Inception and the Need for Denouement

More film reactions: today, Inception.  Some folks probably hated that the characters were hard to identify with (as in all action movies), the plot was hard to follow, and the ending was too ambiguous (or was it?).  Here, we’ll only explore the latter difficulty.  (Spoiler alert – stop here if you don’t want the ending explained.)

What happens at the end of Chris Nolan’s excellent film is that he purposely leaves it up to the viewer to decide if Dom Cobb truly reunites with his children (we say yes) or if it is yet another figment of his imagination (we say no, but you could make the case and we wouldn’t blame you).  The key here, however, is that Nolan wants you to decide.  He doesn’t want everyone to land on the same side.  He wants discussion, dialogue, argument, disagreement.

So the rub is this: people want denouement.  We like conflict, but we need resolution.  We want to follow a story and understand it, but we’ve got to have the end, clear and peaceful.  Chris Nolan might think it’s fun to leave Inception‘s close open-ended, but deep inside us we want it to close.  

Every human needs finality, ending, resolution.  In our hearts, we long for things to resolve.  Amidst the tangle of sin’s far-reaching arms, we want to be safe underneath God’s wings.  And on us this is the imprint of God’s own image.

That’s why, when a movie ends with no clear ending, you wonder why it bothers you so much.  God put that there.


About B Treece
loved by God before I ever loved Him, saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone by the authority of the Bible alone to the glory of God alone, made to enjoy Him forever, happily married with wonder-filled children.

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