One of my favorite movie’s is Inception. For me, a favorite movie is one that I am able to watch multiple times, makes me think, and I barely fidget. For the record, yes, I was one of those people who on the second go around, had notebook in hand, trying to label whether Cobb was still in a dream state, but yet unaware of it. After several attempts, I concluded that Christopher Nolan had purposely left the movie ambiguous for watchers to establish their own independent conclusion concerning the validity of reality. This bothered me, but it took a few years after me watching the movie yet again, to realize that the question “Whether the top kept spinning?” was not what, in and of itself, bothered me as much as it was the refusal to accept the fact that Mal and Cobb would never be together.
So, the entire problem of which I had diligently scribbled on note paper and diagrams trying to figure out who got lost where was only relevant to the hope that Cobb had lost himself deep enough that if he just took the leap of the faith, he and Mal could be together again. A lot of the time, I will go straight to the issue that determines whether the problem can be solved without even acknowledging what the problem is.
However, this hope was devoid of reason in the sense that the answer had already been provided in the movie, yet my refusal to acknowledge it is typical to my character: both Mal and Cobb chose different realities, and while utterly unromantic, whether the two would ever be together again had been answered by Christopher Nolan based on Mal’s suicide (her exit from the current reality) and Cobb’s refusal to exit (his suicide). Another point I would like to make is that a large portion of Cobb’s and Mal’s relationship was spent in a reality that was not real of which Cobb was ready to exit, but Mal was unsure based on Cobb’s implanted token that her reality was not real.
In the end of the movie, the spinning top was less relevant than Cobb’s choice of what version of reality he was willing to accept as real which also met his acceptance to release Mal from his subconscious mind.
Another interesting point for consideration is Mal’s negative portrayal in Cobb’s subconscious, although she had been his beloved wife. The reason for such is that neither Cobb nor Mal seemed to respect the others preferred reality once they ventured deeper into the dream-state together. Both had implanted seeds of doubts regarding reality in the other’s mind. Both Cobb and Mal took matters into their own hands on how to determine reality, but Cobb’s memory of Mal was one of opposition verses one of acceptance. This is the part of the movie I hope changed regardless to whether or not the top continued to spin.
Another theory worthy of exploration is that Cobb is in Mal’s dream of which Ariadne becomes the architect within. Thus, even the totum is compromised based on the subjective perception of Ariadne even if within Mal’s dream…i.e, to Ariadne, the top falling would have been her conceived ending based on her perception of what Cobb believed as true.