Inception: The truth behind Christopher Nolan movie’s final scene explained

Was it a dream or was it reality?

Jacob Stolworthy
Friday 15 July 2022 14:53 BST
Michael Caine reveals truth about final scene of Christopher Nolan film Inception

Inception was released 12 years ago today (14 July) – and fans are still in disagreement over the ending.

However, Michael Caine once cleared up the ambiguity surrounding the film’s final scene.

In a clip from 2018, which recently resurfaced on Reddit, the British actor is seen introducing a Film 4 screening of the acclaimed Christopher Nolan film. According to Caine, the filmmaker explicitly told him which scenes were real and which were a dream.

“When I got the script of Inception, I was a bit puzzled by it and I said to him ‘I don’t understand where the dream is’,” Caine told the crowd. “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.”

The debate surrounding Inception’s ending has waged on ever since its release in 2010, with the mystery surrounding whether the final scene was real or whether it was taking place in the dream of the lead character, Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio).

The scene in question – in which he’s granted access to the US after having his criminal history erased – sees him reunited with his children and father, played by Caine.

Audiences have wondered whether this scene was, in fact, a dream thanks to Nolan’s final shot of the spinning top – Cobb’s totem that spins indefinitely in a dream but topples in the real world – which cuts off before viewers have a chance to find out.

Nolan has continually maintained that the ending is “subjective” and that the only thing that matters is that Cobb doesn’t care if he’s dreaming or not. Going by Caine’s words, however, his appearance in the scene confirms the events were all real.

In his speech, Caine branded Nolan “the new David Lean” and attributed him with being the one who “restarted [his] acting life” after casting him in 2005 film Batman Begins.

Leonardo Dicaprio in ‘Inception'

“I regard him as my lucky charm because when I got to an age of about 70 and the world started closing in on me, he came to me with one Batman Begins and he restarted my acting life,” he said. “Because from then on when I thought you get to 70, 75, and you think it’s all over I then made seven of the best movies I was ever in.

Caine has also starred in The Prestige, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, Interstellar and Tenet. He also had a voice cameo in Dunkirk.

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