Studying the intricate details of films is a great way of becoming a better filmmaker, and we're definitely big fans of the work Darren Foley does in analyzing some of cinema's great modern films.. In yet another great film analysis, Foley breaks down Christopher Nolan's cerebral thriller about dreams within dreams within dreams. Find out how Inception lures its audience into their own dream state through "disorientation", as well as the subtle hints that let them know whether what they're watching is real or a dream.

[Warning: There are spoilers ahead!]

Inception is one of those movies that most viewers have to watch more than once to understand it -- even on a base level. It has been on my personal list of films that I wanted to really dig into and analyze if only to unravel the mystery behind and complexity of the narrative and story structure. The big questions I've heard about this film revolve around what's real and what's a dream within the diegesis.

This is one of the first aspects of the film that Foley tackles in his analysis by focusing on the presence of Cobb's wedding ring, positing that when he's wearing it, he is in fact inside a dream, and when he's not, he is in reality. This is an important claim, for two reasons:

  1. Cobb's trusty totem, the top, is actually a red herring that is meant to distract and fool the audience, as well as Cobb himself. The ending is indicative of this. The one thing we are told will let us know whether he's in a dream or not fails to answer the final, most pressing question: is Cobb dreaming at the end of the film? We all read and heard and argued about whether or not the top began to wiggle before the shot cut to black, but Nolan didn't give us the satisfaction of knowing for sure -- because the top wasn't the real totem.
  2. As the film gets deeper and deeper inside the multi-leveled dreams, it gets more difficult to follow, to where what we know about the story becomes a stack of ideas that quickly begins to tower -- teetering and swaying as we replace and rearrange our understanding as we receive new information. The wedding ring -- the audiences totem to their own "Inception" experience -- is a great visual indicator to let us know for sure if we're on the right track.


Foley touches on many aspects of Inception to untangle its many mysteries, including how Nolan uses the titles of his films to offer the audience a clue as to what will become an important concept. In the video, Foley mentions the titles of Memento, The Prestige, The Dark Knight, and The Dark Knight Rises to explain that each title signifies a key concept within the narrative that you can always go back to if the maze of the story gets too confusing.

Check out Foley's analysis below, and then head on down to the comments section to discuss the intricacies of the film.

[via Must See Films]