Since its theater debut in 2010, Inception has continued to rock the minds of fans who had a hard time separating reality from fantasy in the film's cliffhanging closing scene. After eight long years of debate and speculation, it appears that there may finally be some closure, thanks to Michael Caine, who recently offered an explanation to the Inception ending.
Inception stars Leonardo DiCaprio in the role of Dom Cobb, an "extractor" who steals corporate secrets from his target's subconscious minds, and the nature of the film purposefully blurs the line between what's real and what appears to be a dream. Throughout the movie, viewers were led to believe that Cobb's spinning top was a signal of reality. If it keeps spinning, it's a dream, but if it inevitably falls, it's reality. In the final scene, fans watched on as the spinner began to lose its balance as Cobb and went outside to play with his young children. However, the scene cut to black before audiences could see it fall or not, leaving fans with absolutely no way of knowing if Cobb ever returned to his "real life."
Well, the question of whether or not Cobb returned to reality at the end of Inception has finally been answered thanks to actor Michael Caine. Caine, who plays Professor Stephen Miles and Cobb’s father-in-law, offered a bit of clarity on the film's final moments during a recent discussion at the Film 4 Summer Screen showing of Inception on August 10, sharing that he, too, was confused by the script when he first read it. Per People, Caine explained that things became clearer after he got a few important answers from the film’s co-producer and director Christopher Nolan.
Addressing the audience at the screening, Caine explained, via Time:
"When I got the script of Inception, I was a bit puzzled by it, and I said to [Nolan], ‘I don’t understand where the dream is. I said, ‘When is it the dream and when is it reality?’ He said, ‘Well, when you’re in the scene it’s reality.’ So, get that — if I’m in it, it’s reality. If I’m not in it, it’s a dream.”
Prior to this revelation, People points out that Nolan had been vague about the film's ending. During Princeton University's graduation in 2015, he explained that “all levels of reality are valid,” and shared that the ending is really up to personal interpretation.
The director said:
“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.”
It's unclear how Nolan feels about Caine's big reveal. However, it seems highly doubtful that he'd ever be mad at the 85-year-old actor given their extensive history of working together. Caine has notably appeared in seven of Nolan's films including; Batman Begins, The Prestige, The Dark Knight Inception, The Dark Knight Rises, Interstellar, and was most recently featured as a voice in the director's Oscar-nominated Dunkirk.
Caine's revelation about Inception's ending certainly eases the minds of fans who can now take solace in knowing that Cobb did actually make it back to his family in real life.