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    July 17, 2010


    [UPDATED] Inception arrived in the theaters this weekend and I guess some may have already watched it. For some, it might have been an intriguing movie to watch but if you found yourself lost in a glimpse of transition, don't worry because you are not the only one experiencing the problem! Perhaps, my idea of watching it for a second time paid off very well. I noticed that the movie explains everything in detail actually and it gives enough space for you and me to debate. After watching for few times, I believe I am confident enough to share some of the things you may not know or perhaps you didn't realize off during the movie. GREEN TEA MOVIE presents THE GUIDE AND INCEPTION EXPLAINED!

    [STATUS: Second updated stuffs are highlighted in this color]


    Before you watch Inception, make sure you read this section to get familiar with the terms that will be constantly coined during the film. Also, it is a high concept movie that requires a lot of attention and understanding prior to watching it.

    01) Incept means birth or born. In the movie, inception is a process of inducing a new idea which is planted into someone's mind through a shared-dream and subconscious state. Inception is not impossible but it is difficult. Inception requires a lot of imagination. Inception is contrary to the norm by using shared dream state to steal information!

    02) During shared-dream state, a group of people is hooked up to a machine inside a briefcase that injects a special chemical formulation that induces high sedatives to allow sedation and shared-dream. The team usually comprised of an extractor, an architect or anyone else who may be related to the mission. So, the name of that machine is PASIV Device and the related information about the machine can be found here.

    03) The Extractor is the person who responsible in pulling out information (or in this particular mission; introduce a new idea). Leonardo DiCaprio plays Dom Cobb, a highly skilled extractor who failed his mission while trying to pull out secrets from Saito. However he redeems his reputation later by agreeing on a job which is thought impossible.

    04) The Architect is the person who is responsible in recreating the dream world inside the mind of the Dreamer(s). An architect provides the basic layouts in general like a town, roads, cars or light streets - a background of the dream that will be later filled by the Dreamers with his or her subconscious. An architect also can create a setting based on his/her imagination or past experience (although it is discouraged to use the latter to recreate as one may find it hard to define between dream and reality). Ellen Page plays Ariadne and she prepares the design which will be very much the same as a maze puzzle. However, each architecture level should only be known by the specific dreamer so that no one else can bring their own projections (aside the Dreamer's) into the dream state.

    05) The Dreamer is the person whose dream provides the setting of the crime. In the movie, dreams within a dream are possible. For example, (SPOILER): Yusuf is the dreamer for the first dream where he dreams about raining in the bustling city. When few levels of dream involved, each level will usually have a different dreamer. I noticed that the term 'dreamer' also includes anyone who shares the dream-state too.

    06) The Chemist is the person who provides the perfect compound of chemical to induce sedation. There are different types of chemical to induce such depending on the level of dreams. Dileep Rao plays Yusuf, the chemist from Mombasa whom provides the team a special formula that induces deep dream-state.

    07) The Subject is the person who's subconsciously brought into the dream usually for the purpose of extracting information. In the movie, Cillian Murphy plays Fischer Jr, the subject in which a new idea will be planted into him.

    08) A Kick is a mechanism where the equilibrium of the dream state is disrupted by bringing any one in the dream state into awake and returns them to the reality. A kick can be in any form as long as one awake from their dream. In most cases, a kick is synchronized to allow everyone wakes up. A kick is different then shooting yourself in the head, while a good kick will allow you to feel like falling off the bed during the dream to awake you up in the previous level. For example, (SPOILER): in the second level dream, Arthur blew up the elevator to wake everyone up from the snow fortress, simply by creating a falling sensation. Timing of a kick is crucial if multiple levels of dreams are employed. One must be 'kicked' from the deeper stage one by one before one can back into the reality.

    09) Totem is any object that is light but contains mass and composition that only the owner knew, usually specific and constructed by someone who plans to invade a dream. The object is useful to determine whether one is in the real world or still in a dream stage. In the movie, (SPOILER): Cobb uses a top as his totem which when spun inside a dream never stops spinning.

    10) Projection is anyone created by the subconscious mind of the Subject. Projections are not real and are described to function like white blood cells that will function if the subject realizes that the dream he's in isn't his. Projections respond violently and attempt to seek out the Dreamer and destroy hum, while also acts to protect the Subject's dream from been invaded.

    11) Paradox is a term in which one Dreamer can manipulate the exact setting. Even the architect designs the specific layout; there are some circumstances where the Dreamer can alter it. For example, (SPOILER): Arthur creates a paradox by changing the revolving staircase scene in second level of dream although Ariadne architects the whole setting of that dream.

    12) Limbo is a place where dreamers may end up if they go too deeply. It’s a place where time runs quickly and people seem to forget reality. It is believed that one that flung in this level will burn out of their mind and became entrapped in. A limbo does not have a dreamer and it is a place of shared consciousness.


    You have questions about Inception, we have some here highlighted for you. This part may contains (SPOILER)

    As explained on the previous section above at (01), Inception works by planting an idea into a subject's mind through dream state. In Inception, Fischer Jr was the subject. Saito hired Cobb and his team to plant an idea so that Fischer Jr will have the idea that his inheritance of his father's vast share of global power dominance can be halted by simply splitting the giant company into several parts.
    To perform an inception, one must have high imagination, according to Eams. Inception does not require any specificity, but it makes use of the environment in the dream to create one, that's according to Cobb. Also, inception of an idea based on emotion; rather than reasons, usually is much stronger.
    Just like stealing an idea through a dream, the subject usually kept the idea thought or information in a safe box or vault created through their dreams. So it was the task of Cobb's team to manipulate Fischer's perception and understanding first before planting the seed of the idea. The movie shows an elaborate plan by using the basic human relationship to create an issue (on first level where relationship between Fischer and Browning was highlighted). Then, the next stage is to create a reasonable doubt against Browning, as he is part of the projection created by Fischer himself, and using the projection to turn against his long standing beliefs. The last level is to manipulate the thought by creating a positive reenactment by introducing the new idea with using emotional background. Fischer's idea about inheriting his father's business was basically kept in a vault at the snow fortress.

    Previously, Cobb creates himself the dream and involved in every dream invasion to steal the information from his subjects. Since Mal's death, Cobb constantly seeing her in the shared dream state because Mal was part of Cobb's memory and usually memory forms a part of the dream. Also, you can say that Mal is part of his projections too. Dream can be entirely imaginative, memory or based from past experience. In most cases when Cobb was the dreamer, Mal comes in as part of his projections. Do note that during the first two levels of dream in their mission where Yusuf and Arthur were the Dreamers, Mal was not around because the entire architecture of the dream were constructed by Ariadne only specifically for Yusuf and Arthur. Remember that only the main dreamer knows about the detail of the architect design and thus only their projections supposed to be there. However, during the third level at the snow fortress, Mal came into the setting because Cobb was made well informed about the loops on the maze design. It is also important to note that the constant emergence of Mal into Cobb's dream is due to the guilt he had for believing his inception act has cost him his wife and his attempt to keep the fondest memory with her through dreams by creating an underground dungeon to keep the memory.

    Now, to be exact, the staircase is known on popular culture as Penrose staircase. On the second level where Arthur was the dreamer, Ariadne designed the levels and probably has created the staircase. As explained above at (11), an architect cannot alter what he/she already design during the pre-stage. However, paradoxes (or logical fallacies that can't exist in reality) can comes in because the Dreamer was able to fill in the little gap of space within the imaginary boundary that changes a little spec of the setting. It is the loophole that can be created by the Dreamer! Similarly, during the third level dream, Eams was able to create a shortcut through the topography to serve as a faster route to the fortress.

    In the second stage dream where Arthur dreams about the hotel, there is one particular scene where the whole anti-gravity situation happened. If we traced back to the preceding level, Yusuf was driving the van and he had a turbulence drive. When ever the van was flipping through, the hotel setting on the second dream experienced a shift of gravity too. Notice when the hotel hallway seems to be revolving when Arthur confronts the projections in the same manner how the van flipped after fell off the hill. Similarly, the entire moment when the van falls of the bridge, that's the moment when everyone inside the van is experiencing free-fall. The same free-fall feeling was transmitted to the second stage, creating an ala anti-gravity situation.

    This must be a loophole in the screenplay, just maybe! Refer question 04 above too! Now the sequence of events that happened in level one will directly affects the level two. Evidently, the tumbling van will causes the gravity shift in level two. Yes, you may notice the scene where Arthur was fighting the security projections in the hotel hallway that was rotating. Bear in mind that at that particular moment, everyone went to the dream-shared state in Room 528 to proceed to level three. Assuming the rotating hallway scene in level two, I guess that all the dreamers in Room 528 will have the similar 'turbulence' as well. With all the dreamers in the state of 'turbulence', did you notice anything happened on level three? Yes, the answer is nothing happens.

    The table below should feed you with the exact details:
    I just want to say this, level four where Cobb and Ariadne entered to search for Fischer was not a limbo!

    Technically, one will wakes up to the reality or awaken into the previous stage of dream (if multiple levels dream involved) if one is dead in the dream. One will also experience the same intensity of pain he inflicted as if the pain occurs for real in the reality. Arthur was shot on his leg during the first heist attempt and he felt the pain as real. When Cobb shoots him to dead, Arthur awakens into the previous level of dream.
    However, during the attempt to cause inception into Fischer's mind, the rules no longer apply. If one died during the dream, he or she will be transported into a limbo world. (See above, number 12). The main reason why it did not happened is that (as been explained by Yusuf) the high sedative material that they used in the final mission was too powerful to allow such to happen and one of the side effects was that one can't go back to previous stage if one was dead during the dream!

    Saito was first shot in the first level of dream and he was dying ever since from the first level itself. In the first level, Saito had only few minutes left to stay alive after been shot but if he was brought into the next level, he would have more time than the previous level. Saito's death in the third level will brings him into a limbo of his own. If Saito is resuscitated during the third level, he would awaken in the second level but he has lesser time because he was still dying (faster than third level).
    Fischer on the other hand was shot in third level and he died instantly. However, his two other 'bodies' in the first two level were still fine and intact. While both of them had died during the dream and landed in the stage four (deep enough to be considered a limbo stage but I don't think stage four is a limbo since both Cobb and Ariadne didn't died during the third stage), reviving them during the third level will have a different impact. According to Cinema Blend, "The kick from the defibrillator timed correctly with the falling sensation he (Fischer) experienced after Ariadne pushed him off the building was enough to bring him back to normal level 3 so he could complete the mission. If she had just shot him again down in Limbo, he probably would have woken up for real and the mission would have failed."
    Here's another theory, it should be understood that death during dream under heavy sedation will make one goes into limbo! Okay, fact accepted and noted! Contrary to some beliefs, when one died during such dream in such condition, one will go down to the deeper level of dream. Over the time the person stuck on the particular level after his death, without consciousness or realizing that he or she is in dream world, limbo kicks in. Limbo and confusion, burnt out of the person's memory. It should be stated here that limbo is a stage of confusion in psychical form, not the level of dreams merely.

    We assumed that both Saito and Cobb are in limbo for the same amount of time. One can be explained that even a mere moment of time during the reality could translate into a long time in the limbo - up to decades. Cobb knew he was in limbo because he had experienced about been in limbo before (when he and Mal gets too deep once) but Saito seems to have forgotten where he is. During the limbo stage, you aged faster because of the time context and you are not aware that it is a dream and seems to have accepted it as reality. The main difference here is just that Cobb aware he is in limbo.

    Top can spins for a long time. (I find myself that this is one of the most difficult questions to answer) I believe it was the intention of Christopher Nolan to make us all keep guessing if it was still a dream or not. The fact is that the scene cuts away before we are certain of what happens next - means the movie cuts away before we know the top may stop spinning or not.
    Even it is a matter of debate, I believe that Cobb in the end is still in the dream state. The reasons are that based on the momentum of the spinning top, it is unlikely that at such momentum that the top will stop spinning. I'm not sure if the previous sentence sounds accurately. Upon my second viewing, I noticed that the top is losing its momentum and beginning to wobble over. The other factor to be considered is that Cobb's children supposedly have been growing older by now. If you notice the end credit, there were two sets of Cobb's children at different age. I assumed that Cobb has not seen them for two years or so and the final scene where he was united with them were solely based on his memory about them. Another possible factor here is that the whole movie works out as a dream from the beginning. You may argue with the totem but totem only works to ensure that you are not in someone's dream. So since the top at the end was still spinning, could be that Cobb was still in limbo or in someone else's dream? Perhaps, the most dangerous idea is that could Mal still alive?
    Well, even it sounds like a dream still in the end, please check out more conspiracy theories further down.

    Easy! He performed the Inception into his wife Mal before. Once upon a time, they got into the limbo and been in that stage too long because Cobb insisted on pushing deeper and deeper into the dream. Cobb and Mal were trapped in limbo for 50 years, unaware that their world wasn't real. Cobb eventually discovered the truth, but Mal refused to accept it. To get Mal to kill herself and return to the reality (remember, you wake up into the reality if you kill yourself in the limbo stage), Cobb performed an inception by planting the idea that the world wasn't real in her mind. It works but upon arriving into the reality, Mal still perceived that she wasn't in the real world and determined to kill herself. That explains her death by jumping off the hotel balcony and the initiation of Cobb's guilt over his wife's death.

    Eames is the forger in the movie. In real world, he can forge identities using his contacts and fake documents. Forge is a fraud or fake anyway! In the dream world, he can 'shape-shifter' by altering his appearance and take on the personality of someone he's studied. Eames forged as Peter during the dream to convince Fischer to reveal out the combination number for the safe box.
    Okay, there are some who questions how it really works. Can I say I'm not so sure either? But noticed how Eams used the mirror, oh multiple mirrors technique to study and adapt to the behaviors and styles of the person he impersonated. So, you may remember the part where he started to impersonate Peter Browning to create an issue for Fischer to think about. Well, does this mechanism anyway similar on how Ariadne managed to create a new dream setting with the two glass doors she pulled out during her introduction lesson to the dream-sharing?

    Yes, there were two Kicks in that scene (well sort off). The first kick happened when the van hit the bridge barrier. This would have allowed the team to have ample time to prepare themselves before the van hit the river. It was understood that Cobb mentioned that they have missed the first kick. Arthur was one level below it while Cobb, Eams, Ariadne, Saito and Fischer were two levels below. But I was wondering why Arthur didn't wake up when the first kick happened (when the van hit the barrier). Is the experienced able to control when they should awake? Perhaps, he has the responsibility to ensure the second kick really happened and thus he has to remain in the second dream? I don't have the clear explanation for this.

    In any level of dreams, the safe box represents the idea to be stolen or to be planted. It is a subconscious recreation that can be exploited. Fischer's safe in the third level dream was a vault which his dying father and the important safe box was inside. For Cobb, the spinning top was kept inside the safe. According to Cinema Blend, "The top is Mal's totem, which she uses to determine whether she's in a dream. If it never stops spinning that tells Mal that she's in a dream. By placing a constantly spinning totem in the safe, Cobb is placing an idea (and a very simple one) inside her subconscious. It's not that she saw the totem spinning, but that it was always spinning in her subconscious mind. This is why she thought she was trapped in the dream world."

    Notice how difficult it gets when you have anti-gravity environment? Yes, how do you supposed to create a kick that will be sufficient enough to awake everyone? Initially, Arthur planed to blow up the Room 491 (which was below Room 528 where everyone was share-dreaming) to give a kick. However, plan aborted and Arthur moved them all to the elevator. First he detached the cables that support the elevator. Now, the elevator is hanging mid-air with no cable holding it, with the anti-gravity effect kicking in. Then, Arthur planted a few bombs on top of the elevator. The bombs are not meant to blow up the elevator, but merely act like a rocket engine that propels the elevator into the desired direction. What can I said, imagine a rocket launched from its platform! Use the concept of Third Newton's Law of Motion.

    If you are still puzzled by the movie, feel free to shake things down at the comment box for further discussion. Comments, alternate theory or so are welcomed! Source: http://www.cinemablend.com/new/Inception-Explained-Unraveling-The-Dream-Within-The-Dream-19615.html

    Thanks to the second viewing that I have, I managed to scramble in a few more things for you to consider. The previous edition of the article was written after my first viewing last Thursday. Today, I have several things to add in. Want to hear more?

    01) Here's something to think about. Cobb's children called him in the hotel room in Japan after he failed his mission to extract information on Saito. In this scene, he spun the top while getting ready to shoot himself in case if the top does not stop spinning. My question here is very simple, how did the children managed to call him while he is in Japan? We know that Cobb has left his children for a long period of time, presumably for his 'illegal' job and the death of his wife and this left a notion that his children would not have knew that he is in Japan. So the children knew where he was while it was supposed to be a secret mission?

    02) Cobb's children called Cobb in the hotel room in Japan. Notice that the voice of his children did not really match-up with their age. This is particularly true for Phillipa. She doesn't sound like a 3-year-old kid, the age we presumed Cobb forcefully left them behind.

    03) The question that keeps on persist throughout the movie is the use of totem by Cobb. We were first taught that using somebody else's totem may not work in determining the reality and dream. Throughout the movie, Cobb used the top, which was belongs to Mal's, to determine his own reality. Okay, so it may not work well with the theory. But here's my guessing, we know that the idea of using the totem came straight out of Mal's. I assumed that both Cobb and Mal used the same totem because they explored the dreams together before the tragedy. With that, Cobb may also know the secret of balance, composition and the weight of the top himself too, as much as she did.

    04) Notice the awkward in Mombasa's dream? While Cobb ran away from the agents of Cobol Engineering that were hunting him, Cobb escaped through a small alley. At first he managed to get in but when he was almost getting out of that narrow alley, he got stuck. Does that indicate the shifting of the building that is trying to close down the alley's exit? Or it is just a pure coincident that the buildings in Mombasa work that kind of design?

    05) Another thing is that Saito's arrival in Mombasa was very well-timed. He came out of nowhere and Cobb was rescued. Too timely or a merely another coincidence? You judge yourself.

    06) Remember after visiting Yusuf, the chemist, and his test dream with using his specialized and formulated sedative compound? He went to the toilet after awaken. Saito came in to interrupt him and he did not toss his top well enough to exclude the dream nature around him. Thus, he did not properly indicate that he was still in dream or he has back into the reality. So is that a purposely done so to create some room for debate there?
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    1. How do they choose who is the dreamer at each level? If its agreed when they go under, how come they go into Fischer's dream from the hotel room, when Fischer believes they are going into his Uncle's dream ?

    2. my only question is that how they got in the dream of browning as he was a projection of fischer's mind and how he tells all about the same thinking of all the other group like cob,eames,etc.

    3. What if you must fall simultaneously in the dream and reality/dream above to wake up? Van fall and lift fall, but Ariadne woke up in the lift only at the moment, when she fall in fortress. And there were no fall in reality/plane, they just woke up in right time (you see, they escape the sinking van and wait).
      I think, there is no level 4 in this movie (but after using logic, it is possible), just limbo - Ariadne kill herself to wake up and want to kill Cobb too (and he said no, because he want to find Saito). Maybe Eames want kick Fischer in the fortress to wake him up (after his death in limbo) not in reality but in the third stage od the dream.
      That problem "turning hotel" still burning me. YOu can hear music from level 1 in level 3, but world cannot move (because sleepers in level 2 surely must move, when hotel is turning around)? Screenplay error, I think.

    4. I thought that the spinning top was mail's totem whereas Cobb's is his wedding ring. He only seems to wear it in the dream state.


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