Please explain the ending of inception to me?

Fantastic film, I enjoyed it all the way through but the ending just confused me.

Here's what I thought in the middle of the film, then at the end of the film and after reading pages of comments and arguments both way my opinion has not changed. this in my opinion is the only explanation which makes sense.

The whole film is a dream, the spinning top falls at the end so that means it's his own dream. The top falls because of the sound it makes during the credits, the reason why it doesn't matter if the top falls or not is because it isn't his totem, it's his wifes and only she would know how it was meant to act (the weight etc), also the totem tells you if you are in someone elses dream, not your own, you can make whatever happen in your own dream. The reason why the ending is a dream is his kids haven't aged, wearing same clothes, it jumps around from the airport too much, and it's just generally dreamlike.

The start of the film is also a dream, for no reason he is being chased by some people in the african city, the walls of the building are too tight to get through, then saito picks him up in a car automatically, how would he know he was running down that alley, again it's too dreamlike. The dad also tell him to come back to reality, but that isn't really the dad because it jumped to Paris too quickly and again was dreamlike, its more likely to be a thought in Cobbs head, part of him know he's in a dream but he doesn't admit it.

His wife did not kill herself, most of the time you see his wife it's a memory, the girl says these aren't just dreams they are also memories… his wife was on another building when she jumped to her death, a copy of it, how, again it's very dreamlike, what did she do, trash the hotel room, then go over to an identical building opposite to jump, I have a feeling this is just a memory of his, it didn't really happen but he's trying to come to terms with something and partly made up. Again you can't be sure they grow old together, for me it was like he was trying to persuade himself they did, he was so unsure when he first said it.

In the middle of the film I thought it was his wife who was in reality trying to save him, yet this is too much of a cliché ending, and his wife, the character was not detailed, it was always just a memory of her trying to kill him, his subconcious telling him he had to die. The only character that really tried to help him and was there all the way was the architect girl, maybe she was trying to help him, however again I think she is also a projection and the whole thing is a dream. for hundreds and hundreds more comments check out the cinema blend website, they have like 61 pages of comments so far and growing like mad!

I think the ending is up for the viewer to decide. Either Cobb finally makes it back to reality and is reunited with his kids, or he is still in a dream. Personally, I think he's finally "woken up" from the various dreams he entered during the course of the film, and can see his children again. However, perhaps the ending of the film is to make us question our reality – are we truly here or is this all an illusion? Either way, Cobb is reunited with his children, so even if the whole film is a dream at least he has reached a point in the dream where he can stop running and see his kids again.

I really enjoyed the film as well, but I can sympathise with being really confused by the ending!

My reading is pretty much Frued/Lucan so I won't bother to get to much into it, suffice to say that if Arthur's totem is a loaded die (logic, minimisation of risk … super ego), Eames' would probably be a poker chip (Id). I think Nolan encourages just this type of reading given his choice of name for the architect. Ariadne was the princess who taught Theseus the method of navigating the maze in the Greek Minitor myth.

I will say something about dream logic though. In the apparent real world I do think it is telling that certain environmental factors don't quite add up in hindsight. "The dream feels real when you're in it".

Did you notice that during the African chase the walls started closing in on Cobb … classic anxiety manifestation? Once he squeezed through it was also interesting that Saito was waiting to save him … what … in the real world?
When his wife committed suicide why was she sat on the ledge of the room opposite to the one she messed up? was the the wide drop between them a visual representation of the emotional gap? when he finally rejoins his children why are they the same age, wearing the same clothes and sitting in the same positions of as when he last saw them … wasn't there separation a while ago? The dream machine technology is really very vague isn't it … a little like something you'd expect a mind to construct in order to facilitate a complex story?
Totems seem to work via dream logic … why can't you see the base of the bishop in the dream? besides – and this is interesting – Cobb does of course break this rule during a dream when he makes the top spin in the safe. Doesn't it then follow that the top spinning or stopping doesn't amount to much of anything?

The Micheal Caine character said it best "Come back to reality Cobb". As Caine is probably just another Cobb manifestation it's just a question of what type of dream it is. for my money the entire movie is a dream; is there a wife on the level above waiting for his return? As I don't believe in the dream technology I'm more inclined to believe that Cobb is as regular as you or me, and has broken up with his wife or something like that.
In a way I think you'll just have to make peace with the fact that the end is multilayered and must be kept that way in order to give the ideas space to grow. Example: I could just as easily be wrong and it could be that his wife is trying to wake him from the "real" world… or perhaps the resolution was just that.

What ever the case I think it's clear that inception does work … Nolan has succeeded in implanting an idea in my head that just keeps growing.

Ok this is from Wikipedia right after it talks about Cobbs getting Saito back.

Cobb suddenly awakens to find everyone on the plane (including Saito) up and well. Saito picks up a phone and honors their arrangement, Cobb reenters the United States without incident, and is reunited with his children. Cobb spins his totem to test reality, but is distracted by the sight of his children. The top slows slightly and begins to wobble, but the screen cuts to black before it falls which leaves the question of whether Cobb is still dreaming.

3 ways for it to end, left up to the viewer.

1. the entire film was a dream, leo never woke up from being in limbo with his wife.

2. he never wakes up after going to save the asian man. evidence for this is one when he gets home his children have the same clothes on as he remembered before being sent away. two because he doesnt wake up in the other sub dreams, just on the plane, and one of the clear signs of dreaming is being somewhere without remembering how you got there. 3 was the subtle top spinning at the end.

3. he wakes up and everything comes to a happy ending because the top wobbles right before the screen goes to black, if he was dreaming, the top would spin endlessly

As others have said I believe the ending is that Cobbs completed the mission and returned home to his children in the real world. The ending is supposed to leave us hanging and wondering what true reality is.
However my take is that he is back in real life and I feel these facts explain that, one of the big ones being that in his dreams he could never see his kids faces but he did in the end.
Second as some people have mentioned it could not have been true reality because his children did not age, however if you watched the credits or check imdb it shows that they do age and there are two different sets credited actors (Phillipa (3 years) , James (20 months), Phillipa (5 years), James (3 years) ~IMDB)
Third they explain that when you are in a dream you just appear and don't know how it happened, in the final scene when Cobbs wakes up as they are about to land at LAX they are all just where they are supposed to be 10 hours prior to that his team got on the plane and started the mission and went under once Cobbs drugged fischer.
And lastly the top never wobbled in a dream as they said and showed us it spins in a perfect circle forever, Cobbs was able to use his wifes totem because she was dead and she was the only other person that knew the characteristics of it.

I think that 1 of 2 things happened:

1) Cobb was dreaming all along (which can be argued b/c the top fell before they entered Fischer's dream), or he never fully escaped from limbo -at the end of the movie, his kids looked the same as they did when he left, and he said that he and Mal went deeper and deeper into dreams, but he never says how deep he went, and in the airport at the end, everyone is staring at him – he may still be inside someone's subconsciousness – maybe Mal's. and the top is never shown falling. – If this is true, than Mal was right and when she jumped off the building she woke up.

2)Cobb woke up at the end, the top fell, and he was reunited with his children

Either way it was a great movie.

You were supposed to wonder if Leo was dreaming the whole thing at the end because they never show the top stop spinning.

However, it should be reality, because the dream top never wobbled, and the one at the end did.

Please explain the ending of inception to me?

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