Inception for Dummies

The following are ideas I had the urge to write down as soon as I watched the movie. It is only meant to be read after at least one viewing. If you haven’t seen it yet, close your browser and shutdown right now!!

0) Disclaimer
1) Dynamics
1.1 Concept of dreams and the subconscious
1.2 Method and Machinery
1.2.1 Academic Theory
1.2.2 The Briefcase Ports Chemistry and Waking Nesting
1.2.3 Specialisation
1.2.4 Standard Mission Types Extraction Inception
1.3 The Team (Dreamcasters)
1.3.1 Architect
1.3.2 Extractor
1.3.3 Point Man
1.3.4 Forger
1.3.5 Chemist
1.3.6 Thief and other classes
2) Chronological Plotline
3) Critique
4) Ideas for Spin-off
5) Miscellaneous

0) Disclaimer

This is not a review.
The following text is my imagination only and has nothing to do with the original screenplay and design documents property of the Studio. What follows are my thoughts on the universe depicted in the movie, with a large emphasis on the dynamics of the Dreamcasting processes. It is not well-researched, but is collectively inspired by my exposure to other works of cyberpunk science-fiction. These thoughts are raw, in that they are what immediately popped into my head as I was watching said movie.

1) Dynamics

In this section, I wish to layout the basics of the central concept of what I will refer to as “Dreamcasting“.

1.1 Concept of dreams and the subconscious

The entire premise of the movie is based on certain common characteristics of dreams obvious to everyone once given some thought (much like remembering a dream). The lead actor (Leonardo DiCaprio) is said to have read Freud’s “Interpretation of Dreams” while preparing for the role. I have not. Most conclusions of that book, like all things Freudian, are probably dead wrong. But Freud’s attempts at reasoning his theories are …. colourful, to say the least. I for one want to know what his mother looked like, since he seems to have had a crush on her. But I have read “Godel, Escher, Bach” and “Phantoms in the Brain”, so lets see if I have any colourful insights into such things.
The most ubiquitous feature of dreamworlds is that they are constructed by our subconscience. The level-distinctions between the conscious and subconscious parts of our minds is something formulated via common experiences shared with mutual agreement. I doubt there is sufficient understanding of neural networks or sufficient signal resolutions in MRI machines for a complete theory of how the mind works at this level of abstraction. Continuing; when we fall asleep, certain bodily functions start to shutdown, while some maintenance routines kick-in (refer to ‘Sleep Paralysis: a symptom of Narcolepsy, for some food for thought). During this powering-down process (and during powering-up), we experience REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement) (as opposed to deep sleep, when we don’t dream). So it is conceivable that a lot of neurons are firing randomly in the brain, before the new chemical steady-state sets in. Our memories are stored in the transmission strengths of the connections within the neural network, and we recall memory associatively when the section(s) of the circuit corresponding to the memetic entity show(s) electrical activity. So, during REM sleep, many sections of our memories are recalled, either randomly, or based on recent activity (what we were thinking when we were awake), and these sections interact with each other using pre-built/existing connections and feedback loops. And thus, it is in the REM stage that we dream.
Now, everything we encounter in a dream, is completely based on our experiences and imaginations. No new information is stored in the brain. So we see locations and physics and our perceptions of various people take on properties we have learned to attribute to them by training. So our subconsciousness constructs a world completely imaginable by us and by us alone. The main feature of intelligent life is the ability to run potential future scenarios in the mind, based on learnt rules, to see how things play out, and then to decide on the best course of action. In other words, the ability to plan. If our notions of how a world works were subconsciously rigid, then we would not be able to test potential scenarios, which would require changes in parameters governing the rule-sets (possibly by allowing more authority to the emotional centres of the brain to supersede the logical/analytical centres (which is what makes dreamcasting a psychological art, and makes the process of ‘Inception‘ hard and delicate)). For this reason, dreams are allowed minor (non-quantified) deviations from reality. These may include violations of physical laws, or uncharacteristic behaviour on part of our perception of some person (same domain). And the scenario testing module also allows for real-time wilful interactivity by our perception of ourselves, constrained by a more rigid rule-set governing our abilities. This is where the conscience-subconscience level distinction becomes convenient. This also explains why characters in the movie are rather inhibited from performing Neo-like reality morphing stunts, by the strengths of their own preconceptions. I shall come to the strengths of the particular classes of dreamcasters in section 1.3.
We rarely remember dreams. Even in real experience, it is rare that every single event gets registered in memory. So there is a chemical process that converts temporarily cached experiences into permanent memories. This might either be induced by strengths of associated activity with existing circuits, or we can wilfully chose what to record by forcing associations. It appears that the ‘permanent memory registering’ chemistry is on hold during REM sleep (unless triggered awake by a particularly strong forced association (this feeds into the concept of the process of ‘Inception‘ of ideas in dreamcasting)). Lastly, I would add that the subconscious processes are running in parallel (all manner of neural-circuit interactions), whereas the conscious process is serial (since it is a timed-trial). For this reason, the level of detail in the dreamworld is astounding to think about consciously, but easily generated, based on the real-time conscious expectation of the learned memory being tapped into by the subconscience. It is this very expectation-based real-time dreamworld modification/creation that is used in the process of ‘Extraction‘ (to be covered later).

1.2 Method and Machinery

Now I’d like to detail the state of the art of dreamcasting in Nolan’s universe as perceived by me.

1.2.1 Academic Theory

In the plot universe, there appears to have been significant advances made in inter-brain connectivity, allowing shared dreamspaces and construction of artificial worlds using learned memories as building blocks (useful in psychological therapy, diagnosis, military training, rapid conferencing, virtual sex and data-crime). It appears to be easier to build the physical aspects of worlds in shared spaces as the learned memories relating to behaviour of physical entities and spatial resolution are probably most common among all brains. However, projecting perceptions of people seems far too complicated, resulting in a certain hierarchy amongst the dreamcasters sharing a particular dreamworld, resulting in dreamcaster-classes (to be detailed below). There might be a consensus reality aspect of it, where collective projections feed into a real-time significant physical effect induced on the dreamworld; this remains unexplored.

1.2.2 The Briefcase

I shall refer to the hardware used in the movie for dreamcasting as “The Briefcase“. It connects to chemical and neural pathways of dreamcasters via physical tubes and trodes. It functions mainly as a router, since the form of memory storage required for human-brains to access cannot be replicated in man-made hardware. So all the data is in the brains of the ‘casters. The Briefcase only serves to maintain the shared experiences of the consciences of all the dreamcasters. Ports

For stability/workability, the various connection ports on the Briefcase are not all identical. There exists at least three types of ports. One is meant for the dreamcaster whose subconscience will be relied upon to map out the large-scale physical space of the dream. Real-time changes to these are much harder to be wilfully brought into effect due to the rigidity of the conscious mind, and therefore have to be prepared before-hand in the relevant ‘caster’s mind. A second type of port is meant for the ‘caster whose subconsciousness is responsible for filling/populating  the world with specifics of his/her learned memory, be it objects or people. It is this person whose subconscious mind is most open to interaction/attack. In effect, all the other ‘casters are in this one’s mind, even though the large-scale details of the physical space is being sustained in another ‘caster. The third type of port is reserved for only conscious self-perceptions and projections, with all its rigidity and real-time freewill. Despite the conscious mind’s serial nature, the bypassing of actual physical real-world feedback allows for time-contraction. Time in the dreamworld seems to last longer in relation to the real world (in the movie the factor seems to be about an order of magnitude, although I think the exact number should depend on the health and physical/emotional states of the ‘casters in question). Nesting (to be explained) seems to allow for potentially infinite thinking speed. Thus the factor ought to either asymptotically saturate, or the brain has to physically fail (over-heating, stress, chemical imbalance) if time is stretched a bit too much. In conjunction with this concept, a fourth category of ‘host-port‘ needs to be invoked to explain ‘Limbo‘. Chemistry and Waking

Since the collapse into REM sleep-state is biochemical in nature, one must be able to induce and sustain said state of mind using enzymes/hormones and sedative chemicals pumped into the ‘caster’s body. The Briefcase seems to be wired to monitor and affect the health and mental states of the ‘casters. Clever application of mood-altering drugs/chemicals can affect the behaviour and choices of the conscious-projections of ‘casters. This might be useful in weakening targets by making them more receptive to certain emotional stimuli. Waking from a dream is unavoidable in the event of strong adrenaline-secreting nervous signals. The vestibular system in the inner ear, which is responsible for balance (fluids contained in closed chambers maintaining static level surface), is one source of such signals. For this reason, it is possible to wake from a dream when there is sudden spatial disorientation (like while falling, for example). In the movie, this method of waking is known as ‘The Kick‘. The Kick has to be delivered from one nesting level (to be explained) above the current dreamworld (this conflicts with our everyday experience of waking after experiencing a falling sensation inside a dream, where the Kick is simulated, but lets stick to the above stated rule for the sake of movie consistency). Another way to deliver such signals to the consciousness is to kill the self-projection in the current dream level. However, this experience is supposedly over-traumatic, and if powerful sedative chemicals, or nested dreamworlds (to be explained) are involved, the consciousness might be lost in a comatose state (Limbo?) (In the case of nesting, death or kick in a nesting level that is not the current deepest one causes Limbo). Since the time-contraction in Limbo is super enormous, it is not required for the ‘caster to live for long in reality to spend and entire lifetime’s worth of time (or more) in Limbo. It seems to be possible for ‘casters accessing the dreamworld via certain ports to receive faint signals from the eardrums (even under special sedatives), allowing them to listen to, say, a musical piece (time-stretched (in slow-motion)). Knowledge of the timing of this piece (like when it ends) allows them to synchronise their activities in the dreamworld to real-world (or shallower-nesting level) time (note that music engages the emotional centres of the brain, which are more active during dreams). Nesting

Normally, our conscious rigidity inhibits us from naturally dreaming within a dream. But once the mind is impregnated with the idea of being able to induce sustained REM states and share dreams using hardware and connecting rituals, it might be possible for the Architect-class (the one sustaining large-scale map), or one of the other consciousnesses to conjure up a working Briefcase within a dream, and thus go into an REM dream state (and share) within a dream. Successive nesting allows for an exponential increase in the time-contraction factor (from 1 in reality level D_0, to x in dream level D_1, to x*x in D_2, to x^i in the ‘i’th level D_i, to a very large number in Limbo (D_inf)). A waking from a shallower level (smaller ‘i’, closer to reality) dream will cause all deeper level (larger ‘i’, away from reality) dreams to collapse. That’s because external stimulus in any level (such as shift in gravity affecting the inner ear fluid) will affect perception of reality one level below (can’t penetrate to deeper levels due to the signal being stretched out in time and thus being less intense). Under the powerful chemical trance used for the main mission in the movie, death (at any level) or waking in a level shallower than the immediate shallower one, will cause the consciousness to go into Limbo (whose physical space is constructed not by the Architect, but by the ‘caster connected through the ‘host-port‘, which explains why everyone ends-up in the Limbo of Leonardo Dicaprio’s character, and not Ellen Page’s (although the local surroundings of the space occupied by Ken Watanabe’s aged subconsciousness when DiCaprio tries to retrieve him, matches the D_2 level constructed by the Architect in the opening data-crime scene (and consequently details implanted into and recalled later from Watanabe’s memories))). In D_0, the ‘caster is left in a coma. Also, nesting seems to be particularly tricky to implement (either due to hardware constraints (bandwidth limit (high time-contraction implies higher date rate))) or more likely due to limited mental capacity of the ‘casters, or both. The idea of multiple Briefcases within dreams and parallel nesting and ‘caster-class switches at various level depths has not been explored.

1.2.3 Specialisation

While the Briefcase can handle the inter-mind connectivity aspects of ‘casting, most of the activity input is performed by the conscious mind and the world imagining, by the subconscious mind, both of which need to be really well trained for a ‘caster to perform complex tasks. A thorough background in psychological-studies is essential at both the strategic (Architect) and tactical (Extractor (to be explained)) operational levels. The characters in the movie do a complete psyche-profile and history of the target, trying to map his behaviour, psyche, his relationship to and perceptions of various people in his life, and his emotional tendencies and make use of them for their operation. Also, ‘casters have to master various aspects of forced association of memory. The Architect needs to be well versed with mental spatial resolution. (S)He needs training in imagining and permanently remembering and recalling large areas in high-detail. (S)He also needs to be well-versed with construction of slightly-odd physics violation incorporations into his/her map (like the never-ending flight of stairs). For Data-crime, Architects are required to build mazes to trap/keep busy the subconsciousness of the target subject, to keep it distracted from realising the dreamness of the dream, and to keep it from interfering with the other ‘casters via the projections of people-perceptions. ‘Casters also need interpersonal skills to manipulate their targets. And ‘Casters need combat/escapist training to take advantage of the mazes/maps/physics created by the Architect. They also need to chart standard personalities and behaviours to read body-language or use disguises. All-in-all, a ‘caster team would make a great video-game design company. It appears that it is possible to train the subconscious mind to resist dream-invasion by arming the subconscious people-perception circuitry to include bodyguards, flash riots and trains (a common program opted for by industrial giants (like Ken Watanabe’s and Cillian Murphy’s characters), politicians, military operatives and other potential targets). What effect this will have on the behaviour of the immune person in D_0 reality is anyone’s guess. There is also the issue of training the subconscience from recalling and inducing ghosts of memory as part of conscious projections (Marion Cotillard’s character is so much a part of DiCaprio’s conscious guilt that she seems to accompany his conscious self-projection into any shared dreamworld irrespective of which port he connects with, behaving vengeful and angry just like his subconscious expectation of her, which is the reason he always requests the Architect to not share the layout of the map with him, because if he knows, then she knows). One must also make part of one’s conscious self-projection an external object (labeled a ‘Totem‘), that one must hypnotically convince oneself behaves in a particular way contrary to reality (D_0). That way, when in a dreamworld, the projection of the Totem behaves the way one’s emotional centre expects it to behave, and should it turn out otherwise, our logical/analytical centres interrupt one’s consciousness and makes one conscious of the dreamness of the level. Essentially, a Totem is a measure of the dominance of one’s emotional centres over one’s analytical centres, which allegedly is irreplicably large when dreaming than when awake. A tangible Totem goes a long way in guarding against the idea that the current level is D_0 reality, or worse, that D_0 is not real (the tangible test is objective and engages logical centres). Another precaution taken by Architects, is not using entire scenes and locations from the realworld (D_0), that might engage very strongly with the emotional psyche of the ‘casters, and bring in related subconscious perceptions into play, further convincing them of the realness of the Dream level.

1.2.4 Standard Mission Types

The possibilities with this technology are potentially limitless (limited only by legality and complexity). But the movie introduces two special illegal functions performed by teams of ‘casters. Extraction

The most common mission type, now perfected to an art. Extraction is the process of mind-reading. Whether it is some secret data, or opinion, or vision, or perception of other people, extraction is easier if the required information is closer to the emotional centres (something the target feels strongly about). So even if the data is dry, if it is sourced from a vivid memory of an object which physically records it (paper, cassette tape, video), that object can be recalled and studied in the dream if the target affords it importance in memory. If the Architect is able to construct a world with a safe, hard to get to location, and if any of the other ‘casters can convince the target about the safety of said location whilst reminding him/her of the required information in conversation (exciting the right neural circuits), the subconsciousness of the target will project the secret into the safe, which is then extracted by the team. This requires some conversational skills of pushing the right buttons (albeit with prior knowledge about the target’s psyche and history), and some training to deal with immune systems. Extraction clearly qualifies as data theft, and violation of right to privacy of thought, and is consequently banned by law. Corporations who employ unregistered, non-academic ‘caster teams for Extraction pretend to the real world like they don’t exist. This also brings to light the organic blossoming of technology in underground, unsupervised strata of society and geography. Inception

A far more subtle mission type, believed to be impossible to accomplish due to its inherent complexity. While it is easy to excite existing memory circuits in the target’s brain and reading them, it is very difficult to create a strong mental impression on the emotional centres in the artificially induced dream-state, such that it permanently affects memory and emotional response of the target. To plant an idea without raising suspicion from the logical centres, is said to require enormous guile and preparation. Inception is treated as a romantic idea that people believe in theoretically, but no one dares practically. Due to its apparent impossibility, there exists no specific law referring to Inception.

1.3 The team (Dreamcasters)

After trial and error, and underground trade-secrets and information sharing, the composition of Dreamcaster teams has convergently evolved into a standard, consisting of classes with definite special abilities and roles.

1.3.1 Architect

This class grew out of academic research into Dreamcasting. Architects specialise in spatial resolution, physical large-scale mapping, subtle physics violations, puzzles and aesthetic visual design. Like real Civil Engineering Architects and artists, Architects have to be familiar with general patterns in nature to replicate, like patterns in the sand on a beach, the granularity of rocks, the fractilian growth shapes of plants and clouds, the touch-and-feel of textures, and tricks of visual perception. Architects are expected to cleverly design mazes to keep the target subconsciousness occupied and distracted, while tailoring the visual design to match the target’s emotional strengths and fears. Architects are advised only to use D_0 patterns and not entire D_0 tapestries to draw their levels, as real world locations can elicit, unrequired and uncontrollable emotional responses from the subconsciousnesses of ‘casters. The film suggests that the Architect need not be connected (throughout or at all) to the Briefcase if the design details have been shared with one of the other ‘casters who will connect through the necessary port. After a while, the map seems almost self-sustaining once the target starts to believe in its realness.

1.3.2 Extractor

This is a loose class who is directing the operation on a tactical level. (S)He needs charisma and interpersonal skills, as well as some dreamscape military training. In order for his/her conscious self-projection to be able to think (s)he is capable of very many activities, the Extractor needs to engage in D_0 real-world training to boost self-confidence. Normally (though not in the case of DiCaprio’s character), the Extractor also functions as the Architect, and/or the map sustaining subconsciousness, as prior knowledge of the large-scale features of the map can aid the mission.

1.3.3 Point Man

The Extractor’s second-in-command. The Point-Man seems to handle logistical tactical aspects, like waking, music signals, timing and combat-support. The number of Pointmen can vary. However, true artists can make do with one. Too many conscious projections into the mind of the target, violating the target’s subconscious perceptions can cause dream collapse.

1.3.4 Forger

Conscious self-projections look, feel, behave like and are capable of how a ‘caster believes (s)he in D_0 reality looks, feels, behaves or what is capable of. With a trick of the mind (a form of self-hypnosis/deception), one can temporarily convince one’s conscious-self that they look/behave like another person. The Forger is and expert at disguises, and at bypassing some of the rigidity of the self-conscience. This class is really good at observing and replicating generic behaviours and habits of people, even specific personalities (s)he studies in real persons or perceptions of persons. After a thorough psyche evaluation of the target, the Forger chooses from a repertoire of personalities the forger is well-versed with impersonating or from the perceptions of the target, to emotionally affect the target.

1.3.5 Chemist

A doctor trained in brain chemistry and states of mind. Required to induce and sustain REM states with specific tilts towards certain raw emotional centres like fear, anger, joy, nostalgia or scepticism (although the last one can engage logical centres) in the target. The Chemist need not ‘cast into the shared dreamspace in an operation. Even if nesting is required, the Chemist needs to familiarise the consciousness of other ‘caster(s) to the specifics of workings of the Briefcase and Chemicals being used inside the dream level.

1.3.6 Thief and other classes

In the movie, there is a brief mention of a Thief class of ‘casters. No specifics were mentioned, although it could be guessed that a Thief‘s skills involve escapism, smart utilisation of physics quirks, stealth and straight forward extraction. Other classes are imaginable, like Architect-Aids, who modularly govern specific physical aspects like weather phenomena, or a Psychologist or Face-reader class, who reads minds by observing behaviour of target conscious-projection or target’s perceptions of other people. There could be a rare Wizard class, with very lax conscious rigidity about their abilities and behaviour, although their actions would stir the target’s logical centres and collapse the dream.

2) Chronological Plotline

And now, at long last we come to the plot of the movie itself. If you’ve skipped all the previous text just to get here, go die at wikipedia.

Ahem. In the beginning, there were Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Mal (Marion Cotillard), husband and wife, both Dreamcasters extraordinnaire. Cobb was inspired into his obsession by his father-in-law Miles (Michael Caine), an academic ‘caster. They have two kids, a girl, Phillipa (Claire Geare) and a boy, James (Magnus Nolan). They are deeply in love. Cobb had once dreamed (unaided) that they’d grow old together. Mal knows of this dream. Cobb is probably already employed by Cobol Inc., a company that uses his services. One fine afternoon, Cobb and Mal decide to explore the nesting capabilities of Dreamcasting to its absolute limit. They go several levels deep, and the time-contraction factor skyrockets. They end-up spending years together at a final level (although in D_0, barely minutes pass). This is seen by their emotional centres as a chance to live out Cobb’s dream of growing old together. And so they decide to create their own little world. Which consists of a huge beach, and a concrete jungle of skyscrapers. They built places from memories, including their childhood homes. Mal’s memory of her childhood home included a safe in a toy house in her room, which she held a strong emotional attachment to. Eventually, Mal became too enraptured with that dream level. She wanted to live forever in that reality with Cobb. Cobb was unable to convince her to leave with him. She became so stubborn in her belief of the realness of this level, that she symbolically (and effectively emotionally) hid away her Totem (a top that spins forever in a dream but wobbles and halts to a stop in D_0 reality) in the safe in her childhood home (which essentially now functions as an Architect’s safe design for Extraction). Cobb decides to cure her condition by performing an ‘Inception‘. He intends to plant the subtle idea in her mind that causes her to doubt the reality of any level she is conscious in. He breaks into her safe and sets the top spinning (forever). The next time she discovers it spinning, the idea has taken root. Eventually, he manages to convince her to wake from the nested levels (by dying in each level) back to D_0 reality. However, as a side-effect of the Inception, her mind refuses to believe in the realness of D_0. This causes serious strain in their relationship. She is unable to connect with their children as she believes that they are simply projections from her subconscience. She contemplates commiting suicide to escape to a shallower level, and attempts to convince Cobb to join her. He however resists. Months go by, and she becomes hysterical. Finally, she plans to commit the act on their anniversary, and attempts to force him to join her by making the alternative painful (She signs a legal notice with her attorney claiming that Cobb has threatened to kill her, and is a danger to her and her family. So if she were to die and Cobb survives, he would be arrested and charged with murdering her, and his children would be taken away from him. She also has herself declared clinically sane by three independent psychiatrists, so Cobb will not be able to convince any jury of her condition). She stands on a ledge on a building opposite the one Cobb is in, and threatens to jump, asking Cobb to join her. Cobb tries and fails to stop her from leaping to her death. And from that day forward, he is ridden with guilt. His subconscious perception of her strengthens into a vengeful persona who holds him responsible for breaking the promise that they’d grow old together in that deep level. This becomes deeply ingrained in Cobb’s psyche and cripples his ability to perform Extractions smoothly (his mind projects his perception of Mal in every shared dream he enters, and she, characteristically attempts to sabotage his operation for revenge). Due to her legal moves, he is forced to leave the country and his children, while still maintaining an existence working for Cobol in overseas operations. The last memory he has of his kids is one where they are facing away, crouching and digging the soil, and then getting up and running off to the side before he could call out to them. This scene also gets embedded deep in his memory, and gets strongly associated with his emotional centres. He develops an addiction, which requires him to construct a dream map composed of his painful memories regarding Mal and family, and periodically ‘cast into it alone, trying to satiate his perception of Mal, to keep her in check. Since heavy ‘casting results in the inability to dream naturally, this becomes a nightly ritual for him. The Mal factor also requires him to hire an independent Architect to build his maps for him. The Mal factor is kept secret from his employers and people who work with him, except for his Point-Man Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt).

Cut forward to present time. Cobb and Arthur are in the process of performing an ‘Extraction‘ on Japanese Industrial giant Saito (Ken Watanabe). They have enlisted the services of a freelance Architect Nash (Lukas Hass), and a Chemist/D_0 watchman (played by an Asian actor whose name I don’t know). The Extraction is taking place on a train in D_0. The map consists of two levels. The D_1 level is set in a thick middle-eastern suburb, inside an apartment modelled after Saito’s love-nest (in D_0, he has an illicit relationship with a married woman who lives in such a location). Here, Saito’s defensive immunity takes the form of a rioting mob of middle-eastern protesters who are making for the apartment through the maze to get at the ‘casters. The D_2 level is designed as a large oriental complex on a sea-facing cliff-side, hosting a socialite party at night. Saito’s immunity defences take the form of black-suited guards stationed all over the map. This level consists of a conference room with a safe. The Extraction plan is thus: Cobb, Arthur travel all the way down to D_2, while Nash stays conscious to mind D_1, and the D_0 watchmen ensures security in D_0. Cobb and Arthur pose as professional ‘caster specialists in Immunity building, who have come to propose to Saito at his own party, that he should enlist their services. In his pitch, Cobb advises Saito that the process will require him to completely open his subconsciousness to Cobb for study, that Cobb will have to know more about Saito than his wife or psychiatrist do. Cobb gestures to the safe and says something to the effect of, “If this was a dream and you have something important that your subconscience has hidden in that safe, I need to know about it”. By seeding this idea, Cobb attempts to make Saito’s subconscience place the required secret in that safe, ready for conventional Extraction later. Should the plan fail for some reason, as a back-up, when Cobb, Arthur and Saito wake into level D_1, Cobb, Arthur and Nash will pose as ‘casters who have kidnapped Saito in his middle-eastern lovenest, and are attempting to gain information from him via ‘casting. But having apparently “failed” and now running out of time (with the rioting mob approaching menacingly), they’re to try a more direct method of extracting information by threatening to shoot him with a gun (if Saito is under the impression that this D_1 level is D_0 reality, then he should fear his own death). While the D_2 phase of the plan is in progress, after their conference with Saito, after having convinced his subconsciousness to place the data in the safe, Cobb prepares to sneak into the conference room for extraction when he encounters his conscious perception of Mal in the map. Afraid that she will interfere, he tries to keep her seated on a chair as he ties a climbing rope to its leg to descend into the conference room by scaling down the wall of the map, out the window. She however gets up, informing him that her sabotage is now active and that he is racing against time. As he reaches the safe and obtains its contents (a few sheets of paper with printed text on them), Saito enters the conference room along with an armed Mal and two guards who drag in a captured Arthur. Saito, now that he has realised is in a dream, chooses not to immediately wake by suicide and decides to get Cobb (or Arthur) to spill the beans on who their employer is. Saito’s own defence mechanism in level D_1 is limiting the amount of time before D_2 collapses, although Saito himself is consciously unaware of it (Mal might know since Cobb knows (She might have told Saito)). Mal threatens to shoot Arthur non-lethally to cause him torturous pain in order to get Cobb to talk. Cobb however shoots Arthur to spare him the misery. Arthur wakes in level D_1, and explains to Nash that Cobb needs just a bit more time so he can read the contents of those sheets of paper, before they wake him with a kick (by dunking Cobb in a tub of water in D_1). But the D_1 mob is catching up and they are running out of time. Due to Saito’s awareness, D_2 starts to collapse. Cobb manages to read the sheets of paper, but realises that an additional subconscious defence mechanism in Saito has caused him to leave out crucial parts of the information from the sheets (certain printed lines were blacked-out with a marker). Short of time in D_1, Nash and Arthur kick-wake Cobb out, and since Cobb’s mind was sustaining the map, even Saito wakes. Now they switch to the backup plan of trying to extract the remainder of the information from Saito at gunpoint. In the process, Cobb pushes Saito to the floor. Saito’s consciousness realises a discrepancy in the physical feel of the floor carpeting texture on his fingers, and he realises that this is also a dream, and that the approaching mob are part of his subconscience and will not harm him, and neither will Cobb’s gun. He is impressed by Cobb’s teams idea of using nested dreams. The mob enters the room and wakes Cobb, Arthur and Nash. They wake in the train (Saito, slightly more chemically sedated than the rest, wakes later than them), conclude that the mission failed, and bail.

Cut to an apartment Cobb and Arthur had temporarily rented (in Japan?) for this operation. Cobb is talking to his kids over the phone, promising them that he’ll be back for them, and that he is sending presents. Their grandmother expresses disappointment in the background, claiming to the children that he is never coming back. Cobb and Arthur, now realising that after having failed in the mission have become a liability to Cobol (their current employer) decide to escape via a chartered helicopter on the roof. But inside it, they encounter Saito, who is waiting with Nash (beaten black-and-blue). Saito claims that Nash sold them out, offers Cobb a gun and expects Cobb to do Nash in. Cobb refuses. Saito’s men take Nash away, whereas Cobb and Arthur are advised to take their seats in the chopper and listen to Saito’s proposal during the flight. Saito reveals that he wishes to enlist their services, and in return will use his powers and influence to ensure that Cobb can return to his children in America a free man. He enquires about the possibility of Inception. Arthur dismisses the notion but Cobb, having previously succeeded at it, agrees to a deal. Saito reveals that the target will be the heir to an Energy Company on the verge of inheriting his father-in-law’s legacy. The idea requiring Inception should result in him dissolving the company and splitting the assets, this resulting in the end of an empire. Cobb and Arthur decide that they’ll require a Forger and a better Architect. In search of an Architect who can match his skill, Cobb ends up meeting with his father-in-law Miles, at a University, asking him to lend one of his students for the job, while explaining to him that this last job will return him to his family. Miles recommends Ariadne (Ellen Page). In search of a skilled Forger they make their way to Mombasa to meet with an old acquaintance, Eames (Tom Hardy). Cobb meets with Eames at a restaurant. Cobb is explaining the nature of the job, and suggests a three-level ‘cast, at which Eames responds claiming that he knows just the Chemist for the job. Eames realises that Cobb is being shadowed by Cobol operatives, who probably intend to apprehend or kill him. They decide to meet here again in half-an-hour after Cobb has lost them. Cobb flees as Eames distracts one of them. After the chase, Cobb is rescued by Saito in a car. On being asked what he was doing here in Mombasa, Saito replies that he is protecting his investments. Both of them collect Eames and drive to the place of Yusuf (Dileep Rao), the Chemist Eames was talking about. They explain to Yusuf their requirement, and Yusuf, as a demonstration of his capabilities, leads them to the basement section of his joint, where several men (mostly aged) are shown to be on cots, asleep and ‘casting. They are said to be serial ‘casters who have lost the ability to dream naturally. They come here every day to get their fix. They ‘cast for 2 hours, which translates to about 40 hours in D_1 time. They essentially come here to be “woken-up”, as they believe D_1 is more real than D_0. Nothing can wake them up except a timed application of a chemical antidote. The trouble is that death inside D_1 or any further nested level will result in not a waking, but a plunge into Limbo (D_inf level), where their mind will be lost wandering in a remote region of their subconsciousness, the time-contraction factor making it seem like for ever. Yusuf is on the team.

At their hideout, Cobb and Ariadne share many ‘casting sessions together where Cobb (and later Arthur) tries to teach her about the basics of map-building for the dream-world, including physics tricks like a never-ending staircase, a quirk that is subtle enough to not alter the logical centres of the target’s mind. She practices. Saito at a gathering, reveals to the team that their target is one Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy), son of the terminally ill Maurice Fischer (Pete Postlethwaite). Eames illustrates that the Inception won’t be easy, and runs through possible emotional ideas to implant, such as an aversion to monopolistic authority, or anarchism. He settles on ego; guilt that all his success was inherited coupled with desire to make his own empire from scratch. Using Saito’s influence and Eames’s skill, they start to spy on him, gathering information to construct a psyche profile and a history of events and relationships of Robert Fischer. Eames discovers that Robert has a godfather, Peter Browning (Tom Berenger). Eames decides that Robert’s relationship with Browning can be used to their advantage. While Ariadne is working on her mazes with Yusuf, she tries to ask Cobb for some technical help, at which point Cobb instructs her to not share specifics of the maze with him. He doesn’t tell her why. Every night as she is about to leave their workspace for home, Ariadne notices Cobb ‘casting alone using a Briefcase. She decides to join in by connecting to a port herself, just to see what he has to hide. She ends up in a custom map built by Cobb, consisting of locations from his painful memories that remind him of his family, that gets populated by his subconscious projections of his family members. Every scene is accessed via a common elevator, every floor corresponding to a memory. She finds Cobb and his projection of Mal at Cobb’s family home at one level. Cobb is surprised that Ariadne made it in here, and quickly leads Ariadne back into the elevator before his Mal projection decides to kill her. Ariadne is about to press the button indicating the lowest basement floor of the elevator when Cobb prevents her, explaining to her the situation. While Cobb is distracted in another floor/memory, Ariadne rushes to the elevator alone and hits the basement button. She ends up at a floor containing the Hotel room Cobb was at on the day of the anniversary, the day on which Mal died. She confronts Mal, who attempts to kill her, at which point Cobb reaches the floor via the elevator, rescues her and they wake back to D_0. Ariadne works out that Mal is the reason Cobb cannot know the specifics of the maze/map, since if he knows, Mal will know, and could work against them. Cobb requests that Ariadne never reveal the Mal factor to the others. Ariadne informs Cobb that Mal is only as strong as his subconsciousness projects her to be, that he will eventually have to confront Mal and therapeutically absolve himself of his guilt.

The maze Ariadne creates consists of three-levels. Taking the time-contraction factor into account, they estimate that they’ll need ten hours in D_0 time to complete the job. Saito informs them that Maurice Fischer has just passed away in Sidney, and Robert will be flying to LA on a plane in first class, and that the time to act is now. The fight is said to last ten hours. Saito, using his influence, books out the entire first class cabin and buys out the air-stewardess. Cobb informs him that since they’ll be entering the US, Cobb will very likely be arrested at immigrations and be put away for life. Saito assures him that if the Inception succeeds, one phone call from him will ensure that Cobb is treated as a free man (Saito will be joining them in the ‘casting as he wants to ensure that the Inception indeed occurs). Ariadne convinces Cobb to allow her to accompany them in the ‘casting, warning him that some one familiar with the Mal factor and understands his psychological impediment needs to be on the team. He allows her. The plan for the Inception involves all three levels. The ultimate objective is to convince Robert that his own father was disappointed that Robert tried too hard to model himself after Maurice, that he didn’t try to build something from scratch and make an empire for himself, thus proving his true worth. They need to carefully implant the idea into Robert and let his subconsciousness fill the safe with what he really wants to see and emotionally connect to. Level D_1 consists of a rainy inner city area. It is rainy so that Robert (who is made to spawn on a sidewalk) is forced to take a taxi. The team is meant to kidnap him, and take him to a secret, intimidating location within D_1, where they’d pose as run-of-the-mill criminals after money. They are to pretend to attempt to get Robert to reveal the combination number for a safe that is allegedly in Maurice’s drawer at his office desk. Robert (obviously) will know of no such safe or combination. Then the team intends to use Eames disguised as Browning. They plan to convince Robert that they have kidnapped Browning as well. The plan is to lock Eames (now disguised as Browning) up with Robert privately in a room where they can have unconstrained conversation. Here, Eames (as Browning) is to suggest to Robert that the safe exists, and that Maurice intended its contents for Robert, and that Maurice subtly let Robert know the combination number, by disguising it as some other number. Eames is also supposed to seed the idea that his father intended for Robert to be a self-made man, and whatever was in that safe was the key to his father’s wishes. After having seeded this idea, Cobb and Arthur (in masks) are to enter the building in an urgency, and threaten to kill Browning (who is really Eames) unless Robert spits out a code. They are to claim that they have a man at Maurice’s office waiting for the code, and force Robert to blurt out the first six digits that come into his mind on the phone, after which they are to claim that he has to better than that. Then they are to pretend to attempt an Extraction on him to find the number, and they are to forcibly plunge him into D_2. Level D_2 is set in a high floor in a tall hotel building. Yusuf is to stay behind conscious in level D_1 while the rest of them ‘cast into D_2 along with Robert. In D_2, Eames (posing as one of his stock female characters) is to remind Robert about the six digits he blurted out in D_1, thus making it part of his subconscious memory. Then Cobb is suppose to approach Robert and convince him that D_2 is D_1 (and not D_0), that someone is trying to invade his dream, and that Cobb (and his team sans Eames (as Browning)) are really part of his defence mechanism, here to protect him. They are to try and convince him that the Extraction is being performed on Browning’s behest. That what little memory he has of D_1 was in fact a kidnapping staged and funded by Browning. Then they’ll attempt to convince him that the best way forward is to capture Browning’s conscious projection (in D_2 (which Robert thinks is D_1)) and try to extract whatever Browning thinks is in the safe (which will actually be what Robert thinks is in the safe, but will be fed to him by his subconscious projection of Browning, who he’ll think is Browning’s conscious self-projection) by performing an Extraction from within the dream on Browning (here the concept of class-switching in nesting is suggested, as if possible). This will take Robert and everyone else (except Arthur, who is to stay conscious in level D_2, and Yusuf, who is still conscious in level D_1) to level D_3. Ariadne designed the D_3 part of the maze as a military bunker in a snowy region. Robert is expected to assume that all of this is Browning’s subconscious construct, that there will be a safe in the base where Browning’s subconsciousness will attempt to safeguard the information he seeks. By this time, Robert’s subconsciousness should already know what it wants, and will tell his consciousness inside the safe after they help him open it. After this, the plan is to perform a series of kick-wakes in sequence to exit all the levels. Due to the nature of the sedative chemical used, they have to wake from the nested levels in order, else risk Limbo. To synchronise their kicks, they intend to use musical cues at each level to communicate one level deeper. The exit from D_1 to D_0 will occur with a timed-release of the chemical antidote into their bodies by the Briefcase, at which point they’ll all find themselves in the plane en route to LA. Saito, after having witnessed a successful Inception is to make the phone call that will ensure Cobb’s freedom. And everyone is home-free and rich.

The plan goes underway. After they make it into D_1 and abduct Robert however, they are immediately attacked by Robert’s psychological immunity defences (who take the form of armed mercenaries coupled with local map modifications (such as a train in the middle of the road used to isolate members of the team)). Saito is shot as they make it to their way to the warehouse in D_1. Since they hadn’t anticipated Robert’s defence systems, now they’ll have a lot less time than they’d planned for (although the amount of time they spend in D_1 is fixed by the timer on the antidote release mechanism of the Briefcase in D_0). So Saito (and everyone else) will have to stay alive for a fixed amount of time in D_1 or risk going into Limbo (which in this case happens to be Cobb’s Limbo construct, since presumably Cobb, being the Extractor, is using the host-port). Saito’s pain reception will be stretched out as he ‘casts into deeper levels but the time he has left alive in D_1 sets the upper limit. So, they perform their ruse on Robert as planned and lock him up in a room with Eames (disguised as Browning). Now Eames, aware of the limited time, tries to plant ideas regarding the safe and Maurice’s wishes into Robert. Robert, highly emotional, recalls that the last thing he heard coming out of his father’s mouth on his deathbed was the word “Disappointed”. Eames tells him that the safe contains an alternate will of the late Mauice Fischer, which seeks to divide up all his assets and end the company. Robert breaks down. Cobb and Arthur (in masks) enter the room and go through the planned random number routine, then put a bag over Roberts head and take him for a ride in the back of a vehicle (while evading Robert’s defences). Yusuf takes the driver’s responsibility while the rest (along with Robert) ‘cast into level D_2. While in D_2, Eames does his job of ingraining the six-digit bogus combination number into Robert’s psyche while Cobb does his part in convincing Robert that Cobb and his team are really part of Robert’s defences, and that the armed perceptions that are Robert’s actual defences are part of Browning’s team, and that Browning had him kidnapped and asleep in the back of a van, and is now attempting an Extraction on him to get at the code of the safe. Robert suggests that he commit suicide to escape the dream but Cobb prevents him, revealing the nature of the sedatives used. Meanwhile, Saito and Eames start to track Robert’s projection of Browning in D_2 to check his behaviour (since it will match Robert’s expectation of Browning now) to see if the plan is working. When Browning enters Robert’s Hotel room and is subdued by Cobb’s team, Browning behaves according to Robert’s expectations (although Robert believes this is the conscious self-projection of Browning). Browning indicates that he doesn’t want the empire to dissolve and wants to destroy the alternate will. Cobb convinces Robert that they’ll have to ‘cast into another level and perform an Extraction on Browning’s mind to find out what he is trying to hide. And so they all (except for Arthur) ‘cast into D_3 (which Robert thinks is D_2). Arthur stays behind and rigs explosive charges to deliver the kick necessary to wake them from D_3. The Kick in D_1 is to be delivered by Yusuf, by plunging the vehicle into water from a height.

In D_3, all hell breaks loose as Cobb discovers that Mal has colluded with Robert’s defences (who Robert thinks is part of Browning’s defences) and intends to sabotage the operation. Mal manages to kill Robert just before she is shot, thus ‘casting Robert into (Cobb’s) Limbo, just before he opens the safe. Cobb and Ariadne decide to follow after him to try and rescue him while Eames and Saito stay conscious in D_3 to protect them and deliver the kick. The van in D_1 starts to fall off into the water. Arthur’s D_2 now experiences zero-gravity since he (and everyone else) is in free-fall in D_1. Having realised that he has missed the first kick, he prepares for the second kick, which occurs when the van suddenly decelerates upon hitting the water surface. In Limbo, Cobb and Ariadne manage to locate Robert in custody of Mal. Cobb finally confronts her (and his demons). Robert is returned to D_3 where he opens the safe and sees what his subconsciousness wants him to see, thus completing the Inception. Saito dies in D_3 and Cobb decides to stay back in Limbo to retrieve him (since without Saito, Cobb at best gets arrested, and at worst, spends an eternity in dreams). The sequential kicks wakes everyone but Cobb and Saito back to D_1, where they wait for the timed antidote release to return to D_0. The movie ends on an ambiguous note. Although scenes show Cobb waking up in the airline and returning to his family home, he spins his Totem to check if he is still dreaming, but is distracted by his children (who curiously, haven’t aged a bit since he left them). The Top keeps spinning, begins to wobble, but the screen blanks out before it falls, leaving the audience to wonder whether Cobb really woke up in the airline, whether Saito did too, and whether everyone got paid for the Inception, or is Cobb lost forever in D_inf?

3) Critique

It is hard to find a lot of faults with inception. One could complain that the acting was forced, and the way they introduced the rules of the universe by simply having one character tell the other was kinda rushed, but clearly dynamics of this magnitude cannot be conveyed within the time constraints set by the movie (and it was a long movie at that). As for logical inconsistencies, the whole concept of Limbo raises the question of what map a person will see when plunged in. Shouldn’t everyone have their own private little Limbo? How come Robert, and Saito, after death, end up in Cobb’s Limbo map (with the beach and the buildings (although the local environment of and aged Saito’s location looks different, and has his defences in the form of Japanese speaking guards)? That aside, how come Saito dies in D_3 before he dies in D_1? Why did the team go prepared with a Briefcase to D_3 if the original plan did not involve a further nesting? What was that with Eames setting up explosive charges in D_3? If that was meant to kick-wake people from D_inf, how come Ariadne had to drop Robert and fall herself from a high building while in D_inf? Can Kicks be delivered to wake from current level or do they only work to wake someone from one level deeper? Is it so easy/difficult to escape Limbo (with Suicide)? What was with getting Robert to choose a door number in the Hotel in D_2 where they magically find the Briefcase? Were they suggesting to Robert that his subconsciousness knows where Browning’s alleged Extraction team hid their nesting Briefcase in the map they created? All these minor inconsistencies only came to light in reptrospect, about a day after watching the film. Looks like I’ll need to go watch it again and try to sort the mess out, and catch details that I might have missed.

4) Ideas for Spin-off

Nobody sane would want to see a sequel to Inception (that would totally ruin it). But a Spin-off series (animated (well)) with different characters could work. The plot of Inception revolved mostly around (apart from introduction of the Universe) Cobb’s psychological problems. Most of the dynamics were explicitly implied. While there is only so far one can stretch the science-fiction aspects of dynamics before it starts to seem like fantasy, I would like to see what social and political (and moral?) effect this technology would have on a world like ours. Ghost in the Shell (one of my favourite franchises) does touch on ghost-hacking (hacking into people’s cyberbrains to steal data, or control thoughts to commit crimes, or change subtle enzyme levels to affect herd mentality or manipulate public opinion), though that franchise is more preoccupied with cyborgisation than psychology. While the movie already introduces the use of said technology in corporate crime (espionage), and a growing underground movement of specialists (mercenaries), it only hinted on the addiction and loss of dreams aspect of it. Now, the series should not go the “philosophical, mind over matter, salvation” way (that’s what killed the Matrix (although I for one loved Reloaded)), it can certainly include characters, cults and religious movements based in this principle. The series should start slow and introduce one aspect of the universe at a time. It needs to go into academic exploration and uses (and the evolution of specialisations and classes). It should illustrate governmental regulatory mechanics, and legal implications (use in criminal investigations equated to torture for instance). It definitely must explore military uses and abuses. It should pose questions like: Am I responsible if my defence mechanism causes a dream invader to go into coma? What if a person isn’t able to sleep because everytime he tries, his own subconscious perceptions kill him and thus wake him? What are the consequences of an Inception gone wrong? What if the idea implanted results in an unexpected change in the target? How many corrective Inceptions will it take to render him/her mentally vegetated? What becomes of the right to privacy? Can thought-crime finally be objectively defined? Should I allowed to know what you think I think of you?

5) Miscellaneous

Other movies that explored dreams and mental projections of physical spaces are “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”, and “The Cell” (these are all I recall). I must say, that the ending ambiguity was really well written. Its probably something they didn’t plan but arrived at during final editing. I’d have hated the movie if it had suggested that we are all living in a dream (that idea is cliched now thanks to such classics as “The Matrix” and “Primer”). The movie left me wondering how in the world is Nolan going to top this with the next Batman project?!

Update: Interesting easter-egg/trivia regarding the soundtrack.

16 Responses to “Inception for Dummies”

  1. Abhishek Says:

    You should check this out too..

  2. Other faults I found:

    1. How come, when the van falls off the bridge in D1, gravity is lost in D2 but stays perfectly intact in D3?

    2. A more important loose end that bothered me: When Cobb tries to convince Mal that they are really in D0, why doesn’t he use the totem? (If he does use it, we aren’t told about it). That is, after all, the primary function of the totem – to tell its owner if s/he is dreaming or not. The idea that they are dreaming is planted in Mal’s mind by the eternally spinning top. Can’t the same idea be broken if Mal sees the top stop spinning in D0?

    It’s a loose end that they could have tried to explain away, by saying that the inception of the idea that Mal is dreaming was so successful that seeing the top fall down in D0 fails to break that idea. It’s a cop-out, but it’s better than no explanation.

    • I’d say that zero-gravity doesn’t penetrate beyond one level for the same reason Kicks don’t (they both have to do with the Vestibular inner ear). You either buy them both or none.

      As for the Totem, yeah a scene with the ‘unconvincing spinning top that stops’ would have helped. I resisted the temptation of suggesting that successive nesting levels will take one closer-and-closer to the target’s emotional centres, making them more vulnerable.

      • i agree with Koze
        look at it this way:
        no gravity in D1 = No gravity in D2
        now since there is no gravity in D2 and D2 has dreamers, should there be no gravity in D3 also ( at this point frgt abt D1)

      • Hail Captain of the obvious.

    • Re #2, Mal could always have thought that Cobb is showing her a fake totem. After all, if it is indeed a shared dream world with Cobb as the architect, nothing can stop him from planting fake totems everywhere. He knows how Mal’s totem should behave.

    • for question 1-

      I think the reson behind the fluctuating presence of 0 gravity in D2 and not in D3 is “Arthur”.D2 is Arthur’s dream so whenever the van drifts in D1 the ear fluid which helps human to sense gravity causes the shift in the gravity at D2 as Arthur is sitting in that van,getting drifts whenever the van slides.While D3 is Ficher’s subconscious who is floating in the air in D2 ,so his ear fluid is stable thats why D3’s gravity is also stable.
      I hope this was what Nolan wanted to convey.

  3. […] For a brilliant write-up about the movie, go here. Traums pulled out all the stops on this one. Tagged with: Christopher Nolan, […]

  4. can any1 ans these??
    1. When caprio n wife go t limbo , and she doesnt want to come out of it, y doesnt he just kill her instead of planting the idea in her mind…??
    2. We are told a “falling” movement acts a s kick and wakes up the dreamer…
    When the VAN driven by Dileep Rao in level 1 is tumbling all over dont the passengers experience “falling ” and wake up????

    • #2) It appears that it is not acceleration per se that delivers the kick, but some higher derivative. The body has to be surprised about a sudden change. That’s why the fall consists of two kicks: one at the onset of the fall when they start to accelerate, and one at the end of the fall when they hit the water. During the fall itself, they are weightless.
      In the movie, the characters miss the first kick (they even acknowledge it).

      #1) This, I can’t say. Perhaps when one day both of us have wives, we’ll realise that after having spent years building a private world with one, it must be difficult to shoot them. Mal’s draw to the place was that it held huge emotional value. It was a place where they could grow old together. DiCaprio might have shot her, or killed himself, at the risk of estranging their relationship. But point taken.

      • well actually as explained by yusuf , kick of falling works only because our ears(which have a balancing mechanism in them) sense that we are out of balance and instantly we wake up.
        Yusuf had said that the heavy sedative developed by him spcfcally doesnt interfere with the ear to enable kicks to work.

        From this logc it shud be really prtty obvious dat Nolan goofed up..

      • Yes, I’ve elaborated on it in the actual blogpost. This does not violate the higher derivative theory. The vestibular system is merely a sensory organ that measures these derivatives.

  5. “As for logical inconsistencies, the whole concept of Limbo raises the question of what map a person will see when plunged in. Shouldn’t everyone have their own private little Limbo? How come Robert, and Saito, after death, end up in Cobb’s Limbo map (with the beach and the buildings (although the local environment of and aged Saito’s location looks different, and has his defences in the form of Japanese speaking guards)?”

    IF i remember correctly, Arthur mentions that the Limbo state is Infinite subconscious where if a person enters he will see what has been left behind by the previous ‘resident’. I think this limbo state transcends individuals. It exists as one whole, which is same for everyone. Saito has of course made some changes of his own as you mentioned.

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