds a domicile for him at the same time and populates it with his subconscious. The subconscious does not notice, as Cobb puts it, the dreamer's strangeness.

Everyone's subconscious is peaceful with one another. The awareness of reality is also confused - Saito is not aware that the limbus is unreal, but had always kept a clear view of the dream levels beforehand.

- No further dream level is possible in the limbus.

- Everything that is ever created in the limbus remains in the subconscious of the creator - in contrast to dream levels. Even if Cobb created his world of limbo in another dreamsharing, everything is still there during Fisher's Inception. The nature of limbo makes it extremely difficult to distinguish between dream and reality.

1.3) An idea

"What's the sneakiest parasite?" - This is how Nolan's masterpiece begins and is at the same time a guiding question. Nolan focuses on how a thought or an idea can shape, influence, but also control a person's mind. He thereby emphasizes the power of thought.

1.4) Leitmotifs

Times spinning top

Totems are individual objects, the exact nature of which only the owner knows. Through a totem you can tell if you are in someone else's dream.

If the totem does not have its typical characteristics, it means that you are in someone else's dream, since in this dream your own mind did not create the dream object.

Mal's top, which Cobb owned after Mal's death, occupies a special position here. It has no special quality, which is a-typical for a totem (the idea of ​​the totem comes from Mal !!).

This way you can't tell if someone else is creating the dream you are in. The top has the property of turning further and further when one is in a dream. Cobb spins the top several times in the film to make sure it's in a dream or reality. The exposed end - whether the top falls over or not - is the basis of much speculation.

Dom's Totem - Was there something?

"Cobb is using the top, that's his totem!"you might say now - and you would be right. Or not?

DiCabrio's character uses the top, but the attentive viewer may notice that this is the case Not Cobb's real totem is because (as mentioned above) it is only Mal's old totem. Cobb's totem is his Wedding ring.

Depending on whether he is dreaming or not, he still wears it ("in my dreams we are still together"). If you feel like it, you can of course look again to see if you end up wearing it - but read it through to the end.

Other leitmotifs include the number 528491 (the first six numbers that come to mind Fisher. This number combination occurs again and again, e.g. as hotel room numbers, as a safe code or mobile phone number),

but also sentences and questions like "What is the sneakiest parasite? [...]" or

"You are waiting for a train [...] because you will be together.",

as well as the piece of music "Non, je regrette rien" by Edith Piaf.

...until here. Because maybe this is still new to you:

1.5) Small aspects and hidden hints.

- The name Yussuf (the chemist) is an Arabic version of Joseph, whose biblical figure, according to Genesis, had the gift of interpreting dreams.

- In Greek mythology it is Ariadne the daughter of King Minos of Crete and Queen Pasiphae. She helped Theseus escape the Minotaur's labyrinth. The final version of a circular maze, which Ariadne draws in the film, also resembles the labyrinth of legend. According to director Nolan, the reference to the legend is intentional.

- In the French language, Mal, the name of Cobb's wife, also means "Evil".

From here we leave the ground of facts and plunge into various theories. But be warned: your head may hurt afterwards. If you just want to know if the damn top will topple over, just scroll down;)

2. Theories

On the basis of these fundamentals and with regard to the film, understandable interpretations and theories follow.

2.1 Is Mal wrong?

2.2 What happens in Mombassa?

2.3 Conscious or unconscious inception at Cobb?

2.4 The characteristics of the top and its relevance.

3.0 Conclusion: is reality relevant? What does Inception tell us?

2.1) Is Mal wrong?

Many authors, such as William Irwin or David Kyle Johnson, propose a certain thesis; after the awakening of Mal and Cobb, after their decades-long stay in limbo and their suicide, does not take place in reality, but in a dream sequence.

The authors support this with several arguments. For one, this would explain why Cobb can no longer dream without sedation. This would also explain the strange events in Mombasa, including forging Iams tokens there in seconds, pursuers suddenly appear in the surreal environment and a café owner loudly draws attention to Cobb. An aerial photograph reveals the resemblance of the city to a labyrinth.

Cobb has doubts herself, not just once, about the reality since she woke up. His subconscious keeps drawing his attention to it ("No painful doubts? [...] You are just talking to yourself what you know! But what do you believe in?")

Cobb's uncertainty and his fantasies about Mal and his children would be cleared up beyond any doubt by this theory. Mal's assumption or firm conviction that she and Dom are still asleep would be correct. Also, the theory is supported by the fact that only a Awakening to their limbo is shown. But as you can see at the end from the example of Ariadne and Fisher, you wake up again after limbo next Dream sequence on and not directly in reality.

If this were the case, the inception at Fisher would not have been successful.

Since the limbo has a strong influence on the awareness of reality, it is possible that Dom and Mal have forgotten after the 50 years that they are still in a dream. According to this theory, the top shouldn't fall over at the end of the film, but does not yet explain why it falls over in a scene at the beginning in which Dom is sitting in a hotel room and shortly before that he had telephoned his children James and Philippa (see p. 2.4The nature of the top and its relevance). Furthermore, after she wakes up (i.e. her suicide), Mal would also try to wake up her husband. This is not the case, despite the time stretching in the dream, this should have already happened, since years have passed since "Death" and even with Yussuf's strongest sedation the time only passes twenty times as fast (Now it depends on the dream level, on which Cobb would be. This cannot be too high, as it builds up 3 additional levels during the inception without this becoming unstable. Probably a maximum of 2nd dream level, with a dream level it would be death since Mal (with a year of dream time) 20 days in real time have already passed, with two dream levels already 24 hours in which Dom did not try to wake up. Even with three (impossible) dream levels, Mal would have had more than an hour to spare.

Do not you think? Don't make sense Have fun doing the math, simple math;)

2.2. What is happening in Mombassa? Theory number 2

The second theory, according to which the top continues to turn at the end, starts at a different point in the film.

She takes the arguments that the top falls over at the beginning of the film and that the time tried to wake Dom up and assumes that at first to Mombasa the events take place in reality.

When Dom Cobb integrates Yussuf into the team with Saito and Iams in Mombassa, Cobb wants to test Yussuf's sedation on himself. After looking at the people in Yussuf's basement who meet regularly for dream sharing and the gloomy statement "You come to be woken up. Your dream has become your reality. How did you come to say otherwise?", who leads the way in interpretation, Cobb lies down and is sedated.

The theory assumes that all events from here on only take place in dreams. This assumption manifests itself shortly afterwards: Cobb "wakes up", whether in a dream or again in reality in Mombassa is the question here, and is noticeably uncertain.

He is very weak and insecure and cannot cope. That could indicate an unfamiliar dream reality. Dom doubts his awareness of reality and tries to clear his head in the bathroom by splashing cold water on his face. He wants to turn the top just to be on the safe side however, this falls down and Cobb is interrupted. After this attempt, Cobb does not turn the top again until the end of the film! Cobbs' increased insecurity and his hallucinations, which started from here, are a strong indication that from Mombassa onwards he is asleep and only dreams everything. Also that from this point on the top is no longer shown falling over, and that it is falls down is a strong indication for the viewer.

Against this theory, the fact that Cobb's team is still busy preparing for the project for a long time afterwards and that Cobb's dream time in Mombasa is not enough for this period. Yussuf's sedation is enough to accelerate the perceived time 20 times. It is unlikely that Saito, Iams, and Yussuf will let Cobb sleep that long. (see 3 .: Conscious or unconscious inception with Cobb).

3. Conscious or unconscious inception at Cobb?

We keep getting closer and closer to our core of events. This point is undoubtedly one of the most important.

This essential key point of Nolan's “Inception” lies directly in the title.

As is emphasized again and again, it is about the power of thoughts and playing with reality. The inception at Fisher is certainly exciting to follow, but for the attentive observer this main topic is pursued in a completely different place.

A competition between two “electricity suppliers” Saito and Fisher almost seems like a small addition, in order to distract from the actual meaning and plot like a magic trick.

That Nolan is very familiar with the principle of magic tricks and distraction should be clear to everyone after "Prestige - The Masters of Magic". One can see certain parallels from this: Even in Prestige, Angier's personality change is distracted so that the Prestigio succeeds perfectly.

This distraction of the viewer strikes again with “Inception”!

But what exactly is being distracted from? Those who paid close attention will have noticed that during the action not just two, but three inceptions take place. Mals and Fisher's Inceptions distract so well from the third that, metaphorically, the elephant simply disappears into the crowd. The third and actual inception takes place at Cobb. While the team penetrates further and further into Fisher's subconscious, this also happens with Cobb - a train that sweeps through the city center, hallucinations of Cobb's children and, ultimately, witnesses of it.

It is strange that this only happens at Cobb. Everyone has certain secrets that weigh on you, but you don't see anything of the others even in the third dream level. That should make you sit up and take notice.

Finally, in the limbus, Cobb is successfully inception. He lets go of his memory of Mal and wants to go back to his children. "I want to see you again upstairs, Mal." clearly shows the viewer that Cobb first strives for reality and no longer wants to be fooled by his subconscious.

Before this inception, Cobb allowed himself to be sedated again and again so that at least in dreams he could be with his wife and children. Cobb then takes the "reality", in which time does not exist, as real, regardless of whether it is a dream or not. Authors such as Thorsten Botz-Bornstein or David Kyle Johnson and William Irwin associate ignorance about the question of whether Cobb is dreaming or is in reality with Plato's allegory of the cave.

A dreaming is usually not aware that this is in a dream state. The whole of life could therefore be just a dream without the person concerned knowing it. The viewer can only guess how close Cobb is to reality; however, it is not certain that there is another level closer to reality.

Nevertheless, every character faced with a choice acts according to classic arguments: Ariadne decides for life outside of the dream, Cobb also decides for his "old life", and Mal believes in a life with Cobb outside of reality.

Whether the decision means no longer acting in reality is irrelevant.As in the allegory of the cave, the prisoners choose a different reality than the refugee. Even if this is not the reality, it feels as such to the protagonists. It is therefore not a question of perception, but a question of what is believed in. And this is exactly where the inception comes into play: Cobb wants to live in a reality where he can return to his children.

At the end of the film it becomes clear that it is no longer important to him whether this corresponds to reality (continue on p. 3. Conclusion) Now the question arises whether Cobbs Inception was planned or just happened by chance next to Fishers. The theories that Cobb still dreams in the end clearly support the former:

The argument that someone in Mombassa (skipped point? Just scroll up again) would have tried to wake up Cobb is void here.

The goal of Cobb accepting his "reality" and rushing to his children was successfully achieved through that inception. Someone wants them to go back to sleep and accept their dream as real. Also that with each dream one penetrates further into his psyche would be an indication of this.

This doesn't happen by accident; this effect only appears with Cobb. Maybe the same trick was used by "Mr. Charles " , which he uses at Fisher implemented with him: Instead of penetrating into Fisher's subconscious (who himself believes you are exploring Browning's subconscious), this is done with Cobb. How far Ariadne Cobb brings to this inception is remarkable. It makes him think more about time and reality at each level and it is you Thanks to Cobb ending up in limbo. In theory, that could have been planned as well. In the end, she makes sure that the inception at Cobb was successful before returning with Fisher. (Does Ariadne help Cobb out of the labyrinth of his thoughts, as in the mythology Theseus?)

How far Cobbs Inception is important is shown to the viewer at the end of the film right in front of their nose. (Continuation: 2.4 The characteristics of the gyro and its relevance and 3rd conclusion)

2.4 The characteristics of the top and its relevance

The most important question that you have to ask yourself about Mals Kreisel is: How does the Kreisel know whether it is a dream or not?

In any case, the top does not help to find out whether you are in someone else's dream, as it has no individual characteristic, but only states whether you are dreaming or not. The question arises: How is the gyro controlled?

In the dream, without a doubt, all objects are created and controlled by the architect; regardless of who it is, because everyone around Cobb knows that the top must not fall over in a dream.

So there are two cases that are both possible:

a) The top is controlled by the subconscious of the user.

b) It is controlled by the architect - whether consciously or unconsciously, or whether the user and the architect are the same person is irrelevant.

Regarding b): If the architect has power over the top and this is not Cobb, you gain power over Cobb. If you create the top in a dream so that it falls over, Cobb will not doubt that it is in reality, even if it is not.

To a): The question arises as to how the subconscious knows what is real and what is not. At Cobb's Inception in Limbus, Cobb's mind (and subconscious!) Is convinced which level represents reality. So if Cobb is consciously or unconsciously convinced that he is in reality, the top will always fall over.

As a result, the top is unbelievable one way or another - you can only be absolutely sure that you are in a dream if it keeps turning. The top is just another tool used to confuse Cobb - and the viewer.

3. Conclusion: is reality relevant?

At least for Cobb it is not. But what does the inception tell us? Nolan's primary intention is not to make the viewer doubt whether the top will fall over or not. Here, too, however, Nolan perfectly distracts with it. The main thing is that Cobb has doubts and is therefore turning the top, but then no longer paid any attention to him. He takes this reality as his and rushes to his children. It is no longer important to him. This inception at Cobb, which lets him assume a (possibly wrong) reality in which he is happy, is the true title giver and the real message of both Inception and "Inception": To be happy regardless of the boundary conditions. Whether the top really continues to turn or not is completely unimportant.

Note: Unfortunately, the last point is no longer a speculation on my part. As in an interview with Chris Nolan (moviepilot reported), it is also about Cobb accepting his dreams as part of his reality - just like we all (?)

Phew, that's enough for Inception again - hopefully it wasn't too much and you had fun reading!

Do you know any other interpretation of Inception, do you have a criticism or a comment? Or do you wish the same for another film? (maybe just not quite as extensive?)

Just write it in the comments below!