Originally Posted by U2Fan101
After nine viewings of the film, endless discussions with friends and families and members of Nolanfans.com, I have finally formulated a response to the film and all the questions that it initially drew, and has drawn from these endless debates.
The basic and simple debate is whether the ending was real or the ending was a dream. Arguments can be made on both sides ranging anywhere from the spinning top, to Cobb’s children, to the ring and many other ‘facts’ or ‘proofs’. One thing is certain that we all can agree on: the answer isn’t clear in the final scene, though may lean towards one answer depending on the facts or proofs you use.
Other great and amazing discussions have been raised about the whole movie being a dream, whose dream are we really in during the third stage, did Miles have Ariadne do inception on Cobb. It’s also led to consistency questions such as depending on whose dream we are in for the third stage (which by the way it's Eames' dream with Fischer's subconscious - you can be in someone's dream but have someone else as the subject/subconscious, it's why the dream collapsed at the beginning of the film - they were in Arthur's mind. When he died the dream collapsed), why would the projections be attacking one person, or not be attacking one person, and confusion with the kicks, and Saito’s limbo.
And there is also the idea that Nolan was doing inception on the audience, as he was trying to plant an idea into our heads.
I think one thing can be for sure – there is a correlation between the film and inception being done on the viewers. Cobb says to Ariadne, “There’s one thing you should know about me, and know about inception: an idea is like a virus, it is highly contagious. It can grow to define you or grow to destroy you.”
There are two lines in the film that are said that I view are very strong. Both are said by Eames. “If we are gonna perform inception, we need imagination.” The second line (paraphrased), “How about ‘my father didn’t want me to follow him in his footsteps but to create for myself’.”
These play very important lines that support my idea of Nolan attempting to perform inception on the audience. The idea that he wanted to plant was the film itself. Cobb says that ideas are contagious and grow, while Eames states that in order to do inception, you need imagination and not to follow but to create for yourself.
In order for the team to succeed at inception with Fischer, he needed to have imagination, which like every other human, he does. The idea that was planted was the cathartic notion of Maurice Fischer didn’t want his son to follow in his steps, but rather live his own life the way he wanted. That idea would grow and change differently for Robert, than if the inception happened to someone else. Robert will respond differently to that idea than someone else, is basically what I’m saying. It’ll have the same result – dissolve the corporation, but the creativity and emotional aspect will be different from person to person.
In order for Nolan to complete inception, the audience needs to have imagination, and every one of us does. And the brilliant thing about imaginations is that no two are exactly alike, because an idea, even planted by someone else, will grow and create into something uniquely different from each and every other person.
That being said, I do not believe there is a clear answer to the simple question of whether Cobb was in reality or in a dream at the end of the film. Nor do I feel that Nolan had an answer to the other questions regarding Ariadne performing inception on Cobb, and the other multitude of questions that Inception has raised.
Inception was performed on us: plant the story and idea of the film in our minds. The audience has imagination, and Nolan wants us to use that imagination to create our own formulation of Inception. Whatever our opinions are based on our imagination and creativity to the questions for the film, we all arrive at the same point –
Inception is a film that makes you think, and that allows the audience to be individuals with their imaginations and create for themselves. Whether you think the end was real, or the end was a dream, or Ariadne performed inception on Cobb, every one of those answers are right because we are thinking them with our imagination.
To successfully pull off inception, you need imagination.