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Was Cobb Still Dreaming at the End of Inception? Christopher Nolan Weighs In
Dream or not, Hans Zimmer's "Time" still goes incredibly hard.
Throughout the summer of 2010, you couldn't go very long without someone bringing up the final scene of Christopher Nolan's mind-bending blockbuster Inception (now streaming on Peacock!). Having successfully convinced Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy) to dissolve his father's company, veteran dream thief Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is finally cleared of murder charges and returns home to his children after so many years of exile abroad.
As he steps into the house, Cobb decides to give his totem one last twirl, just to make sure he isn't still dreaming. But once our hero gets a look at his kids' faces, he forgets all about the top and runs to greet them, overcome with joy. The camera then lingers on the spinning top, which looks as though it's about to wobble and fall over, signaling that we are firmly in the waking world. Nolan, however, leaves things a tad ambiguous, cutting to black before the audience gets an answer one way or the other.
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Christopher Nolan on whether or not Cobb is dreaming at the end of Inception
Appearing on the Happy Sad Confused podcast last summer to promote the release of Oppenheimer (arriving on Peacock next week), Nolan was once again posed with the question of whether Cobb had actually returned home or if his mind was stuck in the deepest depths of limbo. His answer? It doesn't really matter — at least not to DiCaprio's character.
"I went through a phase right after the film came out, where I was asked it a lot. Every now and again, I would make the mistake of getting caught outside a screening," he said. "I think it was Emma [Thomas, Nolan's wife and producing partner] who pointed out the correct answer, [which] is that the point of the shot is the character doesn't care at that point. That's really the best answer I've come up with, but it's not a question I comfortably answer."
"Certainly, from an audience point of view, in terms of sitting with a crowd and experiencing the end of the film, Inception was a very unique type of ending," the filmmaker explained during a chat with Insider around the same time. "If I would sneak into the back of the theater when it was playing and we would get to the end, there would be a tremendous sort of gasp, groans, frustrations — it was an incredible mixture and I would feel very much like I need to get out of here before anybody notices I'm there [laughs]. So that was a pretty remarkable ending to sit through with audiences over the years."
Inception is now streaming on Peacock along with several other Nolan classics: Memento, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, and Dunkirk. Oppenheimer will make its exclusive debut on the platform next Friday, February 16.