Hello and welcome to In Too Deep, where I over-analyse a certain section of pop culture.
What with The Dark Knight Rises coming out this year, I decided to instead go back and look at the film that preceded it. Inception. While I don’t think it’s the greatest film ever made and there are definitely flaws with it, there are far worst movies out there. And with all good movies, a whole stew of fan theories sprung up about this or that. So I’ve decided to talk about my favourite six. Without any further ado:
6)It’s all just a dream & 5)It’s in the real world: Now these are the two most common theories thrown about on the internet, subject to much debate. Is Inception set in a dream world or the real world? There’s argument either way. For example, there are parts of the film that don’t make sense. The chase scene with Dom and the agents for example. The somewhat sketchy continuity, Cobb’s father telling him to ‘come back to reality’. On the flip side it could all be set in the real world. Cobb only wears his wedding ring in the dreams, his children are wearing different clothes at the end of the film, the top looking like it’s about to fall over. There have been essays written about this, so I won’t elaborate here. But this does lead into my personal favourite theory:
(Although on a side note, I find it interesting to see which way people fall. The idea of it being the real world is the ‘happy’ ending so to speak, so it speaks volumes of a person depending on whether they want it to be a happy ending or not. Optimist see it as the ‘happily ever after’, pessimists see it as ‘it’s all pointless cos it’s a dream’. It’d be interesting to see which side of the fence people sit on).
4)Everything prior to the last plane scene is a dream: Let me elaborate. Cobb was just an ordinary man who lost his wife in a tragic accident. He boards a plane in Hong Kong to fly back to America to see his children. On this long flight he falls asleep and dreams up Inception. As in everything that happens in the story. All the characters in the film really are just people on the same plane that have no connection to him. It explains away both how things can be a dream and be in the real world. It explains why dreaming technology isn’t that well-known. It explains how all charges against him were cleared with one phone call. None of it happened like we see it happen. He just created the entire dream to subconsciously deal with the loss of his wife. Inception: all just a dream till the very end.
3)Ariadne is Mal: But lets assume that Mal was right and that everything is just a dream. A dream inside their shared collective. Theoretically Mal is currently sitting in the real world waiting for her husband to wake up. But surely she must know that Cobb is emotionally struggling about it and will be just as damaged as she was when he wakes up. So to prevent it, she goes back into the dream-scape that Cobb is in. But goes back under in a new guise: Ariadne. You’ll notice that a lot of what she does in the film is convince Cobb to get over Mal and move on with his life. Perhaps this is Mal telling Cobb to stop moping over her and enjoy the dream, since she’s just going to see him soon anyway. So perhaps Ariadne isn’t too worried about the mission, more about getting Cobb to move on with his imaginary life.
2)Metaphor for Film-making: Okay this one is almost technically canon since Christopher Nolan himself confirmed this. But basically Inception and the characters within it can be seen as metaphors for the various roles that go into making a film.
(Note I stole it from here: http://www.pajiba.com/seriously_random_lists/mindhole-blowers-20-facts-about-inception-that-i-may-or-may-not-have-dreamt.php & the TV Tropes WMG page for Inception)
Cobb is the director: “I have the idea. I have great ideas because I had a great mentor (Michael Caine). I also have issues because all great stories have strife to overcome(Mal).”
Arthur is the producer: “I figure out the details. And the director keeps throwing entirely new shit at me in the middle of production!”
Aridane is the production designer: “I build the set. The tech guy (Yusuf) provides the materials and tools, but I put the set together. And it keeps getting trashed!â€
Eames is the actor: “I play the role. And I can only play it right if the director tells me what I’m supposed to be!”
Saito is the studio: “I pay for all of this. I paid a lot for all of this. The audience better buy it.”
Fischer is the audience: “I watch the movie. Convince me it means something significant and I’ll buy it.”
So it can easily be seen as one big metaphor for movie making.
1)Alternate Universe Travel: Perhaps the most craziest theory of them all, the idea that Inception isn’t about dreaming in the slightest. No instead it involves complex metaphysical ideas about the existence of the universe, the multiverse and the multi-universe. Basically the theory I’ve proposed and yet to see who had it first is that the multi-universe is comprised by a set of universes all existing within the same space. As such multi-dimensional travel isn’t so much that as it is travelling across the span of one universe to get to the other. Super space travel really. Now what if the machine they have does the same thing? Theoretically there must be a universe where the characters exist in the current location having the current thoughts they’re having. All the machine does is allow one to hijack into that body and observe what is going on. They don’t got deeper into levels, they just move further along the bodies. Once their body dies the consciousness gets sent back. Limbo only occurs when the travel between the bodies is too far because a link is missing (think about how you can’t cross a pond if the stepping stones you used have sunk away). So instead of travelling in dreams they’re travelling across multi-dimensional space instead.
So there you have it. Six theories about what Inception could have been about. If you disagree with anything, or have anything to add, feel free to leave a comment. Till next time.