Submitted by MGoBender on July 18th, 2010 at 11:16 PM

It's the off-season, so I feel that if we can have 20 bobblathon threads we can have 2 threads on what will probably be the highest-grossing film of the year.


There are spoilers in this thread. 


If you want to see this movie (and you should!) leave now.  If you don't leave, you deserve anything you get.






Getting things started with some bullets....

  • Holy f---.  Did this movie ever slow down?  I felt like it was the fastest 2.5 hours of my life.
  • I'm fuzzy on some of the rules of the dream worlds - how did Cobb and Mal spend 50 years in their dreams?  Did I miss something on that one?  Did they have some kinda sedative?  (EDIT: Aware of exponential time increases - thought they were in level one (L1) for 50 L1 years.  Someone below said they were in limbo at this time).
  • I believe the top fell.  Why?  Because I want to, which is most important.  One main reason I believe this, though, is that early on in the film when he spins the top wouldn't it not fall as well?
  • If he is asleep and Mal was right, then what is the number of layers we're looking at?  Snow Mtn would then be 4, not 3.  The van would be 2, not 1, etc.
  • When Cobb went to find Saito, did he go down another layer?


Can't wait to go see it again.  Even though I think I have a good grasp on things, I'm sure there are opinions/aspects that would provide some new dimensions that I had not considered.



July 18th, 2010 at 11:22 PM ^

With each layer time slows down even more. So a week in the real world could be fifty years in dream world. When Cobb found Saito I believe they were in limbo.

Big Boutros

July 18th, 2010 at 11:29 PM ^

Cobb and Mal spent 50 years in a dream because they got all the way down to limbo. 5 minutes in a first tier dream is an hour. Time gets exponentially slower each level down. Remember, with Yusuf's sedative, they were supposed to have ten years on the snow level to get the job done. So ten real-time hours in limbo would be hundreds if not thousands of years. More than enough to grow old together.

I also think the top fell. I think so because I want it to, but also because he saw his children's faces. They never turned around in his dreams.

Also, the way you phrased Bullet 4 makes me feel even more strongly. Mal could not be right. Mal was fucking crazy. Mal stabs people.

I don't think Cobb went another layer down. He hadn't aged when he found Old Man Saito, but I think you don't age when you're conscious of the dream state. Cobb knew he was in limbo, so he didn't age. I think. Think think.


July 18th, 2010 at 11:42 PM ^

They showed Cobb waking up on the beach again right before finding Saito.  I believe the beach-waking was indicative of his movement from Level 4/Limbo to Level 5/Below Limbo.  Also, wasn't Cobb killed by his wife in Level 4/Limbo, and since his sedative hadn't yet worn off, wouldn't that mean he moved down one further level, to Level 5/Below Limbo?

I do like the theory of Cobb not aging because he knew he was in a dream state - I hadn't thought of that, and hadn't seen it mentioned elsewhere on the internet...which is exactly why I'm happy that there is a thread here about it.


July 19th, 2010 at 12:01 AM ^

And I don't know.  Obviously Saito was killed by Mal in Level 3 (Snowy Mountain) to take him down to Limbo, but I have no idea how Saito would have made it to Double Limbo (I like that term)...if Double Limbo even existed. 

Or, was Saito just in his OWN Limbo?  Since Limbo was expressed as the complete subconscious and no reality (and the bottom), it wouldn't make sense that after Saito's death in Level 3, he would move to Cobb's Limbo.  So maybe Cobb found a way to move from Cobb's Limbo to Saito's Limbo?  A switch within levels, rather than moving down a level?

Big Boutros

July 19th, 2010 at 12:09 AM ^

I remember hearing after Saito got shot in the van (and Eames wanted to wake him up) that there is only one limbo. It's filled with whatever stuff was put there by someone who had been there before in the crew. Old Balls Saito lived in the same palace where Leo had tried to dupe him in the opening scene.

So maybe we're overthinking. Maybe there is no double limbo, just relative passage of time. Maybe, in the five to ten minutes it took Leo to die from his stab wound and reawaken on Saito's beach (in the same limbo), Saito got old, because his limbo moved slower.


Big Boutros

July 19th, 2010 at 12:41 AM ^

Brilliant point. If the balcony death resulted in her waking up, she could have been a lot more productive than getting stabby all the time. If Cobb's reality wasn't real, she could have flipped his body upside down or poured water on him and his supposedly real world would have changed.

da shiz

July 18th, 2010 at 11:36 PM ^

The top has to fall over at the end for me to understand what I just watched. If it doesn't, I'm not sure what I just watched for the past 2.5 hours, plus I'm a sucker for happy endings.


July 19th, 2010 at 8:19 AM ^

Everyone is focussing on the top (rightly so since that is what we were condidtioned to do throughout the movie).  however, there might be a much better indicator of where Kobb is at the end (reality or dream).  If someone can answer this question, I think the ending is explained.  Were the children wearing the same clothes in the last scene as they were in Kobb's "dream" earlier in the movie?  If it were reality, it would be too big of a coincidence for them to be wearing the exact same clothing the day he left and the day he returned.  Thoughts anyone? 


July 18th, 2010 at 11:39 PM ^

but the more I think about it, the more I think it didn't.

Biggest reason - unless it was a significant plot flaw, how would the sedatives work to get from level one to level two?  I can certainly buy that moving from reality to dream level #1 for an extended period of time is induced by a strong sedative.  But, it doesn't make any sense that taking a sedative while within the dream world would have any effect on anyone.

OR, is it assumed that since pain can be felt within a dream, the impact of a sedative can also move you from a dream to a dream-within-a-dream?  I just don't understand how Person A's body can be affected by a sedative and knock them into another dream when they are already "inside" of Person B's dream. 

I have eighty-seven more theories and questions.  Any thoughts on this one?

Big Boutros

July 18th, 2010 at 11:46 PM ^

I think you nailed it with the pain. The brain is active; the brain makes it real. If your brain processes "hey, I'm receiving a sedative," even if it's asleep, the brain will "obey" the sedative. My dad had the same question. How does the technology work when you're already in a dream? I don't think it's a plot hole; I think it's simply because your brain tells it to. I mean, cars and guns and Snow Hummers operate as usual within the dreams; why can't the dream machinery?


July 18th, 2010 at 11:39 PM ^

Maybe I'm already forgetting something.... Very well aware of the exponential time increases.


If Cobb and Mal suicided themselves via train after 50 years and that suicide led to them waking up, wouldn't that mean they were on the first level?

Like I said, I might be forgetting something.  Cobb explained a lot to Ellen Page's character once they got to that level and I might have missed a point or two.


July 18th, 2010 at 11:40 PM ^

Seeing it again a second time makes it that much better. You pick up do much more, especially at the beginning, because you aren't trying to figure everything out.

As for the ending, i've flip-flopped about it about 3 or 4 times, but right now i say the top was going to fall and he wasn't dreaming

Michigan Shirt

July 19th, 2010 at 3:54 PM ^

You have seen it more times than me so you probably remeber, but didn't the top look like it was starting to wobble at the very end. I am assuming that if it were a dream and the top would never stop spinning that it wouldn't wobble and then pick up spinning right after (just my opinion to the ending).


July 18th, 2010 at 11:44 PM ^

It was made clear early in the movie (from the conversation between Ellen Page's character and Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character) that a totem is only effective if it is your own totem.

The totem Cobb used throughout the movie was his wife's totem...another point that I feel adds to the likelihood that Cobb was actually stuck in his WIFE'S architected dreamworld the entire movie, and his wife was legitimately trying to help him back to reality.


July 19th, 2010 at 12:03 AM ^

Maybe I misunderstood, but I think the idea was that nobody else could touch your totem for fear that it would be broken/altered/stolen.  If Cobb took his wife's totem after she passed, then he could have learned its texture/weight/balance without fear that another living person would know how it felt.


July 19th, 2010 at 12:26 AM ^

I could be missing something (of course) or overanalyzing everything (perhaps), but why would he not have had his own totem when Cobb/Mal first went down into Limbo together?

My confidence in the theory of the whole movie taking place within Mal's architected dream has certainly taken a hit through this thread, so I'd like to exhaust all of my skepticisms about the ending being reality.


July 18th, 2010 at 11:46 PM ^

Something someone said has already cleared something with me that I just kinda didn't think about.

On Level 3 (snowy mountain) they were supposed to be there for years to decades.  It took me until now to realize that they were and we just saw the last hour or so of this time.  When realizing this, it makes much more sense that Fischer was completely on the same page with the group, which was something I was like "hmmmm" while watching, but now makes sense.


July 18th, 2010 at 11:56 PM ^

My impression was that Level 1 (van) was a lot quicker than anticipated due to the unexpected high number of attacks on the van (yes, they knew there would be enemies, but the driver clearly struggled a lot) - if Level 1 was shortened from a planned 30 minutes (or whatever) to an actual 3 minutes, that would make a significant difference in all lower levels.


July 19th, 2010 at 12:00 AM ^

Another good point that I think still fits in with my statement.  If I had to put numbers on it:

Level 1: 5 minutes (2 of which occur in the van)

Level 2: 5 hours

Level 3: A year?

Anyone remember Page's character's breakdown of the numbers?  If we assume 3-5 minutes on Level 1, we should be able to solidly figure out the next two based on her numbers.


July 19th, 2010 at 12:06 AM ^

"Time slows down with each level, so that five minutes of real time would appear as an hour in the first dream, which feels like 10 hours in the next level, and so on."

So, it would appear that each level is multiplied by roughly a factor of 10 - meaning that the 50 years in Limbo that Cobb/Mal spent would have been 5 years on Level 3, 6 months on Level 2, about 2 weeks on Level 1, and about a day and a half in reality...works for me.

Michigan Shirt

July 19th, 2010 at 3:59 PM ^

I remeber specifically that they would have 1 week in the 1st layer and 10 years in the 3rd layer, with something like 6 months for the 2nd layer. Didn't Ellen Page's character say "Why would you want to be in a dream for 10 years", and the chemist said "Depends on the dream".


July 19th, 2010 at 12:59 PM ^

I don't think that they were actually on level 3 for several years because Saito probably couldn't have survived for several years (by the time they get to the air duct, he can barely move). I assumed that the defense system in level 1 messed up the entire plan and made them have to operate much more quickly.


July 18th, 2010 at 11:54 PM ^

I've read elsewhere that even though you don't SEE the top discontinue its spinning, you can HEAR a thud right after the screen goes black.

I personally didn't hear that thud, but I wasn't listening too carefully at that point - did anyone else hear it?


July 18th, 2010 at 11:58 PM ^

The ledge scene.  His wife was in a ledge across the alley from the room they rented for their anniversary celebration - I suppose it is possible that she rented a room across the street/alley, but I find it more likely that it was just a weird fuck-up in Cobb's own imagination/dream.


July 19th, 2010 at 12:08 AM ^

I took that as a way for her to get him to jump.  If she stays in her room, he could possibly grab her before she jumps.

If she tricks him onto the ledge (which she did) and then goes to the opposite ledge she could more possibly get him to jump after her and there's nothing he can do to stop her, which is a pretty sound theory. 

Then again, an old fashioned murder-suicide would have done the trick, right?


July 19th, 2010 at 12:08 AM ^

And I had also thought that it would have taken way too much planning for Mal to think that far ahead...but, she clearly did orchestrate out that entire scene incredibly well (with the psychiatrist evaluations of her sanity, complaints to the attorney about fearing for her life, etc.)

So, it is completely plausible that she had thought the opposite room and ledge aspect out as well.


July 19th, 2010 at 12:13 AM ^

Yeah, exactly, especially with the psychiatrist and attorney involvement it seems very well planned.

But at the same time all she really had to do was shoot him and then shoot herself, right?


July 19th, 2010 at 12:27 AM ^

Good point.  If she (or her image in other dream-worlds) truly thought that he just needed to "wake up", she should have been killing him far more frequently than just the one time in Limbo (which failed, since he was under the sedative).