Inception: Explanation of the ending scene

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Year 2010: Christopher Nolan new film, Inception, is released. The sci-fi thriller fascinated cinema fans just as much as it confused them. As if the plot wasn’t complex enough, the last scene left audiences wondering about its meaning. You know what I’m talking about, Leonardo DiCaprio’s character, Cobb, finally arrives back home after successfully carrying out his job. There he spins his top for one last time, but immediately leaves to see his children while the top is still spinning. When it seems that it’s about to topple, the ending credits roll causing a huge debate about whether Cobb is still in a dream or is indeed in reality. Although Christopher Nolan stated that the significance of the last scene is that Cobb doesn’t stay to check if the top topples because he has finally reached the reality he chose, the debate still lingers. Well the truth is that Cobb is most certainly in reality and here’s why:

1. The wedding ring

If you pay close attention to Cobb’s left hand throughout the entire movie you will notice that every time he enters a dream he is wearing his wedding ring, but when he wakes up and is back in reality he doesn’t. Probably this is because Mal exists in his dreams and so he is still married to her. After he wakes up in the aeroplane, he doesn’t wear his ring. This can be noticed both in the airport when he is handing his papers and in the last scene when he’s with his children. This means that he either is in reality at the end or he is in a dream in all the other scenes he appears to be in reality. In other words, if Cobb isn’t in reality at the end, then the whole film is a dream.

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2. The spinning top

Although we never see the top falling, it is pretty clear that its spinning is quite ‘real’. Instead of the perfect spinning observed in the dream world, the top in the last scene is unsteady and even wobbles just a second before the ending credits roll. This would not happen in a dream.

3. Christopher Nolan’s direction

Christopher Nolan is a director who likes to give away small hints for his audience. He did it again in Memento and The Prestige, although I’m not gonna comment on these movies so not to spoil anything. The point is, they also contain confusing parts which can be explained by small details in some scenes. Now the only way Cobb is not in reality at the end of the film is the entire movie being a dream. In such a case, not only would it be impossible to prove either theory, but it would make Nolan’s small hints useless. One could argue that it would make the whole plot useless. I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that such a plot would contradict Nolan’s style and direction.

4. The children’s age

For all those who believed that at the end Cobb is still dreaming, I understand that you may have not been convinced by the first three points because you still have an ace up your sleeve: the children at the end are the same as the children before Cobb left. This is definitely the no.1 argument for the dream theory. The children at the end are exactly the same with the same clothes whereas if Cobb was in reality the children would be older. Well, this is actually wrong. The children are not the same, they are indeed older  in the last scene and this can be seen in the credits.

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There are two different pairs of children in the screenplay. The pair Cobb sees in his dreams is 3-year-old Philippa and 20-month-old James whereas at the end, the children are older by two years (the time Cobb spent outside the US) and are played by different actors. Even their clothes are slightly different (Philippa wears a white shirt inside her dress and James wears shoes instead of sandals).

So, it is pretty clear that Nolan intended for Cobb to be in reality by the film’s end. Anyway Cobb could have stayed in limbo where he could have both his wife and his children if he wanted. You can still argue of course that the film is fantasy and rules mean nothing at all, but if so I can’t do anything about it. In any case the point of the film is that reality is subjective and that we have to chase the reality we believe in. As Christopher Nolan himself put it in a speech in Princeton University:

“In the great tradition of these speeches, generally someone says something along the lines of ‘Chase your dreams’ but I don’t want to tell you that because I don’t believe that. I want you to chase your reality.”

Review: Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

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I’m not into commercial blockbusters at all. I feel that films created with money as their sole purpose do not deserve my attention as they completely miss the point of the art of filmmaking. I haven’t seen a single Transformers film nor any Marvel film since the very first Avengers film in 2012. Having said that, I have always been fond of the Pirates of the Caribbean for some reason. I enjoyed all the first four films (yes, even the fourth one I thought was quite entertaining) and even if I ignored titles like The Fate of the FuriousWonder Woman and Beauty and the Beast without even watching a trailer, I was very enthusiastic about the latest Pirates film. Sadly, I was in for a big disappointment. By far the worst installment of the franchise is a big mess.

The story revolves around the legendary Poseidon’s Trident and the efforts of the main characters to find it and use it to break the curses of the seven seas. Johnny Depp reprises his role as Captain Jack Sparrow along with a few more returning characters like Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) and Will Turner (Orlando Bloom). Jack Sparrow faces a new threat when Salazar (Javier Bardem), the captain of a crew of dead, gets released from his curse and comes to haunt the man that caused his doom. Jack’s only hope is finding the Trident that can make Salazar mortal again. In this search he is joined by Will Turner’s son, Henry (Brenton Thwaites) and a highly intelligent girl named Carina (Kaya Scodelario) who both seek the Trident for their own different reasons.

One of the major disappointments concerns one of the most important aspects that made the films so popular, Jack Sparrow. Yes, Jack seemed like a dumb, careless man that is usually busy drinking, but at times he would show why he became such a legendary pirate. Not this time though. His only purpose is to try to make the audience laugh by acting silly with no avail most of the time. It’s not that Johnny Depp’s acting is bad, but it feels that even he himself is tired of this overused character, especially now that he appears more useless than ever. The rest of the cast is average. Rush and Bardem do a good job, but they don’t seem to have much to work with.

Then, we have the script which may be good for a 13-year old fan boy, but dumb for any self-respected cinephile. Apart from the part when Salazar recounts his first encounter with Sparrow, the story is shallow and completely devoid of any meaning. It doesn’t even try to be original, but rather recycles material from the original trilogy. I cannot know why the Rønning – Sandberg duo was chosen to direct this fifth installment, but they definitely failed to make the film live up to its expectations (which were not that high after On Stranger Tides). The film has some good points, the cinematographer did a good job and the special effects are great. Overall though, it’s just another pointless blockbuster especially when you think of the potential it seemed to have with Johnny Depp in one of his most renowned roles and Oscar winners Rush and Bardem in major roles. The franchise delivered some great moments, but even though this is not a befitting end, I really hope that the creators won’t release a sixth film.

3/10