Although this article has a very similar title to a previous blog entry of mine, it is a different one actually. At the end of my recent post concerning various Inception ending interpretations I've mentioned a possible option that is quite rarely discussed on the web. In the succeeding days though, I've pretty much decided that the aforementioned interpretation is the most corresponding one to the events presented in the movie.
I have to say I do not insist that this Inception ending interpretation is the rendition the makers of the movie have intended to present. I'm just saying that according to the narrative and the characters portrayed in the movie, the treatment of the ending I'm going to write about seems to be the most flawless and rational one.
So, in a few words, the interpretation in question is the following: Cobb wakes up on the plane in the real world. But in contrast to many other opinions on the net interceding for the "not dreaming" ending theory, in my version there are not any technologies for controlling the dreams. The whole movie narrative previous to that point has been just an ordinary nightmarish dream.
Why is this theory feasible? I'm going to list some good points in support of it. Just have in mind that I'm not a big fan of Inception in particular (I'm just an overall movie fan) and thus, I'm not a die-hard fan of any Inception ending interpretation. I'm just trying to look at the movie in a logical way while taking in account it is not the average every day movie. I know that such a theory about the Inception ending won't be very popular because it seems quite an ordinary one to the most of the people and they prefer more unusual treatments but this is what I've seen while watching the movie. I do not think Inception will become a lower quality movie if we accept that there has not been a dreaming device and multi-layered dreams. Just the opposite, it could be thought of as an even cooler ending when we finally understand that it is all an ordinary dream after have been looking for 2 hours at the result of ultra advanced dreaming technologies and architectures. So, here we go...
What do we see at the end of the movie (since Cobb wakes up)?
1. Cobb wakes up. It is not shown that he has any dream device wires attached to him.
2. Cobb wakes up in a way he would wake up from an ordinary dream. If he has been in a controlled dream he shouldn't be so surprised waking up. In fact, if you have looked carefully, the rest of the characters waking up from various dream levels during the movie behave quite differently.
3. Fischer is on the plane with several people he is supposed to have been sharing his dreams with but there is not any reaction from his side that he knows any of them!
4. Nobody from the other team members demonstrates any concern about Cobb while looking at him on the plane. It is not very likely they stay so detached while waiting for their friend or colleague to come back from the "purgatory".
5. Saito makes a phone call to somebody but it is not necessarily related to Cobb.
6. At the airport, again there is not a sign that somebody has known anybody else from the "team" prior to the flight. There are just some looks exchanged, nothing unusual between a few people that have had a long flight together.
7. After passport control Cobb is welcomed by Michael Caine's character. This does not seem very likely to happen if there has been a real conspiracy (independently of who this character might be). It is far more likely to wait for somebody who is just coming home rather than somebody taking part in such an important operation.
8. In every scene since Cobb's awakening he behaves like a man who has just had a terrible dream and he is still wondering if the dream is over. We see him to be a little frightened or unsecured which is quite normal for a man having such a bad dream. And again, he behaves like a person who has just had an uncontrolled dream rather than a controlled one. He even spins that "totem" on the table but not to see whether it falls or not but more like a reminiscence of his dream on the plane.
What do we see before Cobb wakes up on the plane?
1. There is not almost any character development during the dreaming except for Cobb.
2. As some people already "complained" on several web sites - what is the reason the world created by Cobb and his wife not to be a more beautiful one. If it has been made in a long controlled dream it could be a real paradise but if it is just a part of Cobb's uncontrolled dreaming then it is just what it happens to be in the particular dream.
3. One would expect that each subsequent dream level would be more advanced and abstract. Quite strangely, you could not say this about dream level 3 compared to dream level 2. But if it is an uncontrolled dream then everything is fine and it just has happened to be like this.
4. The rules of dreaming were changed quite a lot during the movie. Again, this is not very likely for controlled dreaming. And it is completely Ok for an ordinary dream. In fact, ordinary dreams happen just like that - they take different directions constantly and they are quite unstable.
5. If we stick to the controlled dreaming theory then there are lots of weak points during the whole movie. But in the case of uncontrolled dreaming, all of them become immediately OK. For example, Saito was not intended to participate in the "team". They took him in just because he insisted. And then Saito is almost killed in dream level 1. Why would they bother to take him on the next dream levels in a controlled dream - just to make their task harder? But if it is just an ordinary dream of Cobb's, no problem, it just happened.
6. If you control dreaming, it would be normal to try to make it "right". And if it is not a controlled one, everything is possible. Now, it was said in the movie that dreams should look real so, the subject does not realize it's a dream. Ok, what "reality" do you see for Fischer in that snow shooting level? But if it is an ordinary Cobb's dream, again it has just happened like this.
I can continue this list but I think the idea is quite clear. The uncontrolled dreaming interpretation solves almost any possible problem in the movie... I know the controlled dreaming version is more charming but it is not the best one fitting what we have seen on the screen. Again, I'm not saying that Christopher Nolan has had in mind the ordinary dream rendition but this is what at the end, I and probably some other folks have seen presented on the screen.
It might be strange for some people that someone would introduce the whole dreaming technology and the whole complex story if it is all about an ordinary dream but why not... It makes the film really intriguing and during the whole dreaming process Cobb understands a few things about himself and the way he would like to live his life. So, it's still worth to pay that ticket price and see the movie - Inception is not less enjoyable even with such ending interpretation.