In the movie Inception when Cobb is dreaming about his wife Ariadne enters his dream and lands up in an elevator with each floor containing Cobb's memory of Mal.

In this scene Ariadne enters the elevator, hits the B button and lands up in the hotel memory. Following is the screenshot of her in the basement level.

Ariadne in the hotel room just after she meet Mal, standing in front of the elevator

Notice that the elevator's door is left open. This is a manually operated door and anyone who would've used these will know that the elevator will not move unless the door is closed by someone.

The following is the next scene when Cobb magically appears in the elevator to save Ariadne from being stabbed by Mal.

Cobb walks out of the elevator a few seconds later

How did he get to the basement from the upper floor? There weren't any stairways. Is this a goof up or does it mean something?

  • 8
    I guess "it's a dream!" won't count? ;-)
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Jun 5, 2014 at 21:29

2 Answers 2


Goof is probably too strong a word - this is a dream after all. When people are dreaming they can find all sort of things happening:

  • Unexpected things like trains appearing in intersections
  • Deliberate things like Eames dreaming of a grenade launcher ('dream a little bigger darling').

I imagine that the Pasiv shared dreams do resolve 'conflicts' like this to some degree - so Ariadne doesn't dream closing the door, but Cobb dreams of going down the lift to that floor. The conflict has to be resolved somewhere. We don't ever see these things happening - which is kind of like a dream in itself, you just become aware that it is different and accept it.

  • Why do you say "Goof is probaby too strong a word"? In the beginning of the movie an aged Saito spins the top (totem) clockwise. When the same scene is shown towards the end the top is spinning anticlockwise. This can have a theory of its own but it has been listed as a goof in IMDB.
    – A.Jesin
    Jun 6, 2014 at 11:20
  • 1
    @A.Jesin. I say this because its a movie about (shared) dreams - and therefore have mutable reality and variable perceptions. Something like this set in reality is clearly a goof, something like this in a dream could be interpreted as a facet of being in a dream, and might have been a deliberate creative decision by the makers.
    – iandotkelly
    Jun 6, 2014 at 12:02
  • I would also like to think that this Cobb in the basement is Ariadne's projection of Cobb trying to save her from Mal who appeared out of nowhere.
    – A.Jesin
    Jun 12, 2014 at 9:11

During the section in the snowy mountain dream (3rd level), they're running out of time so they take a shortcut Ariadne designed into the maze so they can get straight to the end. It's possible that Cobb had a shortcut in his own dream which he used to enter the room.

This would only work if the shortcut was one-way though, otherwise Mal would have used it to escape, such as say shimmying down the elevator cable and through a hatch in the roof of the cab.

I don't think there's anything to indicate this in the sequence, but the elevator is obscured by Ariadne so it could be happening behind her, if Cobb's a ninja.

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