Michael Caine Explains What's Actually Going On At The End Of Inception

Michael Caine in Inception
(Image credit: (Warner Bros.))

Few movie endings have been discussed, analyzed and studied more than 2010's Inception. As Dom Cobb, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, and his team travel in a dream within a dream within a dream, many moviegoers couldn't quite get satisfaction out of what exactly they experienced from just one viewing. As the film closes, the audience can never be sure if Cobb comes home to a dream or reality because the credits start to role before we can see if his totem, a spinning top, ever stops spinning. Fans have been looking for clues within the film for answers, and Christopher Nolan just won't budge on delivering a straight answer on what really happened. Frequent Nolan collaborator, Michael Caine did offer his own explanation for the ending at screening for Inception in Somerset House in London. In his words:

When I got the script of Inception, I was a bit puzzled by it, and I said to him, '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.

After almost 10 years of this uncertainty, for all these years Michael Caine has kept to himself this detail that Christopher Nolan told him to clarify the script for him. As the British actor explains from his perspective at a screening of the movie at the Somerset House (via Syfy Wire), every time his character, Professor Miles, is present in a scene, Cobb is in reality. Considering Miles picks up Cobb from the airport at the very end of the movie and is around when Cobb reunites with his children, as the totem continues to be in motion, maybe Inception has a happy ending. Take a look:

For those who need a refresher, Inception has its characters recruited by Saito (Ken Watanabe) on a mission to convince Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy) to dissolve his father's company through dream-sharing technology. This is so Cobb can go home to his children after being accused of killing his wife Mal (Marion Cotillard), who became convinced she was in a dream and killed herself, thinking it would bring her back to reality. When the crew is successful in convincing Fischer to change his mind, and having a brief run-in with limbo, they wake up on the plane they've been on all along land in America. Saito, true to his word, clears Cobb's name and he is able to get through customs and make it home.

Because the movie plays a lot with the blurred lines of dreams and reality, the unclear end serves as a perfect closer to bring in the audience into the themes of the film. Christopher Nolan's intention was certainly to get people puzzled about the character's fate. Michael Caine, who has worked with Nolan since Batman Begins, offers details that might add closure to fans hoping for a happy ending. Whether or not this explanation is actually true or just words fed to the actor is anyone's guess -- we'll let the theories continue to spin.

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

YA genre tribute. Horror May Queen. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.