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Explaining Inception: an FAQ Guide

Guide to the dreams within dreams in the movie Inception.
Spoiler Alert! This guide contains key plot information and you should watch the movie first before reading it.

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Why did Saito insist on going in with the team into the dream world? How Saito knew his purpose of this adventure is fulfilled? » Improve Q
He needed to see the inception work for himself in order to honour the deal with Cobb. Furthermore they most likely had a conversation in Saito's limbo world which was not shown. » Improve A
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I understand how they can sedate someone to put them in dream of their choice. Yet once in the dream the next set of sedatives are not real its just part of the dream so how could it still be used effectively? » Improve Q
The dream sedatives work in exactly the same way as the dream shared dream device. It's simple, really. » Improve A
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If dying in Limbo brings you back to reality, then why doesn't Cobb just kill Mal in the limbo state instead of planting the idea in her head that it wasn't real and death was the only way out?

Similarly, you could also ask why Mal didn't simply shoot Cobb, and then commit suicide herself? Surely that would have been easier and considerably less traumatic than the elaborate, cruel, nearly-psychotic plan she hatched to force Cobb to suicide . . . which didn't work anyway. Of course, the entire plot hinges on the existence and the failure of Mal's nutty plan. So, we had better accept what happened, whatever the explanation, or the is no movie!
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After 50 years limbo became Mal's reality. that's why Cobb had to plant the idea in her mind that make her realize that was not the real world and death was the only way to go back to reality. If he hadn't made the inception and killed her she would suddenly found herself in a completely different place(world) and in a young body.   » Improve A
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Why do Cobb and Saito escape limbo via suicide when their sedation was so deep that death would lead to limbo? » Improve Q
There are a couple of theories for this one.

1. The sedative had worn off at that point so it was safe to wake up by killing yourself.
2. Because there isn't a deeper level than Limbo when one kills himself in Limbo you simply wake up regardless of sedation.
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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? » Improve Q
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.
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What made or how did they make Fischer's father (Maurice Fischer) tell his son (Robert Michael Fischer) that he was disappointed that he tried to be him? » Improve Q

This was a projection that was the result of suggestions from the higher two levels by Eames the identity forger, as agreed upon by the team prior to the airplane flight. While technically Eames could have taken that role on the tower level, he was shown as being an observer only at that moment.
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We see Mal and Cobb awake just once - when they're in the room and Cobb hugs her - yet Cobb said they were experimenting with 'dreams within dreams' - we never see them wake up 'again' - does that mean Mal was right and they were still in the first dream, so her jumping from the ledge would have taken her back to reality? » Improve Q
(1)See the answer of "What is limbo?":
If one dies in limbo, one would wake up in reality.
or..
(2)The movie just didn't show any subsequence suicides. The "inception" Cobb planted in Mal was too powerful she will never accept that she was in reality. The two woke from one layer at a time until the last one where she jumped from the ledge, in the world which Cobb believed it was in reality.
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After they were sedated in the plane and then dream, were they sedated again in the 1st level? because if they did not they could be woken up in the 1st level by killing themselves in the 2nd level, thus they did not have the kick in the previous level. Right? » Improve Q

There are two possible explanations:

1) Heavy sedation in reality is all that is required to render death ineffective as a kick. The only time we see death kicks are at the end of the film (deaths in limbo are always effective kicks), and at the beginning when Arthur is shot in the head by Cobb. Since Arthur was not heavily sedated in the train (reality) his death functioned as a kick up to the first level dream (Saito's apartment).

2) Heavy sedation was indeed used for all situations in which the team needed to descend deeper into the dream. The silver briefcases used for these descents contain the sedative even in the dream world because the dreamers dream them into being. This would explain the requirment for falling kicks even in the deeper dream levels. 

I find the second explanation somewhat flawed due to the requirement for the non-chemist dreamers to be able to dream complex chemicals they may not understand into being.

However, this would explain a couple of things. First, it would explain how the first level, being Yusuf's dream, would use a dream version of the same drug he used in the real world, which is why gravity changes in the second level just as the van moves and swerves, yet the third level isn't affected by gravity changes, since the drug used in the second level could probably be some drug Arthur conjured into his dream that isn't as specialized.

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What are the different entities involved in dreamsharing and which are required? Dreamer, subject, architect, the machine... » Improve Q
From what we can tell in the movie, it starts with the machine in the case.

The machine is called a Portable Automated Somnacin IntroVenous Device (PASIV Device). It administers Somnacin to put the team to sleep. Inside the case is a timer which is a countdown til the dreamers wake up. Judging from the design inside, it looks like 8 people can share one dream. There is also storage for extra bottles of sedative incase they are needed.

As for the people (we'll use the ones needed in the movie):

The Extractor (Cobb): The one who looks for and takes information from the subject.

The Point Man (Arthur): He checks the background of the subject (which he didn't do so well this time, as he failed to catch that Fischer had his subconscious trained) and makes sure everything goes smoothly.

The Architect (Nash/Ariadne): They design the world of the dream and make it convincing to the subject. Along with knowing the basics of building a structure and making it complex, we see in the dream in Saito's apartment that they may need to know even little details such as the exact fabric used in a carpet.

The Dreamer: A member of the team who actually makes the world designed by the Architect in the dream.

The Forger (Eames): His specialty in dreams is imitating the mannerisms and looks of someone the Mark knows. He was able to get close to Browning in order to study all his mannerisms, which he then practiced and used to trick Fischer into believing he was Browning.

The Mark (aka Subject: Fischer): The person they're trying to get information from. Or in Fischer's case, trying to give information to.

Going by this, the Point Man shares the info is able to get on the Mark with the rest of the team. The Architect then designs or teaches the dreamer to design certain things in the world (paintings, statues, a house or apartment) to the Mark's tastes. Mal thinks the painting in Saito's mansion is Arthur's taste, but Cobb tells her "The Subject is partial to post-war British painters".

The members not really necessary:

The Chemist (Yusuf): He provides the team with a sedative even more powerful than the one already used by the team. He mentions the sedative he created would make the time in the dream last 20 times longer than usual and that it is compounded each level down. Usually, 1 reality minute is equal to 12 dream minutes. With Yusuf's sedative, 1 reality minute is equal to 240 dream minutes (4 hours) at Level 1. At Level 2, 1 reality minute is 12 dream minutes times 20 times another 20, making it 4800 minutes (3.3 days). He also left inner-ear function intact so the dreamers would be able to feel Kicks.

The Tourist (Saito): He just came to make sure Cobb did the job.
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What can Saito say in one short phone call to let Cobb off all his charges? » Improve Q

The man bought an airline. Wouldn't you have some pretty strong words when you talked?

It is also possible that Saito already laid the groundwork and did everything else required to get Cobb's charges dismissed. Saito's phone call was either the final step of the process, or simply to tell his people to "execute the plan".

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