In this, I use my dream terms to “shorthand” some concepts.
Ryan and I went ’round and ’round, and then he said:
“Now i think the whole film is a dream that cobb has while flying overseas to return to his children.”
Then we hashed out the basics of the theory.
I should point out that this is Ryan’s idea. My contribution was basically saying things like, “Okay, well if that were the case, maybe Saito is just some guy making a phone call,” etc. It’s a tidy, “It was all a dream” theory. The basic idea is that everything we see in the movie is a dream, until Cobb wakes up on the plane. It’s grounded in the TABLE FOR ONE THEORY described in my dream terms page.
The “reality” he experiences where he’s a dream extractor is a clever DODGE.
His “Inception team,” are simply stock “heist film” AMALGAMS of the people sitting next to him on the plane, they are also WELL-KNOWN STRANGERS. He doesn’t know any of them for real. The PASIV Device is an APPARATUS that initiates SINK. Cobb experiences BLUFF pretty much throughout the entire movie when he’s not in his false “reality” level.
Mal is still a FURY and his children are still GORGONS in the dream. All of the projections are still FURIES as well.
The “kicks” are not true BOUNCES if this is the case, but rather SKIPS to different scenes. He simply has a FADE OUT at the very end.
The main thing we discussed was that because there’s no interaction between any of the passengers after Cobb gets off the plane, there’s nothing to say they weren’t actually all strangers, and what we witness in the dream is Cobb’s coping process to deal with his wife’s death. We don’t know the actual manner of death, just that Cobb had some guilt he had to let go.
Saito’s phone call would be considered a POST CARD for the conversation that he’s going to fix Cobb’s legal problems if the Inception is successful. In this theory, Cobb actually doesn’t have any legal problems. That idea was just a SOUVENIR from his dream.
The children are with their grandfather, who has always been there. The phone call with the grandmother and the children was a dream, as was the meeting with him in Paris.
Cobb ends the movie as a man who has come to grips with his grief, having played out an elaborate scenario that allowed him to accept his wife’s death.
In my opinion, in this interpretation the children playing with sand castles on the beach could then be a SEED for Cobb’s concept of creating buildings in limbo.
It should note that while I think this works as a theory, I like my long con theory better because it’s much more complicated and (for me) much more fun.
Thursday, July 22nd 12:15am Pacific Time:
I found an interview with Christopher Nolan where he talks about one of the main themes of Inception is “communication,” which makes me think that any TABLE FOR ONE THEORY interpretation is suspect. It’s around the 2-and-a-half minute mark:
The idea that it’s all in Cobb’s head could still be used to explain things, but then you’re rejecting one of the things Christopher Nolan mentions as a theme for the movie.
“The basic premise of the film is that if you can experience the same dream as someone else all communications between people in that alternate reality would be valid. And so if you were to fight with somebody, fall in love with someone…it would be valid, because it’s not just your projection of that person it’s not all just coming from your mind it’s actually…you’re there with those people interacting.”
If they were all projections in his head, Cobb wouldn’t be interacting with anyone.