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Many have wondered about this and this may be the silliest question asked regarding the movie INCEPTION but here it is....

When did the Inception start?

Or

Could it be that the whole movie was a dream from start to finish?

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As for the whole movie is a dream thing nolan puts a grey mark on that question collider.com/inception-christopher-nolan-explains –  Dredd Mar 12 '13 at 14:43
    
The answer to this question mostly answers your question movies.stackexchange.com/questions/2324/… –  Dredd Mar 12 '13 at 14:50
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Yeah, the questions are almost duplicates - except that you can't be sure the movie starts at the same 'level' as the end even. Basically, its ambiguous and practically unanswerable. –  iandotkelly Mar 12 '13 at 16:13
    
When you ask "When did the Inception start?" - I guess with "Inception" you mean the movie and not the process of inception as used in the movie? As that would otherwise be an entirely different question. –  Napoleon Wilson Dec 17 at 10:01

3 Answers 3

up vote 9 down vote accepted

As for the whole movie is a dream thing. I found this interview of Nolan where he refuses to divulge any information pertaining to that specific question. We can make multiple hypothesis on that, but i think what Nolan was aiming it to create the ambiguity and I also think that's what made inception tick more than many movies which had relatively similar concepts

The quote from the interview goes like this

What’s happening in the movie: Saito says he’ll clear Cobb’s name if he takes the job. He asks Cobb to take “a leap of faith.”

The Entire Movie Is a Dream” Argument: The phrase “leap of faith” occurs over and over. It’s an artifact of Cobb’s subconscious.

Nolan’s Comment: “I don’t think I’m going to tell you about this.”

Source

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Though its not a definite answer, but I agree to what you are trying to convey @Dredd. Thanks ! I'll humbly accept it as an answer to this question. –  Nishant Mar 13 '13 at 7:57

I'd like to see the movie having - reality and dreams. There are two major dream sequences, the first one which has a 2 dream sequence where they are trying to extract information from Saito. The second one is the rest of the movie - the multi dream sequence where they are trying to incept the idea into Fisher's mind. The second dream starts after the scene in the plane. The plane is real world, the dream starts on the streets.

Here's an illustrated explanation of each of the dream levels and movement between them, kicks etc: Inception Explained With Illustration

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The entire film was not a dream. The movie started when Cobb and Saito are in that dream where he proposes that he can extract information and protect his subconsciousness and tells him about the safe where Saito looks at the wall. This is where the film started and when Cobb reaches America to his kids and spins the totem, that is where it ended. The totem he spins belonged to his wife. He did not spin his own totem.

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