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If the top belongs to Mal, then how come Cobb is able to set it to spin in limbo? how does Cobb know how that totem works? and if they were in limbo, how did he remember that its not the reality?

Mal may have told him how it works.  I also think it is a bit odd that Arthur does not let Ariadne touch his totem, and she in turn hides hers from Cobb, but Cobb tells her right away how his/Mal's works.  It may also be that it is too easy to figure out how it works.  A loaded die or a pawn (that appears to fall sideways) are more unique than a top.

After some time, they both realize that they are in limbo, but Mal chooses to forget this (by locking her totem, symbolically- the truth that it is not reality, away).  Cobb realizes that the only way to convince her that this is not reality is to incept the idea that their world was not real.

Anon_215 asked the question 2010-08-11 11:40:53 UTC view / hide
Anon_130 provided an answer 2010-08-11 20:12:33 UTC view / hide
dmlloyd commented 2010-08-15 10:33:18 UTC
~ "I also think it is a bit odd that Arthur does not let Ariadne touch his totem, and she in turn hides hers from Cobb, but Cobb tells her right away how his/Mal's works."

this is because the top is not actually Cobb's totem, it is Mal's, Cobb's totem is his wedding ring (as discussed in many other posts)
Eugen Groh commented 2013-02-10 15:08:35 UTC
In the very end Cobb does not wake up but is still in a dream. Not because of how the top behaves in the end (that is playfully left open). But throughout the movie many scenes are seeded that clearly indicate that Cobb is dreaming in what Cobb considers the real reality. Examples: Listen carefully during the scene where Cobb is in Yusuf's (the chemists) basement, the characters say things that hardly make sense other than as Cobbs subconscious poking him. Another scene is when Cobb talks to the Grandpa of his children in the university, listen closely. The characters drop hints for Cobb that idicate that he is dreaming.

In the movie Cobb says no one else should be able to know how ones totem works because then it will become unreliable. The joke here is that Cobb's top is NOT Cobb's top but Mal's because at some point he says she came up with this idea. So Cobb's top does not work for Cobb, the top simply shows Cobb what he expects to see and nothing more.

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