The only thing that I'm missing in Inception is why was Saito old in the opening and closing scenes of this great movie?

Both Cobb and Saito land in Limbo in (presumably) the same moment and Cobb spent (presumably) a very long time to find Saito, long enough for Saito to age about 40 years; however, Cobb remained the same age.

What caused such a significant difference between ages of both characters in Limbo despite them being roughly the same age when they entered and entering Limbo at the same time?

1 Answer 1


Cobb enters limbo through death a long time after Saito enters limbo through death.

This answer covers things very well. The order of events is:

  • Fischer dies in level-3 (reaching Limbo)
  • Cobb and Ariadne sleep in level-3 (reaching Limbo)
  • Saito dies in level-1 (reaching Limbo)
  • Mal stabs Cobb in Limbo and gets shot
  • Ariadne and Fischer kill themselves in Limbo (riding layers of kicks and reaching level-1, and eventually reality)
  • The van in level-1 sinks with Cobb and Saito's corpse, everyone else hides somewhere safe. Cobb drowns here
  • Cobb finds Saito, very old, and both kill themselves (reaching reality)

When the van in level-1 sinks, Cobb drowns, and re-enters Limbo. At this point, he has entered Limbo years after Saito. In the movie, we see that the scene right after the van sinks is with Cobb waking up on the beach.

Saito is old because those minutes between both deaths felt like decades in limbo.

  • But wait. Cobb already entered Limbo (with Ariadne) before Saito died in Eames' dream. So how does that work?
    – Walt
    Commented Dec 19, 2016 at 23:08
  • @Walt You sure he entered before? I dont have the movie here to check, but I believed he went after Saito O.o
    – BlueMoon93
    Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 10:28
  • Yes, 100%, I rechecked. Cobb and Ariadne use the machine to bring Fischer back from Limbo when Saito's still alive. He only dies later, after throwing the grenade. This is why, while at Limbo, Cobb tells Ariadne that "Saito's dead by now".
    – Walt
    Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 10:45
  • 1
    Have you just...entirely reworked your answer? I haven't given it a close reading yet, but it looks like you basically replaced the entire text. If it is a subtantian revision, you might want to consider making it a new answer altogether, given the existing answer received substantial amount of voting and acceptance over the last 3 years of its existence.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Oct 9, 2019 at 19:01
  • @NapoleonWilson I had two options in my answer. I've removed one, and stuck to the other, given new information. Should I delete this one and make a new answer?
    – BlueMoon93
    Commented Oct 9, 2019 at 20:32

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .