Inception ending explained: Does buried clue in movie answer question once and for all?

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13 shares, 91 points

Inception fans still, to this day, debate whether or not the final moments of the movie are set in reality or in the dream world. The film closes with Cobb (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) returning home to his family, finally being reunited with his two young children. After years spent several levels down in the dream world, however, he’s still suspicious about what’s reality and what isn’t.

The first thing Cobb does when he gets back to his home is to spin his totem spinning top which, if it fails to topple, indicates he’s in a dream.

But the movie cuts off just as it begins to falter, making it uncertain whether or not it falls, thereby leaving fans unsure about the truth about the ending.

While Michael Caine has claimed Christopher Nolan told his any scene where he appears is reality, the director has maintained the end is “subjective”.

However, one Reddit user previously unearthed a clue from earlier in the film which could cement things.


Inception ending explained: Does buried clue in movie answer question once and for all?

Inception movie ending explained: Is the end real or a dream? (Image: WARNER BROS PICTURES)

Inception ending explained: Does buried clue in movie answer question once and for all?

Inception movie ending explained: Cobb’s journey home is detailed, from the plane to the car and into his house (Image: WARNER BROS PICTURES)

User NoCopyrightRap noted the controversy which has raged on since Inception’s release back in 2010 but claimed Cobb is definitely in reality, citing one of the character’s own speeches.

Earlier in the movie, Cobb explains how to differentiate dream worlds from reality to Ariadne (Ellen Page).

“You never really remember the beginning of a dream, do you?” he says. “You always wind up right in the middle of what’s going on.”

“This is what allows us to finally answer that pain in the a** ending,” the Reddit user said.

Inception ending explained: Does buried clue in movie answer question once and for all?

Inception movie ending explained: Cobb is cautious when he gets home but turns his back on the spinning top (Image: WARNER BROS PICTURES)

“At the end, we see Cobb on a plane, then getting off, collecting his luggage, then he gets in car and drives to his family’s home.

“According to the film’s logic, if it were a dream, Cobb would spawn at the front door,” they added.

“Think about it, we gain no information from the airport terminal scene, it’s pointless. So what’s the point of having it in the movie? This, this is why.”

In Inception, when Cobb and Saito (Ken Watanabe) finally bring themselves out of the deepest level of the dream world, they awake on the plane surrounded by their associates.


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Viewers see details of how he ends up at his house, a flight attendant asking him if wants a hot towel and announcing: “We’ll be landing in Los Angeles in about 20 minutes.”

After a moment’s confusion, Cobb processes things, realising where he is and that the venture worked, sharing glances with his fellow passengers and dream companions, 

He’s waved through security at the airport after landing, the security agent telling him: “Welcome home, Mr Cobb.”

Walking out, he sees his father-in-law Miles (Michael Caine) waiting for him.

Arriving home, he gazes around cautiously and reaches down to set the top spinning on the table but, catching sight of his children in the garden, he turns his back on it, sweeping them up in his arms.

The implication is that Cobb decides it doesn’t matter anymore whether this world is dream or reality.

As the movie draws to a close, the shot pans down to focus on his totem, still spinning on the smooth surface, but cuts to black just as it wobbles.

Despite the strength of the unearthed clue, based on Cobb’s explanation of how dreams work, there’s still debate around the meaning of Inception’s ending.

There’s always the chance the events of the whole movie take place in a dream…

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