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About the Ending to the film "Inception"


A Tripolation
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So basically, I have a question to ask about the ending of this film. The relevance of the clip I included starts at around 3:40.

 

 

 

So the story pretty much is, that he spins the top (called a totem in the movie), and if it falls over, he's awake. Conversely, if he spins it and keeps spinning forever, he's stuck in a dream.

 

My argument is that since the top appears to start wobbling at the end, it will at some point in the future fall over, correct? Once it loses that perfect balance it initially has, it will stop. So he has to be awake.

 

Is there any flaw in my thinking, provided that tops behave in Inception like they do in the world we live?

 

Edit: Every clip I find has embedding disabled. So you'll have to go to youtube to see it. Apologies.

Edited by A Tripolation
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So the story pretty much is, that he spins the top (called a totem in the movie), and if it falls over, he's awake. Conversely, if he spins it and keeps spinning forever, he's stuck in a dream.

 

My argument is that since the top appears to start wobbling at the end, it will at some point in the future fall over, correct? Once it loses that perfect balance it initially has, it will stop. So he has to be awake.

 

Is there any flaw in my thinking, provided that tops behave in Inception like they do in the world we live?

 

Edit: Every clip I find has embedding disabled. So you'll have to go to youtube to see it. Apologies.

 

Of course there is a flaw. It could be a flaw in the table he spun the top on that made it wobble... it may have recovered and continued spinning. If they had ended the movie before the wobble, you would have been left thinking that the top spun forever... ending the movie after that little wobble gives you hope that maybe it WILL stop... I don't think it gives you certainty at all. The whole annoying point to the ending is that you are left with ambiguity about whether or not he really is awake this time. If your logic makes you feel better about it, there is nothing wrong with believing that he's awake.

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Actually, I initially believed he was still asleep because it never showed how he escaped from the dream. He just woke up on the plane. That's a strong indication that he's lost in limbo.

 

I was more asking that in terms of classical physics, one a top starts to wobble, it WILL fall over. I wanted to know if that was a true statement or not.

 

I thought the point to the top at the end was that he didn't bother to check and see if it fell over, he was finally to the point that he didn't need to see the totem.

 

I kind of agree with that. I felt like it was more that he didn't care if the totem fell over. He was happy again.

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You cannot answer that question, because, 'in terms of classical physics', the top will fall over NO MATTER WHAT. A wobble will not change the outcome either way.

 

I thought about adding, "if constant energy were applied to the top to keep it spinning", but I didn't think anyone would focus on that point. So let me rephrase my question.

 

Let's say we have a top. It is supplied with a constant energy to maintain it's spin. If it wobbles, this wobble will cause the top to fall over, correct?

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I thought about adding, "if constant energy were applied to the top to keep it spinning", but I didn't think anyone would focus on that point. So let me rephrase my question.

 

Let's say we have a top. It is supplied with a constant energy to maintain it's spin. If it wobbles, this wobble will cause the top to fall over, correct?

 

Not necessarily. If it is supplied with constant energy, then there must be some other reason that it wobbled (a flaw in the surface, somebody blowing on it...) most of these reasons the top should easily recover from, especially if it is supplied with constant energy to maintain its spin.

 

The only sure reason that a top's wobble will indicate a topple, is that it is wobbling because it is slowing down, and is about to topple. You have eliminated that possibility by adding energy to keep it spinning.

Edited by losfomot
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Not necessarily. If it is supplied with constant energy, then there must be some other reason that it wobbled (a flaw in the surface, somebody blowing on it...) most of these reasons the top should easily recover from, especially if it is supplied with constant energy to maintain its spin.

 

The only sure reason that a top's wobble will indicate a topple, is that it is wobbling because it is slowing down, and is about to topple. You have eliminated that possibility by adding energy to keep it spinning.

 

I just meant with energy that kept it in motion. If it started to wobble, the added energy would only succeed in making it fall over faster.

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Surely from a narrative point of view it is meaningless to debate whether or not the totem will fall. When a writer makes something deliberately ambiguous like this he is making a specific point. It doesn't matter if he's still dreaming. The point, as mentioned above, is that he no longer cares if it's real or not.

 

There is no correct answer to the question. If Nolan were to state one way or the other, it would just be an arbirtary decision.

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I just meant with energy that kept it in motion. If it started to wobble, the added energy would only succeed in making it fall over faster.

Why?

 

Start a top spinning on the table.

 

Hit the table.

 

The top will wobble and correct itself and keep right on spinning.

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