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One thing that makes me feel that Cobb dreamed the end of Inception is that the faces of his children were never revealed.

And weirdly, they don't seem to have grown up either. Children of that age change significantly in a few years.

Somehow I feel Cobb sees only things he can remember. He sees them how he has seen them last.

The 'not showing their faces' thing makes me feel that maybe he didn't actually have children. Maybe Mal was right when she said that they weren't their children.

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  • I think you just answered your own question.
    – JAD
    Jun 21, 2018 at 7:50

3 Answers 3

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Their faces are revealed at the end. From what I can recall, usually as they start to turn, something 'interferes' and we never see the reveal; but the end sequence we definitely see both their faces.

two children

They turn, stand and Miles brings them indoors. They embrace.

wide shot of a living room

Then there is a pan to the spinning top... we see it start to wobble, but never fall.

table with various objects

You're left to make up your own mind as to whether it does ever fall... If it falls, they're real; if it doesn't, they're not.

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    Except the top isn't Cobb's totem, it's Mal's. Cobb never reveals his totem, as per the discussion between Arthur and Ariadne. Cobb made it a rule that no one could hold/feel somebody else's totem. It is theorized that Cobb's totem is his wedding ring, but it's never revealed. Jun 21, 2018 at 10:16
  • Ah... interesting point, which I'd forgotten - been a while since I saw it all & just quickly skipped through the ending to get those pics - That final shot is still designed to make you think it all revolves around whether or not that top falls over, so the other totem I'm a bit stumped on, tbh.
    – Tetsujin
    Jun 21, 2018 at 17:26
  • @ChrisDafnis - What? My personal interpretation agrees with this and this that Cobb took over the spinning top totem when Mal died.
    – AndyT
    Aug 8, 2018 at 13:30
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    @ChrisDafnis The rule is explained, it's so that no one else can make a copy and use it to trick you. That rule doesn't apply to adopting a dead persons totem; since the dead person is not in the position to make a copy. It's still not a best practice; because it's possible Mal exposed her totem to someone else; but that's also probably unlikely.
    – JMac
    Aug 15, 2018 at 11:32
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Just found this:

During a recent panel for Film4's Summer Screen series at Somerset House in England, Michael Caine (Miles) gave the definitive answer on the question that fans were discussing over the last decade.

“When I got the script of Inception, I was a bit puzzled by it, and I said to him (Nolan), 'I don't understand where the dream is. 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," said Caine.

If this is true, then the ending where Cobb is reunited with his children happens in the 'real' world. The video can be seen here.

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    That could be read as directions for the actor, i.e. Nolan didn’t want Caine to overthink it and “act dreamy,” but rather wanted the comittment and intensity that would be required for a “real scene.”
    – Kevin Troy
    Aug 16, 2018 at 5:13
  • That's one way of looking at it, although not sure why Caine would bother pointing it out since he isn't in any dream scenes, unless Nolan was being misleading. Does anyone "act dreamy" in any of the dreams? Aug 16, 2018 at 8:39
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    @KevinTroy Yeah, I would think this is good advice for every actor in the film. They aren't supposed to think they are dreaming. I don't see why Nolan would want the actors to know, even if they were supposed to be in the dream sequence (unless they weren't one of the people actually using the dream machine).
    – JMac
    Aug 16, 2018 at 19:04
  • @JMac exactly -- all the "dreamy" aspects are conveyed through editing, camera work, set design, etc., but never through the way people act.
    – Kevin Troy
    Aug 17, 2018 at 18:13
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From the very beginning until the end of the movie, Cobbs is away from his kids (in terms of distance), whenever he sees his "non-real kids" he turns away, because simply they are not real, and that he does not want a fake attachment in a fake world, which is why he looks away no matter how much he misses them. He wants his love for his kids to be in a realistic world. The proof is that their faces are revealed at the end of the movie (only).

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  • With a movie like Inception, I don't think it's really fair to call your interpretation as "proof".
    – JMac
    Feb 27, 2020 at 16:22

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