Question: Me and my friend have debated this each time we have watched the movie and I finally decided to ask the question here to see who is right. When they are discussing their plan and saying they need the plane for it, Saito says "I bought the airline... It seemed neater." My interpretation of this is that he bought out all the tickets on that particular flight so the plane would be empty and weed out risk of interruption from other passengers, as doing that made it so there are no other passengers. But my friend thinks he means he bought the entire brand of the airline, so that he now owns the company that has that plane. Like buying out SouthWest Airlines as a company or something. So who is right? What did Saito mean? Did he buy out all the tickets for that flight, or did he buy the whole airline company?

Quantom X Premium member

Chosen answer: He bought out the actual airline company. If he'd bought out all the tickets for that specific journey he'd have said "I bought out the flight" or similar. It's a deliberately over the top moment of exuberance to highlight exactly how rich Satio is. I'm afraid that it is your friend who is correct, sorry.


Question: What is the hotel used in dream level two?

Chosen answer: The hotel is made up of several locations, most of which (the hallway, the hotel bar, the room) were constructed specifically for the film on a soundstage.

Question: How do the people in the film share a dream? I understand that the briefcase contains sedatives to put everyone to sleep, but how do they get inside a certain individuals dream? How do they end up being in the same dream together?


Chosen answer: The details are never explained in the depth, but all the dreamers are connected via the briefcase, so it seems likely that the briefcase acts in some way as a networking hub for them to share the dreamspace.

Tailkinker Premium member

Question: When Cobb finally gets home to see his children at the end why don't they look any different from his memories? The story implies that he's been gone for a long time yet they don't appear to have aged.

Chosen answer: The story really doesn't imply too heavily exactly how long Cobb has been on the run. Very few clues are given, so it could quite plausibly be less than a year since his wife's death, in which case their children would not have aged dramatically. Their voices on the phone seem compatible with children of the ages shown at the end of the film and Cobb shows no concern when reunited with them that they should be older than they are. Two sets of children are listed in the credits, of different ages.

Tailkinker Premium member

Question: What is the point of so many dream layers to get to the "inception" of the idea? I guess the movie would lose all of its intricacy without it, and would be much less appealing. So what is the excuse to use that trick from the director?


Chosen answer: For inception to work the idea must be planted very deeply within the subconscious. The more dream layers there are, the deeper into the subconscious you get.

Phixius Premium member

Question: In the beginning of the movie, we see Cobb and Arthur get mad at their first architect for not knowing about the wool rug in Saito's "love nest." But further on when Ariadne joins up and they are hiding from the commandos from Fischer's subconscious, no one blames her for not knowing about them beforehand. Since the architect is supposed to know everything about the level she/he built, so why do they blame Nash?

Chosen answer: The architect builds the levels, they don't populate them. Nash screwed up in a physical detail of the dream, the composition of the rug, which is the role of the architect, so he gets into trouble. Ariadne only designed the dream's architecture, the inhabitants of that dream are all formed from Fischer's subconscious and thus are not something she has any control over. Arthur was the one who was detailed to research Fischer's background, and thus should have picked up that he had been trained in the anti-intrusion tactics that manifest as the armed security force. He somehow missed it, so they get annoyed at him for putting them all in danger.

Tailkinker Premium member

Question: In the vault scene, isn't forger Eames impersonating the Elder Fischer on his deathbed in the vault? If so, then how can he also be across the room at the door?

Chosen answer: No, he isn't. Everything in that room is out of Fischer's subconscious - as the film explains, the team design the dreams to include a secure area, a vault, safe, whatever, which the target will then fill. In the higher levels of the dream, the team have been surreptitiously guiding Fischer towards the idea of splitting the company up; this is the level where it pays off, where Fischer's own subconscious fills the vault with the things he needs to see or hear to make the idea real, to complete the inception.

Tailkinker Premium member

Question: Seems like a petty, trivial question, but it has been bugging me. Throughout the film, events that are taking place on one level have a profound impact on the the level below. One example is the scene with Arthur fighting the with the 'bad guys' while floating without gravitational pull. This is a result of the van being in mid air in the 1st level. How come Nolan chose this approach? It's like saying that if we sleep during a flight, we will definitely dream that we are in the air. Or if we get slapped while dreaming, we will be tossed aside aggressively. We all know that is not the case. There isn't such a direct connection between what happens in reality and what happens in a dream. Seems to me that Nolan traded the integrity of the whole dream eco system for some stunning visuals. Or am I very wrong?


Answer: Dreams can be and are often influenced by what's happening around us. There's been plenty of research on the topic and some interesting findings. Yes, Nolan exaggerates it for the purpose of drama, but it's based on reality to some extent. You also have to remember, the film's rules establish that the deeper levels of dreams are quite different, what with time being greatly extended, the subconscious playing a bigger role, etc. So it'd stand to reason that smaller things in the level above would have a large and consistent impact on lower levels, since it'd be messing with your mind. Also, and most importantly... it's a sci-fi movie. It can alter the rules of reality a bit for the sake of the story being told.


Thanks a lot TedStixon. You've put my mind at ease :).

Question: In real movie time how long did each dream last? The hotel dream time, the city dream, and the snow mountains dream. I don't buy it that they spent 8 years hiking in those mountains.

Answer: The dream is stated to last about 20 times as long as time in the real world, with the flight taking 10 hours. This means that the first level would be 200 hours (just over a week), the second level would be around 20 weeks (about 5 months), and the third level about 100 months (just over 8 years). However, that is the length of time for the entire dream, start to finish. That is not how long each person stays in the dream. They were not hiking in the mountains for 8 years, just a few minutes or an hour at the most. However, if they were to miss a kick on any level, they would either have to stay in that mountain base for the full 8 years or get kicked down to limbo for even longer, potentially.


Question: I've got two questions. 1. I still can't understand how the kick works. When the van was falling, why they didn't wake up from the hotel? When they fall they should wake up from the dream. 2. Why the loss of the gravity didn't affect the 3rd level, if the other factors, such as the music or kicks actually affect it?

Honza Požár

Chosen answer: 1. The sleeping ones in the hotel were in the third level and the kick wasn't strong enough to affect them all, and Arthur made the dream, which gives him some control of when it ends. 2. The lack of gravity in level 2 DID affect level 3 with the avalanche. The gravity change in two might have made them a bit lighter, but not catastrophically so. And the music and the kicks were on the previous level, so they could get through.

Question: When the team is twice under, I think, the bus, with all of them on it - the reality - is heading for water, it has been hit. But what I don't understand is how Cobb says, "When the van hits the water," how would he know this? He's dreaming, as they all are.


Chosen answer: When the van hits the water it will suddenly stop, giving a kick to the passengers. Cobb knew because driving the van off the bridge was always the plan.


Question: How can Cobb be accused of killing Mal when she was on a ledge across from the hotel suite?

Chosen answer: The gap between the window Cobb is in and the ledge Mal is sitting on doesn't appear to be particularly wide, so it would be unclear exactly where she fell from; if she was physically thrown from the window, which is the scenario she's trying to fake, she wouldn't fall straight downwards, so a position some distance out from the window would not be unexpected. Add to that her stated claims that he threatened to kill her and the very obvious signs of a struggle in the room, to say nothing of the fact that Cobb ran, and he comes out of the whole sad affair looking extremely guilty.

Tailkinker Premium member

Question: I mostly understand the nature of the "kicks", but one thing I don't understand is what the kick was that woke the characters up from the 1st dream layer, the one with the van falling off the bridge. Falling off the skyscraper woke Ariadne up in the snow fortress layer, the fortress collapsing woke them up in the hotel layer, and the elevator crashing woke them up in the van layer. What woke the characters up, all at the same time, in the van layer?

Chosen answer: You've got it a bit backward. Falling off the skyscraper (dying) got her out of limbo and back to the snow fortress so that when the elevator crashed at the hotel, THAT kick would be able to wake her out of the snow fortress. Then the van crashing woke her from the hotel, and finally the time entered into the dream machine itself expired and woke them all simultaneously for the final time. The only ways to wake up are to die within the dream or receive a kick from the level above the dream you're in, whether that's in another dream or the waking world.

Phixius Premium member

Question: Fischer has been trained to resist dream invasions, which means he is aware that this technology exists and has had experience using it. Why, then, when he wakes up on the plane, does he not remember everything as having actually happened for all intents and purposes in the same way the team does? Why does he simply look as though he's just woken up from a very strange dream when he really ought to know full well that it was not "just a dream"?

Phixius Premium member

Chosen answer: While Fischer is trained to deal with extractors, he is not an expert like Cobb. He has not been under the influence of the machine more then a few times, and he probably hasn't used one for some considerable time. Cobb even flat out says it: It takes years of practice.


Question: Why do the team require a 10 hour plane trip from Sydney to LA to spend with Fischer to perform inception? According to the theory of "dream time" 10 hours in reality is equal to 1 week the first level down, 6 months the second level down, 10 years the third level down. If this is true, why do they need 10 hours with Fischer? Surely just 1 hour will be enough to do what they need? Secondly, if they were sedated for that entire 10 hour plane trip then they would have been stuck in the 3rd level dream for at least 8-10 years until the sedation wore off enough for the "kick" to work. According to the film they only spent a few minutes on the 3rd level dream (the Ice Hospital / Fortress) which would have equalled only a few seconds in reality on the plane.

Chosen answer: 1) They didn't know how long the job would actually take, so they would certainly try to build as large a window as possible. A 12 hour flight was convenient because it gave them that window and a valid reason for Fischer to be asleep. 2) They never had to wait for the sedation to wear off for the kick to work. The compound was custom tailored specifically to leave inner ear function unimpaired so that they COULD use a kick to get out of the dream layers.

Question: Does anyone understand how the function of the architect works? As told in the movie, the architect creates the world of the dream, and then the subject is brought into that dream and fills it with their subconscious. So doesn't that mean the architect must be the main dreamer, with the subject and others acting as the participants of that dream so that the architect can set the infrastructure for the subject to populate? Otherwise, the story would need to explain how the architect has the power to override the dreamer's dream framework.


Chosen answer: The architect designs all of the dream layouts then teaches those layouts to the people who will be the main dreamer for each level. They could be the main dreamer on one of those levels, but by having the architect teach the layout to different people, that means that the architect can move into each successive level along with the group and you can always have someone in the group who is very familiar with the layout of each dream level.

Garlonuss Premium member

Question: During the snow scene, someone says, "Have we missed the kick?" (I can't remember who said it) What are they talking about?

Chosen answer: "The kick" is what wakes them up from the current dream; they are wondering if it failed to wake them up.

Phixius Premium member

Question: Why does Fischer Jr. start to cry when he sees a pinwheel in his father's safe?

Chosen answer: It represents a fond memory from his childhood and he is overcome with happiness to see his that father cherished it as well.

Phixius Premium member

Question: Cobb starts to say to Ariadne, "There's something you should know about me." But he never finishes. What does he want to say?


Chosen answer: He was going to tell her that he was the one who planted the idea (performed an inception) on Mal's head that "this world isn't real." Which ultimately was the reason she became obsessive and killed herself.

Phixius Premium member

Question: Cobb tells Ariadne that his wife buried something deep inside her and never let it out. What was he referring to?

Chosen answer: She buried the truth that she was living in a dream. She'd chosen to make the dream life her real life. She did it by hiding the totem (which is what they use to distinguish reality from dream) in a safe box.

Garlonuss Premium member

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