NOTE: THIS DOES NOT CONTAIN ANY SPOILER. I ONLY CREATED THIS FRAMEWORK TO HELP MYSELF (BEING A VISUAL LEARNER AT THAT) TO UNDERSTAND THE OVERLAPPING SCENES DURING THE FINAL "MISSION" IN NOLAN'S INCEPTION (2010) WHO KNOWS? THIS MIGHT BE ABLE TO HELP YOU PREPARE FOR WHAT THE MOVIE HAS IN STORE.
While watching Inception (2010), I tried coming up with a framework to help me understand whatever was going on during the final mission. It somehow helped me find my way in the maze.
This was the initial draft.
I posted in on FB. Oscar shared his thoughts and we sat down to discuss the framework. I asked him if he could come up with a more visual diagram. Being someone who's into the movie as well, he immediately obliged.
Here's the final draft that I posted on FB.
Even the subconscious do not record the beginning of a dream. The dreamer sees only the "now" which apparently starts recording in medias res (in the middle of things). That is why the left side of the right triangle has a thin (or is it really thin?) abstracted image that goes down across all levels.
10 hours of real time world gives 1 week in the first level (Rainy City/Van) dream. 6 months in the second level (Hotel), and 10 years in the third level (Snowy Mountain). The "limbo" on the other hand, is infinite, unmeasurable. Their wake-up mechanism is called the 'kick." It is the jolt received when suddenly falling or hitting a surface in their dreams.
Each level is different in terms of time, space and design. Such can be visualized through a right triangle that points from an abstracted beginning to a dimensional future (time). Further limitations in terms of space, vary, architecturally to set the blueprint of the unknown. Notice how the claustrophobic "van" differs from the vast landscape of the "limbo." This coincides with Freud's level of consciousness, where the id takes on the lowest level but largest chunk of the human mind, however unknown and unpredictable.
The intensity of the "kick," varies according to the dream level. One needs a more forceful hit/jolt to provide the needed "jump" back to consciousness.
Though this concept is not as unique as it may seem (Eternal Sunshine on the Spotless Mind , The Cell , and Shutter Island ), Nolan was able to effectively surpass the walls of film making to present a jar of thoughts and pour them in his audience's consciousness, allowing it to simmer and create different worlds of their own.