"Inception" - Why Was It Hard To Understand?

Just watched it again. I understood what was happening the first time. Understood it the second time. The ending’s ambiguous, but everything else made sense to me.

Maybe I’m just a dreamer.

I don’t even think the ending is ambiguous(it’s the real world, not a dream).

And I don’t think it was hard to understand.

RickJay, I’m not sure if you’ve noticed this, but people are monumentally stupid. Not that Inception was perfectly straight-forward, I can see where they might get confused - but not if they’re actually paying attention and making an effort to make sense out of movie that’s going to spoon feed everything to you.

Err… I’m pretty sure the ending is supposed to be ambiguous. I mean, you can draw your own conclusions about it (I believe it was real at the end), but it was definitely meant to not be specific.

I thought the plot was fairly easy to follow, but the mechanics are a little confusing. For example when they’re in the dream world, can they just materialize objects at random? There was the scene in Fischer’s dream when they’re in the warehouse and Fischer’s militarized projections are shooting at them. Cobb’s gang is shooting back, and Eames walks up to Arthur, says something like “You should dream bigger” and pulls out a grenade launcher.

Now did he have the grenade launcher all along, or is it something that he just “dreamed” up on the spot? And if they can dream up stuff at will, why couldn’t they just dream up shields when the bad guys were shooting at them, or dream up some sort of magical “bullet extracting, gunshot wound healing” device to save Saito after he was shot?

I didn’t think it was hard to understand.

Of course, I kept pausing it to make fun of it on twitter. Maybe that made it easier to understand.

Well, I do see what you mean. Christopher Nolan has admitted it is supposed to be ambiguous a bit, but I really think even he’s kind of just playing along. The top wiggles, the sound of it is really, really clear with a good sound system, and that has to mean it is real.

Here are his comments on the ending, by the way. But I give him a sound: :dubious:

I don’t understand anything about it. Are they supposed to be asleep or something, and if so are they still on the Titanic? Why is Juno there? Is she still pregnant?

Except that it reallydoesn’t, according to the internal logic of the movie - the only utility a totem has (as Dom warns) is in its qualities which are unknown and unknowable to any other person. To start, Dom is using another person’s totem - and he is completely unguarded about its special qualities.

More than that, it’s explicitly said that the key to a successful inception is an exploit of the subject’s relationship with their father. This is why Dom’s father’s line “Come back here - come back to reality” is emphasized so heavily, with extreme close-up and dreamy reverb on the audio. That’s the inception - that “here” is “reality.”

If you are paying attention, there are many suggestions that everything we are shown is different strata of dream, with no “authentic” reality at all. Fischer? Window dressing on the layout, and Dom is on the other end of the same trick he used: they are running around in his unconscious, with the supposed target a mere diversion. The architect of the layout is well into chess (as signified by her totem) and it ain’t no coincidence that Robert Fischer is the spit-and-image of Robert Fischer.

Idiots don’t get it because there’s a bare minimum of informational dialogue explaining the central conceit. The Matrix, by comparison, dripped with it. The scene most analogous in Inception was DiCaprio and Page’s characters sitting in the cafe, and it’s done with a much lighter hand.

It’s supremely well thought out, easy to understand, and perhaps the greatest single technical feat of cinematographic, directional, story, and editorial license and collaboration I have ever seen. The ending is just the sticky botttom bow to wrap this present up. Peel and stick.

The snowy garrison ending (ostensibly, Russian) reminded me of the Rainbow Six:Rogue spearsnowy Russian Base level? I wonder if that was a conscious decision made by Nolan and the writers? Or perhaps done for action texture and hook?

I don’t think it was inherently hard to understand. The ending was meant to be “!” but not in a “question everything” way but instead in a “bazinga!” way.

Well… Dom’s “Laissez Faire” use of his totem is certainly suspect. But the various character names are not suspect. All the characters in the film have “Freudian” (read: symbolic or meta) names - that’s just a literary technique and not some sort of clue. Well, a clue to literary meaning yes, but a clue to a secret non reality no.


The plot involved several levels of reality so there’s some basis for misunderstanding.

But besides that…

Upon close analysis one has to wonder about certain details…

The briefcase is shown as a device for anesthesia drugs, but we never see the mechanism for dream networking. There are also several other dream mechanisms left unexplained.

There are some other continuity issues.

The primary ones for me, are whether the “kick” kicks you up or down, and whether “limbo” is unique or the same as a particular dream level…

The more unrealistic the dream, the harder the dream will fight back, as seen when Ellen Page is mucking around with Cobb’s dream. It’s realistic to think that the kidnappers of a high profile businessman would be prepared with weapons, but not that they have access to magic healing devices.

I see the same “It’s hard to understand!” complaints about a lot of films that I feel were easy enough to follow (the third Pirates of the Caribbean film springs to mind). I always worry that it’s me that’s the problem, and I haven['t understood it but think I have, or have made up my own movie partway through like Homer Simpson does.

I don’t know why people are so confused either. Made (enough) sense to me. My wife was completely mystified and lost before the first layer.

I don’t think it was hard to understand, it was just very badly written. A pity really, as it was well acted and shot, but the script was awful. Far too often it relied upon Star Trek-esque technobabble, often by one person performing a monologue of made up pseudo-science bullshit. Irritated the tits off of me.

It’s clearly ambiguous. You can read it any way you want. With the added bonus – why does the falling top mean it’s real? You could easily dream the top fell*.

I bet you also know whether it’s the lady or the tiger.

I liked the film a lot, even though it was all monumentally silly (quite fitting, since it was ripped off from Donald Duck). The entire structure on inception was so top-heavy and ridiculous (you had to kidnap someone, have him fall asleep, and then go into his dreams) that you just shrugged and ignored it. They did a nice job with the exposition (since the concept was so exposition heavy) by giving it in bits and pieces at times when there was a lot of action going on.

My main complaint with the direction was the battle in the snow; it was impossible to know who was who.

It wasn’t hard to understand, but there is a lot of exposition given quite rapidly, so it was easy to miss it. Also, the gaps in logic were breathtaking (falling in one dream means you go into zero g in the dream within it, but not in the dream within that). But it was a fun and entertaining movie.

*Yes, it’s his totem – but he’s not watching it. Also, the totem thing was one of the silliest parts of the movie, making no logical sense at all.

Well, perhaps it’s almost as easy to explain the movie as it is to say that you understood it.

To those who think that the movie made sense, please provide your summary of the plot.

You don’t need a good sound system, I caught it perfectly well through my computer speakers. But I also caught that the film cuts off at the crucial moment, so we don’t really know if the top was about to fall or if it righted itself after a momentary wobble as a top will do. If there hadn’t been the slight wobble, the ambiguity would be lost.

“Ariadne”–could you possibly hit me in the face with it any harder? :slight_smile:

This. The stuff about Limbo in particular sounded like the kind of pointless details an 8-year-old would dream up when making up a story off the top of his head.

Just chiming in to say that I didn’t have any problem following it the first time I saw it either. I do think that some of the dialogue about how things worked was a bit rushed, and I could see how if you weren’t really focused on what they were saying it would have gone by too fast.