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  1. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by FunkyGreenJerusalem View Post
    In what possible way is that true?


    Why did he cast Michael Caine in a two minute role if he wasn't more important than he appears?


    The film having a 'below the surface' depth doesn't in anyway take away from it being a heist film.

    But if it's just a heist film, what's the point?



    Obviously everyone can view their entertainment anyway they want, but it would be odd for Christopher Nolan to suddenly make a film that's completely open to interpretation.
    Also very unlike him to make a completely surface level movie - even the Batman films have deeper themes and philosophies than most Hollywood films.



    The thing is, that end is over-the-top blatantly ambiguous.
    If that was all there was to the film, I doubt the last shot would have been so apparent - that's ambiguity for people who have never seen anything ambiguous before in their lives.
    Why, right at the end of the film, would he pick up a red flag and start waving it shouting 'look over here - it's ambiguous!!!'.
    If you take the film as presented, there's nothing to discuss - either the end is a dream or it isn't.
    Scratch the surface, see more that's going on beneath it, and you've got some meat.

    I'm just not getting why people want to sell the film short - there's nothing wrong with not getting a film the first time, or seeing new layers once they are pointed out.

    Scratch the surface and you could still come up with various meanings. Not "getting" the same thing out of it as you is not the same as not getting it. If you cut the ending with absolutely no spinning top, just him meeting his kids, it still maintains its ambiguity.

    As I already said, I ascribe to the same thinking as the column writer, but I can absoutely see how people would interpret it a different way. Maybe I can get all condescending about how you're obviously not clever enough to see that. But I won't, because I'm not a tart.

  2. #32
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    One thing I think bares being pointed out is something that isn't easily noticeable upon the initial viewing, but I think has a strong significance in the movie, is Cobb's wedding ring. In the opening scene we see the top fall over and Cobb is not wearing his wedding ring, which establishes that in "reality" Cobb does not wear his ring. In every scene in which Cobb is in the dream state, he is clearly wearing his wedding ring. However, in the final scene he is not. Which seems to imply that the reality at the end and the reality at the beginning are the same level of reality. If the presence or absence of the ring is not important it would simply mean that there are continuity and/or costuming errors throughout the film, which does not seem like something Christopher Nolan would let slip by.

    Also it seems to me that the rest of the main characters would have to have been real people (perhaps Mile's students), even if they were simply sharing Cobb's overall dream. With inceptions being such tricky things to pull off, I imagine Miles would want to make sure that his chances of success are as high as possible. Otherwise how would Miles control Cobb's subconscious so intricately?

    But then what about the scenes in which Cobb is not present? Speaking initially of the scenes between Ariadne and Arthur, where Arthur explains the totems and how the dream state can be manipulated to create paradoxes, and then going deeper to dream levels that Cobb is not part of. Is he an outside observer who is simply watching himself and others in the dream? And how would he be switching between levels to see what the other characters are doing?

    I guess my ultimate question is whether the ideas of an inception for Cobb and a heist are mutually exclusive. Could Saito (or Miles through Saito) have been trying to incept the idea that Cobb needed to let go of Mal via his job with Fischer? Perhaps Miles hired Saito (and Ariadne, or any of the other characters) to perform the inception?

    Also, as to whether the ending is real or not, I think we can say it is unequivocally real. Apart of the fact that the top was clearly wobbling, the children are dressed different and played by older actors than in earlier scenes (these facts were confirmed by the costumers recently). Indeed, if you look closely throughout the dream versions of the children, his daughter is wearing greyish brown Crocs (or something similar) while in the end scene she is wearing flower-print tennis shoes (or something similar, but definitely different from the earlier scenes).

  3. #33

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    It's the closest we'll ever come to an Invisibles movie.

    I love that it's open to so much interpretation and that it's geared up to slide up and down a scale designed to test an audience.

    Imagine a scale, at one end you have a heist (the word isn't in my spell check weird) movie with a bunch of minor (seeming) mistakes that make critics and those ill equipped to handle anything more than Transformers 2 cry then there's the middle ground where you can sit back and enjoy a really good clever movie and you don't mind about the little things, they may even make you think more about the film OR the 'entire film is a dream' end of the scale where you get a nose bleed just thinking about it :)

    It's a truly layered movie and I love it.
    Last edited by lead sharp; 08-05-2010 at 07:43 AM.

  4. #34

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    By the way, I never said the other characters in the dream world are a) parts of Cobb's subconscious, or b) aspects of Cobb's personality. I don't see any reason to believe they are. Whether real actors or virtual, they're "characters" injected into the dream scenario(s) in order to manipulate the flow and focus of the dream. Except Mal, who is a "mal"icious projection of Cobb's guilt complex, sabotaging all his other actions, intentions and desires.

    - Grant

  5. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steven Grant View Post
    They don't, but even if they are, why assume a long period of time has take place since his wife's suicide? If the world he inhabits as "the real world" in the film is a dream plane - and it is - a much longer period of time passes there than in the actual real world. When he speaks to them on the phone, he's speaking not to his children but to what his dream tells him his children must be then. The fact that the children haven't much changed in the last scene actually reinforces my thesis.



    She's dead. She killed herself, due to the idea he accidentally implanted in her that she couldn't let go of. That's the point. That's the event that sends him "fleeing" into a state of being trapped by guilt, as illustrated on the dream plane of him having deteriorated into a thief and criminal constantly hunted by the police and by enemies. Her death is what drives him to that state, because he feels he did kill her, by "incepting" the idea that got them out of the limbo plane. All that's in the movie.



    'cause she's kinda dead, and Miles isn't.

    The top doesn't really matter, except that since it's about to fall, it's being worked on by gravity. It doesn't need a witness. (Though it has one: us.)

    - Grant
    Ah, hell. I just wrote out this lengthy response and then lost it in the ether of the internet. So the more condensed version.

    I believe I misunderstood your implication. So you don't believe that everything prior to the last scene was a dream. Her death was real. We can agree on that.

    The children not aging wasn't really my point. It's essential to the argument if you believe that the body of the movie is real. In fact, it then would prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the end is a dream. I mentioned it only in passing to my real point, however, which is that he sees his kids exactly as he's been seeing them in the dream, only this time they turn toward him instead of running away. That's either a pretty heavy-handed attempt to create a little suspense by Nolan (will they run away again?), or it's a subtle way for Nolan to suggest that Cobb's mind is still playing with the last image he saw of his children. I prefer to believe in Nolan's subtlety.

    Here's another reason I find your interpretation of the ending hard to digest. You say that the movie is about him resolving his guilt over his wife's very real death, which he caused by incepting the idea of suicide as an escape within Limbo. That's true, but how is it resolved? He appears to confront it by confronting Mal's construct in Limbo, but how does he ultimately get out? By convincing someone else to kill himself in Limbo to escape (which we don't see on screen and have no evidence that it actually occurs). Even if Saito is a construct, I fail to see the personal growth in atoning for one's sins by doing the EXACT same thing all over again. If that's the case, it's sloppy storytelling.

    Now that I'm clear on where you think reality seeps into the dream aside from the final scene, I think your interpretation of the body of the film is interesting, but I just can't agree with you about the ending. I think, however, that is the genius of Nolan, because you can argue either way. As with the top (though I don't believe it has any concrete bearing on whether or not we're in reality) you can argue that it was going to fall, but you can't prove it.

    This back and forth is exactly what Nolan wanted.

  6. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by jgrant View Post
    Analyzing it too much takes away from the movie.
    Actually, I think this kind of hyper-analysis is a large part of the movie's enjoyment, and fully in line with Nolan's intentions. A movie is a success if you spend more time discussing it afterwards than you did actually watching it.

    It's a classic Mindfuck movie. You can interpret it anywhere from face value (it's a dream when we're told it is, and reality when we're told it is) to being entirely a dream on different levels... or anything in between. And Nolan will certainly never tell us. (Hopefully he won't pull a Ridley Scott/Blade Runner and feel the need to explain things down the road.)

    These discussions show that Nolan accomplished exactly what he wanted to with this film. He certainly needs serious Oscar consideration in both the direction and screenplay categories.

    God, it was refreshing to see a movie that a) is not a reboot/remake of anything, b) is not forced into tacky 3-D just because, and c) doesn't assume that its audience are all dimwits.

    The main argument against the "everyone but Cobb was dream constructs" argument is that they often engaged in independent action where the dreamer (Cobb) was not there to see it. By definition, nothing happens in a dream outside the dreamer's range of perception. You could make the argument that these parts were "third person" dreaming, where the dreamer sees the action but is not a participant... but Cobb doesn't seem to be aware of the things going on where he is not physically present.

    (You could also argue that, since all dream characters are really extensions of yourself, you can see what any of them can see. But that kind of "split consciousness" dreaming can't work in real life... you can only dream from one POV at a time. Unless Miles or someone has come up with a way to take separate, sequential dreams and "edit" them together into something that will be remembered by the dreamer as a seamless whole... like shooting the scenes of a movie out of order and then editing them together into a coherent story.)

  7. #37

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    Regarding whether Cobb "saves" Saito or not:

    The issue is moot unless you assume Saito exists as an actual entity apart from the dream. The point is to incept into Cobb - in such a way he believes it's his own idea - the compulsion that it's time to go home. The reason he leaves limbo at the point he does is not because he has failed and given up, but because the idea has been presented and he has accepted it. It's for this that the Saito character must be sent to the limbo level (limbo can also be linguistically confused with "limbic," traditionally the inner boundary of the cerebral cortex of the brain) - and Cobb's subconscious, in the form of Mal, gets tricked into doing it, forcing Cobb back into limbo, where he said he would never return, in order to rescue him.

    Even if you accept Saito as a separate entity, the situation places Cobb in a quandary, as the idea he has to deliver to Saito is the same idea, that they must return. Saito returns to the aircraft a few seconds after Cobb. If the plane is real, one of two things is happening: Cobb is defeated and has "retreated" into a new dream, or Saito has accepted Cobb's idea, and certainly witnessed Cobb's vanishing from limbo, so he has Cobb's example as well. There's no reason within the context of the film to assume Cobb's failure.

    - Grant

  8. #38

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    Also, the pre-Limbo "Ice Station Zebra" situation is designed as it is because Cobb must "destroy" Mal before he reaches limbo because her intrusion there, implanting negative/suicidal thoughts in Cobb at that level, would destroy him. So he has to be done with her first, so that the only idea incepted is "we must go home now."

  9. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steven Grant View Post
    Regarding whether Cobb "saves" Saito or not:

    The issue is moot unless you assume Saito exists as an actual entity apart from the dream. The point is to incept into Cobb - in such a way he believes it's his own idea - the compulsion that it's time to go home. The reason he leaves limbo at the point he does is not because he has failed and given up, but because the idea has been presented and he has accepted it. It's for this that the Saito character must be sent to the limbo level (limbo can also be linguistically confused with "limbic," traditionally the inner boundary of the cerebral cortex of the brain) - and Cobb's subconscious, in the form of Mal, gets tricked into doing it, forcing Cobb back into limbo, where he said he would never return, in order to rescue him.

    Even if you accept Saito as a separate entity, the situation places Cobb in a quandary, as the idea he has to deliver to Saito is the same idea, that they must return. Saito returns to the aircraft a few seconds after Cobb. If the plane is real, one of two things is happening: Cobb is defeated and has "retreated" into a new dream, or Saito has accepted Cobb's idea, and certainly witnessed Cobb's vanishing from limbo, so he has Cobb's example as well. There's no reason within the context of the film to assume Cobb's failure.

    - Grant
    It matters on a thematic level. Whether or not Saito is actually real, Cobb thinks he's real. So if the whole movie is an elaborate dream set within Limbo, then Cobb escapes from Limbo by repeating the exact same act that put him there.

  10. #40
    Ben L FunkyGreenJerusalem's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by harrylike View Post
    Scratch the surface and you could still come up with various meanings. Not "getting" the same thing out of it as you is not the same as not getting it.
    You could come up with various meanings, but this one is rock hard solid.

    This isn't the same as a 'Back To The Future is about how the black man needs the white man to inspire him' or 'Speed is about human evolution' - this take explains odd parts of the film - being able to squeeze through the wall, Michael Caine in an unexciting cameo.

    If you cut the ending with absolutely no spinning top, just him meeting his kids, it still maintains its ambiguity.
    I know - that's why it's so odd he made it so clear that they could be in the dream world.
    It was almost like the Robot Chicken M. Night Shamalyan sketches, where he keeps popping up and shouting 'What a twist!'.
    It would be very odd for Nolan to start suddenly doing that, if there wasn't something else going on.

    As I already said, I ascribe to the same thinking as the column writer, but I can absoutely see how people would interpret it a different way. Maybe I can get all condescending about how you're obviously not clever enough to see that. But I won't, because I'm not a tart.
    No other meanings will hold up as strong as this one.
    In fact, no one here arguing it has a better take on what's going on than 'nothing was going on that wasn't explicitly made clear in the film'.
    If people had actual arguments against this idea that aren't 'nu-huh', you're point might hold up, but this fits so well, I can't really see there being too many good counter-arguments.

    The discussion should be along the lines of - is there a dream device being used to help Cobb, or is this entirely within his subconscious, his inner battle just given a narrative for us to watch - ie nothing is real - or is there really a dream machine being used on him to help him reach this point etc etc

    The alternative, the take we all got watching it, and some want to stick with, really only leaves discussion of the last scene 'was he still in limbo or did he get out', and that's a very binary discussion.
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  11. #41

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    Quote Originally Posted by shwa96 View Post
    It matters on a thematic level. Whether or not Saito is actually real, Cobb thinks he's real. So if the whole movie is an elaborate dream set within Limbo, then Cobb escapes from Limbo by repeating the exact same act that put him there.
    You peripherally bring up a good point that I hadn't considered. When Cobb suggests to his wife they end their lives in limbo, as a means to return to their waking self, if he incepted the idea into her head and inadvertently gave her an irresistible death wish, he incepted the idea into his own psyche at the same time, so all the time between his first stay in limbo and the beginning of the film, he must have been fighting his death wish, and the death wish is also represented by Mal. So the point of this inception caper is not only to bring him home to his children but replace his death wish with a new inception, a life wish.

    Cobb doesn't leave Mal behind in Limbo when he leaves the first time. They leave together. The real world, after their return, is where she kills herself. Leaving without Saito - it's automatic once he incorporates his new "life wish," because staying there is death - isn't an issue because Saito returns to the plane almost immediately behind him, relieving him of any abandonment guilt.

    - Grant

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    All Americans between 18 and 42? Where the heck did they get that cutoff age? Heh, I guess that's the solution to our unemployment problem.

    Why don't they make it 64 and get it over with already?

  13. #43

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    Haven't doublechecked but it seems to me that during wartime conscription up to age 42 was always in force, though not usually for frontline combat positions. For military infrastructure positions so younger men don't have to fill those positions.

    In any case, there's no excuse for a draft in a country that supposedly is built on the principle of personal liberty. A draft is slavery, pure and simple.

    - Grant

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    Well, what else is new? There are indeed many inequities of our society that seem to continue to perpetuate slavery in one form or another... some in extremely subtle and seemingly innocuous ways (but for the record, I don't tend to think they are limited to just our society alone... although IMO we are, or should be, in a better position to correct them over time).

    But regarding this whole draft thing... IMO there is an excuse for a draft if the cause is a threat to that very principle of personal liberty of which you speak... it's one thing to lose one's liberty from within, it is quite another to lose it from without. I'd say better to focus one's energy on better, more equitable economic policies on the home front in the first place, that is the best way to ensure one's liberty within... but that seems to have been lost in the discussion (perhaps purposely).

    But this (IMO) "fantom menace" (or should I say, "fantom mess") of terrorism is not one of those instances... terrorism as we have experienced it in our recent history was a series of criminal acts, perpetrated by an organized gang, no more or less a threat than any other. And IMO, as I see it now, it should have been handled as such... but of course, hindsight is 50/50.
    Last edited by Drusilla lives!; 08-07-2010 at 09:54 AM.

  15. #45
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    Btw, when I said "that seems to have been lost in the discussion (perhaps purposely)," I don't mean OUR discussion here, I'm speaking of what's going on in the country in general right now. This draft thing is just another red herring IMO.
    Last edited by Drusilla lives!; 08-07-2010 at 10:48 AM.

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