Monday, September 6, 2010

More on Inception

Written 7/23, but on delayed post avoid spoilers.

In a famous experiment subjects were asked for rank 5 jams. Their rankings were pretty consistent, most people preferred one of the two jams you'd expect since they were the most expensive and best-selling. Another set of subjects were asked to rank the same jams--and explain why they preferred their favorite. Same results? No. When people had to think about which jam they liked they couldn't pin down what was so great about the two the first subjects preferred. Instead they tended to pick one of the two jams that were particularly sweet as their favorite, despite the fact that these jams ranked 4th and 5th in the first experiment.

Sometimes it's easy to know the truth about how you feel--as long as you don't think. Your subconscious supercomputer just knows. But you can short that circuit and let your conscious brain take over. And when that happens your liable to "overthink."

I think that's what happened to nearly half the population that saw the end of Inception. You can intuit that the ending is a happy one--your brain knows Cobb is reunited with his kids. But it can't explain why. So some people let their rational brain take over and start spinning yarns. The result:

So with that said here are some thoughts (written after my second viewing) on points of contention in the blogosphere and with things I felt were muddled or confusing.

1. Cobb did get out of the dream at the end. The top was just about to fall. The audience's totem is Cobb's wedding ring. Watch closely and you can see that whenever it's a dream he's wearing it and whenever he's in reality he's not. Also apply Ockham's Razor.

2. Where does Ariadne get the dream machine in the hospital dream? Is it there just in case?

3. I don't think the hospital dream having gravity is a plot hole. There's no acceleration on Eames. The fact that the hospital collapses when it appears the character are accelerating in the elevator may be a plot hole. The throughout the movie the synching of the dream's time is a bit fuzzy. Lee "I'm the best editor of all time" Smith and co. needed some leeway.

4. Some people say that the top spins for an inordinately long period of time at the end. But it spins forever earlier in the film, when Cobb is in his hotel room.

5. When Ariadne and Cobb enter "limbo" they are really in a shared dream with Fischer. They don't lose their minds because they aren't in Limbo, and what happens to Fischer in the hospital affects their world because they are in his dream. That's why when they try to resuscitate him it starts lightening and why when he wakes up the dream collapses. Cobb dies and goes to the real limbo, where he does start to lose his mind, as Arthur(?) said he would earlier in the movie.

6. If you have doubts Nolan intended the ring to be our totem consider that he placed a long shot of Cobbs fingers at the beginning of the movie when he's eating rice. When he wakes up and has his hand resting on the arm rest we get another long shot of his fingers.

7. I don't understood why the dreamer can't just do whatever he wants as Ariande does in her dream. It risks turning Fischer's subconscious against them, but that happened already. Shouldn't Yusef be willing to take a risk and bend the dream rules to get security off his ass in the city? And in the snow fortress level Fischer knows he's dreaming so what is the risk? Then again, Eames does seem to have superpowers in that dream . . .

8. I don't think there is a clear explanation for why Saito is so much older than Cobb. He entered limbo a few seconds or minutes later in Hospital level-time. I think time is just meant to move super fast.

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