Spoiler Alert! If you have not seen Inception, STOP READING NOW.
It’s a VERY good movie, and worth seeing first. Many people want to watch it 2 or 3 times to get their own interpretations down, but everyone usually goes googlin’ to try to sort through the craziness that is Nolan’s film making.
Alright, if you haven’t seen it yet, I warned you!
The reality is:
-they get on the plane, go like 4 layers deep (van, hotel, ice place, subconscious labyrinth that’s hard to get out of)
– Leo goes into the deepest level searching for Ken Watanabe’s character
– He comes out successfully with Watanabe, and life is beautiful. He is back in reality, legally able to stay in the states with his kids. Movie ends.
-The whole thing from frame one is Leo’s subconscious labyrinth, because he went crazy/whatever after basically being responsible for planting the seed that killed his wife.
– Caine’s character says something to leo, like “Come back to reality”, which is extremely odd, and almost everyone notices its oddness.
– Also, in the sedative guy’s lab where he has a dozen people linked together, the old man says when they wake up, “You of all people should know”.
Interpretation three (new one for me):
This is a cross between them:
– Everything is real up to when he goes in after Watanabe in the labyrinth.
– He never gets out of the labyrinth: he “wakes up” (but not really) on the plane, and thinks that he made it out, and since he made it out of what he thought was the labyrinth, he doesn’t question that he might be still in. After all, it’s supposed to be hard to get out of that limbo place, but he and Watanabe get out, just like that?
– But he didn’t! That plane, and the real world he’s going back to, are still just the labyrinth. He’s convinced it is the real world, but it isn’t.
-Ariadne’s character is named after a mythological character that leads Thesius out of the minotaur’s maze. Since Ariadne in the movie fails to lead Leo’s character out, it’s a possible hint that he’s there for good.
– There is no more talking of any characters except between Leo and his Kids.
The awesome thing about the third interpretation is that it doesn’t really matter for his character’s happiness. If he is stuck in his own head, that means he failed, and THAT means Watanabe’s character is a vegetable too, and can’t make that phone call that clears Leo of murder charges. Thus he gets arrested as soon as the plane lands. He would never see his kids again if he did wake up.
One thing I’m going to have to watch the movie AGAIN for is that the spinning top really isn’t his totem at all. It’s his wife’s, as shown by her putting it in the safe. He spins it, so that the next time she opens it, she realizes she’s in her own head. That’s the whole seed at a deep level that made her eventually commit suicide in the real world, because she couldn’t let go that it was really real.
Since it’s said in the movie that if someone else handles your totem, it no longer works, so the top wouldn’t work for Leo. It’s been suggested that Leo’s real totem is his wedding ring. In every scene that’s a dream, he is wearing it. In every scene in the real world, he isn’t. At the end, when he spins the top, he is not wearing the ring, and thus people think that’s the real world after all.
BUT then again, he finally let’s his wife Mal go in his mind, so then the ending, the absence of a wedding ring could just represent the fact that he doesn’t cling to her anymore.
Too much for brain! Brain hurt!
I’ll try to explain my take on The Prestige next. It’s even more convoluted if I have it right, and it’s my firm belief that people don’t see what is actually happening in the film. 🙂
Feel free to chime in here, I’m trying to figure out if I missed anything!
As per this link, director Christopher Nolan endorsed this website’s explanation of the movie’s ending:
Unfortunately, their explanation is pretty much vague: since Leo walks away from the top before seeing if it falls and goes to hold his kids, he doesn’t care if it’s real or not. If he’s with his kids, it simply doesn’t matter. So really, Nolan is making the statement that happiness and reality are relative concepts, and the movie’s ending being definitively one thing or another doesn’t matter.
Damn you Nolan!