Inception Explained

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Consider us incepted. Ever since Christopher Nolan’s blockbuster hit theaters in July, we’ve been trying to suss out dream from reality. Now that we can bring the movie home, we can put our freeze-frame thumb to use. (Haven’t seen the movie? Stop reading. This is one big spoiler.) Nolan specializes in puzzles, and Inception is no exception. The trick isn’t the plot—come on, it wasn’t that complicated. The challenge is picking out Nolan’s lies. Does hero Dom Cobb’s totem tell the truth about whether he’s dreaming? Is the sequence in Mombasa just good action or good action in a paranoid dream? Below, our take on what’s really going on. To make sure we haven’t lost our minds, we let Nolan himself weigh in. As they say in Inception, the only way forward is downward—so into the rabbit hole we go.

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