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More Parodies and Possible Clarifications of the "Inception" Ending

by Christopher Campbell
August 2, 2010 6:09 AM
5 Comments
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As you might tell from the title, this has to do with the end of "Inception" and so therefore includes SPOILERS. You're hereby warned.

Just as people keep trying to ruin the ambiguous ending of "The Graduate," people are out to find definition in the uncertain conclusion of "Inception," which just finished its third weekend at the top of the box office. Though you might prefer to learn of intent concerning the ending from writer-director Christopher Nolan or even the film's star, Leonardo DiCaprio, the best we've got for now is costume designer Jeffrey Kurland, who spoke about the final scene in an interview with the site Clothes on Film (via The Playlist). He has nothing to reveal about whether or not the top indeed stops spinning after the cut to black, but he provides some clarification about the clothing the kids are wearing that might support the argument that Dom Cobb has made it back to the real world in the end.

If you're unaware of the debate, many viewers claim the clothes worn by Cobb's kids (portrayed by real-life siblings Taylor and Johnathan Geare) in the final scene are the same as what they're wearing in his dreams. They also appear in a similar position. This is believed to be a hint that Cobb is still dreaming at the end. Other more perceptible viewers argue that the clothes are different. Who's right? Let's hear it from the guy who dressed the actors:

COF: How much does costume reflect the inner machinations of the plot, particularly in a film such as Inception? For example, Cobb’s children are wearing the same clothes at the end of the story as they are in his dream ‘memory’ throughout the film. Is there something to be interpreted here?

JK: Costume design reflects greatly on the movement of the plot, most significantly through character development. Character development is at the forefront of costume design. The characters move the story along and with the director and the actor the costume designer helps to set the film’s emotional tone in a visual way. In a more physical sense the costumes’ style and color help to keep the story on track, keeping a check on time and place.

On to the second part of your question, the children’s clothing is different in the final scene… look again…

So this clearly means Cobb is awake in the end, right? Well, surely fans will find ways of continuing the debate in spite of this confirmation. Another level of the debate concerns the ages of the kids, with some people mistakenly pointing out that multiple child actors are credited as portraying Cobb's kids (one is another Geare sibling, all of them pictured to the right). But it's been clarified time and again that the younger kids only appear in a single dream scene and not the one heavily repeated. Meanwhile, there is no reason to believe that Cobb has been away from his kids for so long that having them be the same age in the end as they are in his dreams is any hint that he's still dreaming. I keep thinking the voice of daughter Philippa on the phone at one point sounds too old to be from a 5-year-old, but I'm willing to shrug it off.

As for whether or not the top stops spinning, here is a College Humor spoof making the rounds that plays upon the frustration of the audience at the end of "Inception":

See more funny videos and funny pictures at CollegeHumor.


On a slightly related matter, especially as referenced in its "forget 'Inception'" header, The Guardian's David Cox takes a stab at the ending of "Shutter Island," which might not be exactly as it seems to be. I won't reprint what he has to say since I only warned you of "Inception" spoilers, but it concerns a certain line DiCaprio says that's not adapted from Dennis Lehane's book. And the theory seems to make sense. I might just have to revisit that Scorsese film and see if it holds up.

If you want to discuss other parts of "Inception," head over to the Spout About post for the film here.

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5 Comments

  • Laura | August 23, 2010 1:26 AMReply

    The key to discerning when it is reality and when it is not is whether Dicaprio is wearing his ring. Dreaming = ring, Reality = no ring. However, the final scenes are played so that we never see his left hand to know whether he has his ring on at the end. Doesn't confirm reality at the end, but there is a reality in the movie.

  • Michelle | August 22, 2010 7:23 AMReply

    I couldn't see any difference in the boys clothing at the end of the movie then when he was recalling memories but I thought the girls dress might have looked different. I don't remember the white sleeves in the other sequences but then I was watching it for free online and the quality wasn't PERFECT. One thing that I definitely observed though is that there was one scene in particular where the childrens clothing was completely different then any other time. It was when Cobb is telling Ariadne about how he planted the idea in Moll's subconscious and in the sequence where he is taking the children out of the room and Moll is screaming that she is their Mother and knows her own children. Both kids are wearing striped clothing and it is the only time during the whole movie you see them in those clothes. It seems significant.

  • ErinW | August 5, 2010 9:41 AMReply

    Aha, but it's not only the children's clothing that look nearly exactly the same, but also Michael Caine's. The only two times we see his character in the film before the airport is at the university in his office and when introducing Page's character. Both times I've seen the film I've tried my hardest to examine his clothing and it remains the same each time we see him.

    So explain THAT!

  • flogtwo | August 3, 2010 6:27 AMReply

    HINT: The film never shows the reality in the beginning

  • Anon | August 2, 2010 11:09 AMReply

    I've seen it twice and unsuccessfully tried to remember the clothing at the end. For my money though they were about as close as they could get to being the same clothes. The boy definitely had a checkered shirt on similar to that in his dream and the girl did have something red/pink on again similar to the dream. So if there is a difference, it's not big enough.

    They wear different clothes at other times during the movie though so the whole clothes thing IS a bit of a stretch.

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