Wednesday, March 16, 2011


The Score: 9.5 out of 10

We hear many complain about the mountains of exposition-driven dialogue in Christopher Nolan's Inception (2010), but can you imagine what the film would have been like without it? You do not have to, thanks to David Lynch's Inland Empire (2006). Where Inception takes place on five different levels of reality with continual clues orienting the viewer over its 148 minute running time, Inland Empire takes place on no less than eight levels of reality—perhaps more—with only sporadic clues peppering David Lynch's 180 minute movie.

Inland Empire (2006) Italian Trailer

If this sounds like a confusing plot, then you would be right. Pinpointing what scenes take place in what level of reality and in what sequence of time will certainly fire up your synapses if you are inclined to study this film in a cerebral manner. Many enjoy solving jigsaw-puzzle narratives, others do not. Thankfully, David Lynch creates an experience that operates on different levels of viewer consciousness simultaneously, making Inland Empire (2006) one of the most ambitious movies ever made.
In Inception (2010), Christopher Nolan centers the narrative on a team of mind thieves who attempt to implant an idea deep within a businessman's subconscious mind. If they succeed, the businessman will eventually dissolve his inherited company and attempt to succeed in the business world based entirely on his own merits. As we discuss in our review of Inception, the film's narrative structure invites speculation about what actually occurred during the course of the film. We developed an interpretation in our analysis that suggested Inception mimics Christopher Nolan's breakthrough film Memento (2000), and is an elaborate internal struggle within Leonardo DiCaprio's mind all along.
Memento's Leonard Shelby is Overwhelmed with Guilt Over His Wife's Death, But Cannot Be Certain What Happened
Inception's Dom Cobb is Overwhelmed with Guilt Over His Wife's Death, But Cannot Be Certain What Happened
Inception's mind thieves arrange for their target's mind to be brought through a number of scenarios constructed especially for the target's mind to travel through. The mark (target/victim) will unintentionally lead the mind thieves deeper and deeper into his own subconscious in the process. Christopher Nolan uses this structure as a gateway to entertainingly comment on the different levels of consciousness, with some reference to psychoanalytic models. Inception even features a climactic battle of wills in limbo (unconstructed dreamspace), or as Dr. Carl Jung would term it, the social consciousness.
Although Inland Empire's plot is considerably different from Inception's, something on a primal level connects the two films together structurally. David Lynch and Christopher Nolan seem completely dedicated toward revealing the architecture of the human psyche in their own distinctive ways and within their own budgetary constraints. David Lynch seeks to do it with a bare-bones budget and a camcorder. Christopher Nolan seeks to do it with a blockbuster budget and 35mm/65mm film cameras. And Nolan's increased production values certainly translate through for a lush visual experience, while Lynch's film force mainstream audiences to adjust their expectations when watching.
Creativity and Audience Interaction
We admire David Lynch's boldness in privately making his career's capstone feature film armed with little more than his mind and a MiniDV camcorder. But we would be lying if we said something was not lost in his transition from film to digital cameras. The former depth of contrast of shadow and light, the intensely lush color palette, and his painting-like framing of images was something that set apart Lynch's work from many directors. In our opinion, the loss of that crisp, beautiful 35mm film image is a major detriment to Inland Empire and unnecessarily makes an already complex story that much more difficult to watch when you pop in the DVD for a viewing.
"Everybody says, 'But the quality, David, it's not so good,' and that's true, but it's a different quality. It reminds
me of early 35-millimeter film. You see different things. It talks to you differently.
"David Lynch
Because of this, HD screencaps from the U.K. Blu-Ray release and some production stills from the set are primarily used in our article. The DVD compression process frequently savaged Lynch's source images into an unsightly mess. We wish the U.S. would get their Blu-Ray of the movie released soon, because the DVD's visuals are not rendered well and can be especially difficult to look at for three hours. And although the nature of Lynch's MiniDV source formatting will always result in a picture with less detail than film, a Blu-Ray transfer is necessary to render the images passably well.
David Lynch's New Process Making I.E.
Sony PD-150 MiniDV Camcorder
Film vs. Digital
As much as we love David Lynch's raw personal vision, we also miss his entourage of collaborators who worked with him on past films. Inland Empire (2006) was written, directed, shot, and edited by David Lynch. So in a way, Inland Empire exposes to us Lynch concentrate. Nearly every moment of the film sprang from some part of Lynch's consciousness. So we safely assume that Inland Empire represents Lynch's individual style more than any other of his films, with the possible exception of Eraserhead.
"The sky's the limit with digital. Film is like a dinosaur in a tar pit. People might be sick to hear that
because they love film, just like they loved magnetic tape. And I love film. I love it!
"David Lynch
So is Inland Empire a self-indulgent pet project by the filmmaker? Yes. Do we spend an uncomfortable amount of time caught in a closed loop inside Lynch's brain? Yes. But does the resulting film amaze us in the way we have come to expect from Lynch's work? Yes, and in spades. We forgive the ponderously long takes, the shaky camera work, and murky images because the fundamental ideas David Lynch plays around with on Inland Empire's canvas are simply too fascinating to discount because of the movie's rough edges. And the raw images and murky textures help contribute to overall effect Lynch sets out to achieve.
Inland Empire's Director Poses with Inland Empire's Principal Cast. Pictured from Left to Right:
Jeremy Irons, David Lynch, Laura Dern, and Justin Theroux
But that does not necessarily make the movie any easier to watch at first. We recommend saving your first viewing of Inland Empire (2006) for when you already feel comfortable with David Lynch's style. You do not necessarily need to be an experienced Lynch veteran to enjoy the film, but it certainly helps. Inland Empire reverberates with themes and sequences from Lynch's other films. Lynch even alludes to Dune's "folding space" sequence with eerily similar music cues during Inland Empire's "folding silk" sequence. We are curious if any of our readers encountered Inland Empire before watching any of Lynch's other films, and if so, what were your first impressions of the film? Please share in the comments section below.
Laura Dern Collaborating with David Lynch on the Set of Inland Empire
Although Inland Empire is one of David Lynch's more densely layered stories, we believe a logical explanation for the storyline can be pieced together if analyzed with the left (analytical) hemisphere of your brain. But as we frequently mention in these articles, Lynch's films are more specifically designed to cater to the right (emotional) hemisphere of your brain. Logic can be used to explain the general gist of Lynch's movies after the fact, but only a one-on-one personal engagement with his films can produce a truly satisfactory viewing experience while watching the stories unfold.
"Each day was a different direction, each day was a different idea because we didn't
have a script... The truth is, I didn't know who I was playing—and I still don't know.
 I'm looking forward to seeing the film to learn more.
"–Laura Dern
Again, interpretations will vary about what David Lynch is communicating with his stories, so we do not claim to offer the only valid interpretation of Inland Empire. Nevertheless, we will offer an interpretation, since we believe mental process of analyzing Lynch's stories can increase our viewing enjoyability. When we watch his films again and size up our former perceptions with what we now see in his films, we create a powerful cycle of film viewership that helps us explore parts of his films we might have overlooked before.
So from our point of view, Inland Empire is about the creative process of making a film itself. Laura Dern's Nikki Grace is an actress who seeks out a challenging "star-making" role in the upcoming film On High in Blue Tomorrows. But many strange occurrences take place surrounding this film's production that contributes to Nikki's bizarrely personal journey of self-discovery. In the process of acting the part of Sue Blue, Nikki risks losing her own identity while channeling her character and could lose grip on reality itself if she is not careful.
Pictured: Jeremy Irons, David Lynch, and Harry Dean Stanton
In a bravura piece of directing, David Lynch explores the various aspects of an actor's performance and how these levels of reality ultimately contribute to an audience member's reaction when watching the finished film. Inland Empire seems to conceptualize this creative process by having us move through all the interrelated levels of thought process at once. In other words, Lynch represents literally on screen the abstract mental processes that an actress goes through to lose herself in her part.
Inland Empire's story unfolds over several planes of reality at once, most or all of which are listed below:
  1. We watch the actress Nikki Grace preparing for and performing the role of Sue Blue.
  2. We watch what Sue Blue actually goes through via the movie within the movie.
  3. We watch all the women whose experiences and stories Nikki is familiar with that influence the way Nikki plays the role of Sue Blue.
  4. We watch a woman viewer who is watching the finished film On High in Blue Tomorrows. She is deeply engaged with the unfolding drama on screen and finally experiences an emotional catharsis at the end of watching Sue Blue's story. This fictional character's story has some similarity to issues the woman viewer has been experiencing in her own life.
  5. We watch this woman viewer's related life experiences, but with the actors from the movie playing out the roles of her true-life drama.
  6. We watch fragments of an incomplete Polish film titled Four-Seven that was unfinished on account of the tragic murders of the main lead actor and actress. We learn that On High in Blue Tomorrows is based on that original unfinished film.
  7. We watch the Polish main leads who were murdered by the actress's jealous husband.
  8. We watch Polish men prepare for the strange conflagration of events about to take place as they channel the murdered Polish actress's spirit and prepare a weapon that Nikki Grace will use to defeat an evil presence that somehow exists within the story itself.
  9. We watch a group of man-sized rabbits going through the motions of a TV sitcom while an audience of unknown origin (a laugh track) continues to laugh at them during inappropriate moments.
  10. We watch Nikki Grace traverse through all layers of reality, finally ending her struggle after her performance helps the woman viewer achieve her catharsis.
  11. We watch every woman, real or imagined whose stories and lives influenced Nikki Grace's performance of Sue Blue, appear to Nikki in a gospel-themed end credit sequence. The evil presence within the story has been defeated and womankind generally benefit from Nikki's fearless and inspirational performance. Thanks to Nikki and the others collaborating on the film, women around the world who watch Sue Blue's story can better avoid falling into a similar hopeless cycle of abuse and death.
"Every film is like going into a new world, going into the unknown. But you should be not afraid of using your intuition, and feel and think your way through."David Lynch
Many people have accused Inland Empire of being too confusing, too dark, too long, too random, too... too. Although we sympathize with these negative reactions, we believe these detractors tend to miss the big picture and focus too much on the minutiae. To some extent, we have probably all felt an inkling of these criticisms ourselves when watching Inland Empire with a degree of frustration at first.
Honestly, how many of us react to Inland Empire by saying to ourselves, "Gee whiz! All my friends and associates at work would love this film!" In all honesty, this particular Lynch film has a specific acquired taste and not everyone is ready for it yet. If your palate is unprepared for the flavor of the film, you might gag and recoil from it at first. We are not pretentious enough to say that only people with sophisticated palates will like Inland Empire, since we know of sophisticated cinephiles who simply have not connected to this Lynch film yet.
The Woman Viewing Nikki's Movie, Probably Also Representing Inland Empire Audience, Too
But we stand by what we stated at the beginning of this series of articles. Film viewers tastes develop and change over time, and what may have seemed boring to you as a child could later become one of your favorite movies later in life. Generally speaking, this has been our experience with the films of David Lynch.

Lynch's films do not feel like other people's films, which can be jarring at first. But as you encounter more movies that feel like just more of the same, the unique quality of Lynch's vision becomes more entertaining by comparison. So while we understand why some of you might be tempted to dismiss Lynch's work at first, we encourage you to pass through the kaleidoscope of these articles and view his films with a fresh set of eyes.
David Lynch's work can make no sense, little sense, or perfect sense, depending on the way view it. His sense of humor is so hilariously absurd that most people seem to think Lynch is just being serious, when in fact he knows he is being funny. Lynch even seems to have the gift of self-parody, something most filmmakers eschew away from to protect their egos. But Lynch is very direct and honest about his own peculiarities as a filmmaker and sometimes plays off people's expectations of his films in humorous ways.
When showing friends some of Lynch's work in the past, we literally had some interrupt the movie by asking whether Lynch was being funny or not. Unfortunately, you cannot really answer that question to their satisfaction. As the writer E.B. White said: "Analyzing humor is like dissecting a frog. Few people are interested and the frog dies of it." While most filmmakers design a scene to either be serious and dramatic or funny and comedic, David Lynch often designs his scenes to be both. So we recommend accepting the drama and humor of Lynch's movies in equal measure, and let him work on you with his unique brand of gallows humor.
Lynch veteran Grace Zabriskie returns to Inland Empire as a Polish gypsy who visits Nikki Grace's palatial estate near the beginning of the film. This random stranger informs Nikki that she will get the part of the lead actress. This stranger's intentions are unknown, but she begins cluing Nikki in on the strange journey she is about to undertake during the production of On High in Blue Tomorrows.

Nikki Grace then makes the rounds of the talk show circuit with her costar Devon Berk. In a funny scene, Laura Dern's real-life mother Diane Ladd hosts the show and intimates that Devon's womanizing reputation and Nikki's close proximity to him throughout the shoot could threaten Nikki's marriage. Nikki deflects, not feeling any special attraction for Devon and rather insulted by the implication.

William H. Macy Provides an Extremely Brief But Important Cameo Where He Voices a Central Theme of the Movie
Justin Theroux, Who Played the Hotshot Young Director from Mulholland Dr. Returns for Another Round with David Lynch, Now Playing the Male Lead in On High in Blue Tomorrows
Jeremy Irons Plays the Film's Director, Kingsley Stewart, Who Clearly Stands in for David Lynch Himself
Slowly But Surely, Nikki Enters a Strange World as She Delves Deeper and Deeper into Her Character Sue Blue
"I always thought of a David Lynch movie as buying a new jazz record. The best way is to let the film wash over you. Sit back and go on that ride."Justin Theroux
"David never really gave us a script, he just gave us scenes, these little 10-page packets. And then we'd go home and he'd hand us another one at the end of the night, or hand us three at a time. But they sometimes seemed really linked and sometimes didn't. So the actual process seemed probably very similar to what it's going to be like to watch it, which involves sort of having to link it together as you go."Justin Theroux
Harry Dean Stanton
Lynch veteran Harry Dean Stanton returns in a small, memorable performance as a money-mooching industry savvy Freddie Howard, who remains on the set from beginning to end of On High in Blue Tomorrow's production. Freddie is apparently an assistant and friend to the film's director Kingsley Stewart, who is played by the always amazing Jeremy Irons in a relatively small yet important role. We wish his role had been enlarged to a greater degree, since his scenes were among the most enjoyable of the film. And since Irons acts as a stand-in for David Lynch himself, it is fascinating to see how this character directs the movie within the movie.
Although the life of an actress is often considered glamorous by most standards, the day-to-day realities of the profession can be tedious and emotionally demanding. The lines separating reality and fantasy begin to blur as a great actress throws herself into the character with full commitment. David Lynch almost seems to be writing a love letter to his many leading actresses, showcasing the difficulties these brave women experience in the name of art.
Although the fictional characters Sue Blue and Billy Side are instantly attracted to each other in the movie within the movie, Nikki Grace and Devon Berk do not really care for each other very much. But in the process of acting as their characters, the distinction between the actors and characters becomes fuzzier and fuzzier and it appears that they have an affair in real life while their characters have an affair in the movie.
"Working with David is probably the best time you'll ever have in your life. Contrary to what anyone might think, when you're making a David Lynch movie you don't feel like you're making a David Lynch movie; you feel like you're making a Farrelly brothers movie or something. He's just a really, really fun guy to be around, and everyone that he works around and hires is just a blast. So you just go and have a goof and get serious for the work, but the rest is just gravy. It was really fun."Justin Theroux
In one memorable scene evoking Satoshi Kon's Perfect Blue, Nikki believes she is warning Devon about the dangers posed by her husband who seems to be aware of their affair. She laughs for a second and shouts that this all sounds like dialogue from their film. We then pull back on Devon's strong reaction to reveal they are acting in the middle of a scene being filmed on set. Nikki looks around her and realizes she was acting in a scene, and blurred the line of reality while acting in it. She has unintentionally revealed her affair with Devon on camera and in front of their director and the whole crew.

Nikki and her associated characters frequently encounter the word AXXoN N written as graffiti at key places throughout the film, without much explanation. At the beginning of the film we learn that AXXoN N is the longest running radio play in history. Although never fully explained, the fact that Inland Empire focuses so much of its attention on prostitutes could be related to this clue. Prostitution often being called the oldest profession in the world.
The character of Sue Blue apparently descends into the depths of prostitution in Hollywood, causing Nikki Grace to confront images, stereotypes, and ideas of prostitutes in her mind while figuring out how to best portray Sue when she becomes one in the end of On High in Blue Tomorrows. Much of Inland Empire seems to dramatize the process Nikki Grace goes through in preparing her character to sink to those depths, which would definitely be a disturbing process for a method actress.
We learn of a powerful Polish mentalist named Crimp who has the ability to control animals and hypnotize humans. He is often referred to as The Phantom by people throughout the film. The Phantom seems to be a character in the films Four-Seven and On High in Blue Tomorrows, but he could be a characterization of an actual being in the real world. Like Bob in Twin Peaks or The Mystery Man in Lost Highway, The Phantom in Inland Empire could be a demon, a human, an intraterrestrial malevolent entity, or a symbolic representation of a general principle of evil.
Julia Ormond Plays Billy Side's Wife in the Movie within the Movie, Who is
Apparently Hypnotized by The Phantom to Kill Sue Blue
Whatever The Phantom's identity, Nikki Grace is plagued by him throughout all dimensions of her reality and is the force she must overcome if she is going to become whole again. The last sequences of Inland Empire are among the most ambitious of David Lynch's career as he cross-cuts between dimensions of Nikki's reality, integrating some while cutting across others, all culminating in a final conflict between Nikki Grace and The Phantom.
Billy Side's jealous wife is apparently hypnotized by The Phantom to kill Sue Blue at the famous intersection Hollywood and Vine. Sue slowly bleeds to death in the middle of a group of homeless people in a bizarre and oddly touching scene of sympathy yet indifference. Sue Blue dies there and Nikki thinks she is dead, too. But like earlier, Nikki is surprised to discover she was acting through her character's final death scene.
Nikki is despondent and as she gets up and walks away, her director Kingsley compliments her and is worried about the psychological strain the performance has apparently placed on Nikki. But Nikki ignores everyone and heads out across the dimensional planes to confront The Phantom for once and for all.
Nikki makes an unexpected stop at a movie theater where her movie On High in Blue Tomorrows is already playing, evoking the climax of John Carpenter's Cthulhu-based film In the Mouth of Madness. Nikki transcends all her realities and even crosses the threshold of the rabbits' apartment. Along the way, Nikki picks up the same weapon the Polish men had forged for her earlier with the help of the murdered Polish actress's spirit and Nikki's husband.
Nikki faces The Phantom and is confronted with her own face, echoing the doppelgänger theme of Twin Peaks. Nikki overcomes her fear and destroys this evil presence. After this, Nikki manages to transcend past the TV screen and embrace the woman viewer who had been privately watching the movie at home. In this beautiful moment of triumph, Nikki's achievement crosses over and influences the real life of the viewer. The woman viewer leaves the room and apparently reconciles herself with her husband and son in real life.
In a beautiful crescendo, Nikki Grace looks upon herself with satisfaction when she returns home after her triumph. Nikki is satisfied and at peace finally. Her true identity is fully restored. To paraphrase the mantra against fear from Dune (1984), Nikki has allowed her fear to pass over her and through her. Now only she remains. Nikki now exists in an enlightened, happy, and harmonious state of being.
David Lynch Ends His Film on a Hopeful Note, as Nikki Grace Reaches a Powerful
Catharsis and Looks into the Camera and Smiles at the Audience
Which is Similar to Paul Thomas Anderson's Ending for Another Epic San Bernardino Epic Drama
 Magnolia (1999), When Claudia Finally Feels Loved and Smiles at the Audience
David Lynch demands a lot from his audience in Inland Empire. But in his own modest way, Lynch provides us with a film every bit as challenging, complicated, and nuanced as Inception, and in many ways, even more so. Inception represents what great filmmakers can do with blockbuster budgets. Inland Empire represents what great filmmakers can do with practically no budget. We do not know if it is coincidence, but both films begin with "In-" and both films ask us to look within.
In the End Credit Sequence, a Reunion Apparently Takes Place in Nikki's Mind
Because David Lynch did not write out the entirety of the screenplay before shooting, rather writing the film as he went along for two years, many give their opinion that Inland Empire does not have an overarching theme or greater meaning. We respectfully disagree. Lynch might not have been sure where all the ideas for his film would take him when he set out on his journey, but we are confident he knew how they fit together when he finished it. The unexpected success of Mulholland Dr. taught him to trust his instincts and to be willing to reconfigure his movie as he developed it. The result might be a little complex and convoluted for casual viewing, but is an amazing achievement and is mesmerizing to watch.
Buffy's Cast Interprets Inland Empire
Inland Empire (2006) is available in a special edition DVD set in the U.S., but be prepared for a murky video presentation. For better video quality, you have to look to the U.K.'s Blu-Ray. Most the HD screencaps were lifted from DVD Beaver's Blu-Ray Review. In spite of worries that the technical limitations of David Lynch's MiniDV source format would not translate any better on Blu-Ray than it did on DVD, the HD version of the film is clearly superior visually. We look forward to a comparable U.S. Blu-Ray release in the future.
Fan-Made Inland Empire Montage
Next week we will discuss the short films, web projects, and commercials of David Lynch. Most of David Lynch's short films and web projects are available in his Lime Green Set on DVD. While you could purchase some of these DVDs separately, you can only find Industrial Symphony No. 1 and a slew of other special feature material in the set. Most of David Lynch's commercials are unavailable on DVD or Blu-Ray, although some of his Twin Peaks-themed Georgia Coffee commercials are available on Twin Peaks - The Definitive Gold Box Edition.
The Art of David Lynch

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  1. While Lynch's transformation from film to digital has some obvious negative effects, I think the film Inland Empire benefits from the quality. To me, the blurry view and jerkiness really fits into the concept of the film itself. People describe digital film as "soulless," but I think that's exactly what Lynch wanted the film to look like. Let's all just keep in mind that not every film was made to look nice. I think this film was obviously made to look rough.

    1. New eBook reveals David Lynch's INLAND EMPIRE! Here is the link:

  2. There is a new eBook that reveals all the mysteries of Lynch's INLAND EMPIRE. Here is the link:

  3. I really see the carthasis thing in IL. Then the ending so cheerful. I like to see this movie like Vertovs "Man with a movie Camera" though Lynchs narratives resources.

  4. I agree with the view of Inland Empire as cathartic. Inland Empire was actually my first Lynch Film. It was easily one of the most moving film experiences of my life.

    I also think comparing this to Inception in any way is way off-track. Inception is a fairly straightforward film (discounting the ending). And I'm not just saying that because of the exposition. The basic concept is simple, and the recursion that occurs is easy to keep track of as a result. It's basically just nested realities with one-way downward causality.

    On the other hand, the recursion in Primer interplays with itself in a much more complex manner, for example. The layers are not all that count in the complexity of the movie.

    Not that either are really comparable to Inland Empire. Even presuming it has so many layers (I really only counted two in my interpretation of the film), they are not recursive.

  5. As we make the point in our review, Inception and Inland Empire have strong underlying connections to each other conceptually, but are otherwise very different in terms of genre, story, and execution.

    But we should not overlook the interesting similarities between David Lynch's and Christopher Nolan's respective bodies of work. How many Hollywood directors really focus on guilt complexes and mind malfunctions to the degree that Lynch and Nolan do? These directors also share a propensity to structure their films to mimic aspects of the main characters' psyches. Surely these are more than surface similarities in style.

    We understand the films are different. Inception is more of an action film mixed with drama, while Inland Empire is more of a horror story mixed with drama. But as we outlined in our review, the differences between the two films does not erase their fundamental connective tissue as mind-benders that spend most their time within the subconscious minds of their protagonists.

    In summary, we believe the two films are comparable in these respects, and in some ways feel like sister or brother films when viewed in the grand scheme of cinema. Both films are designed to subjectively explore the architecture of their main characters' minds. And both Lynch and Nolan go to great lengths to mimic dream logic.

  6. Any comment on "More Things That Happened"? I've never seen it but I heard it's a compilation made out of scenes that didn't make the final cut of IE for whatever reason. Apparently it's a bonus on the DVD. I'd be curious to know whether those scenes clarify or expand on some of the more confusing things in the main film or if they just make things even weirder.

  7. Ken, we will address "More Things that Happened" in next week's article on the "Short Films, Web Projects, and Commercials" of David Lynch. They are essentially deleted scenes from "Inland Empire" but many of the scenes stand alone well as short films. We will elaborate in greater detail this Wednesday.

    1. New eBook reveals David Lynch's INLAND EMPIRE! Here is the link:

  8. Big difference between Lynch and Nolan. Inception is basically a rip-off of Philip K. Dick's "Ubik".

  9. New Amazon eBook reveals David Lynch's INLAND EMPIRE. "Old World Politics, New World Prophecy: Understanding David Lynch's INLAND EMPIRE 'a woman in trouble'" available now at and Here is the link:

  10. Yes! Someone who gets it! The Twin Peaks Podcast should have had you on for their episode covering IE.

  11. Interesting interpretation, but I have one quibble-unless I'm crazy, the woman watching the film unfold IS the Polish girl from the original film, not a separate character.

    I'd also like to point out the references to Wilder's Sunset Boulevard, also about an actress past her prime. Dern's distorted face as worn by the Phantom recalls Gloria Swanson's camera-mugging final shot, and the "Cast out this wicked dream which has seized my heart..." bit is lifted straight from the Wilder film (where it was also a film-within-a-film), subtitles and all.

  12. Hi Michael! Thank you for writing this analysis. I really enjoyed it. I've written my own analysis and quoted you in it. You can read it here: