Confused by Nolan’s Inception? This Shiny Chart Explains All


Not trying to toot my own horn here or anything, but I didn’t really have any trouble grasping anything Christopher Nolan did in “Inception”. The film is probably rightly being considered “smart sci-fi”, but it’s nowhere as “complex” or “hard to understand” as some are making it out to be. I will grant you that if you happen to get up and go to the bathroom at the most inopportune time during the film’s two and a half hour sit, you may have missed a very important plot point, in particular if you took your ill-advised trip somewhere in the film’s second half, when the gang dives into Fischer’s unconscious to mind-rape him. In that case, you’ll find this very helpful.

The boys at GiantFrigginRobots have come up with a very shiny, color-coordinated diagram to explain the five levels of dream “world” that exists in Nolan’s “Inception”.

(Look, if you’re still confused after looking at this, the only thing I can say to you is, stick to watching reality TV shows on the E! Channel. Your brain is already mush, and there is no salvation awaiting you.)

And of course — SPOILERS BELOW if you haven’t seen the film yet.

Author: Nix

Editor/Writer at Likes: long walks on the beach and Kevin Costner post-apocalyptic movies. Dislikes: 3D, shaky cam, and shaky cam in 3D. Got a site issue? Wanna submit Movie/TV news? Or to email me in regards to anything on the site, you can do so at nix (at)
  • dude

    In the movie, the snow fortress level is robert fisher's dream. we know that because cobb says to the team that fisher thinks they're going into browning's dream but they're going into his.

  • Max Hodges

    should call Reality Level 0 in my opinion. ;)

  • AP

    THIS IS WRONG. they entered fisher's dream. yusuf had to pee, that's why you may have thought it as his dream, but leo projected the train AND he projected mal. ANDDDDD fisher's subconscious projected the attackers

    • Anonymous

      Wrong, it’s Yusef’s dream. Not one dream is Fischer’s.

  • AP

    the snow is also fishers dream ^^

    eames is a forger, so he can alter stuff.

  • Steelpumpkin75

    Arthur does not blow up the elevator to simulate freefall. They're already in freefall. He blows it up to simulate gravity, and then another explosion to create the kick.

  • Bane2500

    I thought that as well but when they get there and they're all standing in the snow Cobb turns to Eames and says “okay, this is your dream”

  • Benjamin

    The snow is Fisher's dream. Eames, with help from Ariadne, did the architecture of it, though.

  • Xrif3

    lol dis “Shiny Chart” is embarrassing

  • Ks31776

    Yes – you are correct… the Snow Fortress dream is Fischer Jr.'s dream.

  • mr.rm

    Earnes dream with Fischer Jr. subconscioce. Thats why his father is there. The dreamer creates the world, the targets subconscionce populates it, Fischer Jr. subconscious populates every level.

    • Ruiz

      Bane2500 and mr.rm are correct.

      In the hotel, after they put Fischer to sleep, Ariadne asks who’s SUBCONSCIOUS they’re entering, which is Fischer’s. In the snow level, Cobb tells Eames that they are in his DREAM and that he needs to set up the kick, the same way Arthur set up the kick for his dream and Yusuf did for his.

      There is a distinct difference between a dream and a subconscious. The dreamer BUILDS THE DREAM and the subject enters the dream and FILLS IT WITH THEIR SUBCONSCIOUS. Cobb explained this to Ariadne when he was training her to build dreams, but she kept altering it and his subconscious tried to destroy the foreign nature which was Ariadne.

      The chart is correct. The only thing that needs to be added is that they were going deeper into Fischer’s subconscious with every level.

    • Ruiz

      I should also add that in the beginning when Cobb and Saito were in Aurthur’s dream (dream within a dream), trying to extract information from Saito, Cobb killed Aurthur and the dream began to collapse.

      When Mal killed Fischer in the snow fortress, did the dream collapse? No. Why? Because they were not in Fischer’s dream, the dream belonged to Eames.

    • ANUBItewarrior

      i think there is thin fine line between a dreamer and a guy who owns a subconscious