A Writer's Theory On 'Inception' (Part 2 of 2)
Note: This is continued from my previous post and makes no sense if you have not read that post. Oh, and MASSIVE SPOILER ALERT!!! Do not continue if you have not seen Inception!
Now then, where was I? Oh, right, I was trying to convince you all that (a) I'm not a complete lunatic and (b) Inception is nothing but a dream.
My third point then, is that little conveniences abound throughout the film. The team for a blatantly illegal enterprise is located quite easily (all while time is compressed dream-style), and even Ariadne (Ellen Page) simply says "Yes" despite the fact that we have zero indication that she has ever taken part in anything so obviously against the law; the finale features not one but two emotional/ psychological climaxes (Dom’s (Leonardo DiCaprio) final confrontation with Mal (Marion Cotillard) and the mark’s (Cillian Murphy) happy ending with his deceased father (Perhaps a revelation of Dom’s father issues? He is close to his father-in-law (Michael Caine) and yet never mentions his own parents.); and all obstacles, though seemingly difficult, to the team’s complicated set-up are simply achieved through apparent conveniences of fate.
Now all of this could be explained away by one’s suspension of disbelief, but there is more.
Throughout the film, Nolan provides allusions to other films: wirework and bullet fights a la The Matrix, breaking into a wintry castle right out of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, even a lack of gravity and an old man we just saw as young eating and conversing in a clear shout-out to 2001: A Space Odyssey. While all of these could be Nolan admitting his own "inception" at the hands of other films, I think it’s actually implying that Dom’s subconscious is continuing to create his world out of what he encountered prior to his falling into limbo. Think of the last time we see all the team together, after the job has been finished. Nolan gives us a series of slow motion shots of the whole team looking at one another in recognition of their victory, and yet none of them speaks to one another. This is obviously an allusion to the finale of Ocean’s Eleven, but, if the dreams have ended, why are we still viewing scenes taken from other films?
One final point to prove I’m not just some lunatic: there are holes in the narrative. How does Dom get charged and found unquestionably guilty of his wife’s murder when she clearly jumps out of the window of a room he isn’t in? No matter how well she might have set the scene and set him up, she can’t get around the fact that basic forensics would clear Dom of her death, showing her committing suicide from the window of another room; unless, of course this were all a dream and Dom is interpreting attacks by the subconscious as just the law after him.
And if you can easily explain that one away, consider this: How does Dom escape the law so easily, and who is that helping him? No lawyer (outside of a paranoid dreamworld) would break the law so blatantly as to assist his client fleeing the country, and even if that’s not his lawyer and some other random unidentified figure (i.e. subconscious manifestation), how does Dom so easily avoid capture? Wouldn’t the authorities be looking for the lead suspect in his own wife’s murder at an airport, bus depot, or whatever else that ticket could have been? And even assuming he avoids all that as easily as he seems to, how then does he keep avoiding capture while keeping in touch with his family and maintaining a comfortable living in an illegal enterprise?
The easiest argument against all my rants and raves is that we see action in which Dom is not involved. Well in a dream, one often has knowledge of outside actions and facts that are beyond one’s personal view, as if our subconscious is filling in the details that we missed by being awake. Also, throughout the film, until the ending, we see the top stop spinning, but if Dom is sure this world is real, his subconscious will always make the top stop spinning when he’s looking at it to keep up his delusion. It is when he does not focus on it that we see it continue to move.
Finally, remember that this has all been my interpretation of the film, if it differs from your own it doesn’t make yours automatically wrong, or mine automatically right. Just because you believe the top stopped spinning afterward, or that it didn’t stop because Dom didn’t get out of limbo this time and not before, or you think it all has something to do with aliens, doesn’t make your opinion any better or worse than mine (except for the alien thing). This has been my interpretation of a dream, and as far as I’m concerned, that top never stops spinning.