It’s been eight years since we all got frustrated at Christopher Nolan in the best possible way over the ending of Inception. Since the release of the movie, it’s been left to question whether the final scene is reality or simply Leonardo DiCaprio dream. Nolan is famously cagey about revealing his secrets as far as the more puzzling parts of his films go, but Michael Caine, who played Leo's father in Inception, is apparently more willing to reveal what he knows of that particular movie’s ending.
As Caine told a crowd at a screening of the film at the London Film Festival Film4 Summer Screen, he too was left with questions after reading the script for Inception. “I said, ‘When is it the dream and when is it reality?’" Caine said (via Independent). "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.”
If that’s the case, then Caine is implying that the final sequence of Inception is in fact real life. He’s right there with Leo and his kids at their makeshift family reunion (sans Marion Cotillard, for pretty good reasons). While it’s tempting to accept this as canon, we can't without Nolan’s sign-off.
Personally, I think it’s subjective, and that was always the director’s intent. As evidence, I’ll cite the time I was lucky enough to see Nolan at the Tribeca Film Festival. During the Q&A, someone dared to ask whether or not the top falls down at the end of the film. After the laughter over that question died down, Nolan recalled a time years before when he’d explained what he thought Memento meant to a crowd of reporters. Afterward, his brother and frequent collaborator Jonathan took him aside and told him to never do that again, just to keep the mystery alive.
All that said, though it would be heartwarming if it were true, Caine’s revelation doesn't change things for me. But given the intended subjectivity, it can be your canon! Nolan’s almost certainly going to keep mum on it, so if this is all the information we get for the time being, do whatever you want with it. I’m sure that’d be all right with him.
What’s your Inception canon? Let us know in the comments!
Images: Legendary Pictures/Syncopy