Inland Empire. What was THAT about?
December 11, 2006 1:13 PM   Subscribe

SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS: David Lynch's Inland Empire. What does it all mean? I have developed some theories and read some others, but I'd love to pick the Metafilter Brain Trust.
posted by Sticherbeast to Media & Arts (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It was sold out all weekend. Guess I'll let you know in a few days. Boo.
posted by hermitosis at 1:35 PM on December 11, 2006

I humbly suggest that not even David Lynch completely knows what his movies mean these days.
posted by Justinian at 1:40 PM on December 11, 2006

After watching Eraserhead, I'd say, it makes sense to nobody unless you're on some sort of drug, then it makes perfect sense!
posted by 0217174 at 1:52 PM on December 11, 2006

I've been looking forward to this a lot...but a discussion might be more productive when a bit more than 0.0001% of the population (US, at least) has at least an opportunity to view it.
posted by troybob at 2:05 PM on December 11, 2006

Since I have seen it and no one else seems willing to be helpful:

Every character in the movie is, at least, 2 characters. There's Nikki, the actress and Nikki, the character the actress plays, I think. Remember that she plays a southern belle being seduced by the looker around town. The second Nikki seems to be some kind of rough and tumble southern girl. She makes allusions to having killed men and appears to be interrogated at more than one point in the film.

The film also takes place in 2 places: LA and Poland, the "Inland Empire" of the title. As Nikki's husband is some kind of overbearing Polish protector, I think a lot of what happens in Poland is a reflection of that. There's confusion, a general loss of sense of self and time and frequent derision directed at Nikki.

That said, a lot of critics have remarked that this film brings in a lot of elements from Lynch's other work (The bunny rabbits come from a series of short web films) and Lynch himself professes to not quite knowing what's going on. As it's noted to be his most surreal work to date, I wouldn't drive yourself crazy trying to find deep meaning here. There are some fairly obvious demonstrations, but by and large it's just... A David Lynch movie.
posted by GilloD at 9:08 AM on December 12, 2006

OK, Sticherbeast, here's my take on it.

The weeping girl who we see first (who doesn't have a name, so I'll call her X) is constructing the rest of the film, including Laura Dern's charater(s), as a fantasy to help her escape the reality of her son's death, by travelling into a made up "tomorrow".

Dern's character, Nikki, is also playing a character. At some point, that character begins to realize its own artificiality, leading up to the moment when she appears on the set of the film and sees the actors and director. The realization is shattering, and immediately forces her into to confront the fact that she is a creation, an empty vessel, a non-person. Hence the following scenes with the whores-- a group of replaceable stock women, vapid, cloistered, mindless and powerless. As the charade of the Dern characters caves in on itself, the real life of the initial woman, X, begins to float to the surface (the barbecue, the scenes with her husband) though she is still seeing herself as Dern.

This is driven home especially by the fact that Dern mentions (during the interview at the top of the stairs) that she went through a bad time during the death of her son. None of Dern's characters have given any indication of having a son. When Nikki finishes her death scene on the sidewalk, she gets up and realizes that she too is not real (the same realization that her character had). She goes through the hallways and terrors, confronting this fact. Ultimately, as her identity is shattered, you see her appear to X and peacefully relinquish herself.

At the very end, you see X awash in relief hearing her husband and son come home. She has now catapulted herself from a convoluted and phantasmagorical "tomorrow" back to "yesterday", the point before her son's death. It seems that the only two realities available to her are an unimaginable future, or a happy safe past-- we are as blind to the actual present as she is.

The credit scene reinforces the concept of actresses as fantasy avatars, as livestock, and as whores by having all of the women from the movie, plus Dern, PLUS whasserface from Mulholland Drive, all carousing and having a good old time in some sort of lavish enclosure. It is like a bank of female identities that Lynch draws from, a bundle of archetypes and glamours, and in a touch that shows charm and grace on Lynch's part, he makes sure that they all seem happy to be there, like airy spirits or shades waiting to be conjured.

Your thoughts?
posted by hermitosis at 7:01 AM on December 15, 2006

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