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Analysis of the ending[edit]

Can we add this theory :

Sorry, it is a french text, but can be easily translated. Marouane Mazid explains how he has found the answer. To sum up the video, during a dream the Cobb's left hand is often hidden. In reality not, his left hand is always in he field of view. During a dream, in few time we can see that Cobb has his wedding ring on his left hand. During reality, we can see that he has not any ring. So, at the end he has not his wedding ring, he is in the reality. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:08, 3 January 2014 (UTC)

It would probably [sarcasm] be better, as it "can be easily translated", if you translate it and then present it with your argument for its inclusion in the article. — | Gareth Griffith-Jones |The WelshBuzzard| — 22:42, 3 January 2014 (UTC)
The source is actually a YouTube video. Is there any indication that it's reliably published? Who uploaded it? An individual? Яehevkor 23:12, 3 January 2014 (UTC)
There are a lot of speculation on the ending and on other, it would be better to add a section about the speculation about the movie, but this could be a theory, you are welcome to write in English an abstract of the French article, or you could translate the French section on the ending, that could be a start.-- (talk) 19:09, 19 August 2014 (UTC)

Other aspect: Now, the article states: "Cobb spins a top – a totem, which will determine if he is dreaming or awake – but decides to ignore the outcome and greets his family." As I understood the movie, the tolling of the top by no means determines anything at all. Anyone's totem is just an object of which the presence allows recognizing the state one is in. At the end of the movie, Cobb no longer carrying the top with him but instead leaving it unattended on the table, is then merely a sign that he has accepted reality and does no longer intend to go back into shared dream states to 'meet' his deceased wife. The top has been seen spinning at several occasions, and as also apart from this movie a tolling top is a symbol of something evolving, continuing, contrarily to some fixed moment or state. As such, together with the happy sounds at the end of the movie it may be a visual "And they lived happily ever after". Cobb's mourning and suffering by feelings of guilt are over, and life goes on. I see no indication or suggestion in the movie, that Cobb would then not be in 'real' reality and might only choose to stay in his (then possibly dreamed) 'reality'. The spinning top has no "outcome" to a such effect. Unless there would be a declaration about the meaning by e.g. Nolan, and until a sequel might allow that 'uncertainty' interpretation, this last sentence of the chapter 'Plot' should be modified; I think it is unsourced and wrong.
▲ SomeHuman 2015-08-12 12:00-12:23 (UTC)

My understanding is that you're incorrect here; do you have any reliable sources to support your understanding? I believe the totems are used as "reality detectors", and in Cobb's case, whether or not the top continues to spin is the indicator of whether he's dreaming or not, not the simple fact of its presence. DonIago (talk) 12:30, 12 August 2015 (UTC)
I'm afraid you will have to give any kind of 'source' or at least a sequence in the movie, that the spinning would serve as an indicator. In the movie, the mere presence of the object allows recognizing the current aspect of the dream state one is in: one's very own or one suggested by a sharing dreamer - because sharers can not suggest the to them unknown object to appear (and it does not matter whether it spins or in what direction it might fall, or so). That's what is explained to Ariadne. Cobb's totem is not different in purpose (and no more complex purpose or extra meaning of it is sourced) from the one Ariadne then chooses: a chess pawn that can not spin and that she correctly refuses to show Cobb when he asks her, as a test.
• Cobb: "Think Ariadne, how did we get here?" As Ariadne had already noticed, in a dream, one arrives somewhere without a clear continuation. That's the way of knowing whether one is dreaming, or awake. No totem needed, and Ariadne learned this before she was told about a totem.
• Cobb: "Remember, you are the dreamer, you build this world. I am the subject, my mind populates it." Later, Arthur: "So, a totem, its a small object, potentially heavy, something you have on you all the time, that no-one else knows." A totem only serves one inside a dream to determine whether oneself is controlling the dream's then and there. It does not serve at all while one is awake. It may appear in a dream as well as in reality (and does both in the movie).
In fact, with a gun in hand by his right temple, Cobb starts spinning the top considering suicide and watches it until it falls and then, staring at the tumbled top, slowly starts putting the gun down a second before a phone call from his children - all truly awake.
▲ SomeHuman 2015-08-12 12:42-14:00 (UTC)
If you're going to look at it that way, the burden would be on both of us to provide sources. The above sounds like you're synthesizing to me. If a reliable source cannot be provided, then assuming a clear consensus cannot be reached (and I'd recommend asking at WT:FILM if nobody else chimes in), I would recommend, if you consider this a genuine concern, removing all information regarding the usage of the totems so that we're not presenting potentially inaccurate information. DonIago (talk) 14:08, 12 August 2015 (UTC)
We pretty much have confirmation that the totems are reality detectors, from Nolan himself, if not from the film. I think this is clearly sourced. --MASEM (t) 14:14, 12 August 2015 (UTC)
Something one thinks to be "clearly sourced", is definitely not clearly sourced. Simply stating "Nolan himself" is not a reliable source. In which reference for the article, would such be declared? My quotation of 'Arthur' from the movie itself, at least makes the importance of the totems, plural, clear. And the chosen one by Ariadne proves the spinning to be irrelevant. Furthermore, the appearence of Cobb's totem in 'limbo' (a not awoken state) (with the 'old' Saito) proves a totem not to be a sign of reality either.
▲ SomeHuman 2015-08-12 14:26-14:30 (UTC)
Wired's interview with Nolan. That's authoratative, since Nolan is the principle creator of the work. And it's not that the appearance of the totem is the reality detection, it is how it behaves (with Cobb's top spinning indefinitely in the dream state) - the whole scene in the loft when Cobb explains this to Adiarne about creating her own totem clearly states that being the purpose of the totem. --MASEM (t) 14:34, 12 August 2015 (UTC)
That link does not say anything at all about the purpose of a totem and it does not say that a totem, or Cobb's, needed to spin for any reason. Nolan simply answers a question of how he got the idea for that particular totem, and gives no indication why it had to spin, nor does he say that it had to spin. He only said what we all know: it spinned, and states it to have been really spinning, not have been an effect. Obviously, a top is hardly recognizable unless it spins and Nolan wanted to have it spin long enough for the scenes that needed a totem. An entirely static object would not have kept the viewers' attention, would have been very boring. So it's a good choice. Nothing there about the function (or functioning method) of a totem. And where does Cobb explain "this" to Ariadne? He just told Arthur and her, that she needs a totem, and Arthur tells her what it is - but not directly what it is for, or how it functions. Please give some quote, like I did.
▲ SomeHuman 2015-08-12 14:49-14:58 (UTC)
Per the film, while Arthur is working on his die and explaining this to Adiarne "Nah, I can't let you touch it, that would defeat the purpose. See only I know the balance and weight of this particular loaded die. That way when you look at your totem, you know beyond a doubt you're not in someone else's dream." The totem is a reality detector because it is purposely "off" normal in the real reality and that in a different person's dream it behaves differently (in that , the way one would expect that object to work). That aligns with Nolan's statement about the ending, and the numerous ties that we see Cobb spinning the top (with the purposeful shot of putting the spinning top in the safe in their home in Limbo to help bring Mal out of it). It's pretty clear both from the work and the sources that follow. --MASEM (t) 15:29, 12 August 2015 (UTC)
A very good quote, indeed: "when you look at your totem, you know beyond a doubt you're not in someone else's dream." (my bold). That confirms only my interpretation, else he would have said "not in a dream."
The ending with the top spinning is certainly not meaningless. As with artwork, the interpretation can be as much a matter of the viewer as of the creator: Nolan clearly tried to avoid steering, despite the interviewer's speculation, and with an entire chapter about it in the WP article, the chapter 'Plot' must avoid making a choice. I rephrased the closing sentence, putting the required attention to the scene while avoiding interpretations.
▲ SomeHuman 2015-08-12 15:45 (UTC)
I really think this is pushing a novel interpretation of the film that no one else (in the RSes) share, including Nolan's take. Taking the film without any additional interpretation, a totem behaves as what its everyday counterpart would be like in everyone else's dream (because the dreamer would have no idea how it really behaves), and only as the creator of the totem expects while in the real word and in that person's dream. At the end of the film, Cobb is shown spinning the top to see if he is in someone else's dream (recognizing that he never entered his own dream during the final incpetion), but decides to look away and accept that he is with his children again (per Nolan's statement). I have never seen an interpretation that states that the totem is only present when the person is in RL or their own dream, and Arthur's language implies that the totem of a person can be part of the dream done by another and that the concern is make sure the dream has no idea of the true behavior. --MASEM (t) 16:02, 12 August 2015 (UTC)
I concur with the belief that it's the behavior of the totem that's relevant, not the presence. That said, I don't have any strong objection to the plot summary as it currently reads. DonIago (talk) 16:16, 12 August 2015 (UTC)
On the last change the only thing I'd add is "state of reality" instead of just "state". --MASEM (t) 16:24, 12 August 2015 (UTC)
(I thought this was a good suggestion, so I went ahead and made the change.) --Fru1tbat (talk) 16:36, 12 August 2015 (UTC)
At the contrary, it is the "state of dreaming". Also, how it behaves is not the real determinator.
A person who does not know someone's totem, simply can not make it show up it in the owner's dreams. That's a basic safety. Masem's "purposely 'off' normal" is correct, but not just "in the real reality". The weight and balance (Arthur), heaviness (Ariadne), how hard to spin [for a specific duration and behaviour] (Cobb) is purposefully different from what any person other than the totem's owner would guess if he/she would have seen the object [be or behave] (even in a former shared dream). Thus inside a dream, it will feel to the owner precisely the same way as in reality, if that particular part of the dream is created by the owner. This is also why a totem or a spin could not possibly serve as a 'reality detector'. Someone else controlling the dream, would have to guess without much of a clue, and make it feel differently to the totem owner who shares the dream. And that is what the quote by Masem at 15:29 means.
▲ SomeHuman 2015-08-12 16:54 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────"state of reality" and "state of dreaming" are the same thing. It seems to me the current wording (whichever way you choose to look at it) accomplishes your intent of not making a potentially misleading statement about how the totem works - or do you still disagree with it as written? --Fru1tbat (talk) 16:56, 12 August 2015 (UTC)

Unfortunately, I do. "State of reality" and "state of dreaming" do not reflect the same thing in the movie's concept of shared dreams. Unlike 'state of reality', 'dream state' is correct as well in case the totem determines the kind of a shared dream, as in case it determines whether in a state of either dream or reality. But I too, was not too happy with the vague "state". Also, "which is used to determine" is too much of an assumption at that particular moment: He does not clearly seem to use it (as earlier), though he did start the spinning. It's not easy to keep a general definition for any one's totem, without creating too long a series of sentences. I made it:
"Cobb's small top, a totem for realizing one's dream state, is left spinning on the table while he greets his family in the garden."
I prefer 'realizing', because it goes clearly for "one's", the owner only; 'determining' could serve others (sharing that dream) as well. The new phrase states the general purpose without suggesting its usage in that scene, leaving speculations free.
▲ SomeHuman 2015-08-12 17:37-18:06 (UTC)
I think the previous versions were sufficiently precise, especially for a plot summary. I don't think the passive voice in your version really captures the essence of the scene, though if we must keep it, I much prefer "determining", as the meaning of "realizing" in this context could be considered ambiguous. I think I'm going to mostly exit this debate, though - I'm not sure any of my attempts at finding a compromise wording will be quite what you're looking for. --Fru1tbat (talk) 18:08, 12 August 2015 (UTC)
Previous versions were leading to one of several interpretations. I don't think "realizing" to be more ambiguous, in a way that would make 'determining' more clear. The latter and then changing "one's" to "one's own" in my phrase, might also take care of my relevant concern, thus:
"a totem for determining one's own dream state", but it would not make the sentence more fluent.
▲ SomeHuman 2015-08-12 18:26-18:33 (UTC)
This change is still a problem as it changes the ending as we know Nolan stated about it. The scene is critical in that regardless of how the totem works, he sets the totem spinning, he hears and sees his children (OR-ily, the first time we see the children's faces, an important distinction from all previously versions), and then goes to see them without waiting to see what the totem does. As Nolan states, he wanted to show Cobb not caring if this was the real world or not. The change above removes this concept. It is not just that he sets it down and spins it; there was a purpose for why he spun it and why he walked away before seeing it. --MASEM (t) 18:36, 12 August 2015 (UTC)
You interpret Nolan's interview as much as the movie, in a very personal way. Quotations by Nolan, about the ending scene:
"If I start ruling things out, where do I stop?"
Hence, he does not want to make a positive ruling about how to interpret.
"People who have kids definitely read it differently than people who don’t. Which isn’t the same as saying there’s no answer. Sometimes I think people lose the importance of the way the thing is staged with the spinning top at the end. Because the most important emotional thing is that Cobb’s not looking at it. He doesn’t care."
I simply put "carelessly" before "left spinning".
▲ SomeHuman 2015-08-12 18:55 (UTC)
No, the issue that Nolan didn't want to comment on was whether Cobb was in the real world or a dream state; Cobb chose not to care about its outcome after setting it in motion on seeing his children. That's been the point of debate among fans for years, whether the tiny wobble right before the fade to black is a sign it was going to fall and show this to be a dream still. --MASEM (t) 19:01, 12 August 2015 (UTC)
Exactly, and that's where the newest ending sentence of chapter 'Plot' now keeps it. Discussions about the meaning are mentioned in a separate entire sub chapter, and no interpretation should be reflected in 'Plot'. Nolan did not say that Cobb making the top spin, is important. Nolan did not say that the spinning is important (in fact, rather that it is not). Neither did he say that it would deliver an "outcome", in case it would have been followed longer. He only says Cobb does not care to look at the totem. And that is clearly reflected in my version of the sentence.
▲ SomeHuman 2015-08-12 19:10-21:24 (UTC)
Plot sections can included sourced interpretation if it helps to make the plot clear, and we've got sources for that. Here's another source [1] "The way the end of that film worked, Leonardo DiCaprio's character Cobb — he was off with his kids, he was in his own subjective reality. He didn't really care anymore, and that makes a statement: perhaps, all levels of reality are valid. The camera moves over the spinning top just before it appears to be wobbling, it was cut to black. ... The point is, objectively, it matters to the audience in absolute terms: even though when I'm watching, it's fiction, a sort of virtual reality. But the question of whether that's a dream or whether it's real is the question I've been asked most about any of the films I've made. It matters to people because that's the point about reality. Reality matters." Right now the change you make sounds like there was no purpose to spinning the top, but there was very much a purpose - until the moment he saw his kids, and then, per these comments, Cobb accepted that reality. It is very different from your writing right now. --MASEM (t) 19:37, 12 August 2015 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────I'll just say that I think this version is superior to the current version. Unless SomeHuman has non-primary sources supporting their interpretation of how the totems are used or there are other editors sharing SH's views, I believe we should either revert to the original wording or the version I linked to in my first sentence. DonIago (talk) 19:46, 12 August 2015 (UTC)

A 'Plot' section can only include sourced interpretation, in case that interpretation is not contested. Interpreting this ending most certainly is, in more than one aspect - and not just by me. "That's been the point of debate among fans for years", even Masem admits. So, in case anyone finds his interpretation not clearly enough in the article, put it and (further) sources for it in the separate section about that discussion. The link to it is here above. There is really no point in discussing the final 'Plot' sentence any further here: It can not be more objective. Giving any more weight to that phrase in the 'Plot' section, would do unjustice to the rest of the section and to the rest of the movie.
DonIago, "better" is not an argument at all. I motivated each of my changes. Before altering, you need to find either arguments against my usage of the English language, against the multitude of interpretations (some of which are in the article in that linked sub section, and/or showing that another phrase remains just as objective.
▲ SomeHuman 2015-08-12 20:01 (UTC)
I don't need to provide an argument beyond "better", as in cases of disagreement matters are resolved via WP:CONSENSUS. As the editor with the minority viewpoint, it is at this point incumbent on you to provide sources, not just disagree with three other editors. I will ask you again, explicitly- do you have any non-primary sources that support your interpretation of the usage of the totems, or is this strictly your own interpretation of the film? DonIago (talk) 20:04, 12 August 2015 (UTC)
The point that has been the debate on the ending is not what Cobb is doing with the top, but what the fate of the top's spin, regardless of the fact that our primary character doesn't care anymore. Secondary sources that discuss the ending all seem to question whether the world is a dream or real one, and not Cobb's motivations, and that's aligns with Nolan's stance. As Doniago states, to describe the issue with the ending in a different way requires secondary sources that present that as the interpretation. --MASEM (t) 20:15, 12 August 2015 (UTC)
Please, do not stoop to abusing WP-rules. A "consensus" of merely two (the 3rd having offered an in-between phrase and not having reacted after the newer phrase), is not worth anything for an article with many editors. Moreover, a "consensus" on a talk page does not overrule the WP-rules about balanced weight (within the plot section), nor does it allow an unobjective version. Furthermore, no error in my last phrasing in the article, has been shown, and it contains no original research. I did not attempt to make it state my interpretation, thus not at all to "own" it. The other versions were not sourced at all, and the Nolan interview was shown to have been interpreted by Masem beyond what it states.
▲ SomeHuman 2015-08-12 20:25-20:27 (UTC)
You're welcome to solicit additional opinions if you disagree with the majority viewpoint or consider other forms of dispute resolution; I've already asked for additional editors to chime in at WT:FILM. I see no reason to keep the plot summary to your preferred version while you are the only editor who appears to prefer it. DonIago (talk) 20:39, 12 August 2015 (UTC)
For something left behind without anyone paying attention to it, the passive phrasing is not a bad choice. Regardless any WT:FILM responses, for all considerations about the final scene, and in particular since the Nolan quote emphasizes "the most important emotional thing" (my bold), "joins his family in the garden" appears more appropriate than "greets his family". Also, it is not 'customs' that stamps Cobb's passport, and after joining his waiting father-in-law, the latter not merely 'brings' him to his children, but accompanies him to also be with them. Thus:
"Upon arrival at Los Angeles Airport, Cobb successfully passes the U.S. immigration checkpoint and his waiting father-in-law accompanies him to his children. Cobb's small top, a totem for realizing one's dream state, is carelessly left spinning on the table while he joins his family in the garden."
▲ SomeHuman 2015-08-12 23:20-23:24 (UTC)
This discussion has so far been about the totem and the very final scene and only that. I don't think it's necessary to debate unrelated plot elements here. --Fru1tbat (talk) 23:38, 12 August 2015 (UTC)
I am still strongly in disagreement with what changes SomeHuman is making. All reliable sources that I can find talking about the ending of film frame the discussion on the point of Cobb using the totem to test if he in a dream or not , but at the moment of seeing his children, doesn't care about whether they're real or not any more. This is a key point of the film, it is a key point of the analysis section in the article of whether Cobb is still in a dream or not. Obviously we don't know, Nolan remains coy on that, but that question is a fundamental aspect of this film's popularity. The way that the changes are being done, it makes it sound like Cobb goes home and sets the totem aside without a care and doesn't ask the question of this being reality or not. I would totally agree we'd have to tread more lightly if there were no sources that talked of the ending but there's dozens including Nolan himself, and we can go where there might need to be sourced interpretation as to explain the emotional and thought-provoking ending here. --MASEM (t) 16:09, 13 August 2015 (UTC)
(ec) I agree with this completely. I've made a few very minor changes to SomeHuman's last version, my goal being to emphasize the act of Cobb spinning the top, then leaving it. SomeHuman's wording mentioned the top being "left spinning", but in my opinion it fails to adequately capture the essence of the scene (and the essence of this scene, to some extent, is the essence of the entire film). @SomeHuman: please strongly consider this version. I've made my best effort to keep most of your version intact, but it's clear from all the preceding discussion that a compromise is necessary to reach consensus. If there is any way you can live with the wording as it currently stands, I'm hoping we can close this debate. --Fru1tbat (talk) 16:28, 13 August 2015 (UTC)
[EDIT CONFLICT] An article edit by DonIago re-introduced the POV choice of purpose interpretation and also again 'used' as if this totem might be in use for that purpose at the time (which it is noteworthily not). I removed that personal interpretation but maintained 'verifying' rather than my former version's 'realizing'. I re-introduced 2 uncontestedly important related characteristics (clearly expressed by the Nolan quotation), but 'unattendedly' instead of the earlier too POV-sounding (as DonIago's edit comment noted) 'carelessly', while expressing the meaningful utter nonchalance by showing distance between 'the table' (not 'a table' as it is a chique main one indoors and not e.g. one of possibly several plastic ones in the garden) and 'in the garden'. Hence, the last sentence is:
"Cobb's small top, a totem for verifying one's dream state, is unattendedly left spinning on the table while he joins his family in the garden."
▲ SomeHuman 2015-08-13 16:19 (UTC)

DonIago, the 'Plot' section is not the place for an in-dept analysis. And indeed, "Obviously we don't know". Therefore, only what is known belongs in this 'Plot'. "Thought-provoking" must not be eliminated by pushing forward a specific and arguable (and often argued about) interpretation.
▲ SomeHuman 2015-08-13 16:25 (UTC)

The only sourceable disagreement/arguments on the ending is whether he is in a dream or not still, with people fascinated by the tiny wobble the top gives at the very end before the cut to black. We should not try to interpret whether he is in a dream state or reality -that would be interpretation without anything to back it up. But it is not really in-depth analysis to say that the end is Cobb using the top to start testing his reality and then not caring at the sight of his children. It does require adding a few sources from Nolan and others, but that's completely acceptable in a plot summary to include those references. It is not in-depth analysis as claimed since we can review the secondary sources to easily discover that this is how nearly all critics took the ending of the film. --MASEM (t) 16:36, 13 August 2015 (UTC)
Fru1tbat, I entirely agree with your good version. I did just one minor edit, and assume you will not mind: "a small top" to "his small top" (Otherwise, a mere reader might not realize there is only one in the movie or assume it never occurred earlier, and alternatively "his totem" would no longer have the purpose general for all totems in the movie):
"Cobb spins his small top, a totem for verifying one's dream state, but leaves it spinning on the table to join his family in the garden."
Thanks for your input,
▲ SomeHuman 2015-08-13 16:40-17:00 (UTC)
I'm fine with that minor change. --Fru1tbat (talk) 16:53, 13 August 2015 (UTC)
I was going to say that I was okay with how it reads now, but I think the way it reads now suggests that Cobb is arbitrarily spinning the top, which has the function of verifying one's dream state. I think it should be made clear that he's spinning the top to test his dream state. And I'm still waiting for a source that suggests anything other than that it is the spinning of the top that serves as that test. DonIago (talk) 16:59, 13 August 2015 (UTC)
It does not suggest anything. The movie does not tell why he starts spinning the top. Fru1tbat correctly describes the scene and "leaves ... to join ... in the garden" clearly expresses the uncontested and sourced attitude. I would appreciate your stopping of POV-pushing a suggestion according to your conviction. There are multiple reliable secondary sources that depict e.g. 'Christianism' as the one and only truth, but despite most English language Wikipedians might be convinced of this as well, it does not allow an article to suggest this assumed truth to be the one and only.
▲ SomeHuman 2015-08-13 17:21 (UTC)
The movie does not say though strongly implied (since Cobb has only spun the top earlier in the film to test reality), true, but Nolan's comments after the fact clearly state Cobb's purpose, and that's not interpretation to take Nolan's word as a source to reflect that in the plot. --MASEM (t) 17:25, 13 August 2015 (UTC)
Just to be clear, my wording should not be construed as my explicit preference; I was looking for a compromise. I agree that, especially given Nolan's comments, we have sufficient evidence to state that Cobb was using the totem to test his dream state, and if there is sufficient support, I would be fine with stating that more clearly. If there is insufficient support, I find the current wording acceptable for the moment as a compromise. --Fru1tbat (talk) 20:12, 13 August 2015 (UTC)
At the risk of repeating myself, until a source is provided that offers an alternate interpretation, I believe the summary should state that Cobb was using the totem to test his dream state. I don't feel SH has to this point provided clear evidence that anyone other than themselves disagrees with this perspective. DonIago (talk) 20:27, 13 August 2015 (UTC)
Not a single source has been given in this far too long discussion, that would declare to know Cobb's intention for starting the final spin. Then 'to test' whatever, is an utterly unsourced personal idea, no better than for instance assuming he flicked the top out of habit when he tossed it, when he did not need it any more. All we know, is already in the ending phrase. Any speculation or fact about other occasions of a totem being used, does not belong in the description of the final scene - in particular because interpretations of precisely that ending remain controversial and no source ever stated the totem to have been used then the way it had been used always before. Has any one of you three actually read the sub chapter 'Ending'? In its entirety and, with respect to continued far too subjective interpretations of what Nolan has said, even if you can not admit your subjectivity, then do read especially the properly sourced paragraph with Mark Fisher's viewpoint.
▲ SomeHuman 2015-08-13 22:50 (UTC)
[2] "Earlier in the film, Nolan has established the idea that a personal totem – in Cobb’s case, a spinning top – can help establish if one is experiencing a dream or reality. If the top continues to spin indefinitely, the owner is most likely stuck in somebody else’s dreamscape. If it drops, they are in the real world." And that really doesn't need to be sourced - the use of the totem may not be say exactly word for word, but every critic picked up on that use. It is absolutely not ambiguous. --MASEM (t) 22:54, 13 August 2015 (UTC)
Nolan, especially 5 years after the release of the movie, is not an authoritative source. Read Mark Fisher's viewpoint!
And another interpretation is, that the whole movie (i.e. the entirety of scenes in the cinematographic exploit) is a mere dream. Here's a source for that. So stop WP-POV of there not being other interpretations than yours. And that source goes with Mark Fisher, by assuming Nolan would give the public what it keeps nagging for and seems to like, not necessarily the original meaning.
▲ SomeHuman 2015-08-13 23:07-23:20 (UTC)
Uh, seriously what? It doesn't matter how many years after the film, Nolan is the authority, period. No one else. That will not change with time. What scholars might claim, and state that Nolan isn't authoritative for his own work is very much a non-starter. That said, I cannot see the whole of Fisher's work but from the first page and from how it is used here, it is still clear that the argument is not the purpose of the totem, but again if the film ends in reality or a dream state. Every source agrees the purpose of the totem - and specifically the top - is to interact with it to test the state of reality, even Fisher and the Cinema Blend article and even the shooting script. And that every source agrees that the last scene is Cobb going to test reality using the top and then deciding to not care about the result on seeing the children. --MASEM (t) 23:38, 13 August 2015 (UTC)
Masem, you're too obviously playing out of your league. You must be right and thus scholars are wrong. Period. Feel happy.
As I will from now on no longer assume Masem to be a discussion partner, for anyone else: Here's a decent source that largely goes with my suggested interpretation of the purpose of the totems (Inception and Philosophy: Did the Spinning Top Fall? Even if the top fell, Cobb could still be dreaming. Post published by David Kyle Johnson Ph.D. on Nov 08, 2011 in Plato on Pop, on Psychology Today). For anyone arriving here late: I continue to reject this ('my') or any other interpretation being pushed into the article's chapter 'Plot'. Speculation or a controversial interpretation does not belong there.
▲ SomeHuman 2015-08-13 23:49 - 2015-08-14 00:36 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── No, you're dragging this far away from the original issue. You have been arguing against what everyone else here and in the RSes say : That Cobb spins the top, his totem, at the end to test his reality, and then turns away and does not care for the result when he sees and joins his children. That's the only point at issue here. Whether the entire film could be a dream, whether Cobb ends up in reality or a dream, or any other point, that's not what the matter of discussion is. It is what the purpose of the totem is - which is blatantly clear from Nolan, the script, and all critics reviewing the film - and why he spins it at the end. That's the discussion here. The idea that the entire thing might be a dream, sure, that's an interesting perspective and one to possibly be included in the analysis of the ending, but from the plot summary standpoint, has no place there. --MASEM (t) 00:03, 14 August 2015 (UTC)

Motion to Close: I think all involved can agree that this conversation is not currently making any significant headway. I therefore propose that, at least 48 hours from now, the last part of the plot summary specifically mention that Cobb spins the top as a way of testing to determine whether he is in the real world unless either a) any editor other than SomeHuman comes forward supporting an alternate approach, or b) a non-primary reliable source is provided presenting an alternate interpretation of the end of the film which at least two editors feel demonstrates that the ending should not be edited as I have proposed. Assuming this motion is generally supported, SomeHuman or any other editor who disagrees with the result is welcome to pursue dispute resolution. Let's move forward, please. DonIago (talk) 04:51, 14 August 2015 (UTC)

Motion to maintain the 2015-08-15 00:05 status for the final phrase of 'Plot'‍:
There are already three interpretations, each supported by a reliable source. If we exclude the 'whole movie is a dream'-interpretation because it is rather irrelevant to how the article's plot should depict a totem's purpose, there are still two distinct and contradicting interpretations.
On Wikia there is an Inception Wikia, which declares the totem's purpose exactly the way I as well as David Kyle Johnson Ph.D. interpret it:
"A Totem is an object that is used to test if oneself is in one's own reality (dream or non-dream) and not in another person's dream. A totem has a specially modified quality (such as a distinct weight, balance, or feel) in the real world, but in a dream of someone who does not know it well, the characteristics of the totem will very likely be off. Any ordinary object which has been in some way modified to affect its balance, weight, or feel will work as a totem.
In order to protect its integrity, only the totem's owner should ever handle it. In that way, the owner is able to tell whether or not they are in someone else's dream. In the owner's own dream world, the totem will feel correct."
Here, "in one's own reality (dream or non-dream)" corresponds in our terminology with ‘in one's own dream or in 'real' reality’ (and "feel correct" means ‘with its characteristics identical to these experienced in reality’) without letting a totem distinguish between those states, but it can discriminate those states from the state of being 'in someone else's dream'.
• Note that this Wikia declaration is created and maintained by a group of Inception fans, and yet is not shown as if there would be another reasonable definition for a totem. Its edit history shows this definition in an article specifically about 'totem' to stand since creation in May 2011, despite many edits by a good number of editors. David Kyle Johnson concurs in a 'reliable secondary source'. It would then be extremely self-overrating WP:POV and consciously stubborn WP:OWN, to insist on putting another definition in the 'Plot' of the WP article.
• My opponents failed to produce any source that would point out, why Cobb spins his top totem in the final scene. Nor did they show any source that states, this would be the same reason as on earlier occasions. At the contrary, many sources point out a meaningful difference between Cobb's usage of his totem in that scene. Sources do not state that he changed his mind between starting the spin and his joining his family. The children did not turn up as a surprise; he already expected to see them when he started the spin. Assuming in that scene he started spinning the top "to test" his state (be it awake, in his own dream, or in someone else's dream - depending on the argued qualities and purpose of the totem), remains utterly unsourced speculation.
Therefore, the WP:neutral current phrasing that is equally valid for both 'your' and 'my' interpretation of the general purpose, and does not suggest Cobb's intention at starting the final spin, is to be maintained for the ending scene in chapter 'Plot'.
As already pointed out several times, alternative interpretations of the ending scene are given in a separate sub chapter further down in the article, and I do not object either to relevant additions there, or to some (sub) chapter that would show the different interpretations of the purpose of the totems in general and/or of the top that Cobb used. Also, the movie's director Nolan declared several (not specified) ambiguities to have been intended, which WP should respect in the 'Plot' chapter.
Finally, as Nolan clearly pointed out, and many sources concur, the true importance of the ending scene are neither in any characteristics or purposes of the top nor in Cobb making it spin, but in his not caring about it while he joins his family. Then exemplifying those aspects about the spinning top in the single relevant, final phrase of the 'Plot', could not be in proper balance (WP:WEIGHT) with its last part.
Hence: "Cobb flicks his small top, a totem for verifying one's dream state, but leaves it spinning on the table to join his family in the garden."
▲ SomeHuman 2015-08-15 00:51 (UTC)
The way how I understood the part of the totems is as follows: Cobb and Arthur do explain that the item in question is specific to only the owner. Arthurs die, for instance. Nobody but Arthur is aware of how the die feels (also as in rolling) so the die, potentially could only always end up in one way (for instance showing only always the 6), this is the extend of "how the totems feels, and is also a 'characteristic' of a die. This specific case of the die however, is never been shown in the movie or articles or anthing... and as such can not be sourced to work that way (or not) so this is just speculation, but I do believe it paints the picture.
Cobbs top then is similar in that, the behavior is relevant and very much an extension of the 'feel' the top must have.Cobb even explained this at some point if I recall correctly, that the top was supposed to tumble signifying him being in "reality", If the top would spin onwards, it would mean he's in a dreamstate, or rather, not in actual reality. The main reason why the top should behave this way, is probably because Cobb is not the actual owner of the top, but Mal was. Cobb, can as such only use the top as "check" comparing its behavior to the expected 'normal' behavior, hence the need for it to tumble in reality. should the top spin on, this would mean it would behave unlike 'normal' and tell Cobb he was NOT in reality.
As to the end scene. Weither the top would ultimately fall, it it just is a flickering... Cobbs turns away from the top, signifying that whichever world he was currently at, it was real enough for him. He is at peace, and with his kids. (talk) 09:27, 30 November 2015 (UTC)


Overall I think it's good work on summarizing the difficult plot points. One part which seems out of order: "Cobb reveals to Ariadne that he spent '50 years' with Mal in Limbo..." this aside and flashback came earlier in the movie, before they get to the fortress. Of course that backstory continues at the fortress, another level down in the ruined city... Somewhat difficult to explain, so i won't try to make the change myself. Hopefully someone else more familiar with this article can give it a go. El duderino (abides) 06:20, 17 August 2014 (UTC)

We're allowed to edit the plot to be out of "film order" if it helps us to simplify/condense the plot. Trying to explain the entire opening scene before we get to the basis of the movie would be difficult, as the film becomes much easier to go on once the concept of the inception process is explained. Though we could mention that some parts of the Limbo story occur in medias res at the start of the film. I'd hve to check to see if that makes sense. --MASEM (t) 06:32, 17 August 2014 (UTC)
One thing that I fail to spot from the plot, in taht it appears non-significant from this reading compared to the movie, is how time is heavily accelerated when entering deeper layers of a dream. For instance, Cobb himself is not even close to being 50 years of age in the movie, yet having spent 50 years of 'time' in the 'limbo world'. But nothing realy is being said as to why this is. or did I missread? (talk) 09:33, 30 November 2015 (UTC)

"The film became the first of Postlethwaite's final three film roles before his death in early 2011."[edit]

Yes, and the film before that "became the first of Postlethwaite's final four film roles before his death". The one after Inception "became the first of Postlethwaite's final two film roles before his death". And so on. Why does the article contain such a trifle? (talk) 21:19, 13 May 2015 (UTC)

Because nobody caught it, I guess. I've removed it - it does sound rather pointless. I think there is a tendency to go around updating an actor's articles when they pass away to include things like "the late", or lines like the above. Oh well. --Fru1tbat (talk) 21:44, 13 May 2015 (UTC)

Inception looked like a disaster film to me[edit]

In this film, it looked like it is a disaster film because the city is (collapsing, bend-into-half) and that's it. Throughout Christopher Nolan's two-and-a-half hour 2010 film. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:55, 17 October 2015 (UTC)

Penrose picture[edit]

It may be me, but why is the Penrose picture of the 'impossible stairs' next to the Themes section. I would agree if it touched more upon the way how the dreamworld would/could shape the impossible features but I don't read the part as that. The actual folding of paris, and much of these aspects seem to remain untouched, which would best suit the penrose picture as asset. (talk) 09:38, 30 November 2015 (UTC)

The Penrose stairs were used in the film and demonstrated how optical illusions could be made real, so its a valid example. That said, it's also a free image: any other demonstration from the film itself would be a non-free image and that would be more difficult to include, particularly as the movie poster does demonstrate part of the folded Paris idea. --MASEM (t) 14:48, 30 November 2015 (UTC)

What I meant was, that in my eyes, that specific part of the article doesn't touch really on that aspect of the worlds. It only speaks about the dreamworlds, and the layers and how these were to interact, but the actual shaping of the world I don't come acros that. Or, for me, not in the sence that the penrose objects elaborate on it. (talk) 10:39, 1 December 2015 (UTC)
The Penrose steps are a metaphor in the film to demonstrate a concept of the film. Thus it's a particularly good way to illustrate a section discussing the themes. The photo caption does explain the relevance of the illustration. There is no requirement that the image be mentioned at length in the text--Ktlynch (talk) 15:40, 17 April 2016 (UTC)

Harcourt photo credit[edit]

I removed the credit Studio Harcourt credit from Cotillard's photo because it didn't seem to have much to do with the article subject. @Ktlynch: reinstated it with "Credit is relevant because of discussion of femme fatale character and the series the photograph is a part of". I don't see how crediting the photograph to Studio Harcourt actually does that. Studio Harcourt is know for a particular kind of glamour photography, but not necessarily Femmes Fatale. - Richfife (talk) 00:05, 1 April 2016 (UTC)

It's a "noir style " portrait of a noir character. Secondly, captions will normally identify the author of a photograph. This is particularly relevant where the photo is part of a series. Finally, it supports the moral rights of the author. --Ktlynch (talk) 15:38, 17 April 2016 (UTC);
I don't have a problem with a trailing "Photo by Harcourt" credit, but more than that is overstuffing the caption. - Richfife (talk) 17:16, 24 April 2016 (UTC)