Definitive word on Inception's ending

SPOILERS AHEAD! If you haven’t seen Inception yet, stop reading now!

I think we can say we finally know what really happened at the end of Inception now, thanks to an interview with the film’s costume designer, Jeffrey Kurland…

That darn top never stopped spinning at the end of the movie… or did it?

Remember how the Cobb’s kids looked the same in every flashback scene, where they were in that field outside his house, facing away from him? But then at the end, when Cobb finally returned home, the kids turned around and embraced him at last.

Many fans have speculated that since the kids looked exactly the same in the finale as they did earlier in his dreams, then the end was still a dream after all. But hold your horses, because that theory is based on a faulty assumption.

In the interview, Kurland is asked:

Cobb’s children are wearing the same clothes at the end of the story as they are in his dream “memory” throughout the film. Is there something to be interpreted here?

To which Kurland replies:

the children’s clothing is different in the final scene… look again…

So there you have it! The kids’ clothing is different in the final scene, which has to mean that we’re not looking at his dream! It’s all real!

Okay, so we still can’t say 100% for sure. But at the very least, I’m thinking that this piece of costuming was specified in the script by director Christopher Nolan, so it at least gives us a hint as to how he interprets the ending. And if it’s good enough for Nolan, it’s good enough for me.


  1. Caleb G. says

    Pshh . . . but Cobb’s mind may have only given them different clothes because that was the “reality” it believed was the REAL one. There’s no way to know if the end was REAL REAL or not. That’s not the point. The point is, that for Cobb, it WAS real, even if it “wasn’t”, because that’s all he really wanted in the end . . . to see his kids again. Such a beautiful pure motive to the whole thing makes discussions over the “Reality” puzzle just seem stupid.

  2. Tue Beck Olling (Denmark) says

    We already know that Cobb’s mind can change the dream he dreams, so how the children look in the end doesn’t change anything.
    The thing to look for is weather Cobb executes a leap of faith (forces him self to believe something) or weather he undergoes an awakening (illustrated by a push).
    If Cobb is dreaming when he makes the deal with the Saito, then it follows that every character in the movie is part of Cobb’s dream. Therefore Cobb might be on a mission to make an inception on himself in order to rid himself of his doubt of the dream (represented by Mals interference). He does this by incepting his own construct, Robert Fisher, who has the same subconscious as himself. Cobb thereby plants the idea in his own mind. This also explaines why Mal takes Robert Fisher hostage.

    At least that’s my theory. I’ll have to se the film again to make sure.

  3. Søren Højlund Jensen says

    Details are imposible to maintain in a real dream.
    If you are playing cards in a dream, and you know your poker hand is the best, you make a bet, and look back down at your hand, and all of a sudden its a bridge hand, etc.

    How does cobb get to the airport?

    how does he get to his house where his children finally turns around ?

    He explains this to the girl architect in the start of the movie, and its the same in the ending, allso the camera work is the same as it is within the dreams, which is used to tell the audience subconsciously that we’re in the dream world. The shading of the colors in the final scene, the way the light comes in creating a sort of “void”.

  4. Caleb G. says

    This is why it is such a great film. Each viewer notices something different. There are millions of different pieces to the puzzle, each pointing in a different direction. I don’t think it’s really even remotely possible to piece all of these scraps of evidence together. I mentioned motive as a puzzle piece, the article cites the children’s clothing . . . Our friend from Denmark has raised the question of wether or not the whole thing is a dream, and still another commenter has mentioned the lighting and film style in the end are similar to the dream style.

    The mere fact that dreams are involved makes the question of reality pretty much impossible to answer. Nolan knows this, and I’ll bet he gets a huge buzz every time he watches the final shot of the top, and . . . . what happens????

  5. @shutts67 says

    I remember Cobb saying that the top would never wobble in Mal’s dreams. He didn’t say it would spin forever, or that it would never fall, he specifically said it would never wobble. That, to me, proves that he was in “real” reality not just his reality. I still think that it wold have been a better ending if Michael Cain’s character knocked the top over.

  6. gab says

    well for what I read.. you know that he is dreaming because in dreams he use his wedding ring.. and when he is in real world he is not using it…

  7. Architect says

    The Inception was made to Cobb. The inception of the film is the moment when the seed was left in his mind. He then believes he is dreaming since the beginning which then make he finally believes that when he woke up in the plane he is in the reality. The Architect (Ariadne) is the key. She is a lot more skilled than Cobb, she knows how to manage gravity (so the totem) and made Cobb and all spectator believe that the inception mission to Fischer was the reality. Observe also that Ariadne learned a lot about Cobb’s psychology and Limbo, she is the only one allowed or that had succeeded to enter his Limbo so whenever she got that she would be able to architect the “reality” Cobb was looking for.

  8. Shahe says

    it’s agreat movie,
    as for my opinion,,,
    in the whole movie, he kept the top turning thing with him all the time even in the dream, without letting anyone touch it.
    but at the last part, he did spin it, and kept it on the table, and didn’t take it with him.
    another point, if it was his dream or his architecture, he could have changed it and went home. but he couldn’t.

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