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)
  • Starvin' Marvin

    after seeing all this BS, I think I will save my $$$ for something GOOD…if there is anything good out there now…

  • Eric Cartman

    Bad kitty, that's mah dream, kitty!!! Moooooooaaaahhm, kitty's tryin' to take my dream! Go 'way Kitty, my dream!

  • Dreamwalker

    In the end you can see the top still spinning which meant that it wasn't reality. The reality or Level 1 was also a dream. Cobb's mind populates the faces of his children from a magazine he is reading in one of the levels. Go watch the movie again. You guys have no clue. Are you dreaming ?

  • Abbaschild

    Level 1 may not necessarily be a dream.

    The top may stop spinning after fade to black. The pictures of the children in the magazine Cobb was reading could've been a projection from the memory of his real children.

  • bonerjam

    sorry, I don't think 'Breaking Dawn' is out yet.

  • incepciones

    it's Eames' dream. he knows the architecture of the building structure, and how to blow the thing down. why? because ariadne built the architecture of the dream and taught it to Eames.

    also, the projections are Fischer's people (i.e. Fischer Sr.), thus making the dream Fischer.

  • Sideone

    If the snow level was Fischer's dream, then why would Fischer shout, “Couldn't someone have dreamed up a g*d d*mn BEACH?!!” in the middle of it?

    It's Eames' dream. Fischer's subconscious just populates it.

  • RaWo

    It is Eames' dream — he hosted it, much like Yusuf and Arthur hosted theirs, but they used the dream levels to get to Fischer's subconsciousness because they are “sharing” the dream. The dreams must be “hosted” by one of the team members because Ariadne architected them — they all know how the different levels work. There's no way Fischer could dream all that stuff because he didn't know the worlds Ariadne made.

  • RaWo

    And by the way, Cobb entered Limbo twice. Once when he went down with Ariadne. The next time he went there when he “died” in level 1. That's why when he found Saito, Saito was already like 80 years old (because he died first) but Cobb was only about 40s.

  • Hethler de Chavez

    The chart above is rather more confusing and lost, IMHO :)

    RE: Dreamer
    Level 1 – Yusuf
    Level 2 – Arthur
    Level 3 – Fishcer Jr.

    RE: Ending; three things:
    1. Reality — Inception worked.
    2. Dream — the top keeps spinning; everything could be still in Cobb's head.
    3. Afterlife — I really think that Cobb is done for. This could be the afterlife — the life he's been dreaming for.