Is Inception a dream at the end? Or is it real? These questions have kept coming in any conversation surrounding the film since the time of its release. And even though, Christopher Nolan wouldn’t clear the confusion himself, we are here to do that for you. Yes, folks. We have an answer to your question. And that answer is: the ending ‘Inception’ is NOT a dream. Continue reading to understand why.
The Last Shot
If there is one thing that stands out as the most conspicuous proof that the ending is actually real is the last shot of the film. If the last shot is analyzed in milliseconds, then anyone can notice that the top’s spinning speed gradually weakens and it wobbles at least twice before the scene cuts to black. In none of the other sequences do we see the top losing its flow. One can argue that in the previous sequences we are not given the chance to see the top up-close. It doesn’t matter. The reason is, Nolan clearly stated that Leo’s totem has one characteristic that helps him understand his sense of reality, which is ‘it never stops spinning if he is in the dream state’. Which means the aspects that help him validate the state he is in are whether or not the top shows even the slightest sign of slowing down or if it shudders during the course of its spin. It cannot slow down neither can it sway to its sides breaking the speed it follows.
Irrespective of which plane it is spinning, the top has to follow these rules. The last shot disproves this beyond any possible doubts. Nolan did construct the scene so that it doesn’t lose its ambiguity but he did sway more towards the narrative that says, ‘Go home happily viewers, its not a dream’. After all the entire plot revolves around one man’s ardent wanting to reunite with what is left of his family. Even though the plot takes us through layers of struggles and let downs Cobb goes through, once we reach the ending where Cobb and the others wake up one by one, the narrative clearly takes a different progression, it makes us feel on the inside that ‘its all going to be uphill from now onwards’. It feels like we are the part of an army who are riding back home after a long and tiring battle. Triumph becomes the theme from then onwards and Nolan, by using the spinning top shot, merely suspended a few weak minds to rethink on the authenticity of his narrative progression and a few fell for it. This is a recurring theme in his films, the strand which makes us cling on to Nolan’s story telling. He makes us question weather what we believed a minute ago was merely another well crafted cinematic deception. In the case of inception, one has to think whether he wrote the entire film for that one last shot. The shot that proves the crux of the film itself but only after making us question it a thousand times.