Want to feel old? Inception came out more than five years ago. An instant classic upon its release, Christopher Nolan’s film about a team of “extractors” — those who enter another’s subconscious in order to steal information — shaped our fascination with sleep and dreams. Elaborately layered and built on a fascinating foundation of dream logic, it was an intelligent and masterfully composed philosophy lesson dressed up as a heist movie.
Here are our five favorite dream sequences from the film:
The Building Collapse
In the epic dream scene that opens the movie, an extraction goes wrong, Joseph Gordon-Levitt dies and wakes up, a building collapses to rubble and Leonardo DiCaprio falls into a bathtub. The audience goes “Huh?” while also realizing they’re in for 150 minutes of beautiful insanity.
The Coffee Shop
Enjoying your coffee, Ellen Page? Too bad it’s not real. And neither is the coffee shop you’re drinking it at. Or the conversation you’re having. It’s all just a dream — which she and the audience shockingly realize at the same time, before the whole place completely explodes. This crucial scene taught the audience to be skeptical of everything.
The Train in L.A.
There really is no limit to Nolan’s visual palette, as proven by the scene when a train comes crashing through the streets of Los Angeles during another extraction-gone-awry. Plus, it’s raining and the group is under fire. Not one of their more pleasant dreams.
The Spinning Hallway
In a movie filled with incredible visuals, the spinning hallway fight became the definitive image. Only Nolan could turn an otherwise straightforward punch-em-up fight scene into mesmerizing art, in no small thanks to the interspliced car crash (which is even beautiful on its own).
Is Cobb still asleep? Is the spinning top going to fall? Damn you, Nolan — we’ll never know for sure. Just like an actual dream, Inception’s final scene leaves you in a state of poetic confusion, searching for answers and a deeper meaning.