Inception was released 10 years ago, meaning the world has been left wondering about the Christopher Nolan film’s ambiguous ending for an entire decade.
What some fans might have missed, though, was one of its cast members seemingly clearing up what actually happened in the final scene.
In 2018, Sir Michael Caine introduced a showing of the blockbuster as part of Film 4 Summer Screen at Somerset House, when he revealed Nolan told him which scenes were real, and which were a dream.
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“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 continued ever since its release in July 2010. Some people think the final scene is real, while others believe it all takes place in the dream of the lead character, Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio).
The scene in question – in which Cobb is granted access to the US after having his criminal history erased – sees him reunited with his children and father, played by Caine.
Audiences have long wondered whether the scene was a dream thanks to Nolan’s final shot of a spinning top – Cobb’s “totem” that spins indefinitely while he’s sleeping, but topples in the real world.
The film ends before viewers have a chance to find out if it topples.
Nolan has continually maintained the ending is “subjective”, saying that the only thing that matters is that, at this stage of the film, Cobb doesn’t care if he’s dreaming or not.
Going by Caine’s words, though, his appearance in the scene seems to confirm 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.
“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 has a voice cameo in Dunkirk. He’ll additionally appear in the director’s forthcoming spy thriller Tenet, which is currently scheduled to be released on 12 August.
Find our ranking of Nolan’s 10 films here.
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