Generation Terrorists

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Christopher Nolan

COBB: What's the most resilient parasite? A bacteria? A virus? An intestinal worm?

ARTHUR: What Mr. Cobb is trying to say-

COBB: An idea. Resilient, highly contagious. Once an idea's taken hold in the brain it's almost impossible to eradicate. A person can cover it up, ignore it- but it stays there.

SAITO: But surely-to forget...?

COBB: Information, yes. But an idea? Fully formed, understood? That sticks... In there, somewhere.

SAITO: For someone like you to steal?

ARTHUR: Yes. In the dream state, conscious defenses are lowered and your thoughts become vulnerable to theft. It's called extraction.

COBB: But, Mr. Saito, we can train your subconscious to defend itself from even the most skilled extractor.

SAITO: How can you do that?

COBB: Because I am the most skilled extractor. I know how to search your mind and find your secrets. I know the tricks, and I can teach them to your subconscious so that even when you're asleep, your guard is never down.

MAL: If I jumped, would I survive?

COBB: With a clean dive, perhaps. Mal, why are you here?

MAL: I thought you might be missing me...

COBB: I am. But I can't trust you anymore.

MAL: So what?

COBB: No point threatening him in a dream.

MAL: That depends on what you're threatening. Killing him would just wake him up... but pain? Pain is in the mind...

COBB: You held something back because you knew what we were up to... So why let us in at all?

SAITO: An audition.

COBB: Audition for what?

SAITO: It doesn't matter. You failed.

COBB: I extracted all the information you had in there.

SAITO: But your deception was readily apparent.

SAITO: A dream within a dream - I'm impressed.

ARTHUR: Asshole! How could you get the carpet wrong?!

NASH: It wasn't my fault!

ARTHUR: You're the architect-

NASH: I didn't know he was going to rub his damn cheek on it!

COBB: What do you want from us?

SAITO: Inception. Is it possible?

ARTHUR: Of course not.

SAITO: If you can steal an idea from someone's mind, why can't you plant one there instead?

ARTHUR: Okay, here's planting an idea: I say to you, "Don't think about elephants." What are you thinking about?

SAITO: Elephants.

ARTHUR: Right. But it's not your idea because you know I gave it to you.

SAITO: You could plant it subconsciously-

ARTHUR: The subject's mind can always trace the genesis of the idea. True inspiration is impossible to fake.

COBB: No, it isn't.

SAITO: Can you do it?

COBB: I won't do it.

COBB: How complex is the idea?

SAITO: Simple enough.

COBB: No idea's simple when you have to plant it in someone else's mind.

SAITO: My main competitor is an old man in poor health. His son will soon inherit control of the corporation. I need him to decide to break up his father's empire. Against his own self-interest.

ARTHUR: Cobb, we should walk away from this.

COBB: If I were to do it. If I could do it... how do I know you can deliver?

SAITO: You don't. But I can. So do you want to take a leap of faith, or become an old man, filled with regret, waiting to die alone? Assemble your team, Mr. Cobb. And choose your people more wisely.

MILES: My God. You're here to corrupt one of my brightest and best.

COBB: If you have someone good enough, you have to let them decide for themselves. You know what I'm offering -

MILES: Money?

COBB: No, not just money: the chance to build cathedrals, entire cities - things that have never existed, things that couldn't exist in the real world...

MILES: Everybody dreams, Cobb. Architects are supposed to make those dreams real.

COBB: That's not what you used to say. You told me that in the real world I'd be building attic conversions and gas stations. You said that if I mastered the dream-share I'd have

a whole new way of creating and showing people my creations. You told me it would free me.

MILES: And I'm sorry. I was wrong.

COBB: No, you weren't. Your vision was a vision of pure creativity. It's where we took it that was wrong.

MILES: And now you want me to let someone else follow you into fantasy.

COBB: They won't actually come on the job, they'll just design the levels and teach them to the dreamers.

MILES: Design them yourself.

COBB: Mal won't let me.

MILES: If you have a few moments, Mr. Cobb has a job offer to discuss with you.

ARIADNE: A work placement?

COBB: Not exactly.

ARIADNE: Aren't you going to tell me anything?

COBB: Before I describe the job, I have to know you could do it.


COBB: It's not, strictly speaking, legal. You have two minutes to draw a maze that takes me one minute to solve.

COBB: They say we only use a fraction of the true potential of our brains... but they're talking about when we're awake. While we dream, the mind performs wonders.

ARIADNE: Such as?

COBB: How do you imagine a building? You consciously create each aspect, puzzling over it in stages... But sometimes, when your imagination flies -

ARIADNE: I'm discovering it.

COBB: Exactly. Genuine inspiration. In a dream your mind continuously does that... It creates and perceives a world simultaneously. So well that you don't feel your brain doing the creating. That's why we can shortcircuit the process...


COBB: By taking over the creating part.

COBB: This is where you come in. You build the world of the dream. We take the subject into that dream, and let him fill it with his subconscious

ARIADNE: But are you trying to fool him that the dream is actually real life?

COBB: While we're in there, We don't want him to realize he's dreaming.

ARIADNE: How could I ever get enough detail to Convince him that it's real?

COBB: Our dreams feel real while we're in them. It's only when we wake up we realize things were strange,

ARIADNE: But all the textures of real life the stone, the fabric. cars... people... your mind can't create all this.

COBB: It does. Every time you dream. Let me ask you a question: You never remember the beginning of your dreams, do you? You just turn up in the middle of what's going on.

ARIADNE: I guess.

COBB: So... how did we end up at this restaurant?

ARIADNE: We came here from...

COBB: How did we get here? Where are we?

ARIADNE: Oh my God. We're dreaming.

COBB: Because it's never just a dream. And a face full of glass hurts like hell, doesn't it? While we're in it, it's real.

ARTHUR: That's why the military developed dream sharing-a training program where soldiers could strangle, stab and shoot each other, then wake up.

ARIADNE: How did architects get involved?

COBB: Someone had to design the dreams.

ARIADNE: We were only asleep for five minutes? We talked for an hour at least...

COBB: When you dream, your mind functions more quickly, so time seems to pass more slowly.

ARTHUR: Five minutes in the real world gives you an hour in the dream.

COBB: Let's see how much trouble you can cause in five minutes.

ARIADNE: Who are the people?

COBB: They're projections of my subconscious.


COBB: Sure-you are the dreamer, I am the subject. My subconscious populates your world. That's one way we get at a subject's thoughts - his mind creates the people, so we can literally talk to his subconscious.

ARIADNE: How else do you do it?

COBB: Architecture. Build a bank vault or a jail, something secure, and the subject's mind will fill it with information he's trying to protect.

ARIADNE: Then you break in and steal it.

COBB: Exactly.

ARIADNE: Why are they looking at me?

COBB: Because you're changing things. My subconscious feels that someone else is creating the world. The more you change things, the quicker the projections converge on you.

ARIADNE: Converge?

COBB: They feel the foreign nature of the dreamer, and attack-like white blood cells fighting an infection.

ARIADNE: They're going to attack us?

COBB: Just you, actually.

ARIADNE: Mind telling your subconscious to take it easy?

COBB: That's why it's called subconscious. I don't control it.

ARIADNE: Why couldn't I wake?

ARTHUR: The only way to wake from inside the dream is to die.

COBB: She'll need a totem.


ARTHUR: Some kind of personal icon. A small object that you can always have with you, and that no one else knows.


ARIADNE: Like a coin?

ARTHUR: Too common. You need something that has a weight or movement that only you know.

ARIADNE: What's yours?

ARTHUR: A loaded die.

ARTHUR: I can't let you handle it. That's the point. No one else can know the weight or balance of it.


ARTHUR: So when you examine your totem... You know, beyond a doubt, that you're not in someone else's dream.

COBB: Inception. Don't bother telling me it's impossible.

EAMES: It's perfectly possible. Just bloody difficult.

EAMES: What's the idea you need to plant?

COBB: We want the heir to a major corporation to break up his father's empire.

EAMES: See, right there you've got various political motivations, antimonopolistic sentiment and so forth. But all that stuff's at the mercy of the subject's prejudice you have to go to the basic.

COBB: Which is?

EAMES: The relationship with the father.

ARTHUR: You're going to have to master a few tricks if you're going to build three complete dream levels.

ARIADNE: What sort of tricks?

ARTHUR: In a dream, you can cheat architecture into impossible shapes. That lets you create closed loops, like the Penrose Steps. The infinite staircase. See... Paradox. A closed loop like this helps you disguise the boundaries of the dream you've created.

ARIADNE: How big do the levels have to be?

ARTHUR: Anything from the floor of a building, to an entire city. But it has to be complicated enough for us to hide from the projections.

ARIADNE: A maze.

ARTHUR: And the better the maze-

ARIADNE: The longer we have before the projections catch us.

COBB: We need you there to tailor compounds to our particular requirements.

YUSUF: Which are?

COBB: Great depth.

YUSUF: A dream within a dream? Two levels?

COBB: Three.

YUSUF: Not possible. That many dreams within dreams would be too unstable.

COBB: I've done it before. You just have to add a sedative.

YUSUF: A powerful sedative. How many team members?

COBB: Five.

SAITO: Six. The only way to know you've done the job is if I go in with you.

COBB: There's no room for tourists on these jobs, Mr. Saito.

SAITO: This time, it would seem there is.

EAMES: They come here every day to sleep?

ELDERLY BALD MAN: No. They come to be woken up... the dream has become their reality...

COBB: Don't tell me. Remember, you only want the dreamer to know the layout.

ARIADNE: Why's that so important?

COBB: In case one of us brings in part of our subconscious. You wouldn't want any projections knowing the layout.

ARIADNE: In case you bring Mal in.

ARIADNE: Why can't you go home, Cobb?

COBB: They think I killed her.

COBB: "I WILL SPLIT UP MY FATHER'S EMPIRE." An idea Robert Fischer's conscious mind would never accept. We have to plant it deep in his subconscious.

ARTHUR: How deep?

COBB: Three levels down.

ARTHUR: A dream within a dream within a dream? Is that even possible?

COBB: Yes. It is. Now, the subconscious motivates through emotion, not reason, so we have to translate the idea into an emotional concept. ARTHUR: How do you translate a business strategy into an emotion?

EAMES: Do you play on that? Suggest breaking up his father's company as a 'screw you' to the old man?

COBB: No. Positive emotion trumps negative emotion every time. We yearn for people to be reconciled, for catharsis. We need positive emotional logic.

EAMES: We could split the idea into emotional triggers, and use one on each level.

COBB: How do you mean?

EAMES: On the top level, we open up his relationship with his father... Say: "I WILL NOT FOLLOW IN MY FATHER'S FOOTSTEPS." Next level down we've accessed his ambition and self-esteem. We feed him: "I WILL CREATE SOMETHING MYSELF." Then, the bottom level, we bring out the emotional big guns...


EAMES: He's not scheduled for surgery, no dental, nothing.

COBB: I thought he had some knee thing?

EAMES: Nothing they'd put him under for. Besides, we need a good ten hours.

SAITO: Sydney to Los Angeles. Twelve hours and forty-five minutes-one of the longest flights in the world. He makes it every two weeks...

COBB: Surely he flies private?

SAITO: Not if there were unexpected maintenance with his plane.

ARTHUR: It'd have to be a 747.

COBB: Why?

ARTHUR: On a 747 the pilots are up above, first class is in the nose so nobody walks through the cabin. We'd have to buyout the whole cabin, and the first class flight attendant-

SAITO: We bought the airline. It seemed... neater.

ARTHUR: My question is how we go down three layers with enough stability. Three layers down a little turbulence is gonna translate into an earthquake. The dreams are gonna collapse with the slightest disturbance.

YUSUF: Sedation. For sleep stable enough to create three layers of dreaming... We will have to combine it with an extremely powerful sedative....

YUSUF: Brain function in the dream will be about twenty times normal.

COBB: And when you go into a dream within that dream the effect is compounded.

ARIADNE: How much time?

YUSUF: Three dreams... that's ten hours, times twenty, times twenty, times twenty...

EAMES: Math was never my strong suit.

COBB: It's basically a week one layer down, six months two layers down-

ARIADNE: And ten years in the third level. Who wants to spend ten years in a dream?

YUSUF: Depends on the dream.

ARTHUR: How do we get out once we've made the plant? I hope you've got something a little more elegant in mind than shooting me in the head like last time.

COBB: A kick.

ARIADNE: What's a kick?

EAMES: That, Ariadne, would be a kick.

COBB: That feeling of falling which snaps you awake. We use that to jolt ourselves awake once we're done.

ARTHUR: But how are we going to feel that through the sedation?

YUSUF: That's the clever part. I customize the sedative... To leave inner ear function unimpaired...

ARTHUR: Even that won't cut through three layers of deep sleep.

COBB: The trick is to devise a kick for each level, then synchronize them to get a snap that penetrates all three layers.

COBB: If I get on this plane and you haven't taken care of things... when we land I go to jail for the rest of my life.

SAITO: Complete the job en route, I make one phone call from the plane... you will have no trouble clearing immigration.

ARTHUR: I don't know. What happened back there? Where were you?

COBB: We were blocked by a freight train.

ARTHUR: Why would you put a train crossing in a downtown intersection?

ARIADNE: I didn't.

COBB: Why were we all ambushed, Arthur?! Those weren't regular projections they'd been trained!

ARIADNE: How could they be trained?

ARTHUR: Fischer's had an extractor teach his mind to defend itself. His subconscious is militarized.


ARTHUR: Unconstructed dream space.

ARIADNE: What's down there?

ARTHUR: Raw, infinite subconscious. Nothing there but what was left behind by anyone on the team who's been trapped there before. On this team... just Cobb.

ARIADNE: How long would we be stuck there?

YUSUF: You couldn't even think about trying to escape until the sedation eases-

EAMES: How long?

YUSUF: Decades - it could be infinite - I don't know! Ask him - he's the one who's been there before!

EAMES: Great. So now we're stuck in Fischer's mind battling it out with his private army, and if we get hit we're stuck in Limbo 'til our brains dissolve into scrambled egg?

ARIADNE: Cobb, you might have convinced the rest of this team to carry on with the job. But they don't know the truth.

COBB: What truth?

ARIADNE: The truth that at any minute you might bring a freight train through the wall. The truth that Mal is bursting up through your subconscious. The truth that as we go deeper into Fischer, we're also going deeper into you - and I'm not sure we're going to like what we find there.

COBB: He letter to the authorities refuted all the claims about her sanity that she knew I'd make... She'd had herself declared sane by three different psychiatrists. It was impossible for me to explain the nature of her madness... So I ran. And I've been running ever since, trying to buy my way back to my family...

ARIADNE: And why don't you approve?

ARTHUR: Because it involves telling the mark that he's dreaming. Which involves attracting a lot of attention to us.

ARIADNE: Didn't Cobb say never to do that?

ARTHUR: You must've noticed by now how much time Cobb spends doing things he says never to do.

ARTHUR: Cobb's drawing Fischer's attention to the strangeness of the dream. That's making his subconscious look for the dreamer. For me.

ARIADNE: Do you use a timer?

ARTHUR: No, I have to judge it myself. Once you're all asleep up in room 528, I wait 'til Yusuf starts his kick...

ARIADNE: How will you know?

ARTHUR: His music warns me it's coming, then the van hitting the barrier of the bridge should be unmistakablethat's when I blow the floor out from underneath us and we get a nice synchronized kick. Too soon, and we won't get pulled out; too late and I won't be able to drop us.

ARIADNE: Why not?

ARTHUR: The van will be in free fall. I can't drop us with no gravity.

ARTHUR: He's out.

ARIADNE: Wait, Cobb - I'm lost. Whose subconscious are we going into?

COBB: Fischer's. I told him it was Browning's so he'd come with us as part of our team.

ARTHUR: He's going to help us break into his own subconscious.

COBB: That's the idea. He'll think that his security is Browning's and fight them to learn the truth about his father.

COBB: I know what's real.

MAL: What are the distinguishing characteristics of a dream? Mutable laws of physics? Tell that to the quantum physicists. Reappearance of the dead? What about heaven and hell? Persecution of the dreamer, the creator, the messiah? They crucified Christ, didn't they?

COBB: I know what's real.

MAL: No creeping doubts? Not feeling persecuted, Dom? Chased around the globe by anonymous corporations and police forces? The way the projections persecute the dreamer? Admit it, Dom. You don't believe in one reality anymore.

MAL: How could you know it was a lie?

COBB: Because it was my lie.

MAL: Because you planted the idea in my mind.

COBB: Because I performed inception on my own wife, then reaped the bitter rewards...


COBB: We'd become lost in here. Living in a world of infinite possibilities. A world where we were gods. I realized we needed to escape, but she'd locked away her knowledge of the unreality of this world... I couldn't make Mal understand that we needed to break free. To die. So I started to search our world...

Searching for the right place in her mind...

And when I found that place, that secret place where she had shut away her knowledge years before, I broke it open...

I broke into the deepest recess of her mind, to give her the simplest little idea.

A truth that she had once known, but had chosen to forget...

That her world was not real.

That death was a necessary escape.

ARTHUR: What happened?

ARIADNE: Cobb stayed.

ARTHUR: With Mal?

ARIADNE: No. To find Saito.

ARTHUR: He'll be lost...

ARIADNE: No. He'll be alright.