Michael Caine offers definitive explanation for the ending of ‘Inception’

"When you're in the scene it's reality."

Michael Caine has offered what he believes to be a definitive explanation for the ending of Inception, after the sci-fi epic left fans with a wide range of theories about what really happened.

Released in 2010, the Christopher Nolan mind-bender sees Caine star alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in the story of a crack team who use advanced military technology to infiltrate the subconscious of their targets and steal valuable information from their dreams.

But while some fans were left questioning the film’s very thin line between dreams and reality, Caine has his own explanation.


Speaking at a recent Inception screening in London, he explained how he first received the script and asked Christopher Nolan what parts  of the film were dreams and what was reality.

“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,'” Caine explained.

“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.”

So what does this mean for the ending?

Well, the ending sees Dominic Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) returning to the United States and successfully entering, something that murder charges had previously prevented.


He’s met by Caine’s Professor Stephen Miles at the airport, who takes him home to his children.

In an attempt to work out if his experience is real, Dom uses a spinning top – fully aware that it spins forever in a dream, but would topple if the situation is reality.

However, the film ultimately ends before we’re given a chance to see if it fell or not.

But irrespective of the spinning top settling the debate, Caine’s involvement theoretically means that the happy ending is precisely that – as he appears in it.

So there you have it.

The definitive explanation is at odds with Christopher Nolan, who has previously praised its ambiguity.

“In the great tradition of these speeches, generally someone says something along the lines of ‘Chase your dreams,’ but I don’t want to tell you that because I don’t believe that. I want you to chase your reality”, he cryptically said of the ending in 2015.

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