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kevin1981
2010-Sep-03, 07:46 AM
I know i am like mega late, but i finally got to see it at the cinema last night. Quality film, really enjoyed it.

BUT- At the end, if the spinner keeps spinning, does that mean they are all trapped or just cobb ?

If yes to all of them, then in who's mind?
If yes to cobb, then in who's mind?

Or i could uncomplicate things for myself by saying the spinner probably stoped. But that would'nt be any fun would it !

Van Rijn
2010-Sep-03, 08:03 AM
I know i am like mega late, but i finally got to see it at the cinema last night. Quality film, really enjoyed it.

BUT- At the end, if the spinner keeps spinning, does that mean they are all trapped or just cobb ?


They deliberately made it ambiguous. It might still be a dream. It might not be a dream.

kevin1981
2010-Sep-03, 08:12 AM
:wall: Very good ending, I had a feeling towards the end that it would be successful and everyone wins. I did'nt see that coming !

Strange
2010-Sep-03, 11:02 AM
You might want to ask a mod to add "Spoiler" to the thread title ...

There are two "simple" interpretations: either Cobb was not able to escape from the last dream they were in or (my preferred) the entire film was taking place in Cobb's mind/dream. Note when he meets Michael Caine at the university, Caine says something like "why don't you come back to reality". And Cobb says something to him about "coming here to get more space" (which could be because he is working in a lecture room rather than his study, or dream world rather than real world).

There is a more complex and very detail explanation I have read, along similar lines, where the whole thing is about Cobb (as an old man) getting psychiatric treatment because he can't cope with the (natural) death of his wife. Characters like Ariadne are psychiatrists trying to help him come out of his fantasy world.

BTW, I thought Tom "Eames" Hardy stole the show.

kevin1981
2010-Sep-03, 11:18 AM
You might want to ask a mod to add "Spoiler" to the thread title ...

If they think that it is necessary, then i have no problem with that.

I might go and watch it again before the run ends at the cinema. But yes, i was'nt prepared for how clever and complex the plot would be, i knew it was going to be good, but not as complex as i had thought.

kevin1981
2010-Sep-03, 12:58 PM
Also i have another question. The film cost 120 million dollars, which is an amazing figure. But how do they get there money back. I do not understand how the process works. For example, do individual cinemas buy the movie from warner or do warner get part of the takings from the cinemas?

Paul Beardsley
2010-Sep-03, 01:15 PM
They deliberately made it ambiguous. It might still be a dream. It might not be a dream.

Yes, and for me that was the ruin of a film that had been impressive up till then.

It depresses me how many authors, film makers and so on seem to think it's original and clever to end a book or film on an ambiguous (or otherwise inconclusive) note. When someone deliberately opts for a lazy ending, it renders it pointless to try and work out what was really going on.

It didn't help that it was so similar to another recent diCaprio film, Shutter Island, which included at least one scene (involving an encounter which was key to the plot) which evidently didn't really happen after all. It's like the joke, "Q. What's green and has wheels? A. Grass. Sorry, I lied about the wheels."

Strange
2010-Sep-03, 01:31 PM
Hmmm... I thought it was pretty unambiguous. At least, that it kept spinning. Exactly what that means might be open to interpretation. Surely you don't want an ending where they gather together in a room and explain the finer points of the plot to each other...

kevin1981
2010-Sep-03, 01:40 PM
Hopefully not, but it also leaves room for a sequel if they can come up with a good enough script.

Paul Beardsley
2010-Sep-03, 02:05 PM
Surely you don't want an ending where they gather together in a room and explain the finer points of the plot to each other...

That is not what I mean by a conclusive ending.

Strange
2010-Sep-03, 02:07 PM
That is not what I mean by a conclusive ending.

Just kidding.

Paul Beardsley
2010-Sep-03, 02:17 PM
Just kidding.

Yeah, sorry if I sounded a bit prickly.

Thinking about it, sitting-in-a-room-talking-about-it endings only seem to work in comedies these days.

Strange
2010-Sep-03, 02:18 PM
Or good old Poirot

IsaacKuo
2010-Sep-03, 02:19 PM
Hmmm... I thought it was pretty unambiguous. At least, that it kept spinning.
I thought the opposite--that it was about to fall, but this doesn't really tell you much because the test is so compromised by that point. At least one other still living character has handled the top--Saito, so the top will behave as in reality within his dreams. Just as Cobb deceived Mal about reality using her totem, Saito could deceive Cobb about reality.

Cutting away just before the top falls is a distraction, meant to give you something to think about and prompt you to rethink the events of the movie. Ultimately, the plot point of the scene is that Cobb doesn't even look to see the answer. Cobb doesn't wait for the answer, so why should the film depict it?

On a more practical level, if the film had shown the top fall, then too much of the audience would falsely interpret this to mean that Cobb was definitely back to reality. By cutting away just before the fall, the audience is prompted to think about whether he really is in reality, and if not whose dream he is in.

There are at least three obvious possibilities--Saito's, Mal's, or his own. The most straightforward of these possibilities is Saito. If you just take everything depicted at face value, then everyone else has "kicked" back up to the city level while Saito and Cobb are still dreaming in limbo. The possibility of Mal is complex because it requires the entire movie to be a dream and opens up everything to ambiguous interpretation. The possibility of Cobb opens up a wild gamut of possibilities ranging from "it was all a dream" to a less satisfying variant of the Saito scenario (one in which Saito ultimately does nothing to honor his promise to Cobb, if Cobb himself dreams up his fantasy happy ending).

I think the movie works well with the most straightforward interpretation.

Gillianren
2010-Sep-03, 06:54 PM
Also i have another question. The film cost 120 million dollars, which is an amazing figure. But how do they get there money back. I do not understand how the process works. For example, do individual cinemas buy the movie from warner or do warner get part of the takings from the cinemas?

They rent the film. The distribution company owns it and sends copies to the various theatres. The reason the studio encourages first-weekend viewing as much as they do is that the theatre sends most of the revenue back. It's something like 90% of first-weekend take which goes back to the distribution company. (Which is technically distinct from the studio.) The amount sent back decreases in percentage as the film stays in theatres longer. At least, that's how it works now.


Hopefully not, but it also leaves room for a sequel if they can come up with a good enough script.

Gods, I hope not. Not every story needs a sequel.

Van Rijn
2010-Sep-03, 08:20 PM
Yes, and for me that was the ruin of a film that had been impressive up till then.

It depresses me how many authors, film makers and so on seem to think it's original and clever to end a book or film on an ambiguous (or otherwise inconclusive) note. When someone deliberately opts for a lazy ending, it renders it pointless to try and work out what was really going on.


Yes, I had a similar feeling. I'm tired of the "Was it all a dream?" cliche. I was hoping they would take the high road and unambiguously resolve it. Oh, well.

kevin1981
2010-Sep-03, 09:47 PM
They rent the film. The distribution company owns it and sends copies to the various theatres. The reason the studio encourages first-weekend viewing as much as they do is that the theatre sends most of the revenue back. It's something like 90% of first-weekend take which goes back to the distribution company. (Which is technically distinct from the studio.) The amount sent back decreases in percentage as the film stays in theatres longer. At least, that's how it works now.

So the cinema company's send back around 90% of the money made from people paying to see the movie after the first weekend or two. I would imagine this is because the cinema company's want to get the cost of renting it over and done with as quick as possible.



Gods, I hope not. Not every story needs a sequel.

I completely agree, it should be well left alone. I was just putting it out there as it is a possibility.

Gillianren
2010-Sep-03, 09:54 PM
So the cinema company's send back around 90% of the money made from people paying to see the movie after the first weekend or two. I would imagine this is because the cinema company's want to get the cost of renting it over and done with as quick as possible.

The theatre owner doesn't get a say. In fact, because there's no set price on a rental, the theatre owner would almost certainly rather pay a flat percentage, because if a movie only stays in the theatre one weekend, it might as well be costing them money, given their expenses versus their income from, say, Delgo. The fact is, the distribution companies know that the longer a film is in a theatre, the fewer people see it [eta--per screening]. The theatre may be making a higher percentage, but it's of less money.


I completely agree, it should be well left alone. I was just putting it out there as it is a possibility.

It shouldn't be one. However, people don't get the idea of self-contained stories; they all want to know "what happens next." Alas, the studios have been known to take a bad sequel idea and run with it on the grounds that people will pay to see a sequel of a movie they liked regardless of whether the sequel is actually a good movie or not.

EDG
2010-Sep-03, 11:27 PM
I think the point is that it doesn't matter if it's still a dream or not. Cobb doesn't care any more - all that matters to him is that he's back home, he's seeing his kids again (which some have argued may actually be his original totem, before he took Mal's as his own), he's resolved his hangups about Mal, and his story is done.

Personally, I think they're out of the dream at the end, and the top was about to fall over (it sounded like it was too). There was a point where I considered that the whole exercise may have actually been about bringing Cobb out of his own Limbo, rather than doing the mission with Fischer, but I don't think that's true.

Either way, I think it's a brilliant film.

Glom
2011-Sep-11, 07:14 PM
The "it was all a dream" interpretation is so abominable that I won't even entertain it. The interpretation given above that the whole thing was a psychiatric treatment is pulled from thin ether and is not worth entertaining. The whole heist plot must have been real or we have nothing to care about. If he wasn't awake at the end, well he'll wake up at some point even if a little dazed. He'll need to stow his PTV and tray table.

The real point about the ending though, the bit where he no longer cares enough to check is actually a bit sad. It possibly suggests he's going down the same road as Mal (why does this French woman have a name that means bad?).

The bit I wasn't clear on is who's kicking who? Does a kick pull you up from a level below or push you up to the level above? The idea was to wake someone up by giving them the kick. So why the need to topple the tower in the mountain scene? They thought that was supposed to be the bottom level. And why the need to jump off the balcony in limbo? What woke them up properly? The pilot of the 747 a bit frisky with the controls?

And why is the fourth level automatically limbo?

Still, excellent movie despite these niggles.

Gillianren
2011-Sep-11, 07:25 PM
A kick pulls you up; a kick from the first level wakes you up.

And I disagree that it "must have been real or we have nothing to care about." We care about the characters. Even if it was all a dream, something I don't necessarily believe, it was real to them. After all, any way you look at it, it was just a movie. We care about what was happening to the extent that we do because we are interested in the characters. If it's real in the movie's version of reality isn't important; the reality could just be down another level.

When I was in high school, I had an English teacher who absolutely refused to accept stories turned in for credit where it was all a dream. Because, yes, this is usually a cheat. It's usually because the author doesn't know how to end the story. In this case, I felt the whole movie was about the nature of reality, and we can never truly know. It's a comment on "brains in jars," I think. I am of the school that the ambiguous ending is the only possible one, because it ultimately doesn't matter to Cobb if it's a dream or not. He is at peace with himself for the first time in the entire story, and that's more important. (This is on the list of reasons I am so opposed to the very idea of a sequel.) Is it better to be in the "real world" and miserable or in a dream and happy?

Paul Beardsley
2011-Sep-11, 07:46 PM
Hmm. I'm very wary of "it doesn't matter if it was a dream or reality because it forced us to question the nature of reality" type arguments, even if yours, Gillian, are better than most. You know (and, I think, share) my hatred of The Wizard of Oz film for its gratuitous addition of a dream framework.

But I've just read over this thread and feel I better stop before I inadvertently repeat myself (again).

SkepticJ
2011-Sep-11, 07:57 PM
Is it better to be in the "real world" and miserable or in a dream and happy?

Depends on your values. Would you rather be happy, or believe a lie?

From a Darwinian perspective, living in a dream world would have negative survival advantage. How are you raising real children?

HenrikOlsen
2011-Sep-11, 09:06 PM
From a Darwinian perspective, living in a dream world would have negative survival advantage. How are you raising real children?
Why should you care for evolution? Evolution doesn't care for you.

Gillianren
2011-Sep-11, 09:27 PM
Hmm. I'm very wary of "it doesn't matter if it was a dream or reality because it forced us to question the nature of reality" type arguments, even if yours, Gillian, are better than most. You know (and, I think, share) my hatred of The Wizard of Oz film for its gratuitous addition of a dream framework.

Definitely share. Of course, part of the problem there is that The Wizard of Oz in its original form has nothing to do with dreams whatsoever. Inception is about dreams and reality; The Wizard of Oz is about a girl facing dangers in the flesh. I think one of the real issues involved here is the nature of the story. The reason "it's just a dream" is so often a cheat is that there's nothing in the story going in which would make that a reasonable ending. (I suppose it could be argued that Dorothy clearly hits her head and gets knocked out toward the beginning, but that's not enough.) In a story where we know that various of the characters spend at least part of the story in a dream--and others are completely created by the dream!--we are already poised for the copout ending. Which may make it not a copout. Or something.

And Paul, I value your contributions even when you are repeating yourself.

Van Rijn
2011-Sep-11, 10:46 PM
And I disagree that it "must have been real or we have nothing to care about." We care about the characters. Even if it was all a dream, something I don't necessarily believe, it was real to them.


Real to who?

The shared dreams, "kick" mechanism and all the story around that is implausible. The easiest solution is that everything in the movie, from beginning to end, is one person's dream or hallucination, so these are all dream characters. That includes the dreamer: We can't be sure who they were, or what they are supposed to be like outside the dream.

For me to empathize with the characters, I need to believe in them, at least a little bit. For a story like this, my acceptance is a fragile thing in the first place, and the ambiguity completely breaks it for me. Without the ambiguity, if the dreams had been clearly defined for story purposes, I could buy into it. With the ambiguity, it all falls apart for me. Of course, that's a subjective thing - what doesn't work for me might work for someone else.

Gillianren
2011-Sep-11, 11:40 PM
Why would there be a resolution if it's all someone's dream anyway? It could be that's where the Dreamer (Christopher Nolan himself?) woke up.

SkepticJ
2011-Sep-12, 12:02 AM
The shared dreams, "kick" mechanism and all the story around that is implausible.

How so? Why couldn't a device be used to link minds? Other than Ghost in the Shell, I think it's the hardest SF film I've seen. Only the oft-repeated "people only use blank percentage of their brains" knocks
the movie's realism down for me. This misconception doesn't have to be true for the movie to work. Our brains as they are are sufficient to construct realistic dream worlds. Heck, you don't see the universe as it truly is, our brains construct our own universes based upon sensory input derived from the real one.

Van Rijn
2011-Sep-12, 12:34 AM
Why would there be a resolution if it's all someone's dream anyway?


There wouldn't be. For me, if it is *ALL* a dream, it's pointless. That is why I didn't like the ambiguity at the end of the movie.

Van Rijn
2011-Sep-12, 12:42 AM
How so? Why couldn't a device be used to link minds?


I didn't mention the device (though obviously, no such device exists). I was talking about the entire process with the very specific rules of how dreams within dreams worked. It is much more plausible that all of that was just what someone dreamed up: No device, no real rules, just a dream.

HenrikOlsen
2011-Sep-12, 01:25 AM
My dreams don't work that way.

SeanF
2011-Sep-12, 02:27 AM
My dreams don't work that way.
Mine don't either. Of course, Leo's character describes how dreams work in the movie, and dreams in the movie don't actually work the way he described them, so...

R.A.F.
2011-Sep-12, 02:43 AM
It depresses me how many authors, film makers and so on seem to think it's original and clever to end a book or film on an ambiguous (or otherwise inconclusive) note. When someone deliberately opts for a lazy ending, it renders it pointless to try and work out what was really going on.

I agree although there are instances where an inconclusive ending is appropriate to the story.


This might not be the best example as there are of course differences between motion pictures and the written word, but the ending of Stephen King's The Mist is completely ambiguous, while the movie made from that novela has an ending that completely ruined the story for me...just a real "downer".

I just like King's ending better even though you don't really know what the outcome is going to be.

SkepticJ
2011-Sep-12, 02:54 AM
Do dreams work a certain way?

I've had fairly realistic dreams (events that could happen, and make rational sense), I've had dreams that make no sense whatsoever and aren't physically possible, and the spectrum between those two ends.

Paul Beardsley
2011-Sep-12, 03:43 AM
This might not be the best example as there are of course differences between motion pictures and the written word, but the ending of Stephen King's The Mist is completely ambiguous, while the movie made from that novela has an ending that completely ruined the story for me...just a real "downer".

I just like King's ending better even though you don't really know what the outcome is going to be.

I wouldn't call the ending of "The Mist" (the novella) ambiguous - I'd call it open-ended, ie you don't know what's going to happen next.

Ambiguous means there's more than one possible interpretation as to what happened or why it happened. I actually quite like ambiguous motivation - "Did the villain kill himself to avoid prison, or was it a change of heart and he knew it was the only way to save everybody else?" But I don't think films should leave you wondering what happened - that's just lack of clarity.

Glom
2011-Sep-12, 06:44 AM
Why would there be a resolution if it's all someone's dream anyway? It could be that's where the Dreamer (Christopher Nolan himself?) woke up.

Covered in vomit and a suspicious white powder.

Dreams are all too often used as an excuse for solipsism. Make everything really, really weird and trick dumb, pretensious, arty types to think it's just so deep.

Fortunately, that doesn't happen here.

parallaxicality
2011-Sep-12, 08:26 AM
There wouldn't be. For me, if it is *ALL* a dream, it's pointless. That is why I didn't like the ambiguity at the end of the movie.

You must have hated The Usual Suspects.

I like ambiguity between dreams and reality. I don't find lack of reality pointless, because movies themselves aren't real, and I don't feel very attached to reality anyway. Who's to say you don't see everybody as walking toasters, and toasters as people?

Paul Beardsley
2011-Sep-12, 08:48 AM
I don't find lack of reality pointless, because movies themselves aren't real

Real or not, it is reasonable for audiences to expect a satisfying resolution. If, 80 minutes in, the protagonist found himself in deep peril, and then he suddenly turned to the camera and said, "Ha! I'm not in any real danger at all - I'm just an actor!" then audiences would be justifiably angry.

Of course, this sort of thing has been done in comedies - The Young Ones, an advert starring John Cleese, and (sort of) in Moonlighting and The Simpsons - but even then it has to be done with some care, and not overused.

Also, it's this very fact that "movies aren't real" that made the dream frame of The Wizard of Oz so unnecessary.

Jim
2011-Sep-12, 11:54 AM
... Ambiguous means there's more than one possible interpretation as to what happened ... But I don't think films should leave you wondering what happened - that's just lack of clarity.

Sometimes the artsy ambiguous ending comes across (to me, anyway) as a cop out. "Well, we could end it this way. Or that way. Or maybe some other way. Oh, I don't know how we should end it. Let's let the audience decide."

Gillianren
2011-Sep-12, 04:15 PM
Also, it's this very fact that "movies aren't real" that made the dream frame of The Wizard of Oz so unnecessary.

Again, that's only part of the issue. The only reason I bring up "movies aren't real" is in response to the demand that what happens within the movie be real. We're already experiencing fiction, and that it really happen to fictional characters seems to me to be missing a step. Anyone who knows me knows that I am perfectly capable of getting emotional invested in fictional characters, and the closest I came to hitting my mother after I got my manic rages under control was when she came upon me sobbing at the end of the final episode of Quantum Leap and said, "It's only a TV show." That was a cheat. It ignored a lot of character development and continuity which showed that, at bare minimum, the character would have been inclined to say goodbye to his loved ones. Since getting in touch with his family was practically the first thing he did, even when he couldn't admit to who he was.

I would say the main reason that the end of the 1939 Wizard of Oz is unnecessary is that there's no in-story reason for the change. I've seen changed endings where I was actually okay with it, because there was some failing in the book ending. (I hated the ending of Hannibal, for example, a thing my best friend and I have been arguing about for years.) There is none in The Wizard of Oz, and in fact the book ending has more poignancy and emotional impact, even though both have happy endings. The movie went with a cheap ploy it didn't need to that came completely out of left field. It's the only "classic" movie I actually want to see remade, because I'd like to see someone get it right.

As for Inception, it isn't only that it's a movie and movies aren't real, though I've explained why I throw that into the argument. It's that it's a movie about dreams. Now, you can argue how well it portrays dreams; I reviewed Living in Oblivion the other day, which required the same discussion. For the record, it's not unlike my dreams in some ways, except the dreams in Living in Oblivion are closer by nature of being . . . smaller. My dreams do not have the same scope as the "architecture" of Inception. Often, it's just one or two other people with me in a room.

R.A.F.
2011-Sep-12, 05:21 PM
I missed the nuance of the dream aspect of Inception...which kind of makes my previous post, pointless. :)