The most difficult aspect of Inception to fully grasp is the the way shared dreaming works. There is the dreamer, whose projections can recognize an outside influence. There are layers of dreaming, culminating in a limbo where you can lose your identity and be stuck within your own mind for decades of dream time. What makes Cobb’s top spin forever in dreams? Why would Arthur’s loaded die help him distinguish reality from the dream? Would his mind not fill in the details of the die's nature in a dream?
There are questions that are difficult, if not impossible, to answer if you nitpick too much. But if you picture Inception as a dream, everything slides into place. Viewed through the hazy lens of dream logic, Inception’s technology, its physics, and its story all make just the right amount of sense. You accept them as the reality of this world that has been created. Dreams are about the experience, not the details, and as a moviegoing experience Inception is one-of-a-kind.
Elements of the film world itself actually tie neatly into film techniques employed in Inception. The film begins in media res, just like a dream, and makes rapid and dramatic transitions between moments in the “real world” and within the dreams themselves. Cobb and Ariadne discuss the way dreams place you right in the middle of the action and never seem to begin anywhere--Nolan simply lifts his own lesson and puts it to work behind the camera. Obviously it’s a common technique, but rarely does the thematic essence of a movie so closely relate to its moving parts.
Above all, Inception is a malleable, emotional and thought-provoking movie that blends the intensely personal and the high adventure together just like a dream. We can interpret it as we see fit without diminishing the value of the movie. Who’s to say what really happened in Christopher Nolan’s masterful dream? Is it all in the imagination, as certain scenes tend to suggest? Why are Cobb’s children wearing the same clothes in “reality” as they are in his mind? Was his entire journey a way to come to terms with his wife’s death? Is the entire film simply about him proving to himself that inception can work, that it can be used good? Or is he still stuck in limbo? Probably not. But who can say for sure?
Decide for yourself--you can interpret a dream any way you want to, after all.