Saturday, February 5, 2011

Blog #42 - Inception and Philosophy

I am glad that we watched Inception together as a class because our discussions afterwards confirmed my initial feelings about the movie when I saw it last summer - that this was a movie that could be like The Matrix and be both entertaining and work on several different levels of philosophical interpretation.  I'm going to toss out a bunch of questions for you to consider, and please pick two to answer before Tuesday's class. 

Questions to choose from (pick two):
1. Near the end, Mal (or her projection) in limbo makes a pretty good case that Cobb is lost in his own dream and can't tell one reality from another. 


2. This blog from Moviefone.com outlines six different interpretations of the film (and also five plot holes - see next question).  Read it for more details on each of the six interpretations, but I'll just list each of them below.  We have talked about some of them in class. 
 ** If you decide to tackle more than one interpretation of Inception, this will count as your two questions.
   a. All of Inception is a dream - are we ever really shown reality?  Whose dream is it, anyway?
   b. Everything after the test sedation is a dream - after Yusuf's chemical test, do we see Cobb spin his totem and see it fall properly?
   c. Saito is the architect and pulls a Mr. Charles gambit on Cobb - instead of a job audition like Saito said, maybe Saito is trying to extract something from Cobb?
   d. Ariadne is Cobb's therapist trying to help him get over Mal's death - This is an interesting and plausible take on the movie - found here http://halphillips.tumblr.com/post/822919795/inception 
   e. We do see reality in the movie (first train ride in Japan, Paris, Mombasa), but Cobb is in a dream at the end - could this explain why the totem never falls at the end of the movie?  This interpretation apparently hinges on the idea that the children don't appear to have aged.  Plus, we don't see how Saito and Cobb get out of limbo. 
   f. What we see is what we get - that we are presented with a reality at the beginning of the movie (train ride in Japan) and that Cobb is back in the U.S. at the end of the movie. 


3. What do you think were the movie's biggest plot holes?  We had discussed a few, and I wasn't satisfied with a couple of the answers - which sounded like filmmakers' excuses instead of decent rationales.  Provide one or two examples (you might want to read the blog link mentioned at the beginning of question #2 to help you out if you forgot) and explain how these holes do or don't affect the movie. 

4. Evil genius theory - we had discussed this in class and it didn't get much traction, but I wonder if it's possible to show that either Saito, Mal or Cobb could be the evil genius manipulating everything we're seeing.  Or could it be the film maker Christopher Nolan? 


5. Is Inception really just an extended metaphor for films?  In Blog #41, I posted a link from Wired, and I traced it back to its source, so I'll quote the author's take on Nolan's film:

"The film is a metaphor for the way that Nolan as a director works, and what he’s ultimately saying is that the catharsis found in a dream is as real as the catharsis found in a movie is as real as the catharsis found in life. Inception is about making movies, and cinema is the shared dream that truly interests the director."


Here's a link to the whole post: http://www.chud.com/24477/NEVER-WAKE-UP-THE-MEANING-AND-SECRET-OF-INCEPTION/

My question is, do you buy this interpretation of the movie?  Why or why not?  What kind of implication does it have for us as film watchers - this shared "dream space" of watching a movie together?  Did Christopher Nolan just perform inception on all of us because it's now an idea, like a parasite that won't go away?  :)


6. Comparing the dream/reality rules in Inception and The Matrix, why do you think they're vastly different?  How does Descartes' dualistic theory about the mind and body being separated work for one movie but not the other? 


7. When Saito asks Cobb to take a leap of faith, he's asking Cobb to believe in him and Saito's ability to fix Cobb's problems.  In some ways, Saito almost acts like a deity in this movie because through him, almost everything is engineered to work.  He is the Prime Mover or causal agent - Cobb and his team are sent on their mission because they failed to extract vital info from Saito for Cobol Engineering.  They are tasked to help destroy Saito's biggest competitor (Fischer), and when it's all said and done, Saito returns from limbo after many many years (remember, Mal and Cobb didn't look like they had aged when the train ran them over after just 50 yrs together, but Saito was wrinkled and withered) and supposedly sweeps away Cobb's murder warrant.  What is Saito, really?  Is he just a very powerful man or is he something else?  Why?


8. Those of you with AP Psych experience, help us out on some of the brain / dream logistics.  The way that they explain the dream rules in the movie sound plausible, but what is realistic w/ regards to dreams?  Shared dream space isn't possible, is it?  Any other psych insights would be greatly appreciated here. 


9. Arthur mentioned it briefly on how the technology for the shared dreaming was created - by the military so that soldiers could fight/kill each other without truly maiming themselves in reality.  Plus, the character played by Michael Caine, Mal's father, seems to have been the one who taught Cobb how to do what he could do.  In many ways, I sense the hints of a "prequel," not a sequel for this movie.  Unlike the Matrix (which probably should have been left alone instead of having 2 sequels), it might be interesting to explore how the technology for this type of thing was developed and most likely stolen.  If it takes 10 years in between movies like it did with Toy Story or Tron, then so be it.  What kinds of possibilities do you see in a prequel or, even if you don't agree with me, a sequel? 

Some additional points and counterpoints to theories in the movie - http://inceptiontheories.com/inception-theories-points-counterpoints/
Blog #42 will be due Tuesday.  150 words for each answer, 300 words total.  Sorry about the wait. 
Go Packers!

23 comments:

  1. Alice Turner

    3. I think one of the biggest holes happened during the snow fortress level (Fischer's dream). It was when Ariadne told Cobb about the shortcut added. Why did she do this?? She had a radio and could've explained things without having to mention it to Cobb. Seems like the only reason fo it was for the story progression. Also on this level, how did Mal get in there? She just kind of fell in through the ceiling. I feel like it would've made more sense if she took the entrance Ariadne revealed. The last plot hole I was annoyed with was how they got out of the dream. So flight gave them 10 hours, which they mentioned was a week at the first level. Now, in Yusuf's dream, the first tier, there's a huge action chase and he drives the van off the bridge and then everyone rides the kicks back up. This was only like a few hours in the first level, so how what happened to the rest of that week? They just all of a sudden woke up and there wasn't any mention of how they fought off projections and stuff. Even after Saito got shot and no one wanted to proceed, Cobb said the wouldn't survive a week. That was a bit open ended for me. Also just and overall thing I discovered after watching this movie a few times. there is barely any character development; was it meant to be open- ended, like create your own human profile for them, or was it just something filmmakers didn't have to spend time on because of the plot?

    4. I think the evil genius theory has some real concrete evidence behind it, but I think it's Mal. She seems to be the only one manipulating things. She goes through and sabotages everything and always seems to get in the way. Also she can pop in at any time where Cobb is present. I think an even more interesting theory, though, is that Cobb is using Mal as a scape goat? Mal only sabotages people when he's not really in danger. He also knowingly brings people into dreams when anything could go wrong. He seems to have a way of getting people on his side. Especially Ariadne. It seems as if he makes her think he needs therapy over his wife's death, but maybe it's just an act? Right when he is about to shoot Mal at the fortress, he stops and Fischer ends up getting shot. I suppose it could be possible that he made Ariadne think it was because he wanted to keep his wife alive. It's certainly interesting to think about, and changes the whole way I'd look at the film. It'd be interesting to watch it again just to note the aspects that could make each character the evil genius and see how it changes the film.

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  2. 6) In the Matrix, Neo’s previous life was all a lie and when he got woken up on the ship that was reality. Comparing to our real life this is a lie and there is another real world out there somewhere. In Inception this world is real and the dream world was a lie. The point the director was trying to get across was, especially in the scene where Mal kills herself, was that this world is real and what we do here is absolute. I think that they are both different because the main idea for both movies are opposite, as stated above. Descartes idea only works in the Matrix because; his mind is separate from his body when he “dies” he comes back. Agent Smith did not shoot his mind he shot his body. While in Inception Saito got shot even though he went deeper into dreams, for a little while it would not show up but eventually it would.
    9) I think that a prequel is possible but the sequel is more likely. Inception made a lot of money so Hollywood will probably try to get more money by making a sequel. Another reason why I think that there will be a sequel is the last scene where Cobb spins the top before he sees his children was leaving viewers at the edge of their seats. The top wobbled which means that we do not know if it was a dream or if it was reality. I think that in the sequel they will go farther with the idea and show if it is a dream or reality. I think that if there was a prequel made that it would show why Mal and Cobb went so deep into their minds, how the technology developed and basically show a lot of things in the movie that were there how they came there.

    Mariam Sharaf
    hour 3

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  3. 7. I think that Saito is exactly what he says is. He is a powerful man that is worried about Fischer’s company. Like he says, if younger Fischer does not break up his father’s company, they will control the entire energy market. This will make that company much too powerful. Also, Saito is being a little selfish here, because his company will be affected too. You must not remember it in the movie, but it does show Cobb and Mal as older versions. Cobb says something like, “But we did grow old together. You don’t remember?” to Mal. He says this at the end when they are in Limbo. It shows them holding each others’ wrinkled hands. I am not exactly sure how Saito cleared Cobb’s name, but his company must be very powerful for him to be in a position to do that.

    9. I would love to see a prequel to this movie. I think there would be many things to tie into it that could help develop the story of Inception. Some things they could include: Previous jobs Arthur and Cobb have been on, the early stages of Cobb and Mal’s relationship, and Eames’ earlier attempt at inception. I’m sure Hollywood would want to make a sequel to Inception, but I’m not sure that it would work. First, making a sequel would completely take all of the luster off of the ending of Inception, because they would have to show you the answer one way or another. Second, I am not sure what they could do in the movie. Extraction is really not all that entertaining (after we have experienced watching an inception), and we have already seen an inception. Unless they come up with another “process”, the movie will just be redundant. I loved Inception, and I think a prequel could work. However, I have a feeling that it would be screwed up in some way. I think that Inception should just exist as a standalone movie.

    Tyler Porritt

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  4. 2D. I truly think you can interpret the film as Ariadne as Cobb's therapist trying to help him get over Mal's death. Since the beginning of the film, you notice that Cobb is having troubles with cooping with the loose of his wife, Mal. Once Ariadne gets involved in the film as the architect, it's seems that Cobb begins to open up his troublesome memories of his wife. Cobb tries to hide it from her and the rest of the crew, but she seems insistent on finding out his issues. So she decides to go in his subconscious (his dreaming state) and realizes the true issues Cobb has. As the movie progresses, you can see that with Adriadne's help, Cobb is starting to realize that Mal isn't coming back. Then as the movie comes to an end you see the path Cobb wanted to take (with his family in limbo), which was somewhat determined by Adriadne being the therapist.
    9. After swaying from side to side on whether I think there will be a prequel or sequel, I came to a justifiable explanation on why there will be a prequel. First off, with attempting to make a sequel there isn't much to talk about. You can have Cobb and his crew teach new people the ways to perform inception, but I highly doubt that would turn out well in the box offices. It would essentially be the same movie just with more characters involved, and maybe some new obstacles. On the other side, if there was a prequel, there is so much information that you can involve for a spectacular movie. In the prequel it can initially show the main characters' lives and how they came to do what they are doing in the movie that we viewed. Then while that is progressing, the filmmaker can show how the military developed the dreaming technology for their soldiers.

    Dylan Reiners Hour: 3rd

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  5. 2. The way I see it the most plausible ways for this movie to be would be that everything after the sedation is a dream, we end in a dream , or we end in reality. Let’s face it, this movie was made for the American public. America isn’t that smart. As much as I love the other options (Ariadne being a therapist blows my mind!) The movie people would want us to think of it a tad if it was that complicated. It did have an open ending, though, so we can make it what we want, there is no right or wrong. I personally think he is in reality at the end, however I didn’t get to see the ending in class and I’m relying on my memory from over the summer, so I’m not sure. I need to see the ending again, if his children are in the same clothes then I think he’s dreaming still and is lost somewhere in Limbo.

    8. Being in A.P. psych, this movie doesn’t work really, maybe if u added a drug to lengthen REM but connecting us to a machine through the wrist doesn’t seem like a way to get into each other’s heads. To dream we have to be in a state of REM. REM (Rapid eye movement) sleep is where our brain is in action but the rest of our body doesn’t work, we can’t control it. We have about 6-8 dreams every night, we remember our dreams when we wake up from the middle of our REM sleep. We go through sleep cycles. There are 5 steps all together; stages 1-4 and then REM. Stage one is when you are falling asleep, slow breathing and irregular brain waves. In stage two are brain waves are large and long with sudden bursts of energy, these bursts of energy are called sleep spindles. Sleep spindles are what wake you up suddenly as you are falling asleep, so that feeling that you are falling, that’s just a burst of brain activity. Stage 4 brain waves are even bigger, but they are slower and very regular. Stage 4 brain waves are even slower and in a more jagged pattern, not regular movements. When in REM your eyes go back and forth underneath your eyelids. Your breathing, heart rate, and brain waves resemble those as in a waking state. The rest of your body is paralyzed, freeing your mind to do what it wants. After the first 90 minutes of sleep you enter your first REM state, lasting about 10 minutes. Throughout the night each of the other stages you get through faster and REM gets longer. Your last REM of the night could last about 30 minutes long. People who never get into REM never really feel rested, and they may not remember things as well. People who are given a series of numbers at the beginning of the day and then told to repeat them at the end of the day remember less of the numbers than those who are given numbers before they take a 2 hour nap (therefore getting REM sleep) and then tested. REM is very important, all mammals get it. So yes, your dog does dream. Though, they are in REM for less amounts of time. It is not completely known what REM does, all we know is it is very important.

    Natalie Douma
    Hour 3

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  6. When Mal and Cobb are in limbo at the end of the movie, Mal points out that he, Cobb, is being chased around the world like projections would chase a dreamer. While at a first glace this seems to be a very plausible idea, I believe there is a major hole in it. As we learned in the movie, the only way to be chased by someone’s projections is if you are the dreamer and bring the subject into your dream. This means that Cobb would have to be asleep and would have to have had pulled someone in the dream with him to extract information or for some other purpose. The fact that Cobb isn’t aware of having a subject or being asleep, whose projections would be chasing him if he was? Also, a dream must be constructed. There is always an architect who designs the dream the dreamer and subject are put into. When Ariadne designed the 3 levels for Fischer’s inception, there was clearly a time lapse and it took her a while. To imagine that someone could design something as large and complex as the whole earth and all its creatures is practically unbelievable. Not to mention the flawlessness of it all. When Ariadne designed the different levels, she put in impossible scenarios such as the penrose stairs. To create a large dream such as the earth without making one slip-up would be yet another amazing feat.

    Andrew Sadler

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  7. a. It’s fair to say that inception is a dream. Throughout the entire movie there is a strong possibility that the viewer never actually sees reality. Who is to say that when the totem topples it isn't in another level of a dream where that is possible? There is nothing in this universe that could make a solid case against that fact that maybe we're not in reality. If they were all in a dream the whole time, I feel as though they would be inside of an outsiders dream. If we think about the scenes in the movie they're all from different points of view. If it were any of their dreams it would have been from only one persons point of view. Some people may think, "Well Cobb is the main character so it must be from his point of view" but in the level believed to be reality there is no Mal, so it most likely isn't Cobb's dream.

    b. Thinking back to my point above, we may never really see reality. There is also a strong possibility, according to Hal Phillips that, "Ariadne was leading an inception on Cobb (and that) the entire film is that inception, and we never see reality" I hadn't thought of this before reading Phillip's argument, although it does make sense. Ariadne is placed in Cobb's dream world in order to help him break free from the overpowering guilt Cobb has from his wife's death. Ariadne goes with Cobb deep into the levels of the dream world and helps him kill Mal, which represents killing his guilt. We watch as she forms a close relationship with Cobb in order to really get to know him and his problems. Like a therapist she takes on a nurturing role, always looking out for him. I can definitely see where Phillips is coming from.

    Natalie Hords
    3rd hour

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  8. 4. Evil genius theory- I never thought that Saito could be the evil genius because he never deceives anything in the film. He just wants to get the job done and gets accidently shot along the way. I highly think that Cobb is an evil genius because he puts memories in his dreams which create bigger problems for everyone. When they think that something is going as planned, Cobb’s projections interfere. He also tells Mal that her life was a dream and not a reality. This makes Mal not trust her senses and she can only rely on the real world.
    Mal could be an evil genius because she is part of Cobb’s projections which ruins the task in the dream. She tries to convince Cobb that their reality was a dream. But that was also because that Mal was psychologically demented and that Cobb planted the idea. However, she can defy that Cobb’s reality wasn’t real.

    5. I love movies, but I can never understand the film making business. It is a totally different world to me. After reading the blog, I could agree with the author in that Inception is a like a shared dream for film makers. However I don’t think that the story of Inception relates to movies. For example, who would be Mal? Is she the directors muse? Or is she the director that lets people know that this movie is real? I have always thought there could be some other world for movies because the actors’ lives in films seem so much different than reality, like a dream. Since Inception is all about dreams, I do believe that the theory could be meant for the directors’ audience to express that filmmakers all over the world have a shared dream accomplishing their form of reality, which is movies.

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  9. 9. I think that a prequel could be very possible and doable in the case of inception. I think inception is a very good movie by itself but it does have some open questions in the beginning. How did mal and cobb meet? How did Arthur and Cobb get into the business of extraction? If the machine was first used by the military, how did Cobb get his hands on one of them?? I think that if there was a prequel that all of these questions could be cleared up. They could explain the story of mal and cobb and then also explain how the whole business of extraction started. I don’t think that there should be a sequel because there is really no more information you could put into a movie. I think if there isn’t a prequel then inception should just be a stand alone movie.


    2e. The first time I saw inception, the ending really bothered me. I wasn’t sure if what I saw was all a dream, if It was real, or if only part of it was real. Im really not sure what Nolan was trying to get the audience to think with that major cliffhanger of an ending. So, when I watched inception again I came to the conclusion that yes we do see some of the reality that cobb is in but the ending is a dream. Im guessing that cobb never came out of limbo, so everything after when he woke up in the plane was still a dream. I think that this is a very good possibility since the top never falls at the end and there is no noise that suggests it does. I’m pretty sure that the ending was a dream because of 1. the top and 2. that the kids were wearing the same thing as 3 years ago. Yes, the kids had aged but that could just be cobbs mind aging them to what he thinks they would look like. Its really hard to tell what the ending was supposed to mean, but this is was I think Nolan was trying to get across.

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  10. 1. Towards the end of the movie, Mal makes Cobb question which reality is the “right” one. Occasionally in class, we’ve mentioned the idea that our dreams are actual reality and when we think we’re awake is when we’re dreaming. Along with elements from The Matrix, I have come up with my own theory about reality. There is “ultimate reality” and “immediate reality.” For example, in The Matrix, Neo’s daily life before exiting the Matrix was his “immediate” reality: it was real to him because he used his senses and reason to determine that he and his world were real. However, the “ultimate” reality would be when he wakes up from the Matrix and discovers that he was living a lie. Another example is when we are dreaming. At least to me, dreams feel eerily real in that my dreams draw from random elements in my life, I vividly feel emotion, and (occasionally) can feel physical pain or sensation. When we dream, it becomes our immediate reality because have reason to believe we’re actually there in that place, no matter how strange it is. When we wake up, we return to what we think is ultimate reality. As far as we know, we are in ultimate reality right now.
    9. A prequel would be an amazing addition to the already successful movie Inception. I say this because there is so much mystery behind Cobb’s character and the idea of extraction itself. A prequel could shed some light as to how the idea of extraction came about and was executed with the invention of the sleep machines. Mal’s father is also a mysterious character, perhaps he came up with the idea?
    My vision for the plot of the prequel: I see him being something like a CIA agent that experimented with (then-revolutionary) technology of entering the dream state. He meets a young intern (Cobb) who is especially talented in this very field. Saito makes an appearance, but isn’t a major character. While this is going on, Cobb meets young Mal and they fall in love. Cobb and Mal’s father get involved in a dangerous mission that nearly gets them stuck in limbo, but they manage to escape. In the end, Cobb continues his career as an extractor and Mal’s father becomes an architect teacher. Obviously there would be more details, but a plot like this would be leading up to the original movie while also helping first-time viewers to have a better grasp as to what the movies are about (I would have been completely lost if no one explained it to me before I saw it.).
    As much as I think a prequel would be awesome, the mysterious vibe from the characters is alluring, too. The fact that you’re thrown into the movie without any knowledge of what’s going on (the first scenes) makes it fun to figure out.

    GRETCHEN!

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  11. Jaimmie Koss

    3. The biggest plot hole to me was the totem. At the beginning of the journey you see Arthur explain to Ariadne how she needs a totem so she can keep track of reality, then when she asks to see his he doesn’t let her because your totem is meant for you and only you, if other people know how it works than you loose sight of reality. But later in the movie you see that Mal hides her totem in the safe so she doesn’t have to face the fact that her dream is a dream. She wants to believe that the dream is reality. And then Cobb uses the totum as his own, if the totem was originally Mal’s how did it ever work for Cobb?
    Another was Fischer and his lack of totum, if he had been trained to fight off dream thieves than how come Fischer didn’t have a totem? Wouldn’t he know he would need one to dicifer reality from a dream?
    I also agree with what Alice said about Ariadne not using the radio to tell Saito about the shortcut and why Mal didn’t use the same shortcut. It seems stupid one for her to not use the radio but then two even after she told Cobb, Mal still showed up entering from a different route. Also the time at each level, if they had used the full week on the first level it still would have gone according to plan and they would have woken up on the plane at the same time, since they only spent an hour on the first level and shorted amounts of time on the other levels how did they still wake up on the place on time? That also doesn’t make sense to me.


    1. This could be interpreted many ways, if the entire movie is a dream than no Cobb has absolutely no idea how to distinguish dream from reality, but if you take the stand that it was not a dream than I think he actually could tell the difference. He was fully aware when he was awake and when he was dreaming, although sometimes he needed to turn his (Mal’s) totem to remind him, it either fell or didn’t and thats how he knew. You’ll notice he never saw his kids when he was awake and he never saw Mal when he was awake, he only saw his projections of them in his sleep. Also when Ariadne told Cobb that he couldn’t keep Mal locked in the prison of memories (or something like that) he knew that what he was doing was wrong and that he needed to let her go, but he just couldn’t not yet. He needed to change these moments to try to change reality but he knew he couldn’t. Than at the end in limbo he tells Mal we had our time together but I need to let you go showing that he knows that Mal is dead and he needs to get back to reality to take care of their children because she left them. So I think Mal’s little speech was just Cobb’s guilty conscience getting the best of him. I think, since he usually only dreams of Mal unless he’s dream-sharing, than he is well aware of the difference in the two realities.

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  12. Dustin Oakwood

    The 3rd hour class that only exists in my head.

    2a. I believe that the top level is indeed reality. We see it at the beginning of the film while the team is on the train messing with Saito’s head, and we see it at the end of the film when Cobb is reunited with his remaining family (although our class seems to be very adamant against that idea..) The spinning totem at the end of the movie poses this exact same question: is this top level reality or is it someone else’s dream? In order for me to answer this question I believe we have to take a look back at the totem’s history. It falls over on the top level. It doesn’t fall over on lower levels. Which leads me to question: is someone manipulating the totem to fall on the top level? Well, the totem was originally Mal’s totem. Is she in some way, again, manipulating the events of Cobb’s life? I’m not too sure. I doubt that though. She did die on that top level after all by jumping off the hotel window ledge. According to Inception’s rules when you die you go up (unless of course you’re under special sedation). So even if it was her dream it couldn’t have survived without her (think back to the beginning of the movie when the team was messing with Saito, when Arthur died his dream started collapsing on the remaining members) So that rules out reality being Mal’s dream. So yeah, I believe that reality is reality. And the spinning top at the end was just to build suspense.

    2c. Yeah no, Saito is not the architect of any of the dreams: including the top level reality. IF the entire dream was in Saito’s head from the very beginning I don’t understand how they could go into his dream (at the very beginning of the film) again if they were already in it? It makes sense in my head, I think.. They weren’t able to pry in to Fischer’s head more than once (although they did bust into his projection of his godfather) Hold on, If you can’t go into your own dream more than once to go down the ladder, then how did Cobb and Mal initially get down in to limbo? Did they keep going into each other’s projections or something? Hmm. Well, my entire point just went out the window there. I will keep onto my belief that Saito is just a business man trying to make good business.

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  13. Alex Grigorian

    2a) “All of Inception is a dream. Are we ever really shown reality.” Of course one can make the case that we are never shown proof of acual reality throughout the movie, but that is just because it’s a movie, they can say whatever they want. But there is (in my opinion) some proof of reality in the movie. It’s the totems. Multiple times throughout the movie Cobb spins his totem. “In the dream world, the totem never stops spinning, but in reality it does.” That’s what Cobb tells us. So we know that they are in reality when Cobb’s totem stops spinning. This seems like a simple rationale of the question but I believe it’s the simple answer. One can then make the case that everything is in “Gods” dream, which would bring us to a whole nother level.
    #7) I don’t think that there is anything special behind Saito. I think that he is just a very wealthy and powerful man. He is the first team member to get shot. He dies just like anyone else would, showing that he is no god and is not able to go around the “rules” and “laws” of that dream world that if you die you go to Limbo. If Saito was something special, couldn’t he have survived the gun shot? And to comment on the second part of the question, Cobb and Mal were old and wrinkled. It didn’t show it the first time they were hit by the train, but later on it did show them walking down the corridor together with gray hair and wrinkled bodies. Then it shows them holding hands before the train was hit them, with wrinkled hands. I think Saito is just as ordinary as the rest of them.

    Alex Grigorian

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  14. In this post I will aim to discuss two of the interpretations from question 2 (and say what my stance is on each):
    A) It is very reasonable to assume that the entire movie is a dream. This may come as a disappointment to viewers of the film because they are left feeling like they wasted their time thinking something was real but ended up being a lie. This however is a more legitimate interpretation than that of the people who say that the wobbling of the top at the end represented the dream's falseness. In theory the entire thing could just be Cobb, in reality a regular guy, dreaming he's actually on the run from Cobol Engineering. Cobb likely just has an extremely vivid imagination that runs wild while he is asleep. This is closely related to the theory regarding Ariadne being a psychologist. Cobb could be a patient that just got home from a therapy session (maybe he is seeing her because his wife actually did die somehow and he is having trouble copin) and is having a crazy dream. I feel that this is the best interpretation of the movie and its plot.
    E) It is extremely unlikely that the movie starts as a reality and moves to becoming late on. This would create an even bigger problem with the plot. It would essentially say that all that had happened with Fischer was merely testing and that their recruitment of the team was purposeless. Even so, this interpretation leaves the most room for Nolan to create a sequel. Of course, admitting to audiences that a majority of the movie was pointless would probably not attract people looking to see the next film. Still, this interpretation is not very reasonable in explaining the events of the movie. If true, this view of the movie would leave the audience at a cliff hanger ending an hour before the movie even ended and the last hour would be a waste of time for the audience.

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  15. Id also like to mention that Nolan once said that the last scene, to him, isn't about whether or not its a dream but rather about Cobb's emotional journey and how he doesn't care whether or not its real but only that hes with his kids again.

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  16. 3. In my opinion, the biggest plot hole in Inception was Saito’s intentions. The man has loads and loads of cash, but he still felt threatened by Fishcer’s energy company. If he has enough money to buy an airline, why does he have the need to get information to overtake Fishcer’s company? The movie made it seemed it was something Saito really needed, for a more secure financial situation. If the man is that wealthy, why does he have the need to even go above and beyond. Also, when you usually observe the mega wealthy in our every day society, they usually do not take huge risks physically when it comes to work, they’d usually hire or pay someone to do that task. Why would Saito take the physical risk in going into the dreams, if he is trying to build up his energy company to the “biggest” in the world? The next big plot hole I saw when they found out how Fishcer’s subconscious has been taking over, and it was actually beginning to attack himself. If they soon knew this stuff was going on, and if they die in the dream, they turn to mush, why take the risk, and why not just “kick” yourself out of the dream back into reality? Was assisting Saito that big of a deal to all of them? Also, Dom Cobb really wanted to get home, and taking these risks could realistically kill his chances of getting home. Why so many risks for so little reward? This is why people could think Saito is like God, and he is manipulating people for his advantage, yet he is the first to get hit in the dreams. Besides for those minor plot holes, I didn’t see any big plot holes.

    9. For a prequel for Inception, I can really only see it involving Cobb and Mal’s story. Arthur, Eames, Ariadne, Fischer, and Yusef wouldn’t really work. For Eames, it would be how he transforms in dreams, which in my opinion would lead to a real cheesy movie. For Ariadne, she is too young and new to the idea of being an architect, and assisting extractors during inception, so that prequel movie would fail pretty bad. Fischer may be good, but it would just show a life of a wealthy kid who has a father who is a billionaire energy company guru. I feel there have been many movies like this before (i.e. Billy Madison, but in a different aspect). Arthur doesn’t have much of a story in Inception, so that’d be difficult, and Yusef is just simply a chemist, that’d lead to a pretty boring movie. So, Cobb’s story would make a great prequel. Some questions I’d like to see be addressed is how Cobb became an extractor for inception, why he chose to put Mal in inception, and how he perceived reality before this entire inception ordeal. Was he a normal guy? It’d be nice to know. Besides a prequel, a sequel could maybe be good, but I feel it would be a flop and a bit cheesy. I’d like to see Saito, if he overtook the top spot for his energy empire; I’d like to see more about Fischer, if he became a new man, and most importantly, if Cobb’s totem ever fell. If it didn’t, he still technically has to get home, and see James and Fillipine (I think that’s her name). If a prequel or sequel had to be made from Inception, I’d chose prequel.

    Jake Stein
    3rd Hour

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  17. 1) Near the end of the movie Mal does make a legitimate argument about reality in hopes of persuading him to stay with her in limbo, however, I think he clearly understood that it wasn’t Mal talking to him, it was just his projection of her. Even when his kids appear, he insists that they are just his projections of his kids and that his real kids exist only in reality. I think he always had a somewhat clear view of what was reality and what wasn’t. Despite Mal’s argument, he repeatedly tries to explain to her that she left him and their kids when she killed herself and that she doesn’t exist outside his subconscious. Therefore he knows that he must leave Limbo to get back to his real kids because they miss him very much, and he misses them.

    2f) Although it may seem uncreative, I truly believe that in inception what you see is what you get. I think that, although the dreams can be interpreted many different ways, when reality is shown it is actual reality. For example, on the train in Japan, in Paris, and at the end of the movie when Cobb is back home are all instances within the movie when glimpses of reality are shown and are not intended to be seen as anything more. Although the filmmakers did intend to leave this open to question by not showing whether or not the top would fall at the end of the movie, I think that it is pretty clear throughout the movie when reality is shown and when they are in a dream. This is because in a dream the laws of physics meant nothing and anything can and did happen, but in reality the same natural laws that are present in everyday life applied, which leads me to believe that reality in the movie is just as real as the reality we experience daily.

    Andrew Gordner
    3rd hour

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  18. Jon "Giving Good Insight" Pagan 3rd HourFebruary 8, 2011 at 8:08 AM

    9. The possibility exists for both a prequel and a sequel. Considering the fact that Cobb’s top never stopped spinning, the director left room for a continuation on the movie. Maybe when Cobb was in the Old man’s dream shop and he dropped his top he was dreaming. There are multiple points in which this movie could be picked up for a sequel. As well as the beginning as Mr. W. had stated maybe the director will choose to go back and show how the technology was developed and used on soldiers . Perhaps we’ll see how Cobb started using the machinery and the first trial of inception on his wife Mal. Lastly there may be a reason as to why we didn’t see Cobb and Saito exit limbo. Saito was an old man once Cobb found him and for him to age that much in limbo, how come he didn’t age in real life.

    6. Separation of mind and body is apparent in Inception. If a person dies in a dream they wake up. The dream acting as the mind once it ends the physical body is unharmed. In the Matrix if a person dies they are eliminated in the real world. The difference in the connections between mind and body is that, the matrix makes up everything is the code of life. So I was to die in the matrix my “code” would be deleted if you will. Dreams in the movie Inception do not make up with world, dreams are not reality, which is why dying in a dream doesn’t actually kill you. For the total connection between mind and body theory to work for Inception. The Director would have had to portray dreams as reality, that the world we live in is not real. i.e. “Morpheus message to Neo”.

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  19. 4) I think that Mal is the Evil Genius throughout the movie, but when you say that you are essentially saying that Cobb is the Evil Genius too because Mal is just a projection of his sub-conscience. Throughout the movie Mal is the only one really sabotaging the team’s plans in every dream they enter. In the first dream she exposes Arthur and Cobb, and eventually causes the dream to collapse. In Fischer’s dream she sends a train through the middle as a message to Cobb, and later she kills Fischer and makes Cobb go to Limbo to save him. If Mal is guilt inside of Cobb’s sub-conscience I feel like he is in a way causing these things to happen hoping he might die and find an easy way out. I never really at first thought of Saito as an manipulator or an Evil Genius, but after discussion in class there is a possibility that he is an Evil Genius or something more with the power that he has.

    9) I definitely see a prequel or sequel to Inception coming in a few years. In my opinion I feel like it would be a sequel that would pick up from the totem spinning to try to resolve one of the biggest questions about the film, was the movie really all a dream? I feel like it would have flashbacks maybe filling us in on the past with the introduction of the technology to the military to how it got out into the public to Cobb learning how to use it. Maybe these flashbacks could be explained as Cobb teaching his son the art of inception and extraction and the history behind it, because Cobb can’t do it anymore. If it all was really just a dream maybe they could show side-flashes of the real world and build up a story from that like Lost. I’m not really sure what will happen in the end but I guess that’s why I’m not a director.

    Austin Slawinski

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  20. D. In a way I think that Ariadne is Cobb’s therapist, and in another way I don’t think she is. In a way she could be Cobb’s therapist because as she discovers more about Cobb as the movie goes on she is telling him and suggesting to him what he could do make his life better. For example once she see’s the levels of his memory, she tells him that if he would just let her go, and not keep her trapped up she would stop appearing when he is dreaming. While in another way I don’t think that she is a therapist because she could just be looking over the group as a whole. If Cobb keeps doing this to himself he could possibly do harm to the group.

    6. The rules of Inception and the rules of The Matrix are vastly different in two ways. The first way is that in Inception when you are dreaming and you get shot, you will wake up and be fine, while in The Matrix if you get shot while under you die in real life. The other reason why they are vastly different is that while you are under in Inception you feel everything that is happening in the dream layer above. In The Matrix you don’t feel any of that it. Descartes theory applies more to Inception because when you are getting hurt, or when you die in the dream your body above does not feel any of it, While in The Matrix you feel all that is happening in the dream.

    Matt Trogu

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  21. #4 - I think Mal is the evil genious in Inception. Mal appears in some sort of way in every dream shown in the movie. She sends a train through the street of the van chase dream. She appears in the hotel dream, and interfere's with cobb when he was trying to get fischer to go through to the next level of dreams. Mal appears again and manipulates the snowy fortress dream by killing fischer. Mal manipulates a lot of what Cobb does.

    #9 - I think a prequel is in order. A movie explaining just how cobb and mal explored the realms of dreams. And what led to cobb and mal into Limbo. A sequel could possibly work out too. Maybe fischer finds out it was cobb who invaded his subconcsious and decides to go after him with his goons. Cobb learns how to do what eames did, and cvhange the way he appears in dreams. Cobb can look like a variety of people fischer knows and trick him into stopping chasing him, and instead give him 50 billion dollars. The movie could also include cobbs family in some way. Maybe fischer and his goons kidnap cobbs children. Cobb will become the next batman, and save the day. Saito becomes cobbs super sidekick, and helps fund all of the high tech equipment needed to become the next batman. Adriadne, turns to the dark side, and becomes fischers henchwoman. Fischer and adriadne take a new form and become The joker, and harley.

    Josh Cecile
    3rd hour

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  22. I will first be answering question number two, letter a. You ask me who's dream is it anyways, I say, who's line is it anyways? Who knows who's dream it is. Were they dreaming the entire time? Were they never dreaming. Were they dropping acid, was this the acid trip of the century? Right off the bat we're thrown into the movie thinking it is reality. Then they throw us a fast one and we find out it's a dream. So now we're like alright alright I see. Then things get really messed up when we find out it's another dream. Who can I trust now? It's like that insecure girl who was abruptly dumped by her boyfriend after 3 years of strong committment so he could go get his sexual fix with the sorrority girl. Who knows if they were still in a dream after that. But Cobb says that when he spins his totem and it falls that means that he's back in reality. Abiding by these rules then it's very safe to assume that it was reality. But maybe Cobb has tricked his own mind and dreams so that the topple spins over even in a dream. He's dreaming of ways to throw it all away. And never go back. Possibly Cobb can't stand the reality of never seeing his kids again, and the world Mol and him created was never destroyed, but it was so fast, that he was able to run away and create his own people and buildings and universe. When you're dreaming with a broken heart, the waking up is the hardest part, and we find that reoccuring with Cobb throughout the movie of inception. Abiding by what Cobb claims, we can assume that he made it back to reality, but this movie has so many twists and turns I wouldn't be surprised if it was actually all a dream of Cobb in limbo. I will now be answering question 2, letter c. An erroneous claim if I ever saw one is to think that Saito is trying to extract something from Cobb. My mans Saito has everything he ever needs. The man bought an airline. What could he possibly want from Cobb. He probably wants Mol. Maybe he has some sort of wierd sexual fixation for Mol. And he wants to get to the very depths of Cobbs dream so he can live out his creepy fantasies. It makes sense. Saito insists on carrying on to the very end because he wants to see Cobb "get the job done". I don't buy it. He knows he can find the calm Mol at the very depth of Cobbs dreams. And make his move there. An even more plausible situation is that Saito and Mol had a previous affair before her death. I can only assume that Mol left Saito for Cobb and that left him heartbroken. Which would easily explain how Cobb and Saito know each other. It is clear that after Saito heard of Mol's death. He approached Cobb with an "offer" to send him home. It is not clear whether Cobb was aware of the infidelity that occurred during his marriage with Mol, but it doesn't seem as if it was. It's clear Saito wasn't successful with his attempt to rekindle his love with Mol, but in a sequel I could see Saito becoming the god father to the kids because he keeps his promise to Cobb to send him. So then he intrudes on the kids dreams and there he can find Mol and try and get her back. We can also conclude Saito has a severe case of schizophrenia and the entire movie was what we saw through his eyes when he was actually in a hospital ward the entire time. Possibilities are endless, but to me the Saito/Mol love affair makes the most sense and I stick by that.

    Evan Fried

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  23. The problem with interpreting Inception is that there are so many different plausible ways to look at it. For instance, the entire movie could be a dream. This is perhaps the simplest way to interpret the movie, but it leaves some questions such as "why did the top fall over a few times throughout the movie?" Perhaps the whole movie is Cobb's dream, and he conjured Sito and everyone else in a desperate attempt to get his kids back. This would make lots of sense if, in a "real" reality, a man had lost his kids and wife, and dreamt a way of getting them back; the man being Cobb, or a person who uses Cobb as a second identity. 115. This could also explain why the top only fell over a few times; there could have been no rules except those which Cobb made.

    Another way to interpret the movie is that, much like the point I made before, the entire movie is a dream. The only difference would be that, rather than Cobb (or a person who thinks he is Cobb) trying to cope with his family's death, Ariadne is actually Cobb's therapist, planted from the outside. This is plausible because, as Cobb said to Fisher, trying to remember the outside when dreaming is like trying to remember a dream when on the outside. I believe that Cobb could remember the outside if he sat down and thought about it, but during the entire movie, Cobb has little to no time to just sit and think. Perhaps Ariadne planned this on purpose, for fear that if Cobb could take the time, he could realize he was in a dream and wake up (like he did when he was in Limbo). However, it is important to note that this IS a movie, and for Cobb to simply sit down and think would be dull.

    Ben Robinson

    P.S.Sorry it's late!

    P.S.S Although is wasn't a question, I wanted to make note that this movie is astonishingly like philosophy, in that there are so many arguments and answers that could very well explain the outcome, but who knows which one is right?

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