Did anyone else feel uneasy at the end of Christopher Nolan's Inception after watching it for the first time? Me too. So I decided that this movie desperately needs a post-credits scene, but not to give it a full resolution. It needs this scene to make you feel even more uneasy because that's just the way Christopher Nolan's films work. So let's take a look.
At the very end of Inception, we see that Cobb (DiCaprio) did not take the offer from his deceased wife Mal to stay in the dream world with her. Instead he returns home to his children and sees their faces again. The camera then pans over to Cobb's top which is spinning on the table and only wobbles slightly, giving the impression that it might all still be a dream. It then cuts to black for the credits.
Now the Post-Credits Scene
Close up shot of Cobb opening his eyes.
A medium shot of him, from the side, sitting up in a bed. He is breathing heavy. He looks around. It looks like a regular family bedroom of a married couple. There are picture frames on the walls, curtains on the windows, pieces of furniture sitting in the corners, etc. Cobb looks beside him.
Another shot shows Cobb looking to the other side of the bed where Mal is laying, sleeping, clearly breathing.
"M...Mal?" Cobb stammers between his heavy breaths.
"Yes honey?" Mal says, not moving, with her eyes still closed.
"Is this...real?" Cobb asks.
"Of course it is," Mal replies motionlessly, "Now go back to sleep."
"Oh...okay," Cobb says in return as he lays back down.
Close up shot from above at Cobb's as he lays down again, but his eyes remain open.
"It was all...a dream," Cobb mutters to himself.
There is a shot from the dresser pointing at Cobb in the bed. Cobb turns towards the dresser where his top is resting. He quickly reaches for the top and spins it. It continues to spin. Intense music begins to rise.
There is a shot of the top from above as it continues to spin. The music continues to rise.
There is one final shot of the top from the camera, which is sitting on the dresser. The top is spinning right in front of the camera and Cobb is facing towards it in the back of the shot. The focus starts on the top, then moves to Cobb. The music is blaring at this point. Cobb's eyes grow wider and wider. Mal's hand quickly grabs Cobb's visible shoulder. Cut to black.
But What Does it Mean?
Now to the outside viewer, this is probably extremely confusing. But to some who know a lot about Inception already, this may begin to make sense. At the end of the movie, before the credits, we were unsure whether Cobb was actually seeing his kids in reality or just dreaming he was seeing his kids and was actually still in limbo. The top represents his understanding of what is real or a dream since it his totem and only he knows the weight and feel of it. If the top eventually falls down, Cobb is in reality. If the top continues to spin endlessly, he is in a dream.
This scene opens to find Cobb in bed with Mal, giving the impression that she is still alive and the entire course of the movie was only a dream. But when he spins the top to find that it does not fall over, it shows that him waking up in bed was actually a dream and that he was actually still in limbo with Mal.
Mal's hand grabbing Cobb's shoulder could have meant two things:
1. She did not want him regretting his decision to stay with her and wanted to stop him from making any rash decisions that may affect their relationship. Or...
2. She was still a projection of the dream. When Cobb realized he was in the dream, he may have drastically affected the dream he was in, which caused Mal to protect the dreamer's subconscious by taking out the intruder.
This post-credits scene does give some resolution to the confusing ending before the credits, but it also keeps it open-ended as Christopher Nolan had intended for the ending to be. It also ties in Hans Zimmer's legendary soundtrack of the movie to give the scene more of the uneasy feeling.
But what do you think? Should this have been at the end of the film? Do you have a better idea for an ending? Or should the ending of the movie stay the same as-is? Let me know in the comments. And thanks for reading! :D