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Adventures in Engineering - Inception SPOILERS: Cobb's totem is not the top.
The wanderings of a modern ronin.

Ben Cantrick
  Date: 2010-07-27 02:16
  Subject:   Inception SPOILERS: Cobb's totem is not the top.
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http://revolvingdoorproject.net/2010/07/23/inception-what-happened-at-the-end/

Neat theory.

There's a brief scene where we see Cobb breaking into Mal's safe and inspecting her totem, the top. Presumably that's part of how he planted ideas in her head - he knew her totem. But since the top is Mal's totem, what's Cobb's? His wedding ring! Which we see in all of his dream sequences, but none of the reality sequences. So whether the top stops spinning or not in the final scene is irrelevant. What counts is, is Cobb wearing his wedding ring or not?

Edit 2010/12/13: I haven't seen an original or/and interesting comment to this entry in two months plus. Just endless anonymous drive-by "yes it is!" "no it isn't!" repetition. Super-boring and mega-pointless. So commenting on this post is now disabled. If you really believe you have something original to add that hasn't already been covered by a pre-existing comment below, why don't you give me a call? My cell phone number is in my LJ userinfo. If you won't even take the time to explain it to me on the phone, they I doubt it's good enough to make a new comment over...
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Chris
  User: randomchris
  Date: 2010-07-27 09:29 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
SPOILERS! Some of us haven't seen it yet :(
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Willow: Black Rose
  User: willow_red
  Date: 2010-07-27 13:01 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
Keyword:Black Rose
I agree with randomchris: it isn't nice to put spoilers in the subject line.

That is an interesting theory about the ring. I hadn't noticed it was missing when Cobb was awake. As much as.I would like the happy ending, though, that introduces additional plot holes. Everbody else comes up through the layers. After Cobb presumably rescues Saito from limbo, they're both dead in the first and third layers. There might be an explanation for this, but the easier answer is that he's still in limbo, that he lost hold on reality when he couldn't get Saito back, and his mind took him to the one place he wanted to be: with his kids.
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  User: (Anonymous)
  Date: 2010-08-05 05:14 (UTC)
  Subject:   noooo not the ring!!!
Cob's totem is not the ring, it's his children's faces, In a dream he never see's his kids faces, also at the end in limbo when mal was trying to convince him to stay and called his children, he shielded his face from seeing them, because he knew if he saw there faces he would lose sense of what is real, that's why at the end he didn't bother looking back to see if the top would stop spinning.

another point to back up this theory is that he didn't want mal to know his real totem, because if she did she would use it against him.
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  User: (Anonymous)
  Date: 2010-08-07 22:41 (UTC)
  Subject:   Re: noooo not the ring!!!
The totem has to be something real that he can touch and he knows the weight anf touch of. It cannot be his children's faces.
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  User: (Anonymous)
  Date: 2010-08-09 18:39 (UTC)
  Subject:   Re: noooo not the ring!!!
The totem is spoken of as being something tangible and unique to a person - but when Arthur is explaining totems to Ariadne he also uses the phrase "when you LOOK at your totem, you know you're not in someone else's dream". The children's faces could quite easily be Cobb's totem.
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  User: (Anonymous)
  Date: 2010-11-14 02:05 (UTC)
  Subject:   Re: noooo not the ring!!!
I also believe his totem to be the memory of his children. Why not?

1. Arthur states, and we repeatedly see, that Cobb frequently breaks his own rules.
2. This makes his totem dangerous as there's no definitive trick to it and his mind (including his projections of Mal) can easily manipulate the totem's resulting message and his perception of reality.
3. Cobb can relate to the sedated dreamers in Mombasa who cannot distinguish between reality and dreams.
4. Thus the viewer is further confused and tricked into what the true totem is and what is actually reality.
5. The reason why Cobb uses Mal's top may be that he himself has difficulty not only distinguishing between his own reality and his dreams but also the limbo and dream's that he and Mal once shared.

I do agree with some posters that Cobb's wedding ring must be significant even if it's not his totem. Because his dreams are drawn from memories he is always married and wearing his ring in dream state.
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  User: (Anonymous)
  Date: 2010-12-04 23:27 (UTC)
  Subject:   Re: noooo not the ring!!!
I disagree. It has to be the ring. Once his inner conflict with Mal (or his guilty conscience) was reconciled, it no longer matters whether he can see his children's face in his dream or real-life because he can now do both. I believe the ring theory.
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  User: (Anonymous)
  Date: 2010-12-07 22:41 (UTC)
  Subject:   Re: noooo not the ring!!!
its not the kids faces because like how the top wont stop spinning, he shouldnt be able to see there faces if hes dreaming, but you say he blocked their faces to not see them, which means he could have seen them if he wanted to
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  User: (Anonymous)
  Date: 2010-08-12 13:47 (UTC)
  Subject:   Re: noooo not the ring!!!
I agree with this. When the movie ended, my husband and I of course asked the question is he in reality or a dream. Did the top topple over? I said because he finally saw his children's faces I took that as he was in reality. I said the same thing - in the dream states he would never permit himself to see their faces. His quest was to get back to his children and he even stated he would not allow himself to see their faces in his dreams. Maybe I want a happy ending and am being simplistic in my thoughts.
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  User: (Anonymous)
  Date: 2010-08-09 14:43 (UTC)
  Subject:   The top...
It is revealed in the movie that the top really isn't Cobb's totem, but his wife's. What I don't understand is why he keeps using the top as his totem to check reality. I mean, after going into dreams, the thing he checks is the top. Is he just being stupid? Or is this an effect of reality and dream being indistinguishable?
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  User: (Anonymous)
  Date: 2010-08-09 19:24 (UTC)
  Subject:   It IS his totem
No one says anything about two people sharing the same totem.

Cobb and Mal's relationship was so intense that they could share a totem: The top, since it had a meaning that only Cobb and Mal would understand.

The wedding ring can't be his totem, since there has to be a trick. What would be the trick? And why does he keep spinning the top during the movie?

Stop tripping guys. You are trying to say that Cobb has a totem that even himself is not aware of. That can't be. It destroys the purpose of the totem.
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  User: (Anonymous)
  Date: 2010-08-09 21:23 (UTC)
  Subject:   Re: It IS his totem
why can't it be the children's faces? at the end part in limbo when she called over to the children why do you think he covered his face from seeing them?

think about it, anytime he's in a dream he never sees his kids faces. the reason he knew not to look in limbo was becuase that other girl was there and so he didn't look, he knew if he saw there faces he knew he would lose sense of reality.

hence why in the end he didn't even bother looking back at the top.
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  User: (Anonymous)
  Date: 2010-11-30 17:32 (UTC)
  Subject:   Re: It IS his totem
He wanted to see his kids so badly that he didn't even bother checking if he is in a dream or reality by avoiding to see if the top will stop spinning. By giving up on reality and choosing to live in his current state, he chose to finally look at his ultimate desire, which was the picture perfect kids playing in the grass in the same spot in the same clothes in the same sunlight, and turning around just like he always imagined. In previous dreams, he choose not to look at his kids because he knew he would lose sense of reality by wanting to live in that state, but at the end he finally gave in and accepted his current state as his reality, ignoring those alarming words from Mal which he copied from to get Saito out of limbo.
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  User: (Anonymous)
  Date: 2010-08-09 21:14 (UTC)
  Subject:   what about two?
what if he has two totems??? no one stated that you could only have one, so if cobb had a second totem A.K.A the children's faces, he could use that as a reassurence. especially if moll knew about the top.

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  User: (Anonymous)
  Date: 2010-08-10 15:29 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
The totem is a security device. It is something that only you know the weight and physics of so a good architect cannot create a life-like dream where your subconscious will be more susceptible to having your secrets stolen. For example, a loaded die, only he knows what number it will roll so he will know he's in someone else's dream. Having the childrens faces as a totem would make the whole movie pointless.

I am open to believeing that Cobb has another totem, what it is, I'm not sure yet.
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  User: (Anonymous)
  Date: 2010-08-15 05:49 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
I think Mal herself was Cobb's totem. She was in all his dream sequences.

Mondo
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  User: (Anonymous)
  Date: 2010-08-16 21:09 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
It wouldn't really work with the top being his real totem. Because as said near the beginning, only you can know the weight of said object and if someone else knows it then it's completely worthless. And if it was Mal's to begin with it sort of defeats the purpose, yes?
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  User: (Anonymous)
  Date: 2010-08-20 15:05 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
That's why I think the whole thing was Mal's dream. Sometimes in dreams we don't see things from our own eyes, in our own bodies -- instead we see them as we were watching a movie.
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  User: (Anonymous)
  Date: 2010-08-23 02:11 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
I noticed that Cobb's totem works backwards. A totem is supposed to work like normal in a dream but rigged in reality (a loaded dice will roll anything randomly while in someone else's dream but only it's loaded value in real life) but Cobb's totem works normally in reality (it falls over) but strange in someone else's dream (spins infinitely) which is only makes sense if he's convinced himself it works differently. I can only conclude he performed inception on himself and Mal to say that the top falling means reality and spinning forever means false, then when they got back to reality she killed herself thinking it was a false world and instead of letting him fall into the same trap his family put him into a dream and hatched the entire scheme around bringing him back to reality and fixing the damage. So I think he shared a totem with Mal but got how it worked backwards when implanting the thought in her head. It only really makes sense that they shard one because he wouldn't have known how it worked to know to make it spin infinitely in the safe. The shear number of interpretations I've read on this movie really speak to the quality of the story, this is a movie that will be talked about for years.
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  User: (Anonymous)
  Date: 2010-08-26 21:02 (UTC)
  Subject:   Correct
The spinning top, unlike the die and chess piece, is useless as a totem, for precisely the reason you outline.
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  User: (Anonymous)
  Date: 2010-12-09 12:36 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
You say that he gets the top (totem) to work backwards from the way Mal would have it work. This must mean you believe in perpetual motion machines; that the top can spin infinitesimal times in real life?
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  User: (Anonymous)
  Date: 2010-08-25 11:46 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
His Children's faces had a uniqueness in Cobb's dreams:

Everytime he wanted to look at them, something or someone got in the middle.

He says this in the movie (more or less these words). In the last time he doesn't see their kid's faces it's him who gets in the middle
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  User: (Anonymous)
  Date: 2010-11-01 18:49 (UTC)
  Subject:   sorry guys
after the failed mission in the beginning of the movie Cobb spins his totem and it does fall..hence..Cobb is not in limbo at this point.many people think the kids' have the same clothes from the beginning and the end but the girl has a white shirt underneath so unless this is a continuity problem Cobb is awake in the end of the movie when reunited with his kids.
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  User: (Anonymous)
  Date: 2010-11-02 16:50 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
Cobb's totem is the top. the wedding ring is a plot device to tell the audience when Cobb is dreaming and not dreaming... however, in the end, he may very likely still be dreaming after not waking from limbo even though he is not wearing the ring, and the reason is this: he had recently finally let Mal go.
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  User: (Anonymous)
  Date: 2010-12-04 23:30 (UTC)
  Subject:   wrong
He let go of Mal but he still was wearing his ring afterwards - See very beginning of the movie when he was confronting aged Saito.
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  User: (Anonymous)
  Date: 2010-12-04 23:36 (UTC)
  Subject:   Re: wrong
Only when he woke up from all the dream sequence in the air-plane, he is not wearing the ring. This means their mission was a success and he and Saito did escape from Limbo.

And also, very last scene when he meets his children could be dream as well since he can now dream without guilty-conscience. At that point, whether top keeps spinning or falling does not matter anymore. It was Nolan's decoy to elude people and think harder, which has been working really well.
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  User: (Anonymous)
  Date: 2010-12-12 06:07 (UTC)
  Subject:   (no subject)
Cobb's totem was not his wedding ring.. When mal commits suicide she does it in reality.. You never find out what cobbs real totem is..
He performs inception first on his wife to get her out of limbo and back into reality and succeeds. She doesnt believe shes back in reality
when she really is.. The idea that she had to kill herself spread like a virus in her mind and she felt like she was still dream and jumped.
She killed herself in the real world and she set up cobb to make him jump as well.. He knew he was out and didnt jump and was on the run
the entire movie unable to go home bc they think he killed her.. he adopts Mal's totem because he knows its balance,ect.. The top is seen
spinning at the end ti keave it open end but IMO it falls.. Turn up the volume of everytime it spins and falls and compare it to the final scene.
Its going down. Hes out and home.
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