When Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi action flick Inception hit cinemas in 2010, viewers were left undeniably impressed... but also completely baffled.
The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a professional thief called Cobb, who nabs information from people by infiltrating their subconscious.
The premise alone was enough to leave us in a spin, but even as some people managed to stagger towards the end of the 148-minute runtime, just about aware of what on Earth was going on, Nolan threw us less of a cliffhanger, and more of a total headf**k.
If you recall, the film closes with Cobb’s totem still spinning - if it continued to spin then he was dreaming, and if it toppled over he was in reality.
However, we didn’t get to see what the outcome, meaning as the credits rolled we were left wondering how things concluded – including even DiCaprio who previously admitted he had ‘no idea’ about what happened.
“When it came to Chris Nolan and his mind and how that was all pieced together, everyone was trying to constantly put that puzzle together.” he admitted on the WTF with Marc Maron podcast.
However, after more than a decade since the film’s release, AI has stepped in to provide an answer.
We asked AI chatbot Bard what it reckoned about the ending of the film, and it came back to us with a surprisingly considered response, having weighed up all of the evidence before suggesting exactly what it believes happened.
“I think it is up to the viewer to decide whether or not Dom Cobb is still dreaming at the end of Inception,” it said... Bear with us, the chatbot stops sitting on the fence eventually.
“The ambiguity of the ending is part of what makes the film so thought-provoking.
“There are a few clues that suggest that Cobb may still be dreaming. For example, the top is still spinning when the scene cuts to black, and the top is Cobb's totem, which he uses to distinguish between the dream world and reality. If the top falls over, it means that he is awake, but if it keeps spinning, it means that he is still dreaming.
“However, there are also a few clues that suggest that Cobb may be awake. For example, Cobb's children are wearing the same clothes that they were wearing when he last saw them, which suggests that he is not in a dream world.
"Additionally, Cobb's arc throughout the film is about learning to let go of the past and move on with his life. The final scene shows Cobb finally doing this, which suggests that he is awake and finally at peace.
“Ultimately, I think the ending of Inception is up to the viewer to decide. There is no right or wrong answer, and the ambiguity of the ending is part of what makes the film so thought-provoking.”
It went on: “Personally, I believe that Cobb is awake at the end of the film. I think the clues that suggest that he is still dreaming are not as strong as the clues that suggest that he is awake. Additionally, I think the final scene shows Cobb finally letting go of the past and moving on with his life, which suggests that he is awake and finally at peace.
“However, I also think that the ending of Inception is open to interpretation, and I respect the opinions of those who believe that Cobb is still dreaming.”
The director himself offered an explanation in 2015 during a lecture on 'reality and dreams' at Princeton University in New Jersey - but it was a little more vague than you'd probably like it to be.
He said: "The way the end of that film worked, Leonardo DiCaprio's character Cobb - he was off with his kids, he was in his own subjective reality. He didn't really care anymore, and that makes a statement: perhaps, all levels of reality are valid. The camera moves over the spinning top just before it appears to be wobbling, it was cut to black.
"I skip out of the back of the theatre before people catch me, and there's a very, very strong reaction from the audience: usually a bit of a groan. The point is, objectively, it matters to the audience in absolute terms: even though when I'm watching, it's fiction, a sort of virtual reality.
"But the question of whether that's a dream or whether it's real is the question I've been asked most about any of the films I've made. It matters to people because that's the point about reality. Reality matters."Featured Image Credit: Warner Bros