Director Christopher Nolan has finally spoken about the ambiguous ending to his film Inception, although fans hoping for a definitive answer may be disappointed.
The 2010 thriller infamously concludes with a spinning top, which wobbles slightly before the screen cuts to black, leaving viewers disputing whether the final scene of the movie is real or a dream.
Nolan discussed the ending during a speech he made to a graduating Princeton University class, explaining what the iconic moment was intended to symbolise.
In the great tradition of these speeches, generally someone says something along the lines of ‘Chase your dreams,’ but I don’t want to tell you that because I don’t believe that. I want you to chase your reality. I feel that over time, we started to view reality as the poor cousin to our dreams, in a sense. I want to make the case to you that our dreams, our virtual realities, these abstractions that we enjoy and surround ourselves with – they are subsets of reality.
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.
I skip out of the back of the theatre before people catch me, and there’s a very, very strong reaction from the audience: usually a bit of a groan. 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.
Damn it Chris, did the top fall over or not?!
Okay, so it’s actually a pretty thought-provoking explanation, it’s just not as cut and dry as some may hope.
But, then, if you were hoping for a movie to spoon feed you answers, a complex mystery science fiction film like Inception probably isn’t for you anyway.