There are very few movie moments as controversial in recent years as the Inception ending. Inception fans have no debate about this being one of Christopher Nolan‘s best movies, but there’s plenty of debate about that final shot. Will the top fall? Is the finale a dream or reality?
It has been more than a decade since one of the best Christopher Nolan movies gave us a conclusion for the ages. Leonardo DiCaprio‘s dream-traversing protagonist Cobb had returned to the real world and to his children, or had he?
In the final moments, we saw his spinning top totem teetering as if to fall, only for the camera to cut to black. If it had fallen, we’d have known we were in reality, but Nolan never gave us that catharsis in one of his best thriller movies. And now, he’s told the Happy Sad Confused podcast the answer he believes to be correct – but it’s not a satisfying one for those of us who have been confused for 13 years.
Nolan said: “I went through a phase where I was asked that a lot. I think it was [producer] Emma Thomas who pointed out the correct answer, which is Leo’s character… the point of the shot is the character doesn’t care at that point. It’s not a question I comfortably answer.”
You might not like it, but Nolan is completely right about this. The emotional core of Inception remains in tact regardless of what happens with the top, and Cobb doesn’t care. The world with his children is real to him, and he no longer cares whether it’s real to everyone else or not. The ambiguity only matters to us in the audience.
You can also learn why Nolan’s daughter has the most horrific role in Oppenheimer (it’s truly grotesque) and find out what we know about the next Christopher Nolan movie. We’ve also explained how Nolan filmed those atomic bomb sequences in Oppenheimer.