One of the most talked about movie endings ever is the ending of Christopher Nolan's "Inception."
Was it all a dream? Was it real? Did that top ever stop spinning?
While he didn't exactly provide any answers to those questions, Christopher Nolan did share his interpretation of the film's final scene.
Nolan gave a speech to the graduating class at Princeton. He first spoke about the value of reality.
In the great tradition of these speeches, generally someone says something along the lines of 'Chase your dreams,' but I don't want to tell you that because I don't believe that. I want you to chase your reality. I feel that over time, we started to view reality as the poor cousin to our dreams, in a sense… I want to make the case to you that our dreams, our virtual realities, these abstractions that we enjoy and surround ourselves with -- they are subsets of reality.
Nolan then went on to address the film and its protagonist, Cobb, played by Leonardo DiCaprio.
The way the end of that film worked, Leonardo DiCaprio's character Cobb — he was off with his kids, he was in his own subjective reality. He didn't really care anymore, and that makes a statement: perhaps, all levels of reality are valid. The camera moves over the spinning top just before it appears to be wobbling, it was cut to black. I skip out of the back of the theater before people catch me, and there's a very, very strong reaction from the audience: usually a bit of a groan. The point is, objectively, it matters to the audience in absolute terms: even though when I'm watching, it's fiction, a sort of virtual reality. But the question of whether that's a dream or whether it's real is the question I've been asked most about any of the films I've made. It matters to people because that's the point about reality. Reality matters.
Unfortunately, Nolan didn't provide any definitive answers about his masterpiece.
But this is probably the closest we'll get to understanding his take on the film.
Citations: Christopher Nolan Finally Discusses the Meaning Behind That Spinning Top (The Independent )