• A neuroscientist states that
    mostly gets its dream logic correct.
  • Christopher Nolan’s complex narrative style, as seen in
    , reflects his storytelling risks and signature style.
  • Inception
    ‘s ambiguity about reality and its complex dream plot device contribute to its allure and success.



Neuroscientist and dream doctor Rahul Jandial assesses how Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi film Inception gets dreams almost exactly right. Released in 2010, Inception features an ensemble cast led by Leonardo DiCaprio’s Dom Cobb, a professional thief who enters the dreams of others to steal information. After being caught during one of his heists, he’s tasked with performing an untested concept that involves implanting an idea within another mind.

Speaking with Penguin Books UK, Dr. Jandial breaks down the concept of dreams and how Nolan’s Inception manages to get everything mostly right.

He explains how we perceive and create our dream world while also detailing how dreams arrive involuntarily. Read his quote below:

That’s fantastic. Sometimes it’s almost creating itself. That’s very important, we don’t have to activate dreams and dreaming, it’s stimulus independent meaning we don’t have to kick it into gear. Dreams arrive, arise without our intention, so that’s spot on.

We create and perceive our world, we are the creators of our dreams. Now, that might seem like a self-obvious or self-evident point but for thousands of years, because we thought the brain was inactive while we slept, it had to be somewhere from outside of our skulls that dreams arrived. Dreams now we know for sure arrive from the human brain so that’s excellent.

When we dream, we create our dreamscape. The motor area of our brain, the visual area of our brain, they are active, it’s not just imagination. It’s actually down to neuronal activity, so waking thoughts and dreaming thoughts both fire up the brain.

A lot of complex thoughts about dreaming and getting most of them right and making a movie that i love. If i was to score 0 to 10 with 10 being most accurate, i’ll give it a generous 9

Inception’s Complex Dream Plot Device Adds To Its Allure

Nolan Is Known To Take Storytelling Risks

Since he began making a name for himself decades ago, Christopher Nolan’s works have largely engaged with complex narratives or plot devices that have helped him stand out as a filmmaker. The 53-year-old’s breakthrough movie, Memento, remains one of his most elaborate and complicated to date, as the movie unravels in reverse order and toys with the concept of time. This idiosyncratic style has become Nolan’s signature over the years and Inception isn’t any different.

In Inception, the main characters also experience time dilation as they gradually move through different layers of their subconscious thanks to a dream machine that allows Cobb and his team to embark on a dangerous mission of planting an idea within another person’s mind. During the movie, the inner workings of the dream machine and the concept of time become rather difficult to follow. However, the much-disputed Inception ending manages to drive home its overarching theme, which relates to the subjectivity of reality.


Inception: All 5 Levels In The Movie Explained

Inception sees a team of dream infiltrators plant an idea in a man’s head, but how many layers are there to the mission, and what are they all for?

While many viewers of Nolan’s works still debate the different talking points of Inception, especially the ending which begs whether Cobb is still in the dream world, the movie’s ambiguity helped its success. On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, Inception holds an impressive approval rating of 87% while also grossing over $800 million worldwide at the box office. Several factors contributed to the success of the movie, like its impressive cast. However, it is undeniable that a huge part of the movie’s allure is its complex dream plot device.

is available to stream on Apple TV+.

Source: Penguin Books UK


Christopher Nolan’s 2010 Sci-fi action film Inception follows a thief who enters the dreams of others to steal information and, after being caught, is given a chance to clean his slate by performing an untested concept – implanting an idea within another mind. An ensemble cast is brought together by former target Saito, who seeks to implant the idea of destroying his own company into his father’s mind. In a complex labyrinth of dreams and untested theories at the forefront, survival is not guaranteed in this psychological heist where the stakes are high, and nothing is what it seems.

Release Date
July 16, 2010

Warner Bros. Pictures

Warner Bros. Pictures

148 minutes


$160 million

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