Inception Timeline Visualisation

Last night I finally saw Inception in the cinema (it only came out this week in China). Like most people I was blow away by the ingenious complexity of the dream-within-a-dream-within-a-dream storyline and immediately sat down with a pen and paper to try to work it all out. Below is my attempt to visualise the various levels of the storyline (SPOILER warning):

Click for a larger version.

Places where no definitive answers are given to the audience are marked with a question mark (?). The biggest question we’re left with is whether “reality” is just another dream or not – searching online will provide you with plenty of theories. The times were a little difficult to work out so I based them on these calculations. If you think I’ve made any mistakes or have suggestions on how to improve it feel free to leave a comment below.

A couple of others have also created cool infographics of the timeline – both are more pretty perhaps but I think mine is easier to read!

David avatar

7 responses

  1. I’m leaning toeqrds the entire movie being a dream. Even reality. See here:

    1. That link sums it up all theories pretty nicely but I’m still not convinced either way. It seems to me that there are many moments in the film where we cannot know for sure whether they are still in a dream or not but perhaps this is over-complicating things. I suppose optimists will thing that the ending is reality while pessimists will think he’s still in a dream 😀

  2. Hmmm…
    My theory was that everything was a dream because most of the stores of characters were pretty shallow. Most of the supposed reality scenes played out like a dream. They moved from one place to the other without clear logical way of getting there. This was especially true of when Cobb goes to Paris to meet with his Grandfather, he basically just appears there and has this really odd conversation with him.
    The other thing that makes me think it was all a dream is that there was loads of Chromatic aberration everywhere. I don’t think you have that by accident in a film of that budget. It was a visual device that would often distort edges of the frame. I’m sure this happened pretty badly in many of the bits that were supposed to be reality.

    1. Interesting angle – interesting about them never showing how they got from one place to another – I had just assumed it was a way of keeping things shorter but could very well be an indication that they’re still dreaming.

      I’d not heard anyone mention about the Chromatic aberration anywhere before – sounds like I need to watch it a third time to watch out for that!

      1. Considering the conversation Cobb has with Ariadne about ever wondering how they got to the place when they were sat at the cafe, seems to be an indication in general about the nature of dreams.
        It was hard to get grip on time frame of reality sections as well.
        I feel even more disappointed now that I had bought cinema ticket last week to go and watch this for second time but then lost wallet. I’ll wait for it to come out on DVD I guess 🙂

  3. jnnjn avatar

    i feel like they couldnt have possibly been in the fortress for 10 yrs
    any1 care 2 explain?


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