A. You’d rather catch a cab and get to the nearest theatre to watch it!
B. The article below contains several spoilers.
C. If you haven’t seen it, it won’t make much sense anyway.
I’ve written over and over on this blog that I’m a great admirer of Christopher Nolan’s latest film ‘Inception’. I wrote that it’s “one of the best sci-fi films I have ever seen. It’s a technical masterpiece, with its brilliant special effects and visuals, and a masterwork of editing and concept. The film is an extraordinary one, and that’s an adjective I use very selectively.”
Those statements of mine are subject to opinion… you may have liked it, you may have hated it. However, you cannot deny the fact that it is one of the most talked about films in recent memory.
People keep explaining their theories, debating them out, and watching and re-watching that film over and over again. “The top keeps spinning,”. “No, it stops. You can hear a toppling sound.” “The part in Mombasa has to be a dream!”. “No, it’s impossible. Someone is ‘incepting’ Cobb himself!”. “Who’s dream are they in during that scene?”. “Isn’t that kick thing wrong at the climax?”… It’s a film so mesmerizing and so high-concept, it’ll be debated over and restudied for years to come.
Did Cobb’s totem, the top, really fall over? Yes, some say. It is said you can hear the sound of the top topple as the screen cuts to black at the end. I’ve caught the film thrice on the big screen, but I’m quite sure I heard no such sound. Some others say that the top does keep spinning. Sure, it wobbles a bit, but it keeps spinning, they say.
And then they question; “How come the children are wearing the same clothes? How come they haven’t aged? It’s obviously a dream!” (To these claims, I say, “The girl is wearing slightly different clothes, and there are two pairs of children listed in the cast of the film, implying the children are supposed to have appeared older in the last shots).
An English teacher of mine, another huge fan of the film, told me she heard there was an after-credits scene in which the top confusion would probably be resolved. I waited for seven minutes after the screen cut to black… nothing; no after-credits scene.
Since the film takes place in the world of dreams and involves characters going layers and layers in and out of labyrinthine dreams, you can never be too sure about any theories. There’s limitless possibilities. The whole thing might be a dream, just the scenes after Cobb’s sedation test with Yusuf might be dreams, Cobb might still be in limbo, the whole thing might be reality. You never know, do you? That’s the special thing about Nolan’s films… while other blockbusters tend to over-explain their ideas, Nolan literally ‘incepts’ the audience. And, like they say in the film, an idea can grow, and it can grow differently in different individuals
I’d like to believe Cobb’s awake and very well in the real world. But then again, that’s what I’d like to believe. I’m not too sure. And contrary to my initial beliefs, repeat viewings only opened up new ideas; they didn’t resolve my confusions. Perhaps that’s what Nolan had in mind when he littered the film with a plethora of plot possibilities.
Apart from trying to figure out the ‘absolute’ meaning of the film (it’s likely there isn’t one), the online community is scrutinizing and dissecting the film and publishing lists of ‘Inception Goofs and Plot Holes’. Having read quite a few pages claiming to find mistakes in the film, I find that most of these pages are mistakes themselves. Some of the so-called mistakes are ridiculously identified. Some find that Saito being so old in Limbo, while Cobb is so young, is a goof. Some claim that Fischer not recognizing Saito is a goof. These are NOT goofs, and I don’t think I’m going to take the trouble to explain why.
On Facebook, I came across an application: ‘The Ten Stupid Mistakes of Inception.’ I was expecting something a bit juicier than, “In the scene where Yusuf is introduced, a gray cat is seen investigating a large jar behind him. In subsequent shots the cat both disappears and reappears.” All ten of those goofs were petty continuity errors and the like. All movies have continuity errors, so that was a very redundant list.
Okay, I’ve ranted enough. Let’s get to what I’m writing this article for. I’m surprised that after going through hundreds of thousands of words on ‘Inception’, I didn’t find much about the key plot holes I found in the film.
While I realized most of the plot holes I had identified weren’t real plot holes over the second and third viewings of the film, these plot holes have remained through repeat viewings:
In the movie, time in the dream world is faster than time in the real world because the mind works and processes information faster in the dream state. Fair enough. But if you go four layers deep, how fast must your mind be working?! Your mind works twenty times faster when you’re dreaming because it works at its full capacity when asleep. But if you dream in the dream, how can your mind work any faster? I find it illogical that a mind works faster and faster, and that too at a fixed constant ratio, as you go further and further into dream levels. Your brain’s capacity is not limitless. Can the brain work at a higher capacity than its full capacity?
That’s a small goof, compared to what follows.
This is the goof-up that shocked me the most, simply because I did not find it discussed anywhere online, and I think it’s pretty major. Of course, I could be terribly wrong about this. If I am, please comment, and I will happily stand corrected. Or at least I’ll appear so.
The Biggest Plot Hole:
In the beginning of the film (Cobb and Arthur’s first operation: to steal those ideas from Saito), we are informed that if the sleeping body gets the kick (either pushed into water or made to sense to fall), the person wakes up. Later on, while testing the sedative on Arthur, they show us that pushing Arthur’s chair (the one on which he’s asleep) causes him to fall and hence wakes him up from the dream.
But the climax of the film just changes everything.
In the fourth level, Limbo, Ariadne jumps off the building… she gets kicked by the fall, only to wake up in the third level, the snowy mountain fortress. Then the fortress floor breaks down, kicking her into the hotel level, where she’s in the lift. The lift crashes upwards, creating the sensation of falling in the lift, hence kicking them into the previous level, the rainy downtown area, where the van finally falls into the water.
That’s the goof right there. All this while, we’ve been told that the sleeping body is kicked, or made to fall, to wake the dreamer up. But in that sequence at the climax, the PERSON IN THE DREAM is made to fall to wake up, not the sleeping body! Illustrative example: In the beginning of the movie, Cobb is in a dream. The sleeping Cobb gets pushed into a tub of water to get the kick and wake up. Here, the SLEEPING BODY gets the kick. Whereas, in the climax, Ariadne, who is in the dream (limbo), jumps off the building. The SLEEPING Ariadne isn’t getting the kick here, but rather her dreaming self. Get it?
According to me, that sequence at the climax should’ve worked out this way:
Ariadne is in Limbo. The floor of the fortress breaks, waking her up from Limbo. Then the hotel lift crashes, waking her up from the fortress. And then, the van crashes into the water, waking her up from the hotel level.
I hope I was clear, as this stuff isn’t too easy to get across clearly.
But even goof-up like that doesn’t stop me from thinking this film was just brilliant. Even if you have problems with the fact that the main characters have no morals (c’mon, they’re tampering with people’s minds here), or that they have no motives (Why exactly are Arthur, Eames and Ariadne doing this?), or that the plot is too labyrinthine in nature, you’ve gotta admire the scope of the plot, the visuals and the concept. I sure did. Regardless of whether the top keeps spinning.
To read my article ‘On ‘INCEPTION’, and IMDB’s Top 250 List Being Total Crap’, click here.
To read my article on other great films about dreams, click here.
To view a trailer I made for the film, modeled after the films of the 50’s, click here.
– Cinematic Jackass, signing off! 😀