XIXAX Film Forum

The Director's Chair => David Lynch => Topic started by: Jeremy Blackman on May 18, 2009, 09:03:10 PM

Title: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on May 18, 2009, 09:03:10 PM
So... I wrote a little interpretation of INLAND EMPIRE. It has pictures and stuff.

Read there and discuss here!

http://xixax.com/halfborn
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: SiliasRuby on May 19, 2009, 01:29:23 AM
Looking forward to reading it
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: sinovit on March 20, 2013, 09:57:48 AM
looks like it's gone :( I can only read it in google cache and without pictures but it was available couple of weeks ago
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on March 20, 2013, 10:49:14 AM
Hmm, I thought I copied it over when we switched servers. I'll take a look soon and get it back up.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on March 21, 2013, 09:44:40 PM
It's back online.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: chalfont on March 27, 2013, 06:08:59 PM
Watched the movie first time in 2007. Didn't understand a lot. Read some analysis on the internet and looked forward to see it again Watched it again yesterday and was overwhelmed....Fantastic....Lynch has done it again - and really took it to a different level this time. Still, I was certainly confused over a lot of thibgs in the film, so I got back to analysises on the net. They helped some but after reading yours, I don't see any point of reading any more...... :yabbse-grin: Fantastic work.....
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on March 27, 2013, 06:30:37 PM
Excellent, thanks. I started out by reading the official Lynch forum, and that answered a few questions, but even there people would get obsessed with all the wrong things, as if every random Lynchism much be completely explained before we can understand anything. With this movie you really have to separate that stuff from all the plot/character/spiritual mechanisms that are meaningful and interconnected in this complex and surprisingly coherent way.

A lot of the Lynchisms add beauty to the film and even meaning, but they aren't prerequisites to understanding the movie. The rabbits are a good example.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: chalfont on March 27, 2013, 07:11:42 PM
What I've learned during my 20+ years as Lynch-fan is when watching his films I try not to understand - just feel. I try just to let the visio/audio sink in as much as possible when watching, and then analyse afterwards. And what IE did was; first 1/4: disturbing - 2 and 3/4 confusing and last quarter of the movie: sad/beautiful - (same as MD ending). And I think you've definitly nailed it on that he's trying to give us an understanding of what this enlightenment thing really is. But I'm not sure if he is trying to explain it to us or actually trying to transfeer the experience to us...;-)
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on March 27, 2013, 07:51:34 PM
when watching his films I try not to understand - just feel. I try just to let the visio/audio sink in as much as possible when watching, and then analyse afterwards.

Definitely agree. Seeing Mulholland Drive in the theater was almost as transformative for me as seeing Magnolia. Being assaulted by that movie was so overwhelming, and I fell in love with that. It only works because you know, even on the first viewing, that the meaning is there. So you find yourself in this state exactly between confusion and epiphany. I don't know of another filmmaker who can produce that feeling.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: polkablues on March 27, 2013, 08:52:43 PM
It only works because you know, even on the first viewing, that the meaning is there. So you find yourself in this state exactly between confusion and epiphany. I don't know of another filmmaker who can produce that feeling.

I can think of two out there now that fit that description, in very different ways (from each other and from Lynch):
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on March 27, 2013, 09:53:38 PM
Yeah I guess I was being too generic. The particular way Lynch does it... I'm not sure how to put that into words.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: chalfont on March 31, 2013, 02:44:53 PM
I need to see it again to be able to challenge your theories.....
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: chalfont on March 31, 2013, 06:07:02 PM
I need to see it again to be able to challenge your theories.....
Ok - read through your analysis again, and noted a few things:

I remember when I saw the movie the first time, I actually found one thing of interest (I say actually, because I rarely understand any of these things on my first viewing... :yabbse-grin: )
Kingsley: "Well, I thought since we're here and Smithy's set's been started, we might go through some of those scenes that take place there. Not the love scene, of course, but some of the earlier scenes that indicate so beautifully your characters. Let's take, for instance, scene 35—the scene where, Devon, you arrive, Billy, at Smithy's house to find Sue, Nikki, looking out of the window."
The "not the love scene, of course" for me indicates that it is probably too early for Sue to face this tragedy of her life which caused to all other things. Too early in the cleansing-process.

Axxon n: There is some more here I just can't completely grab it. For me it refeers to: "A little boy went out to play. When he opened his door, he saw the world. As he passed through the doorway, a ghost—a reflection—evil—was born. Evil was born and followed the boy . . . And, the variation. A little girl went out to play. Lost in the marketplace as if half-born. Then, not through the marketplace—you see that, don't you?—but through the alley behind the marketplace. This is the way to the palace. But... it isn't something you remember."
For me, these "Axxon n" signs on the doors represent a director saying "Action" in starting recording a scene - as if Sue is starting to enter another step to her enlightment...

The Old-Poland scene where Lost Girl meets husband/The Phantom on the street - him telling about a murder. The first time I saw this there were things here that for some reason reminded me of Leland/Laura Palmer. The conversation, the looks.Something he said: "You are usually home at this time" or "I usually see you at home". I just got this Father/daughter abuse feeling during this scene. Allthough it doesn't add up in your analysis - I just suspect Lynch for sometimes putting several meanings in some scenes, even though they don't fit to the story...

I often wonder about Lynch' sometimes weird actor/actress choices: David Bowie, William H Stacey, Chris Isak, Kiefer Sutherland,Willem Defoe, even Bill Pullman.
Some of these just don't "fit" :yabbse-grin:
Allthough the David Bowie-sequence is one of my Lynch-favourites...:-)

....and I think it's more correct to say that IE can be understood in different levels, more than different ways....

...so I guess I am more confirming your views rather than challenge them.... :yabbse-undecided:
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on March 31, 2013, 09:44:23 PM
The "not the love scene, of course" for me indicates that it is probably too early for Sue to face this tragedy of her life which caused to all other things. Too early in the cleansing-process.

Personally, I figured Kingsley was sidestepping the love scene simply because it would be awkward going through that with everyone at the table. But there could be more meaning to it.

Axxon n: There is some more here I just can't completely grab it. For me it refeers to: "A little boy went out to play. When he opened his door, he saw the world. As he passed through the doorway, a ghost—a reflection—evil—was born. Evil was born and followed the boy . . . And, the variation. A little girl went out to play. Lost in the marketplace as if half-born. Then, not through the marketplace—you see that, don't you?—but through the alley behind the marketplace. This is the way to the palace. But... it isn't something you remember."
For me, these "Axxon n" signs on the doors represent a director saying "Action" in starting recording a scene - as if Sue is starting to enter another step to her enlightment...

Well, this is my best guess about Axxon N. It's the name of the radio play in which Lost Girl "appears." (We know that.) As such, Axxon N is useful (within the movie's mechanics) to connect Sue to Lost Girl. I think this is why the phrase "Axxon N" keeps appearing to Sue as she gets closer to Lost Girl. It's a signifier of their connection. Quoting from my analysis: And so, throughout her post-life journey, Sue finds Axxon N written on doors as clues. Each time Sue opens an Axxon N door, she is brought closer to the truth, closer to Room 47, and closer to Lost Girl. (Axxon N represents Lost Girl for Sue, so it makes sense.)

As for why Lynch likes the phrase "Axxon N," I have no clue. It could be a homophone for "action" like you suggest. That would fit. Or it could be something random from his brain that he thought looked/sounded enigmatic.

Also, read this: http://xixax.com/index.php?topic=9404.msg314182#msg314182
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: DBeyond on April 08, 2013, 01:54:23 PM
So... I wrote a little interpretation of INLAND EMPIRE. It has pictures and stuff.

Read there and discuss here!

http://xixax.com/halfborn

Just sent you an email. Please let me know if you received it. Thanks
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on April 08, 2013, 02:33:06 PM
I got it. Can you post that here?
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: DBeyond on April 08, 2013, 08:43:45 PM
I got it. Can you post that here?

Sure I'll copy past it.

Quote
1- Sue sees herself in the otherside of the street. The doppelganger.

 -> I liked the fact that you imply that the actors are fake and the characters are real. That's funny and has a ring of truth to it, but I think this thought has miss guided you in this part. Clearly Sue and Nikki are linked by the same body and Sue is aware of Nikki and vice-versa.

"At 1:13:50, Sue looks down and sees a more desperate version of herself sitting on the floor, looking up with terrified eyes. Is this the same doppelganger? Is this a representation of the prostitute state?"

This is Sue looking at Nikki, in fact there are 2 ways you can look at this:

 1- Nikki got insane, that suffocating rubber clown suit.
 2 - Or that's Sue, and she is dead inside, she is going to kill Smithy - whatever the reason is, murder is never a sane thing to do. It's not good for the soul.

In that scene they both see each other. In fact I think Sue's conscience grows after doing that silk thing, a very spiritual thing, and she is going to put a stop on that "spell" that forever-repeting-tape.

So in the walk of fame, I always saw it has a mirror of what could have been. Remember that Doris is going to kill, who ever is the one on the other side, Sue or Nikki. But she doesn't know that something has changed and she will die for it.

2 - Who is the blurry-faced man in the opening hotel room scene?

There is one thing you didn't mentioned on the explanation and to me it helped a lot figuring a lot of the things out.

I know they shot things on Poland and the movie (the original) was on Poland, but what you are seeing is the 47 the GERMAN film. That's what Kingsley says.

So what you call Old Poland is infact 47 the german movie. The blurry opening scene is a scene from that film. Lost-Girl was a character in that film and she became trapped in it, that's why Sue goes to that apartment.

In a way you can see that corridor has a big hotel (Lynch likes hotels for metaphors, like on Lost Highway) with lots of rooms and in those rooms there's always the same story, the lost of innocence or the never-ending-repeting-story of INLAND EMPIRE in all it's different versions.

That's also an explanation for the Rabbits. Kingsley says that the original GERMAN film was based on a POLISH FOLK Tale, so it's ok for it to be filmed in Poland and in Polish. But the rabbits are the FOLK TALE.  There's a tale in Poland about 3 rabbits being a representation of god, or whatever suits you better.

But your thoughts about them being in the PURGATORY are real and it fits all of this. In fact I already had notice on the "Rabbits" show that they all talked in the past, so I always assumed they were dead.

And if you pay attention the Rabbits have the EXACT same HOUSE has Sue's, only in Green. For David, green is the divine, hope, and all that comes it with. And they play the film again.

So if I explained myself just right. Polish Folk Tale (origin, Rabbits)->47(GERMAN FILM)->On High on Blue Tomorrows (REMAKE).

I think David's smallest mistake was having the Old Poland scenes in POLISH, it would ring in peoples mind if they were talking in GERMAN. Maybe he just found that out latter.

In fact you can see Jack The Rabbit on the same table has Nikki/Sue, that's the beginning of the story, like Visitor #1 just said, "a boy...and then the variation".

In fact in the beginning Jack The Rabbit gets out of the house and then it appears the PHANTOM, it's all ok: the reflection and EVIL followed the boy"

3 - We hear the line "it was the man in the green coat" several times in the film. Smithy and Janek both have green coats. What does this mean, if anything?

I think it can be two things:

1 - Janek is also reincarnated and was also a victim of the same story, so was Smithy's.
2 - The blame on the GERMAN version was on Smithy's, and for somewhat reason he finds Janek and they want their revenge, because they acted wrongfully ???

What do you think ? Let me know
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: DBeyond on April 08, 2013, 08:47:02 PM
Btw can anyone get me Lynch-2. I'm from Portugal and my DVD version doesn't have it. I would really like to see it. Thanks.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Pubrick on April 09, 2013, 12:57:39 AM
have you tried the internet?
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: polkablues on April 09, 2013, 01:28:02 AM
I think he just did...
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: DBeyond on April 09, 2013, 09:58:17 AM
have you tried the internet?

I know what you mean and the answer is: yes, I have. All the familiar places. Can anyone help on this? I'm just that curious. For example on the Lynch(one) he says what part of the bible inspired the 3rd act of the movie, INLAND EMPIRE.

Like on Lost Highway I think Lynch is a bit insecure about people getting INLAND EMPIRE, so he likes to help in a very discreet way.

Help a very, very curious man.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: hotpinktamale on May 11, 2013, 06:53:11 PM
Just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed your analysis of IE. Really helped me understand the film & made the entire experience so much better. Great job, much appreciated :)
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on May 11, 2013, 08:12:41 PM
Thanks!
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Mulligan on July 15, 2013, 12:35:11 AM
Hi people, have you read this new eBook up on Amazon?  "David Lynch's INLAND EMPIRE Explained" by Michael T. Lidstone?  I checked it out and it's great.  Specifically it explains things like AXXoNN (it comes from a 1920's Russian book on Slavic folklore) as well as pretty much everything else in the  movie.  It goes through a bunch of Polish-gypsy folktales as well and uncovers a lot of answers.  Here is the link:

http://www.amazon.com/Lynchs-INLAND-EMPIRE-Explained-ebook/dp/B004LGS7I6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1373866441&sr=8-1&keywords=lynch+inland+empire
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on July 15, 2013, 12:45:34 AM
Interesting. I might have to get that.

You could just be honest and say that you're the author, though. (Your email address gives it away.) The way you posted sounds oddly spammy, when there's nothing wrong with a shameless personal plug, especially when it's this relevant.

Anyway, without reading your book yet, I'm curious if you have any major disagreements with my interpretation...
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: polkablues on July 15, 2013, 12:59:13 AM
Yeah, it's cool just to say, "Hey guys, I wrote a book about this and here's the Amazon link if anyone's interested." We're largely reasonable people around these parts, and can handle complex truths.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: jenkins on July 15, 2013, 02:03:03 AM
well that was the internet. and if you're wondering, most of us are just thinking "holy shit, the internet." that's the way the internet goes

amazon'd the situation and i think you're doing a great job at #6 there, in the Biographies & Memoirs of Movie Directors section. i know it's tricky to sell this, and you put it at a price that shows you're trying to sell it

lol. oh man. no one here is trying to fuck your shit up, not at all, promise, but this came out on january 28, according to amazon, and on march 10 there's an amazon review -- which i read because this is the internet -- that either stole from your amazon summary or you stole from it for your amazon summary. because of the date of the review and the reviewer's lack of any other review, that's you too! i bet. to be honest, my guess would be that Jeremy Blackman read the amazon reviews and wondered about what the fuck was going on

it's as easy as trying to talk with Jeremy Blackman about his own interpretation, which he offered, and we all go "this sounds interesting" if it does, because why wouldn't a person who wants to hear about the movie want to hear about the book about the movie? makes plain sense
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Pubrick on July 15, 2013, 07:25:26 AM
makes plain sense

plain sense

sense

.
.
.

trashculturemutantjunkie, everybody.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: jenkins on July 15, 2013, 10:26:10 AM
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empiricism

the internet, australia
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Mulligan on July 15, 2013, 06:04:40 PM
Hey people yeah sorry I am the author!  I just wanted to inform you the book is out there and wasn't sure if you'd be angry because I'm also the author.  I did read some of Blackman's interpretation.  I think the difference is that my book isn't really interpretation, it's just an investigation into a number of things based on hard evidence and verifiable sources that I include at the end of my study.  Basic things like, what EXACTLY is AXXoNN and where does it come from EXACTLY, or where EXACTLY do the talking rabbits come from and what exact texts did Lynch derive them from etc.  I've read psychological interprations and philisophical ones before from a number of people and those are fine but they don't answer the hard questions in any real way and in order to understand what you are interpreting you need to know some basic things about the movie first, and as far as I can tell, and I've looked pretty high and low, my study so far is the only one that does that.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Mulligan on July 15, 2013, 06:08:35 PM
Like Kingsly in the movie mentions specifically that the curses script Nikki Grace gets trapped in is based on a "Polish-gypsy folktale.  It's astonishing to me that nobody analyzing INLAND EMPIRE, other than myself apparently, thought to actually read any Polish-gypsy folktales.  If you do that you will find the answers to things like what are the talking rabbits doing in the film and what was AXXoNN.  OR you can just read my study.  Instead people seem to watch the film over and over again thinking answers will come out or they talk about other films etc...but the answers to INLAND EMPIRE can only really be found in researching literature and history.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Mulligan on July 15, 2013, 06:16:24 PM
Like reading through your analysis, you touch on some of the answers but it's like your feeling around blind.  You can make them out but can't tell exactly what they are and have to guess at a lot of the connections.  My book is like turning the lights on so you can see all of it and it all becomes clear.  Your is actually one of the better ones I read, but it still doesn't actually explain anything, it relies too much on the film itself and you have to have a background in European and American history, Roma (Gypsy) culture and folklore, Biblical prophecy and the Transcendental Meditation experience, and be able to cite your sources, to really understand the film.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on July 15, 2013, 07:20:12 PM
Your is actually one of the better ones I read, but it still doesn't actually explain anything, it relies too much on the film itself

This is where you almost lost me.

I'm very interested in "the film itself." Maybe that's naive.

I'm also interested in cultural/historical/literary context, and I'm sure it's obviously part of the story. And that's probably where I would have gone next had this been a bigger project. I am admittedly less interested in it (explained below), because I do believe the film needs to stand on its own for the most part, which it does.

It does seem more likely that those things provided structure and background for Lynch, perhaps meaningful structure and background, but that he (of course) turned things in a Lynch direction, and that the film's meaning is more Lynch-centric than European folklore centric.

I definitely don't want to prejudge your ebook/essay, though. Can you expand on that? Does the folklore illuminate the spiritual mechanics (which after all is the core of the film)? Because I would love to read that.

I'm worried that, as with so much literary analysis, we reach to make as many connections as possible with whatever cultural sources are available, and countless coincidences get caught in the net. It's easy to stray with that approach, is what I'm saying.

It still looks like people should buy your book (buy his book, everyone!)... I'm just expressing some healthy skepticism.

For example, according to one review, you talk about the significance of hares in Gypsy folklore, and I assume you use that to explain the rabbits. But Lynch's series "Rabbits" (which I love) was made four years before Inland Empire. Was Lynch reading Gypsy folklore even then? (I don't know, maybe that's his thing.)

Hmm and this part of this review (http://worldfilm.about.com/od/inlandempire/a/OldWordPolitics.htm) concerns me:

Quote
Lidstone's argument grows tenuous in the final section, "INLAND EMPIRE Revealed." He continues to raise interesting questions, but none of the supplied evidence necessarily leads to the conclusion that "INLAND EMPIRE is a prophetic warning against a descent into fascim, the rise and fall of a future America 4th Reich, nuclear war and even the Biblical 'day of the lord.'"

This sounds like violent overreaching. Any rebuttal? Or is it simply best explained in the book?
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Mulligan on July 16, 2013, 12:48:45 AM
What I mean by "the film itself" is that many people don't expand on the films background elements and keep looking for answers in the film itself.  Like its impossible to understand Dante's Inferno if you arn't aware of the politics or current events that were taking place at the time it was written.  Or you can't understand Virgil without understanding the current events in Rome at the time, or you can't understand Milton's Paradise Lost without understanding the English Civil War.  Like someone wrote a book I believe called "A Skeleton's Kay to Finnegans Wake" it might have been Joseph Cambpell, in order for people to better understand that James Joyce book...my book is like a "Skeletons Key" to INLAND EMPIRE.  Speaking of Joyce, you cna't understand Joyce's "Ulysses" without knowledge of Irish History and classical literature... So apart from looking to the current events in the US in the 21st Century, you can't understand AXXoNN without having read Early 20th Century folklorist Vladimir Propp, who someone informed me Lynch has a painting of in his home, or you can't understand the rabbits without having read Polish-Gypsy folktales, or you can't understand "On High in Blue Tommorows" without some knowledge of Old Testament prophecy etc.  That's just what I mean but looking beyond the film in order to understand it.

If you read Polish-Gypsy folktales, or my study, much of the film and Sue Blue's experiences will make much more sense, and a film that seems difficult to comprahend becomes much more clear.  Both in terms of plot structure and an overall spiritual theme.  But thats just one element, the films combines several of them which I build up to in my book.

Yes Lynch was definitly reading Gypsy folklore before during and after rabbits. 

Regarding the About.com thing, I don't think my points towards the end of the book, which that author throws out there without any of my sources or evidence that I use to back it up (that author also seemed angry at me for writing it after talking to him privately, maybe it was jealousy) are really overreaching because I don't feel they are my points, they are just what Lynch puts forward and I'm just putting it out there for anyone to agree with or not....   

When Kingsly walks into the meeting and says he just had a horrible cup of tea, and sits down and spaces out like he's just been hit in the head... that's a tip that kicks of an entire political allegory for the 21st century... but like i said, all the elements I talk about come together and its difficult to explain it all here..which is why i put them in a book haha so I didn't have to talk at length about it like this because it gets exhausting over and over...   but I appreciate the questions and enjoy answering them and if you read my book and have more questions i have no problem answering them
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: FinnYorke on July 16, 2013, 08:30:17 AM
Hi everyone,

I just read the analysis, hoping to find an explanation of something I found watching the movie, however it was not mentioned. During the movie and even from the earliest scenes, we can see two lights appear. The first one I saw was in the background, such as in an alley or something. I don't quite remember since I only saw the movie once yesterday. And I know it wasn't accidental because it was very clear two little yellow lights in the background. I didn't think much of it the first time but kept it in mind and saw the two lights several times after that. They don't always appear in the same fashion, an example of those lights is during the satanic rabbit-play scene where one of the female rabbits is holding two candles. It appears quite often in the movie. At first I thought it could represent lost girl's eyes as she watches Sue struggling, but at some points it doesn't seem to make sense that way. I've only watched it once yesterday so I don't remember every scene where it could be seen or even what it could mean at the time. So I'm gonna watch it again next week to see if I can make any sense of it.

Anyway, does anyone might have an explanation for this ?
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Mulligan on July 16, 2013, 11:36:06 AM
You can watch the movie 1000 times and still have no better understanding of anything in it, at least on a conscious level, until you read my study.  Here is the link:

http://www.amazon.com/Lynchs-INLAND-EMPIRE-Explained-ebook/dp/B004LGS7I6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1373992345&sr=8-1&keywords=lynch+inland+empire

This film goes so much deeper than most people give it credit for, but that's been the strangest thing, just convincing people that the film CAN be understood.  Only film has this problem, other writers or artists never have to deal with this.  I'm assuming because film is such a pop culture medium, at least since art films stopped being popular by the end of the 1970's, and most films are easily understood.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on July 16, 2013, 12:06:33 PM
I just bought your book. I'll read it and post my thoughts here.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on July 16, 2013, 12:10:36 PM
Hi everyone,

I just read the analysis, hoping to find an explanation of something I found watching the movie, however it was not mentioned. During the movie and even from the earliest scenes, we can see two lights appear. The first one I saw was in the background, such as in an alley or something. I don't quite remember since I only saw the movie once yesterday. And I know it wasn't accidental because it was very clear two little yellow lights in the background. I didn't think much of it the first time but kept it in mind and saw the two lights several times after that. They don't always appear in the same fashion, an example of those lights is during the satanic rabbit-play scene where one of the female rabbits is holding two candles. It appears quite often in the movie. At first I thought it could represent lost girl's eyes as she watches Sue struggling, but at some points it doesn't seem to make sense that way. I've only watched it once yesterday so I don't remember every scene where it could be seen or even what it could mean at the time. So I'm gonna watch it again next week to see if I can make any sense of it.

Anyway, does anyone might have an explanation for this ?

It can't be coincidental, so I'm guessing it does have spiritual meaning. Does anyone else remember the two lights being in the original Rabbits series as well? I think I do...
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Mulligan on July 16, 2013, 02:12:56 PM
Sounds great, it will be cool to hear your thoughts...if you don't like it I will literally get your address and send you you're money back!  I've never offered that before but you've been respectful and legitimately want to understand the film.

Thanks!

-Mike
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on July 16, 2013, 02:52:31 PM
I'm a bit more than 1/4 the way through, writing a lot of notes. Love your analysis of the rabbits, Roma lore, etc. Finding much of the other content not as convincing. I will have a lot more to say when I'm done. I might have to revisit the film to be fair.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Pubrick on July 16, 2013, 08:39:46 PM
I might have to revisit the film to be fair.

No! You're not allowed to do that! You could watch it ten thousand times and be no closer to understanding anything in it! It's all about the book, the BOOK is the thing, don't you see? Read that a thousand times instead!

The movie is nothing more than supplementary material for the BOOK!
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Mulligan on July 16, 2013, 08:45:28 PM
haha That's the kind of sillyness you encounter on the internet.  What he's talking about is following along WITH the book while watching the movie.  But it's fascinating how much people disrespect Lynch by reducing his work to the level of any other film that doesn't require any background knowledge.  Imagine if people did that to other artists and writers, there would be no more college art or lit classes that's for sure. haha

People like Pubrick are the main reason I put out the book, because arguing on message boards with people who have no interest in Lynch, understanding INLAND EMPIRE or serious discussion got really old really fast.  At least now it's reserved for only the intellectually curious INLAND EMPIRE fan, not internet trolls like Pubrick. :)

But that's why nerds on a message board are nerds on a message board.  They have no concept of the real world and no influence in it.  They exist just to tell people their favorite band sucks and their favorite director is a hack.  These are people who have never read anything, written anything, made anything, or put anything they've ever done out into the real world.  And when you explain INLAND EMPIRE to them, something they could have never done on their own in a million years, they have no clue what you're talking about.  But such is the life of irrelevant internet message board geeks. haha
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Mulligan on July 17, 2013, 12:33:52 PM
So far I haven't heard anyone say anything intelligent on this entire site about anything related to movies (other than myself), I've just seen a bunch of internet message board geeks doing what internet message board geeks do, I'm hoping Blackman comes in to save the day with something intelligent!
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Reelist on July 17, 2013, 12:50:37 PM
Please do save us, Jeremy.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Mulligan on July 17, 2013, 01:08:57 PM
Please save them from understanding INLAND EMPIRE!  The last thing they need is to be introduced to the real world, message board geek world is so much better for them. haha
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: jenkins on July 17, 2013, 01:22:39 PM
your writing kicks the shit out of your advertising, and i'm worried about you, dolphins, reelist and me not having another reel world chat about film noir, and trayvon martin. you're watching another lynch movie and you just gotta figure it out. you can do it. you can do it!

it's too crazy. i'm laughing too much. there are letters for how much laughing i'm having
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on July 17, 2013, 01:39:38 PM
So far I haven't heard anyone say anything intelligent on this entire site about anything related to movies (other than myself), I've just seen a bunch of internet message board geeks doing what internet message board geeks do, I'm hoping Blackman comes in to save the day with something intelligent!
Please save them from understanding INLAND EMPIRE!  The last thing they need is to be introduced to the real world, message board geek world is so much better for them. haha

Speaking as an admin here for a moment, you need to adjust your attitude and stop randomly insulting people. There's an interesting and civil discussion to be had about your book, but you haven't been doing yourself any favors in the last 24 hours.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Mulligan on July 17, 2013, 01:55:01 PM
umm, last I checked I was doing you people the favor of making you aware of this book.  Talking to snarky, uneducated internet geeks who criticize anything anyone says in order to make themselves feel better about their lives (I'm guessing), isn't really you people doing me a favor. haha
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Reelist on July 17, 2013, 02:05:58 PM
fuck your book, dude. You can't even spell.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: jenkins on July 17, 2013, 02:08:22 PM
you're fucking up your advertising. the mission. please remember the mission
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Frederico Fellini on July 17, 2013, 02:14:57 PM
(http://static.comicvine.com/uploads/original/1/13291/775643-ban_him.jpg)
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on July 17, 2013, 02:18:57 PM
Banned.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: KJ on July 17, 2013, 02:27:49 PM

But that's why nerds on a message board are nerds on a message board.  They have no concept of the real world and no influence in it.  They exist just to tell people their favorite band sucks and their favorite director is a hack.  These are people who have never read anything, written anything, made anything, or put anything they've ever done out into the real world.  And when you explain INLAND EMPIRE to them, something they could have never done on their own in a million years, they have no clue what you're talking about.  But such is the life of irrelevant internet message board geeks. haha

one of the members of xixax made a feature film with casey affleck and rooney mara. another one is making great music videos with hundreds of thousands views on youtube. this board is filled with talent and people doing good in the real world. you wrote a fucking 40 page essay on a movie you like. do the fucking math, dude.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: polkablues on July 17, 2013, 07:45:16 PM
Here is the YouTube video Mr. Lidstone uploaded (under the username "David Lynch") to advertise his ebook.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UmkIP1Un4KY

To understand this video, you really need an understanding of World War II-era numbers stations, the founding principles of the dada movement, and to have been dropped on the head firmly and repeatedly as a small child.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: KJ on July 17, 2013, 08:44:14 PM
I am laughing so hard right now.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Frederico Fellini on July 17, 2013, 08:52:32 PM
[fb link removed]



^ had a picture of honey boo boo as his facebook profile picture.... this dude is obviously not a loser.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Pubrick on July 17, 2013, 09:45:33 PM
Freddie i don't think we need to go there, that looks like it's his personal fb page.. although it's hard to tell since he seems to define himself by this one essay he wrote.

Anyway, i'm sad that i missed all the fun. Brett's post was fucking spectacular.

It's fascinating to me to see once again the classic flame out of the internet paranoiac. he was so deluded about everything on this site and the people in it, where the hell was he getting that from? if he had spent just one minute outside of this thread looking over the extensive kubrick, pta, and other kinds of analyses we have posted, he would have realised he was actually among brethren.

but that's where i made a mistake, his kind is not actually the kind of person who likes to talk about movies and hear different theories.. he's convinced the world is against him (not just xixax) and that he is the only person who can make sense of the conspiracy. that's why his book retroactively justified INLAND EMPIRE.. the movie to him really was just supplementary material for the real truth, which was his book. as someone who likes to write a lot of shit about my favourite movies and filmmakers, i'm sorry but that was total bullshit. that was the first major alarm that this dude was insane. he is on par with the dickheads who think kubrick faked the moon landings, these people are too far up their own ass.

the only real incontrovertible truth in any work of art is the work itself. any interpretation is, apart from being highly subjective, never 100% definitive. as i've said elsewhere at length, the complete work usually reflects the world in a way that goes beyond even the author's intention. the artist doesn't have to be an expert in every field in existence but their insights might resonate with every thing that does have truth. so if you're an expert in architecture you will find yourself reflected in 2OO1 as much as the dude who only thinks about mushrooms-as-catalyst-for-evolution.. Terrence Mckenna and his ilk. that's the mark of a true work of art.

i don't think INLAND EMPIRE is such a work, it may well be just a shitty puzzle for insane people to find solace in. that's the problem with Lynch and his obscurities, it encourages obsessive puzzle solving which distracts from the real truth of the film. that's why i love the Straight Story, i guess. i think for the most part he is instinctive in his creations, the truth comes from the connections between things and the strange resonance his films have with our reality. yes we're all in a dream, but it can't all be a dream, or else there is no movie (as kubrick said about EWS).  the truth is the bits that bind the two.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: modage on August 02, 2013, 07:34:29 AM
JB, I gave your piece a shout-out in my rundown of 8 Established Filmmakers Who Reinvented Themselves With Risky Low-Budget Efforts (http://blogs.indiewire.com/theplaylist/8-directors-who-hit-the-reset-button-on-their-careers-with-risky-low-budget-efforts-20130731).
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on August 02, 2013, 08:22:47 AM
JB, I gave your piece a shout-out in my rundown of 8 Established Filmmakers Who Reinvented Themselves With Risky Low-Budget Efforts (http://blogs.indiewire.com/theplaylist/8-directors-who-hit-the-reset-button-on-their-careers-with-risky-low-budget-efforts-20130731).

Whoah, very nice, thank you!  :yabbse-thumbup:
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Wavecrest on August 03, 2013, 06:40:51 PM
I read Jeremy Blackman's post and it explained nothing.  I bought Lidstone's book and it explained everything.  Not here to pick a side because I don't know either of them, just came across this on Google looking for new stuff on Lynch.  I read this thread and then went to Amazon and Lidstone's book blew me away.  Just sayin!

Should also note that it's halarious to read people on IMDB guesse and make up wild theories about the movie.  Especially about AXXoNN...my university library has the book Lidstone identifies as being the source of it and I went through it and he's definitly correct on that.  When I saw the movie again I thought it might be ruined for me but I just enjoy it more now.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: polkablues on August 03, 2013, 07:11:15 PM
This clearly impartial observer with an IP address from the same town as Mulligan has convinced me! Reinstatements all around!
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: jenkins on August 03, 2013, 07:55:04 PM
JB, I gave your piece a shout-out in my rundown of 8 Established Filmmakers Who Reinvented Themselves With Risky Low-Budget Efforts (http://blogs.indiewire.com/theplaylist/8-directors-who-hit-the-reset-button-on-their-careers-with-risky-low-budget-efforts-20130731).

Whoah, very nice, thank you!  :yabbse-thumbup:
that was nice! i almost missed this news

because of the other news. hmm
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Pubrick on August 04, 2013, 08:17:06 AM
I read Jeremy Blackman's post and it explained nothing.  I bought Lidstone's book and it explained everything.  Not here to pick a side because I don't know either of them, just came across this on Google looking for new stuff on Lynch.  I read this thread and then went to Amazon and Lidstone's book blew me away.  Just sayin!

Should also note that it's halarious to read people on IMDB guesse and make up wild theories about the movie.  Especially about AXXoNN...my university library has the book Lidstone identifies as being the source of it and I went through it and he's definitly correct on that.  When I saw the movie again I thought it might be ruined for me but I just enjoy it more now.

this is "halarious".. what a fucking nutjob!
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: 03 on August 06, 2013, 02:39:37 PM
aw poor guy
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: World Citizen on August 10, 2013, 03:50:31 PM
I just registered to thank you, Jeremy, for this wonderful interpretation. Usually when I watch a Lynch movie it goes like this:


I will never have real "closure" on a film like Inland Empire and will never be able to tell the "story" of the film to another person. I'm happy about that too.

Reading your thoughts on Inland Empire makes me instantly want to watch the rabbit shorts (which I kind of "kept for later" until now) and of course then watch the film again.

Some thoughts going through my mind right now regarding the rabbits. My first impression of the rabbit room when I first watched the film was: "Waiting room? Lodge? Spirit (rabbit) going through the door?"


So I'm still wondering: is this some kind of waiting room in purgatory where these 3 main protagonists wait for the "next go-around" in this game of "when will the bill be paid?"?  And is lost girl really the first version of the abused, unfaithful wife or has this been going on for ages since the old folk tale was created/the curse was cast?

Not really looking for an answer here, just sharing my thoughts on this (although you're of course very welcome to give your opinion on this).

Again: thank you very much, Jeremy, for all your work on this interpretation. It definitely adds to may enjoyment of Inland Empire!


Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on August 10, 2013, 05:07:14 PM
Excellent, thanks!

That Jane Rabbit quote ("This isn't the way it was") really stuck with me too, which is why I relished citing it at the beginning of my "Dream Origin" section. It's a great piece of prose that cuts to the core of the movie. I don't remember when exactly Jane Rabbit says that (it's just during one of the long rabbit scenes, right?), but it's as if she's pointing out her own figurative nature, which makes it pretty funny. I think it also refers to the reliving mechanism itself, which transforms actual events from Sue's life to draw out meaning from different angles.

This I think is mostly what makes the film so beautifully complex. Unlike Mulholland Drive, which distorts reality and rewrites history with its rose-colored fantasy full of excuses and absurd rationalizations, Inland Empire has a dichotomy. The Nikki Grace fantasy, which is mercilessly obliterated, and the reliving, which is so mysteriously dark and complicated, negative and positive, and seemingly unending.

I am pretty busy the next couple days, but I want to respond in more detail...
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: World Citizen on August 10, 2013, 05:31:39 PM
Thanks. And take your time. I will surely come back to this thread after I watched it again (and the rabbit stuff).  :yabbse-smiley:
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: World Citizen on August 11, 2013, 06:45:47 AM
Ok, just watched the complete rabbit stuff, here are some thoughts:

First a quote I found on the internet:

"In many mythic traditions, rabbits and hares were archetypal symbols of femininity, associated with the lunar cycle, fertility, longevity, and rebirth. But if we dig a little deeper into their stories we find that they are also contradictory, paradoxical creatures: symbols of both cleverness and foolishness, of femininity and androgny, of cowardice and courage, of rampant sexuality and virginal purity. In some lands, Hare is the messenger of the Great Goddess, moving by moonlight between the human world and the realm of the gods."

Thoughts:

The solo scenes  of Jack and Suzie: both times they say "something's wrong". Both times they mention the smiling teeth.

The solo scenes of all three: The burning match in the background. They start some sort of chant. They disappear in the end.

Smiling teeth: reminds me of Sue's/"phantom reflection Sue"'s face of smiling teeth. Suzie sings: "Dark smiling teeth". The face of your own evil.

The burning match: reminds me of burning the hole in the silk. Does it open up a hole in their "inner cage" in order to realize and overcome their evilness?

The chanting/humming: Jacks "Oh, Oh, something's wrong, oh" which turns into "Ommmm" followed by humming. The chanting of all three characters and especially the "Ommmm" reminds me of chakras as part of transcendental meditation. The whole solo scenes to me have a strong feel of realizing/understanding. Meditating to overcome the inner evil and achieve purity?

I would like to quote from your interpretation: " The funny thing is that the faces are the same, but the roles are very much switched around. It's quite possible, in fact, that we can extend the Lost Girl/Sue reincarnation to some of the other characters—to Smithy and Doris Side at the very least. Yes, I'm suggesting an ensemble reincarnation. It's as if the characters from the massively tragic Old Poland drama are made to experience the same story again, but this time—in Inland Empire—from different points of view."

Audience laughter: when they refer to time. They wonder how far they've come in their process of getting free from this purgatory. This is met by laughter because they still believe they can resolve this by waiting for something outside to remedy their situation.  Laughter when Jack asks "did he say anything?" No, dude, you can't "solve" this by having others tell you the "truth". You have to find it inside yourself.

Applause: when they free themselves in the solo scenes by facing (all that talk about darkness, fire, blood, etc...) and overcoming their evilness. Problem with this: I can't quite fit in the massive applause when they enter through the door. Is it for coming back? Doesn't make sense because being in the room means they still fail to reach enlightenment. My guess is the applause is for the things they did outside, playing their part in the ongoing "realization process".


Puzzling this together:

The three characters/rabbits all reincarnate. But with switched roles. Why? To get enlightenment by experiencing the "drama" from another perspective. As you wrote in part 3: "There would be obvious spiritual reasons for this — expansion of experience, development of empathy, perfection of the soul, and good-old-fashioned karma."

When the three rabbits are in the room together, waiting to go for "another round" they try to understand but fail. They still keep their secrets ("Noone can know"), they are still trapped in their incomplete state of mind.

In the solo scenes, they begin to understand. When they reach enlightenment, they simply fade from the waiting room/purgatory. They don't go out the door, because that's not the escape route. It's the inner reflection and understanding that frees them.





Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: DotanG on September 10, 2013, 11:56:56 AM
Hi, Iv'e just registered, firstly for saying JB that I respect your amazing work!

I was watching it few years ago, and it was a kind of disappointment for me as a lynch fan, I guess mostly because
it look to me as an unsolved mystery, and also because of the DV cam look.. :/

Few years after, I became a cinema student, and now doing a seminar on complex narratives - what led me
to watch it again - It still was a difficult experience, but also arousing for understand the core of
this film.

My seminar work is about the relation between this movie and transcendental meditation.

Your work helped me alot!

There was an interesting comment of DBeyond on the second page, which left without any answer.. (the evil Mulligan disturbed..).. maybe if you can write something about it.. thank you!

 
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on September 10, 2013, 12:03:51 PM
Hi, Iv'e just registered, firstly for saying JB that I respect your amazing work!

I was watching it few years ago, and it was a kind of disappointment for me as a lynch fan, I guess mostly because
it look to me as an unsolved mystery, and also because of the DV cam look.. :/

Few years after, I became a cinema student, and now doing a seminar on complex narratives - what led me
to watch it again - It still was a difficult experience, but also arousing for understand the core of
this film.

My seminar work is about the relation between this movie and transcendental meditation.

Your work helped me alot!

There was an interesting comment of DBeyond on the second page, which left without any answer.. (the evil Mulligan disturbed..).. maybe if you can write something about it.. thank you!

Excellent! Thanks for the kind words.

I guess when I first saw it in the theater I enjoyed the punishing experience... both the confusion and the DV look.

I will look at DBeyond's post now...
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on September 10, 2013, 12:45:41 PM
-> I liked the fact that you imply that the actors are fake and the characters are real. That's funny and has a ring of truth to it, but I think this thought has miss guided you in this part. Clearly Sue and Nikki are linked by the same body and Sue is aware of Nikki and vice-versa.

If you're accepting Nikki Grace as an entity, realize she's a construct. It's uncontroversial that Sue is imagining herself as Nikki, right? Or am I taking that for granted? That's the first domino that falls in the movie; Nikki realizes that she is actually Sue, and that Nikki is a construct.

"At 1:13:50, Sue looks down and sees a more desperate version of herself sitting on the floor, looking up with terrified eyes. Is this the same doppelganger? Is this a representation of the prostitute state?"

This is Sue looking at Nikki, in fact there are 2 ways you can look at this:

 1- Nikki got insane, that suffocating rubber clown suit.
 2 - Or that's Sue, and she is dead inside, she is going to kill Smithy - whatever the reason is, murder is never a sane thing to do. It's not good for the soul.

In that scene they both see each other. In fact I think Sue's conscience grows after doing that silk thing, a very spiritual thing, and she is going to put a stop on that "spell" that forever-repeting-tape.

So in the walk of fame, I always saw it has a mirror of what could have been. Remember that Doris is going to kill, who ever is the one on the other side, Sue or Nikki. But she doesn't know that something has changed and she will die for it.

Putting the Sue/Nikki confusion aside...

That doppelganger could very well be Nikki flickering back into existence, however briefly. I think that would make sense. I'll have to watch the movie again to see if that phenomenon would have any meaning in those particular scenes. Those are some of Sue's most desperate moments... maybe she's tempted to relapse back into the Nikki fantasy.

2 - Who is the blurry-faced man in the opening hotel room scene?

There is one thing you didn't mentioned on the explanation and to me it helped a lot figuring a lot of the things out.

I know they shot things on Poland and the movie (the original) was on Poland, but what you are seeing is the 47 the GERMAN film. That's what Kingsley says.

So what you call Old Poland is infact 47 the german movie. The blurry opening scene is a scene from that film. Lost-Girl was a character in that film and she became trapped in it, that's why Sue goes to that apartment.

In a way you can see that corridor has a big hotel (Lynch likes hotels for metaphors, like on Lost Highway) with lots of rooms and in those rooms there's always the same story, the lost of innocence or the never-ending-repeting-story of INLAND EMPIRE in all it's different versions.

That's also an explanation for the Rabbits. Kingsley says that the original GERMAN film was based on a POLISH FOLK Tale, so it's ok for it to be filmed in Poland and in Polish. But the rabbits are the FOLK TALE.  There's a tale in Poland about 3 rabbits being a representation of god, or whatever suits you better.

But your thoughts about them being in the PURGATORY are real and it fits all of this. In fact I already had notice on the "Rabbits" show that they all talked in the past, so I always assumed they were dead.

And if you pay attention the Rabbits have the EXACT same HOUSE has Sue's, only in Green. For David, green is the divine, hope, and all that comes it with. And they play the film again.

So if I explained myself just right. Polish Folk Tale (origin, Rabbits)->47(GERMAN FILM)->On High on Blue Tomorrows (REMAKE).

I think David's smallest mistake was having the Old Poland scenes in POLISH, it would ring in peoples mind if they were talking in GERMAN. Maybe he just found that out latter.

In fact you can see Jack The Rabbit on the same table has Nikki/Sue, that's the beginning of the story, like Visitor #1 just said, "a boy...and then the variation".

In fact in the beginning Jack The Rabbit gets out of the house and then it appears the PHANTOM, it's all ok: the reflection and EVIL followed the boy"

Wow, this is some good stuff... thank you for that. I feel bad now that I forgot to read your post initially. I certainly wouldn't have had to buy Mulligan's ebook, which by comparison doesn't deal directly with the film at all. Hopefully you come back and chat some more.

In fact I think this was the major thing that hadn't quite crystallized for me. I mean I guess it was there, but it was a bit fuzzy. Perhaps this doesn't reveal anything completely new, but it definitely brings the core of the movie into sharper focus.

I'm impressed (and honestly surprised) that these loose ends are being tied up so clearly. How is that even possible, with the intuitive way Lynch claims to have made the film? I suspect false modesty, because things are simply fitting together better as the film is further analyzed.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Neil on September 10, 2013, 03:39:09 PM
I think I may like this thread more than I like the film.

Maybe it's time to watch this sucker again.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Voo de Mar on September 23, 2013, 06:33:22 AM
Hi.

I want to say I enjoyed JB your "Halfborn" analysis of the movie (excluding color of the background - I hate reading on black  :)). If you've analyzed other Lynch movies, please give me proper links, I'd like to read them too. My question to all other members of the board: is there an interesting article/thread comparing "Blue Velvet" & "Lost Highway"? I've recently re-watched these three movies, and it puzzles me whether it's purposeful connection between 'Jeffrey Beaumont' & 'Pete Dayton' when they're displayed on deck chairs in the gardens.

I've got two rather unimportant remarks though, considering "Halfborn":

1) I think "soulmate" is an inadequate term to the relation between Lost Girl & Sue. They aren't neither "soulmates" nor "soultwins", but I'm not sure which term suits the best to their connection since I'm not a specialist of the "incarnation stuff".
2) In the "After Midnight" explanation of the Part 4, you mention Visitor #2 referring to Visitor #1 (played by Grace Zabriskie)

I'm native Polish speaker so I'm eager to help if something written in Polish, related to the IE requires translation.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: chalfont on December 27, 2013, 01:03:28 PM
Notice that the gun is placed on a green coat when Laura Dern's character picks it out from the drawer.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: movan on December 28, 2013, 12:33:37 AM
Sorry, I don't have time to read all the previous posts to find out if what I'm going to say has already been covered.

First, let me thank Halfborn for the great analysis of Inland Empire.

Regarding one of the on-going mysteries you mentioned on Page 4 of the site, what Sue says at 1:52:22, if you turn on
the French subtitles options the translator puts in Tu ecoutes?  I guess it means, "Are you listening?" To which Billy answers No.

Now, maybe Sue (or Dern) stumbles are her line and they kept the garbled (due to the character's stress) intact.  Some how the French
translator translated the right word.  I'm pretty sure the garbled word starts with "L" and ends with "ing" or "in'" in a southern type pronunciation.

So "Are you listening?" might be the best resolution that mystery.

cheers,

Mo.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: chalfont on December 30, 2013, 08:55:37 AM
Where is "the eye of the duck" in IE?
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: SamFZGames on January 17, 2014, 12:42:13 PM
Sorry to dig up an old topic, but I'm new here, love this movie, and wanted to talk to people about it and help form theories.

I noticed people talking about AXXON N and where it comes from...

I would happily dismiss it as "a cool image Lynch had in his head whilst meditating once", but considering that he had planned to create a web series with the name "AXXON N" before merging the idea (along with the Rabbits) into Inland Empire, I think there's more meaning in it than that.

Something a friend and myself noticed was that in both instances where it was written down (in chalk on a doorway right before all the otherworldly stuff begins, and in embossed letters on another doorway before Nikki confronts the Phantom), the "O" is small, or lower case, like this: "AXXoN", and the second N is always separated from the other letters, down to the right:

"AXXoN
              N"


In Michael T. Lidstone's book on the film (which I personally find to be a huge over-analysis, which, while it certainly has it's moments, doesn't seem to quite appreciate how Lynch makes his films... just a personal opinion) looks at Vladimir Propp's famous Mythology of the Folk Tale, which Lynch is apparently a big fan of, and, after originaly being a little bit unimpressed by the book's suggestion, after looking into it myself, there seems to be more to it than I thought... Because Propp uses symbols for common elements in folk tales (think of it like the Monomyth, only with more possibilities and outcomes) which can actually be put together to make a math-like formula to show a story's structure. They usually look like this:

(http://www.we-make-money-not-art.com/wow/6formula30_d143f3ceb6.jpg)

The reason I gave the theory a second thought was because looking at the symbols, I noticed that Propp's "o" is always small/lowercase whilst most of the other roman letters Propp uses are capital (including A, X and N).

If you convert AXXoN N into a Propp formula you get this story:


That sounds kinda good to me - the phantom puts a curse on a woman (which I think could be his unfaithful wife, but that's for a whole other discussion), which sends her (and later Nikki, hence the second X) into confusion/the unknown, Nikki has to lose her identity (become unrecognised) to defeat the Phantom and save them both. I wondered if the two X's were the two women lost in the unknown, and the two N's are the task of freeing/redeeming the lost girl and also slaying some of Nikki's own inner demons. I can't quite think why the second N is one line down from the rest of the letters, but it must be significant if it was that way on both instances.

So I guess the simplest way to think of this theory is that AXXoN N, if translated to Propp form symbols, could mean "A journey into (and back out of) the unknown", representing the way Inland Empire is a whole new structure of story.

Maybe I'm talking a load of rubbish, but the small "o" really stood out to me, I read that Lynch is into Propp, and the small "o" is consistent with Propp's structure of myth symbols. I'm really curious about the separation of the last N, it's even pronounced "Axon N" the only time it's ever spoken audibly (right at the very beginning of the movie), further emphasising the devide between the two N's (so it's AXXoN N, not AXXoNN),  if my theory has any ground, I wonder what the significance of the two resolved tasks being so separate is, or if it's implying that AXXoN is the main story and that a completely separate task is resolved due to it all... Any thoughts?
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on January 17, 2014, 01:58:51 PM
Bravo!  :yabbse-thumbup:

As you suggest, that all seems like a stretch at first, but we don't actually have any reason to be so dismissive. Lynch is supposedly so spontaneous and intuitive, but really, I believe that less and less the more work is done on this movie. Your post is perfect evidence of this.

I don't believe for a moment that Lynch has told the full story of his creative process. Maybe it's false modesty, maybe it's exaggeration on his part, or maybe it's misdirection. Perhaps he'd just rather hide those intricacies for fans to discover later. That shouldn't be surprising.

If anyone knows of instances of Lynch being more candid about mapping things out etc., post them! I really haven't watched or read enough Lynch interviews.

Anyway I think you're onto something. And you're definitely right that the second N is meant to be separate. Maybe having it offset underneath is simply a way to emphasize that separation. I always liked the offset aesthetically; it makes it seem more gritty and sinister like it was scratched on the door by a demon or something.

As for the formula, I don't see anything to disagree with. You make a good argument. The fact that Lynch is a fan of Propp does seem like a smoking gun.

About Lidstone... he may have some interpersonal challenges (as shown by his brief stay here), and his book does cross that line of overanalysis so dramatically that it begins to read like straight parody of academic writing, but that doesn't mean he's completely wrong. The part of his book about folktales is really good.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: SamFZGames on January 17, 2014, 04:30:25 PM
Thank you!

Wow, it's cool to see the authors of two great Inland Empire analysis' in here, it's a real shame that Lidstone had some problems accepting that some people didn't want his book and got himself banned, because I thought he had some pretty interesting theories on some parts of the film (a couple of which I subscribe to myself since reading his book), it's a pity he took people's disagreement to heart.

Anyways, Jeremy, I loved reading your analysis, I read it a few weeks back, nice to stumble upon you "in person" (online)! Some of it cleared some of the film up a lot for me, but I couldn't agree with the most fundamental part of your version - the idea that Nikki is a construct and Sue is the real person. If you'll allow me to, I'd love to talk to you a little more about that idea though.

My problem with that idea is that, in the nicest way possible, it feels like you basically tried to apply the twist from Mulholland Drive to Inland Empire without really looking at IE as a separate entity to it (many people refer to IE as a sort of followup to MD but once you get past the "actress in hollywood" part I can't imagine the two being much more different!). The thing is, the theory that Mulholland Drive is a dream until Betty becomes Diane (which I STRONGLY believe to be true) has a couple of huge clues/anchors in the movie, moments which pretty much confirm the theory. The first shot of the film is a PoV shot of somebody going to sleep on a pillow, there are constant references to being "in a dream", the cowboy says "time to wake up"... Inland Empire, at least as far as I can see, has no tangible clues that Nikki is a construct and that Sue is real (if you can point a few out, I'd love to hear them).

On the contrary, after Sue is "killed off" in the alleyway scene, she is referred to as Nikki from that point and it is Nikki who slays the Phantom and she even appears in Nikki's home again at the end. After her death on Hollwood boulevard, Sue seems to be no more. I, myself, find that I interpret Sue as Nikki's way of understanding the Lost Girl, her "Americanisation"/"remake" of her so that she can experience her life in a way she'd understand it.

And yes, I definitely believe that Lynch knows what he's doing, and that Inland Empire is not neccessarily just 3 hours of nonsensical things that Lynch thought would look cool on film. Thing is, every time he's interviewed, for whatever film, he just waves his hands around and talks about "ideas", but from time to time he's been clear that Inland Empire has a clear-cut story and even though he shot scenes not knowing the outcome, there was a moment when a narrative came together, and Barry Gifford revealed a lot about Lost Highway that Lynch kept secret, so I believe Lynch just intentionally keeps everything under wraps so we can continue to interpret things our own way. Likely he learned a lot when the network forced him and Mark Frost to reveal Laura Palmer's killer in Twin Peaks and it essentially killed people's interest in the show. It's true, too, once Ben Kingsley revealed the entire plot through exposition at the end of Shutter Island, it was over, but Mulholland Drive STILL has me thinking to this day.

OH, and, a quick thought on Lynch mapping things out a little more, never forget his 10 clues for Mulholland Drive. Those clues seem like the words of a man who knows the answers to his mysteries, and as I mentioned, he has been quoted to say that Inland Empire has a clear cut story in it somewhere, and that although it was shot as the script was being written, there was a moment where it all came together.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on January 17, 2014, 07:01:46 PM
My problem with that idea is that, in the nicest way possible, it feels like you basically tried to apply the twist from Mulholland Drive to Inland Empire without really looking at IE as a separate entity to it (many people refer to IE as a sort of followup to MD but once you get past the "actress in hollywood" part I can't imagine the two being much more different!). The thing is, the theory that Mulholland Drive is a dream until Betty becomes Diane (which I STRONGLY believe to be true) has a couple of huge clues/anchors in the movie, moments which pretty much confirm the theory. The first shot of the film is a PoV shot of somebody going to sleep on a pillow, there are constant references to being "in a dream", the cowboy says "time to wake up"... Inland Empire, at least as far as I can see, has no tangible clues that Nikki is a construct and that Sue is real (if you can point a few out, I'd love to hear them).

On the contrary, after Sue is "killed off" in the alleyway scene, she is referred to as Nikki from that point and it is Nikki who slays the Phantom and she even appears in Nikki's home again at the end. After her death on Hollwood boulevard, Sue seems to be no more. I, myself, find that I interpret Sue as Nikki's way of understanding the Lost Girl, her "Americanisation"/"remake" of her so that she can experience her life in a way she'd understand it.

The unraveling that happens as the movie proceeds in its first hour is to me its greatest delight and completely central to its meaning. The "gazes of emerging reality," the way the facade falls away piece by piece until Nikki finds herself in Sue's world... I guess this is an Occam's razor situation where my interpretation seems the most logical explanation that I feel is not meaningfully contradicted.

Who/what calls her Nikki at the end? Kingsley, but who else? (It's been a while since I've seen the movie, so I could be forgetting.) Kingsley is of course going to call her Nikki; he only exists there as a ghost image tempting Sue to indulge the "Nikki Grace" fantasy. But Sue is in the middle of a total existential epiphany. She dismisses and ignores him precisely because she knows he's not real and not important. The faux-death caused her to realize she was dead for real. This is immediately followed by her seeing Lost Girl "as if she sees herself," which she can now fully digest because she knows she's dead. (I'm not sure if you disagree with this part, but if you do I could go on and on about it.)

I guess what's important is what states she's in, which we still might disagree on. My interpretation has been that Nikki/Sue is in three states in the movie, separated by (A) the "Sue meets Nikki" moment and (B) the faux-death on Hollywood Blvd.

I don't really view any of those states as incarnate reality, since I believe she's dead at the beginning and any scenes that might represent her incarnate life (which, if they exist as such, are clearly mixed with "reliving" scenes like the barbecue scene) are not happening in real time.

That she is dead at the beginning seems self-evident to me, if only because the unraveling in that first hour is so dramatic and clear. The gauzy dreaminess that is evident in almost every scene starts to become more troubled, and as Nikki walks into that darkness, it's like falling into a pit of complex reality, confronting this post-life journey that finally can't be avoided any longer.

I just find it hard to buy another explanation. Can you lay out your interpretation of her states? What state is she in at the beginning, if not some kind of dream or death state? Because I'm not sure I could ever buy that as reality. If that is reality, what actual thing precipitates the transition and sends her on her existential journey? Does she die walking away from the table read?

Anyway, speaking of Mulholland Drive, I'd be interested in your opinion on that too. I did a brief analysis (http://xixax.com/index.php?topic=1285.msg123289#msg123289) a long time ago but have been thinking about revisiting it and seeing which parts I'm wrong about.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: SamFZGames on January 19, 2014, 03:16:22 PM
Thanks! I will head into that thread soon and give my opinions :)

In the mean time, responses to your thoughts on IE:

I think your theories are awesome, don't get me wrong, but similar to your theory on Mulholland Drive, I think they seem more like "a great interpretation" than "he's cracked it!", if that makes sense.

Quote
Who/what calls her Nikki at the end? Kingsley, but who else? (It's been a while since I've seen the movie, so I could be forgetting.) Kingsley is of course going to call her Nikki; he only exists there as a ghost image tempting Sue to indulge the "Nikki Grace" fantasy. But Sue is in the middle of a total existential epiphany. She dismisses and ignores him precisely because she knows he's not real and not important. The faux-death caused her to realize she was dead for real. This is immediately followed by her seeing Lost Girl "as if she sees herself," which she can now fully digest because she knows she's dead. (I'm not sure if you disagree with this part, but if you do I could go on and on about it.)

Yeah, I can see what you mean with that one, and it'd make sense why she ends up in the Rabbit room (47) and why she looks quite sombre, but then not long after that, she is back in the mansion with Grace Zabriskie's character, and I don't think that moment would exist if the fabricated character of Nikki had been 'purged'.

But I think my belief in the twists of these films is slightly different to yours - I felt that after I "cracked" Mulholland Drive (and ended up with the same explanation most people seem to now), there were so many clear-cut, and obviously intentional, clues in there (if a chunk of a movie begins with a head hitting a pillow and ends with somebody waking up I think that makes the dream theory very clear), and I feel that if Lynch had decided that Nikki was a fabrication, he'd put something much clearer like that in there. If anything I feel like Nikki clearly enters and then "returns from" Sue's reality. Not to demean your theory, it was a brilliant read, and a huge chunk of it helped me to form a better understanding of the film, I'm just not sure that particular idea helps to make things any clearer, in fact I think it presents new problems. That being said, if you apply the "unreliable narrator" idea to IE then a lot of the odd moments in it certainly start to fit in better.

Quote
That she is dead at the beginning seems self-evident to me, if only because the unraveling in that first hour is so dramatic and clear. The gauzy dreaminess that is evident in almost every scene starts to become more troubled, and as Nikki walks into that darkness, it's like falling into a pit of complex reality, confronting this post-life journey that finally can't be avoided any longer.

I can buy that one, I don't subscribe to it (yet) but it does work. A part of me feels that some of the dramatic elements are lost if it's all just a dying dream or afterlife though. Sometimes I think about that idea though - Nikki/Sue could be going through her post-life journey, paying off her "unpaid bill" (and this would explain why Camilla from MD shows up at the end). Sometimes, just for fun, I imagine it being Diane Selwyn in the afterlife, where her "unpaid bill" is what she did to Camilla. It's silly, but it can be fun thinking of it that way, especially with the Camilla cameo.

Quote
Can you lay out your interpretation of her states? What state is she in at the beginning, if not some kind of dream or death state? Because I'm not sure I could ever buy that as reality. If that is reality, what actual thing precipitates the transition and sends her on her existential journey? Does she die walking away from the table read?

Right, you ready? :D

My strongest interpretation of Inland Empire (the one which I find it doesn't contradict too much, makes me enjoy the film the most, and the one I mostly found myself seeing in it the very first time I watched it) is best explained by comparing it to the Silent Hill video game series.

The town of Silent Hill has a very lovecraftian origin, contains a hellish purgatory which a person is called to and has to endure to sort of attone for things they've done, but the special thing about Silent Hill is that it's very subjective - rather than just punishing a person by having things jump out of the shadows, they essentially take a journey into the darkest parts of their own subconscious. People, creatures and even geometry morph into metaphorical manifestations of a person's fears and regrets. In Silent Hill 2, the protagonist's own intense, repressed guilt for something he did is given physical form and terrorizes him with a giant blade. Silent Hill also uses abstract images and things to 'mock' the character. It's usually left up to interpretation whether or not the character is even alive.

Why do I compare it to this? Well, I believe that the Phantom's curse is very similar. It sends Nikki into a world of confusion, causes her to completely lose sight of who, where and even when she is (to the point where at times I like to say "If you think you understand Inland Empire, you don't understand Inland Empire" because being lost and confused is the whole point of Nikki's journey). The "Lost Girl" is experiencing this curse already, and after reaching it's peak, ends up stranded in the hotel room, possibly unable to leave. Nikki has been chosen to redeem and free the lost girl by "remaking" her experience (via On High in Blue Tomorrows), "becoming" her (Sue is her vessel through which she becomes the Lost Girl and relives her experiences in a way an American would understand) and defeating the Phantom with the help of the Rabbits. I believe Piotrek is pulling the strings of this whole thing to try and bring the lost girl back (hence the seance and always appearing to be watching it unfold). A lot of moments in the Polish story mirror moments in Sue's story uncannily, and when you add the scenes from "more things that happened" they become even more uncanny, which leads me to believe that Sue is Nikki reliving the Lost Girl's experience. So the Phantom's curse sort of sent the Lost Girl into "Silent Hill", and by shooting the movie, they're sending Nikki in to 'retrieve' her (and I believe Nikki had to become unfaithful with her co-star to 'trigger' it). I also partially believe that neither the Lost Girl nor Sue ever became prostitutes, but rather the prostitutes (who all seem to break the forth wall a little, as if they see things a different way) are a manifestation of the Phantom (or the girls themselves) calling them "whores" for committing adultery...

There's a lot more to it but I try to keep things simple and brief (relatively!!), I hope you found some of this interesting!
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on January 19, 2014, 04:20:30 PM
Interesting! I have a lot of responses to that, including some defenses... Unfortunately I don't think I'll have time in the next few days to put it together, so stay tuned I guess.

But for a lot of this, I think it comes down to legitimate differences in the way we prefer to interpret the movie, with the meaning remaining largely the same.

Just briefly, this is one important difference: You prefer to see Nikki on both sides of the Sue journey, but I prefer to see that final "Nikki" as Sue/Nikki after she's achieved enlightenment, fully crossed over, etc. since that seems to be what's happening in the final series of processes. So I view that as totally distinct from the Nikki we meet in the beginning, the one that's deeply confused and being badgered by the visitor.

You would probably respond that, of course that's true, but they're both still Nikki, and the second one is enlightened after her weird Sue journey. I think that's totally legitimate and fairly persuasive, but the reason I'm not willing to buy it personally is that I feel like "Sue's journey" is designed as a gauntlet of spiritual progress through a specific incarnation with Lost Girl watching along. It would lose so much of its meaning for me if it were simply a fiction designed to teach Nikki about things. Why not teach her those things through an actual incarnation, not a hallucination? It seems more harrowing and meaningful to me that she has been trapped in a post-life journey for so long.

The "I lost a bunch of years" clue is key to me here. Along with the time period incongruity between Nikki and Sue. It makes sense chronologically that Sue has been on a post life journey for many years. Those feel like concrete clues to me.

The alternative, that the Sue hallucination/fantasy/curse is arbitrarily retro, is unconvincing to me.

Well, I didn't think I'd go on, but I did. I think I'll still have more to say later.

I'm definitely eager to hear your opinions on Mulholland Drive. I'm open to thinking I'm wrong there, since I haven't spent much time on it.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: SamFZGames on January 29, 2014, 08:40:18 AM
Hey Jeremy

No matter how I interpret the movie (and my "Silent Hill" one always fits almost perfectly when I watch the film), I still have trouble properly incorporating the Lost Girl into things properly. Most of my 'loose ends' tend to come from her.

Anyways, something I've been thinking about Inland Empire is that, since Lynch came up with ideas for segments, filmed them, then worked out how they all connect later on, it's worth considering where those ideas would have came from and why. He's also said most of his ideas now come to him through transcendental meditation, so I think it'd definitely be worth studying the reading of dreams and the visions known to be associated with meditation. I bought a copy of the film for a friend of mine who practices transcendental meditation and has studied it and read all about what the different visions mean and how they link, asked him to tell me how he interprets it. Some of the moments I described to him he's said are quite similar to what he has been through during meditation, including seeing a person take on the form of a freaky version of one's self, which is then blinded/absorbed by light. The image of the Phantom Laura Dern nightmare face freaked him out also because he said it reminded him a lot of when he met his "shadow self" in a trance (something to do with bettering yourself is to find the darkest part of yourself or something, and meet it). He also talked to me about how it has appeared as a different person (the Phantom?) and that he was often terrified to go near it even though it wasn't directly posing any threat to him at the time (the Phantom doesn't ever actually physically attack Nikki, but he inspires deep fear in her when she comes near him). Apparently the idea is to merge with/integrate this "shadow self" to gain better understanding and more control of the darker side of being a human, or sometimes it's even just seeing it and accepting it. I think this connects to a concept in Jungian psychology, the "shadow". I will read a bit more about it when I have some more time:

Quote
"The shadow personifies everything that the subject refuses to acknowledge about himself" and represents "a tight passage, a narrow door, whose painful constriction no one is spared who goes down to the deep well". If and when 'an individual makes an attempt to see his shadow, he becomes aware of (and often ashamed of) those qualities and impulses he denies in himself but can plainly see in others — such things as egotism, mental laziness, and sloppiness; unreal fantasies, schemes, and plots; carelessness and cowardice; inordinate love of money and possessions — ...[a] painful and lengthy work of self-education".

I'll definitely be interested to see what he has to say about the film. Lidstone was right in saying we should read a bit into Polish and gypsy lore if Lynch did, and I think we should also look into the method Lynch used to get the ideas, since he practically let his subconscious write this movie in a meditative state.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on January 29, 2014, 10:58:00 AM
Fascinating stuff!

Maybe that early doppelganger is just what you said, an early emergence of the reflected evil we see in the Phantom's face. It's the simplest explanation and causes less headache than a lot of other possibilities.

I'm interested in what Lynch said about ideas coming to him through TM. Any particular interviews I should check out?

You reminded me I need to respond to the Mulholland Drive thread...
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: SamFZGames on February 07, 2014, 11:46:40 AM
I've been trying to source these interviews I mentioned, but not getting much luck right now, I guess I'll have to ask that you take my word for it for now, but I'll keep looking.

Interestingly, the other day I stumbled on an article which, at one point, insisted that Lynch believes in reincarnation, and Googling "David Lynch reincarnation" seems to return a couple of results where people mention that he believes in it in interviews with him, though I can't seem to find the sources of when he has originally said he does. That interested me, though, because for me that brings a much more solid link between the Lost Girl and Nikki/Sue, and her "unpaid bill" could potentially be sins inherited from her past self...

Unfortunately none of the UK releases of IE contain "More Things That Happened", but I obtained a copy of it (through means I won't discuss here...!) to watch, since a lot of websites imply that the deleted scenes that make up MTTH are supplementary and canonical, and they did seem to clear things up quite a bit when I last watched it, so I may go through MTTH again and report back here.

IE is a real mind-boggler, whilst I believe Mulholland Drive and Lost Highway are quite clear once they've "clicked", IE seems to present a never-ending labyrinth of loose ends (which is kind of fitting since it's all about confusion).

Something I say to people watching IE sometimes is "If you think you understand Inland Empire, you don't understand Inland Empire", because I believe the curse attached to the phantom is a curse of madness, that the accursed would lose their grip on time, reality and their identity, and so we (the audience) go through the same crisis as Nikki/Sue/Lost Girl, following a narrative thread which keeps getting tied in knots and splitting apart, but retaining just enough coherence to keep us TRYING to follow, so that we don't give up and pass it off as a mess of meaningless scenes, but we find ourselves lost, frustrated and uneasy. I think that this unease, frustration and total confusion builds us up to prepare us for the Laura Dern scary clown face phantom scare at the end, which is all the more effective after nearly 3 hours of despair.

Don't get me wrong, I'm definitely not in the Roger Ebert "there is no meaning, Lynch just makes a bunch of stuff the thinks is cool and presents it as a film" camp, I resent that suggestion, and as you wrote in your HALFBORN analysis, it's lazy, but I think "Nikki/Sue gets completely lost in a world of confusion" is an appropriate explanation for a lot of the film, I just feel that the link between the Lost Girl and Nikki/Sue is something tangible.

I also try to avoid some of the "Nikki is a construct of sue" theories (though I really enjoyed reading yours and I'm willing to be convinced if I can find a clue as prominent as the clues I mentioned from Mulholland Drive) because my gut tells me Inland Empire is more simple than we think, and that we can't see the forest for all the trees when we look TOO deep into it. I don't know why, but whenever I watch it, the "characters A and B only exist in character C's head" trope doesn't seem to sit right with me.

I notice that when the Lost Girl is watching the TV at the beginning, several times it shows her witnessing the rabbits and the events of the film, but then reveals that she's just staring at static. I'm not sure if by staringing at this static she is able to meditate and see into Nikki/Sue's world, if the TV is supposed to be switching to and from static, or if it's to imply that the entire thing is in her head, but I struggle to buy the idea that it is all inside of Lost Girl's head due to the way the ending pans out, since Nikki and Sue still seem to "exist" after she is freed.

Gah, Inland Empire hurts my brain.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: crumbledfingers on February 16, 2014, 11:30:28 AM
Jeremy, first I want to thank you for your original analysis. It stands up to what is presented in the film and supplementary materials. And I wanted to chime in on a few topics that you did not give as much attention to, that I think may improve your thesis overall. Or not. I will let you (and the forum) decide.

1. The Phantom in Sue's universe has a name, and a rather descriptive one: Crimp.

In fact, I'm almost positive that Mr. K.'s line on the telephone before "He's around here somewhere" is not "hmm?" as you suggest, but "Crimp?"

The visitor with the watch confirms this as well,just before Sue investigates and encounters Crimp with his light bulb.

As an allegory, I think of Crimp as a metaphorical "crimp in the fabric" of time and space, which Lynch connects to his imagery of the silk being folded over upon itself. As to the meaning of this bit of wordplay in the larger context of IE, I don't really know. I just believe it is probably significant because of its repeated mention from several characters.

Crimp, as a possible reincarnated form of the abusive man in Old Poland, may indeed be from North Carolina originally in Sue's timeline, and the fact that his one-legged sister appears briefly in the ending credits lends a little support to the idea that Sue was correct about his history.

2. Billy, like the Lost Girl, looks different from his counterpart in the original series of events. In other words, just as there is no Laura Dern in old Poland, nor is there a character played by Justin Theroux. What do you make of this? The other pieces of the drama recur with the same appearance, sometimes multiple times (Piotrek).

It makes me wonder if Billy is more important than he appears. Sue chides him as being immature in their interactions, as you point out... doesn't she actually call him a "little boy" at one point? That would cast another layer onto the story told by the new neighbor.

It would also be another phrase whose abbreviation spells "L.B." Did you notice that a red line is crossing out those letters when Sue picks up the gun? I can't tell if the line was there before.

3. What about that screwdriver? It looks like the Lost Girl used it in her original murder in the stairwell. Then the hypnotized woman has it protruding from her abdomen. But in the actual assassination, Sue has it, having found it in Crimp's backyard, and the woman takes it from her first before stabbing her. In the Lynch 2 featurette, David is seen making it from scratch out of a mould or something, so I feel like it represents something, some kind of transfer between characters. Not positive about what it means.

4. Who is Sue's son and how did he die? This part of her monologue is shown twice, the second time literally in a "dark movie theatre". Is it a reference to the son to Smithy and Lost Girl, who appears at the very end? Or her own unborn child, Billy's, who is clearly never allowed to gestate even to the point where Sue starts showing signs of being pregnant? I feel like the film would have worked perfectly without this tidbit, and without the boy at the end, so it's frustratingly apparent that I'm missing something.

I think this film is largely Lynch playing with tropes that suggest deeper significance but are in fact only vaguely meaningful. The repeated phrases often linger unresolved, seemingly recurring just for the sake of making the viewer ponder. "Look at me, and tell me if you've known me before!"

6. Lastly, another sense of "half-born" that wasn't included in your analysis: Nikki confesses to Piotrek's parents that she doesn't speak Polish, to which his mother immediately remarks "a half..."

RT
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: The Ugly on February 20, 2014, 05:17:56 PM
First of all, thanks JB for the amazing and complete analysis. I had done something similar for Mulholland Drive. But INLAND EMPIRE just fried my brain  :) ...
I've printed your analysis (hope there's not a problem) and already read it twice, while taking notes.
I will watch the movie again tonight. Trying to connect all the dots.
Still, there are some points that didn't make too much sense to me.

1 - Your presentation of the sentence: "A little boy went out to play. When he opened his door, he saw the world. As he passed through the doorway, he caused a reflection (not ghost or evil are mentioned). Evil was born. Evil was born, and followed the boy."
The Visitor #1 do not mention any ghost or evil while talking about the "reflection". So why do you assume that the reflection is The Phantom.

2 - Why is The Phantom real in Old Poland (the cheated husband) and then turns himself into The Phantom (the keeper in purgatory and "guide" to Sue)? Something to do with the "entrance/door" he was talking with Janek in the beginning of the movie? Was this in some way his own purgatory? Saving these connected souls because of the man he killed? (young Smithy in Old Poland)

I will watch the movie and keep in touch. Thank you very much for your work.

PS - I noticed you talked about a Lost Highway analysis. Is that one around here somewere? If yes, were could I find it. Thanks again ;)
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: SamFZGames on February 21, 2014, 10:33:17 AM
Holy guacamole... I'd been going over Inland Empire in my head for a while now and right now the hairs on the back of my neck have stood up, because a theory has popped into my mind that potentially explains everything... I mean, I need to watch it again now but going through it in my memory I can't find a single scene which doesn't make sense with this theory, including in More Things That Happened... I'm not going to claim I have the solution or anything, but this is the most solid one I can put to it yet and if it's anywhere near true, David Lynch has made one hell of a dark movie right here...

So I was looking through some other people's explanations of things, reading people's theories on what AXXoN N could mean, and JB's Halfborn analysis (this one helped me a lot, JB!) and... God, I MAY be onto something here... I'd love to hear your opinions on this...

So I'm going to go ahead and try and explain this conclusion I may have come to and the elements that lead me to it.

The most popular interpretation of AXXoN N seems to be that it's supposed to mean "axon" - the connector of synapses and nerve cells. If AXXoN N acts as a doorway or portal, or a 'connector' between the different realities in the film, and it means "axon", then perhaps this is a strong clue towards the film being very psychological/mental, and less spiritual.

Like other people I've also applied logic from Lost Highway and Mulholland Drive (since I believe these two have been "solved" for the most part) and the "tropes" included inside of them... I used to see Inland Empire as quite a spiritual movie with the rabbits and the phantom, but I always felt it seemed a bit strange that Lynch would follow a first person film about a psychogenic fugue and a similarly first person film about a person's dream/fantasy with something spiritual. Both Lost Highway and Mulholland Drive are about people who have gotten lost in another reality they have created for themselves, but both are told from the PoV of this character, invoking the "unreliable narrator" trick. This also dates back to Lynch's first movie, Eraser head, so this is obviously a style of storytelling he holds dear.

I'm sure nobody's going to contest that Inland Empire goes down the unreliable narrator route; I doubt anybody out there thinks that every single thing Nikki/Sue sees is physical or chronological, but a lot of us have been looking at the Nikki/Sue connection as something more akin to Lynch's previous masterpieces whilst looking at the rabbits and the phantom as something more spiritual. I'm actually not so sure about that part anymore...

Lynch also has repeatedly said that with Inland Empire he shot lots of "ideas" as they came to him, including bringing in ideas from his web series' and his cancelled web series AXXON N, but then at some point during development, he worked out how they all connect, so now it's up to us to try and see the connection he did and work out what the true meaning behind the film is.

The most interesting thing about Inland Empire, in my opinion, is the way that even though it hits a point where nothing makes any sense anymore, you still care enough to see if Nikki/Sue makes it out of it all alive. When she is vomiting blood, you feel her pain, when she's scared and alone, you worry for her, and you want to see her come out of this safely. When she meets the phantom outside room 47 it feels like a "final encounter" and when she meets the Lost Girl it feels rewarding, it's as if we're all seeing the story subconsciously the same way Lynch did, but we're not able to rationalise it.

Notice the theme here? Subconscious.

Here's the part which suddenly brought everything together for me - If Lost Girl and Sue/Nikki are "soul mates" or "reincarnations", why do Piotrek, Krimp and Donna appear in all of the timelines as different people, and why do some things which are supposedly flashbacks to Lost Girl's life, seem to get so muddled up with Sue's, and even Nikki's? In More Things That Happened, why do some characters seem to just change completely, to the point where one character who is seen to be Polish through most of the film, claims she doesn't even speak Polish, why do some people remember things happening to others in the future, why, even after we believed things to be resolved, do doorways still lead to completely different places, which should be miles apart, and why, oh why, does the whole thing end up in a room full of characters believed to have no connection with one another, all having a party in Nikki's mansion? It's as if a whole bunch of different characters' stories are getting muddled up with each other, and merging at the end.

Let me quickly refer to Eraserhead, Lost Highway and Mulholland Drive again, and the way they're presented - In each case, what the character believes to be happening, is played on screen as if it truly is. So when Fred has created a whole new existence and world for himself in Lost Highway, the movie takes places within that world until things fall apart again - the movie is what Fred himself would have been experiencing. Similarly, the weird stuff that goes on in Eraserhead and Mulholland Drive is all seen through the character's PoV as well. I also think back to a great episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, where for one episode it's implied that the entire vampire slaying story and all of the characters are all in Buffy's imagination, and that she's been in an asylum the entire time, with the supposedly canonical side of the story saying that this itself was an illusion caused by a demon, but the episode never quite explaining if the demon was faking it, or if she genuinely has imagined the whole thing and will continue to forever (holy crap, it's pretty stunning TV, please go and check out that episode if you haven't seen it), and a fun psychological slasher film from a while back, called Identity, in which [SPOILERS] all of the characters being killed off turn out to be the multiple personalities of one man, and the murders are the result of a psychology session, in which his psychiatrist is having him mentally 'kill off' each one of his multiple personalities [END SPOILERS]. Finally, I wanted to mention the fantastic psychological horror game for the Nintendo Wii, Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, in which [SPOILERS] the protagonist is revealed to have died 18 years ago, and that you had been playing as a delusion in the mind of his daughter, who just can't let go of him, whilst the world you see turns to ice as the young girl tries to "freeze" her delusion in place[END SPOILERS].

In all of those examples, it's approached as if the person living a fantasy or alternate personalities, sees an entire living breathing world in front of his or her eyes which is thoroughly convincing, and the movie/game/show is "set" in that world until either a psychologist starts to break it down, or the delusion can no longer sustain itself.

Alright, I'll get to the point now. I believe that Inland Empire may be about a mentally ill woman with a whole bunch of different realities and personalities in her mind, as does occur in real psychiatric cases, and that almost nothing in the movie is physically real, though events in reality are affecting the things occurring in the film.

Let's call her Laura Dern for now...

Nikki the actress? Laura Dern.
Sue? Laura Dern.
The Lost Girl? Laura Dern.
The Rabbits? Laura Dern. At least one of them is.
The Prostitutes? Laura Dern.
The Phantom? Probably Laura Dern.

The murders may have occurred for real, notice how she is given several counselling sessions in a small, dank room. Prison cell? Psychiatric ward? (She DOES have a stamp on her hand...) She confesses several violent crimes to him in a foul-mouthed manner, without really showing much remorse or intent to keep secrets, a way a prisoner would, right? At first I thought Jack Rabbit was the counsellor, but it's clear that Jack Rabbit sits down in Laura Dern's place, on her side of the table.

Laura Dern's character has several personalities inside of her mind, each in their own world... A list of some of them:


There are more amongst the movie, I think several are also split into different versions of themselves too.

My girlfriend, who has been in mental health (for something very minor, but she met people who were full blown Schizophrenic) once told me that a person with Schizophrenia (not split personality disorder, though that can be a part of Schizophrenia) will turn the people around them into 'characters' in their fantasy/fantasies. One person might be "the mail man", one might be "my daughter" etc., even though they're just neighbours of theirs, counsellors, or people in the psychiatric home with them. For me, this explains why Piotrek, Krimp and Doris all appear to play different characters in different places and times.

In fact, based on how protective and controlling he is, and how he seems to just be "watching" all of the time, I wonder if Piotrek is Laura Dern's character's psychologist.

So, that gives an explanation to the worlds and characters and their connection, but what's happening? Well, something is happening, I believe it to be her going through therapy, hence the scenes where she talks about her past to a counsellor of some sort, and how they seem to outright interrupt the movie in random places, which is causing her realities to start breaking down, getting confused with each other, merging. Nikki starts to make a movie about Sue, Sue starts to see the prostitutes and finds herself in Poland, the Lost Girl starts seeing Nikki's movie on TV, each girl starts to 'become' the others, each starts to show up in the others' worlds. Oh look! The thing that connects each world is an AXON! ...Is it spelled AXXoN-N because it's broken and jumbled?

The Phantom is her most dangerous personality. He's the murderous one, who 'hypnotises' other women (her other personalities) into committing murders (I'm not sure if the story of the adultery and following murder is something which truly happened and is in her memory or if it's another construct, but I think it'd be safe to assume she's guilty of murder). He's the most important one to be gotten rid of, to prevent any more "BRUTAL FUCKING MURDERS".

The rabbits stand in a room and talk incoherently about something bad that happened... A murder of some sort... A man in a green coat... I'm going to find out one day. When will you tell it?

So what happens? Well, when Nikki's movie is made, some personalities are removed/resolved. Sue is killed in Nikki's movie. Stabbed and left to bleed to death. Nikki "wraps" and finishes her movie. Laura Dern's character (notice the "LB" stamp has returned, the only other time it's seen is during her counselling sessions...) confronts and kills off the Phantom, who doesn't go down easily (notice how dark, deep and winding the rooms and corridors are on the way to him, as if he's deep in her mind, and yet Smithy's house is right through the doorway behind him), but with a bright, blinding light, he is defeated, and as he goes down, he shows her a contorted version of her own face ("I AM YOU!!! THIS IS ALL YOU!!!"). She enters the sitcom to find the rabbits gone, and an empty auditorium (the sitcom has come to an end), she comforts the Lost Girl, sending her to her estranged family (oh look, one is Piotrek again), and as she stares into a light, her remaining personalities and constructs all come together in one room, free from the Phantom, and party. Is this all a therapy session? Has her psychologist(s) gotten her to destroy the destructive part of her, the Phantom ("It shouldn't be much longer now", he says), and to take out some of the other roadblocks in the process? Was the Lost Girl a more innocent part of herself which was locked away in a hotel room?

I'll have to give this one and MTTH a good, thorough rewatch, but at this moment in time I can't think of anything in the movie which doesn't actually work with this idea.

Finally, Lynch has explained in several movies that the name, INLAND EMPIRE, refers to the internal mind (Inland = Internal) as well as the place. If somebody has the link to one of the interviews in which he mentions this so I can cite it I'd be grateful. He also repeatedly says it's about "a woman in trouble". Not "women in trouble", "a woman".

If anybody is impressed with this (and doesn't think it's ridiculous), I'd like to invite you guys to watch the movie (and More Things That Happened) again with this interpretation in mind, and see if we can find any more evidence for it, or contradictions. It could be fun.

empire  (ˈɛmpaɪə)
 
— n
1.   an aggregate of peoples and territories, often of great extent, under the rule of a single person, oligarchy, or sovereign state


Inland Empire. An "aggregate of peoples and territories"... "inside of the mind"...





Or maybe I've just gone mad...
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on February 21, 2014, 02:37:05 PM
That could be true, but, I don't know, I just don't feel the pull with this one. It feels unneeded, and maybe too blankety. I try to resist the "it's all in his/her head" or "it's all a dream" interpretations. That's my bias. I don't like 'em. And I'm having really bad flashbacks to Sucker Punch right now.

So much would be drained from Inland Empire for me if I bought that. And it doesn't feel right; it doesn't make sense that it's all just stuff in a crazy person's head. The movie completely works when you accept the grounded elements, so why reject them?

Here's the part which suddenly brought everything together for me - If Lost Girl and Sue/Nikki are "soul mates" or "reincarnations", why do Piotrek, Krimp and Donna appear in all of the timelines as different people, and why do some things which are supposedly flashbacks to Lost Girl's life, seem to get so muddled up with Sue's, and even Nikki's?

The likenesses and repeated characters have always been central to my interpretation. They're living new lives in different roles simply to have those experiences. That kind of thing usually goes with a belief in reincarnation; the point is that you keep living lives to gain a diversity of experience, thus continuing to develop and perfect your soul, etc.

In the film, some of them end up on the other side of the same conflict, which seems to have obvious spiritual purpose. Both Old Poland and Inland Empire have the scenario with the abused/unfaithful wife, her tragic lover, the cheated spouse, the infertile spouse, and the cascade of death that results. Two things change: which spouse is abusive, and how the murders play out.

As for the muddledness, this goes to your point about the unreliable narrator, although I'm not sure the narrator is a character, and I'm not sure the concept of "a narrator" applies especially well to this film. If we forced ourselves to nail it down to one character-narrator, it's Lost Girl in purgatory, certainly not Nikki/Sue.

Anyway, that muddledness is a result of us basically seeing everything, the whole mess. There is not a distinct point of view, as such. We see the Nikki Grace illusion, then we see Sue's reemergence and post-life journey, potentially at least partially through the eyes of Lost Girl, we of course see Lost Girl's perspective, and we continue to see Sue's post-life journey poignantly mixed with and compared with Lost Girl's life, as if influenced by Lost Girl's perspective but also as if it's being fed to Sue as she reviews her life. The mixing is the point, because Sue and Lost Girl are connected souls, gaining insight from each other's experiences throughout the film. You can see that message and that mechanism happening so clearly almost from beginning to end.

It the film isn't a literal representation of spiritual mechanics, it is at least using them, very explicitly but perhaps figuratively, to express its ideas about progress through experience, enlightenment through reflection, self-actualization, and everything else.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: The Ugly on February 21, 2014, 03:52:57 PM
I am so excited... I've solved it today. Well, 98% of it.
I will work on it and post it here.
Just some topics.

The Rabbits ARE the key. Check who they are.
The Rabbit-Man, the Rabbit-Woman (his wife) and the Rabbit-Maid. Now this is in Room 47 right? The name of the script-polish tale? 47. So I believe the fairy tale, or whatever, to be represented by the rabbits. The Rabbitt-Man is having an affair with the Rabbit-Maid. His wife knows. Well this story is shared by the two lead characters of the film. Two connected souls. Lost Girl & Sue. But they have different roles in it. In Sue's case, she is the Rabbit-Maid, Billy the Rabbit-Man and Doris, The Rabbit-Wife. Check what they say. "I have a secret".... And the wife won't truly see what he means , she talk about something else. The audience laughs. The rabbit -maid : "When will you tell her?" ... :)
Now for Lost Girl... And this just blew my mind away and scare the shit out of me.
"Who is she?" we ear the prostitute guides ask Sue. Well I think she (the wife of old poland Smithy) is not the character of "Doris" look alike. She is Old Poland Smithy's wife. Yes. But his wife is in fact the Lost Girl. A woman who was cheated and couldn't have kids (funny thing, this "role/curse" was later passed on to Smithy, the "reincarnation" of her husband :twisted: ... karma?). Her husband was having an affair. With who? The maid. And who was the maid? Doris look alike. So... Lost Girl, kills them both. Mad... We see her being "attacked " by The Phantom. Evil?! ... I think so...
She shares another fate with Sue. They both become prostitutes. In fact. And that's what the images in the beginning of the movie are about. She working. The Phantom/Crimp is the hard part. He could be her pimp (not on the streets... the safety of safe our house) but is just strange. Is the one thing it is weird. But I think the little boy tale makes more sense with this: A boy (probably the husband, ... well both husbands in the film) went to play and passed through the door, causing a reflection (probably the two, at least, phantoms that appear). Evil was born (THE PHANTOM) and follows the boy(s) ... following Smithy even when he runs away (I will talk about that later) to Poland and in Inland Empire, with Sue (that sees him in the house next to smithy's). And follows Billy and Old Poland Smithy (they both die at the hands of Evil).

Now about the Sue's story. (This is not one thing after another, in the same day. Probably happens during several days)
She cheated her husband with Billy and got pregnant. She told her husband about it he reacted badly because he can't have kids. Sue feels lost. She went and talk to Billy. He dismisses her and his wife snaps when she understands about the affair, Evil (crimp/phantom) takes over her. Sue goes back to Smithy's house. They talk and she and Smithy plan to kill Billy (OK, this is strange, but please stay with me on this). She calls Billy and he goes to her house. The scene from the beginning takes place (the scene with Nikky, Devon, Freddie and Kingsley). So:

Devon: Why you cryin?
Nikki: I'm sorry, Billy. I'm so sorry.
Devon: What?
Nikki: Oh, shit. Look in the other room.

In the other room is Smithy, who shots him.
Sue is affected by it but she think that things will go on just fine. She's pregnant, Smithy will accept her son etc...
But in the next day (after she relives what happened the day before, when Smithy poors ketchup in his shirt) a troupe of Poland circus men appears.
They all talk about something going wrong, or bad. I believe Smithy's called them, some people he knew from Poland,  to help. He will go with them. Leaving to another country. Escaping...
Sue is alone. She talks to her guides while Reliving this and we ear "We thought he was tho one", ...
So without work at Billy's house, she starts selling her body.
Doris, Billy's widow, snaps too.  And she kills Sue. Sue is now in Purgatory without destroying Evil (aka crimp aka phantom). Who had destroyed her soulmate (Lost Girl) and imprisoned her in her own purgatory because of both murders (the maid and her husband). Without paying the bill...

In the end, Sue shoots Evil (Phantom) who was trapping and destroying Lost Girl. She then meets with Lost Girl, her soulmate or reicarnation, and each one founds their Paradise/Palace.

Lost Girl will live forever with her husband Smithy and their son (her son too I believe,... hey, it's Paradise right?  :-D)...

And Sue will go on as her "alter ego" Nikky in her dreamhouse, not reliving her past even with her husband Smithy and the visits of his parents (I think) tormenting her. She can live happilly ever after being Nikky with all the characters she loves and created in her own story.

What do you guys think...
Help, please? Sorry about the English... I'm into this for 48 hours non-stop ...
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: SamFZGames on February 26, 2014, 03:19:21 PM
Hey guys, some cool posts!

My little interpretation there not doing much for you huh JB? That's OK.

Interestingly this new interpretation of mine is much more compatible with your analysis, you just have to shift some spiritual stuff to be more psychological. I'm trying to find the interview where Lynch said the title of the film was referencing the inside of the mind, like a person's own internal empire.

I think what got me started with it was how in your Halfborn analysis you quote Lynch talking with Laura Dern about who she looks through the TV and sees 'herself'. That does work with your soul mates idea, but I think there's more ground in it being either a reincarnation, or the same actual person.

The thing for me holding it all together are the counselling sessions with Mr. K which seem to come out of nowhere and pop up at random points of the movie.

I know that the way I had been interpreting Inland Empire before (literally and spiritually), if I had used that same logic on his other films, Mullholland Drive would have been about a magic blue mafia box that just turns people into other people and shifts their lives around for some reason, and Lost Highway would have been about a guy who gets framed for murder and then physically, magically turns into another person and then back again for no apparent reason. These don't really work for me at all.

The thing that makes it interesting here is that in Lost Highway, Fred's not really experiencing things quite right even before he turns into Pete - the videos show up, filmed from an angle nobody possibly could have achieved, as his memories linking him to the real world, and in Mulholland Drive, Diane is seeing a lot of hallucinations when she's not dreaming. So if Nikki is a construct of Sue, then that works, but a lot of the weirdest stuff in the film happens outside of that, and I do find it kind of tough to buy that the Rabbits are sort of deities.

But I'll continue watching it, with all the different interpretations I've read, see which stick the best :)
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on February 26, 2014, 04:49:26 PM
I think what got me started with it was how in your Halfborn analysis you quote Lynch talking with Laura Dern about who she looks through the TV and sees 'herself'.

Because this moment fascinates me so much I'm going to repost it here:

Lynch: And then you turn and look right into the camera.
[Lynch, aware of the documentary camera's presence, coyly whispers something totally inaudible in Laura Dern's ear.]
Lynch: [now in a medium whisper] She'll see you looking at her from the TV.
Dern: Okay. Okay.
Lynch: You know, like that. You're lookin' right at the camera.
Dern: [turning her face away, speaking in an audible half-whisper] And I'm looking at the camera as though I see myself?
Lynch: You see your—yeah, yeah.

It's especially tantalizing how he interrupts himself before completing the word "yourself"... and maybe he was tempted to say something else... "your _____."

That does work with your soul mates idea, but I think there's more ground in it being either a reincarnation, or the same actual person.

I regret using the term "soulmate" because it has so much baggage. The other term I used, "twin soul," is more appropriate. But their connections are so deep and interwoven that they could essentially be considered the same entity. Separate but the same.

And I kind of prefer that interpretation. We do see them merging at the end, and it aligns more precisely with the concept of "half born," which after all was a term coined by the movie itself.

So if Nikki is a construct of Sue, then that works, but a lot of the weirdest stuff in the film happens outside of that, and I do find it kind of tough to buy that the Rabbits are sort of deities.

Yeah, I don't think they're deities. They could be spirit world figures that are there to serve a purpose, or they could be projections of Sue's / Lost Girl's own consciousness.

The thing for me holding it all together are the counselling sessions with Mr. K which seem to come out of nowhere and pop up at random points of the movie.

It doesn't seem random to me, though. Sue seeks him out (consciously or not) when she is explicitly on her post-life journey. He could be a spirit world figure of some kind, but again, for the film's purposes, he could very well be Sue's projection. And I wouldn't even call it counseling. It's a device for self-reflection.

I know that the way I had been interpreting Inland Empire before (literally and spiritually), if I had used that same logic on his other films, Mullholland Drive would have been about a magic blue mafia box that just turns people into other people and shifts their lives around for some reason, and Lost Highway would have been about a guy who gets framed for murder and then physically, magically turns into another person and then back again for no apparent reason. These don't really work for me at all.

I think we should be open to the idea that with IE he was trying some new things, though. Even compared to Mulholland Drive, the movie takes a deeper dive into a world of mystery and confusion. It doesn't surprise me that he would employ new concepts for a more extreme film.

As I was saying before, if Inland Empire doesn't literally depict spiritual mechanics, it's certainly using them figuratively. It works for me either way.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: SamFZGames on March 16, 2014, 09:25:27 AM
My multiple personality theory doesn't hold up at all when I watch it back, looking at the outfit she is wearing, the fact that she's carrying the bag and the screwdriver etc. the film makes it clear that the "counselling session" happens in one sitting at one specific time.

Based on this I think it's worth looking at the timeline of events based on what Sue/Nikki is wearing, what items she is carrying etc.

Figurative spirituality works for me, I just never thought of Lynch as the kind who does literal spirituality. Not since Twin Peaks anyway, and up until things got REALLY weird, the black lodge stuff was all supposed to be just a dream.

I'm going back to my old interpretation (the one that occurs to me naturally when I watch the film, even on my first viewing), which is much closer to yours. I'll read through your analysis and watch it yet again :)

I do think your analysis makes a lot of things clearer, but I also think (no offence) it has a lot of holes in places.

Ooh, by the way! More evidence for my previously mentioned AXXoN N Propp symbols theory... Lynch's cancelled website, although in it's own pages referring to it in capital AXXON N, the Google search result page title looks like this:

(https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/27148256/Screenshot%202014-03-16%2013.53.57.png)

Notice how Lynch (or his web designer) has used the 'degree' symbol in place of the O. This makes it EXPLICITLY clear that that O is supposed to be small, and that it's not just a co-incidense that the O looks small and high up in the film. Again, the only place I can find an A X and N but where the O is small and sits higher up than the other letters is in Vladimir Propp's formulas, BUT, I think Propp uses a lower case 'o', not a degree symbol, and that page title could easily have been done with a lower case 'o' rather than the degree symbol.

Can anybody think of any examples of where a small circle, higher up, like a degree symbol, is used in place of the letter O?

I do think that when applying AXXoN N to a Propp formula (when you use X for unexplainable events as a lot of articles I've read say you are supposed to, but some neglect to mention it), what you get is quite uncanny, but I have my doubts after seeing that degree symbol (whilst it affirms my suspicions on that letter O being different to the rest).

When looking up the degree symbol on Wikipedia I get:

Quote
Other characters with similar appearance but different meanings include:
U+00BA º masculine ordinal indicator (HTML: º º) (superscript letter used in abbreviating words; varies with the font and sometimes underlined)
U+02DA ˚ modifier letter ring above (HTML: ˚) (standalone)
U+030A ◌̊ ring above (HTML: ̊) (applied to a letter)
U+0325 ◌̥ ring below (HTML: ̥) (applied to a letter)
U+309C ゜ katakana-hiragana semi-voiced sound mark (HTML: ゜) (standalone)
U+309A ◌゚ combining katakana-hiragana semi-voiced sound mark (HTML: ゚) (applied to a letter)
U+2070 ⁰ superscript zero (HTML: ⁰)
U+2218 ∘ ring operator (HTML: ∘)

None of these seem to apply... So I'm not sure if it was just a stylistic choice to use the degree symbol instead of the lowercase 'o', right now the Propp theory is the only thing I can apply to an O being explicitly small while the rest of the letters are large.

On the other hand, since the rest of the page title uses lowercase, it'd make sense why a symbol would have to be used to make the O smaller. Perhaps it's to do with the fact that Google don't allow all-capital page titles, though I'm not sure if that was the same back when Lynch was planning the web series.


I'm also intrigued by the "You look at your -- Yeah." thing. I will have to watch Lynch One back again sometime and listen to it to hear the tone he says it in, as in is he interrupting himself because 'yourself' wouldn't be the correct word, or is he genuinely thinking 'it's your soul twin/past self/doppelganger'?
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on March 20, 2014, 06:09:45 PM
Nice work on AXXoN N. Yeah, I'm still convinced the O and N are supposed to be offset, since they appear that way anywhere it's feasible.

I'm also intrigued by the "You look at your -- Yeah." thing. I will have to watch Lynch One back again sometime and listen to it to hear the tone he says it in, as in is he interrupting himself because 'yourself' wouldn't be the correct word, or is he genuinely thinking 'it's your soul twin/past self/doppelganger'?

IIRC, it possibly sounds like he's stopping himself because he doesn't want to reveal too much. He has to give Laura Dern enough info but knows the camera is right there. It's like "yourself" wasn't quite the right word for him, but it works well enough for Laura Dern's purposes.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Deep Thought on April 22, 2014, 06:17:16 PM
Hi Jeremy, I just popped in after reading your excellent analysis. I have not read all of this discussion, and maybe I am wrong, but I thought you have mentioned somewhere Lynch may have been trying "new" things in this movie. The first time I watched it I was immediately struck by many of Lynch's "old friends" like the room above the convenience store/the alley behind the marketplace. Many other obvious symbols appear throughout his films and I find it worthwhile to treat these last four films at least as one cohesive exploration of the intersection of the conscious and the spiritual. (i.e. the marketplace and the alley behind it).

Forgive me if you've covered this. I loved reading your thoughts and will watch IE again soon!
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on April 23, 2014, 04:50:09 PM
Thanks! I haven't covered that exactly. I think you're right, though. He's just taking it so much further with Inland Empire, into something whose spiritual nature is so screamingly obvious that the narrative can't be interpreted as just another Lynchian dream. This is why I think Inland Empire is so much bolder than even Mulholland Drive; it embraces magical realism and doesn't provide easy entry points. And he uses at least some new tools to do that. IE has all kinds of machinations that you wouldn't dream of seeing in one of his previous films.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Deep Thought on April 23, 2014, 06:23:34 PM
Agreed.  :yabbse-thumbup:

I look forward to watching it again with your ideas buzzing in my brain.  :bravo:

--------------------------------------------

So I just finished watching again after several years and am still convinced any analysis should incorporate at least TP and MD directly into the theory. Lynch lets us know in no uncertain terms his intentions in the final credits, which take place in the Red Room with the Lumberjack, the Monkey, and Rita, among others. (This is probably old hat to the IE forums, but I have been out of circulation for a while).

Striking thing watching the Clown Face knowing what I know now after your work. Very nice!
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Korova on June 01, 2014, 09:11:04 AM
So, I'm new here and I just wanted to thank all of you (of course especially JB) for the very insightful comments on this movie. :bravo:
Still there is one point which was left largely unanswered. It's about the end of "On High in Blue Tomorrows", when Sue dies. Contrary to this, in the beginning Nikki says to crazy Polish neighbor that there is no murder in the movie.
I get that this is kind of explained in your analysis, but just I can't wrap my mind around it. Something's off here. Did they change the movie's ending or was it always supposed to be so? Who changed the ending and why? Or is it all, because (if Nikki is the fantasy of Sue) Sue wanted her story to end without murder in the beginning, but it slips inside the movie (the allusion to murder in Scene 35/the murder of Sue in the end), which is a fantasy of Sue.
On another note, this was the scariest movie I ever watched... And somehow Laura Dern's Crazy Clown Face was always been there in the scariest moments. I think first the running (after the actual clown face), then "I'm a whore! WHERE AM I? I'M AFRAID" (is this the right quote?) and then the reflection of evil. :shock: The scariest moments of Mulholland Dr. were also about the confronting of the evil (the bum is the evil side of Diane, isn't it? Or am I wrong here?). God, this is so unorganized. (I guess, I have to get organizized)
Anyway, lovely movie. (the friend with whom I've seen it, swore to never see it again)
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Madame Wd on June 20, 2014, 08:32:04 PM
Hi Jeremy,
I registered just so I could post about your Halfborn interpretation of Inland Empire!  I want to thank you so much.  I have seen IE 6 times now and the first couple of times I was so freaked out by the movie I couldn't even begin to piece it together in any way that did anything other than disturb me and scare the pants off of me.  It's definitely the most intense film experience I've ever had and I value it deeply.  Unfortunately nobody I know is even mildly interested in David Lynch and pulling apart his work so I've been driven to the internet in hopes of some enlightenment.
Your thoughts on what is going on in this film really made sense to me and I am so grateful to have read them.  I watched the movie again after reading your words and it really does all fall into place beautifully with this understanding.  The idea that a spiritual cleansing is taking place and that Sue is moving through these sequences in order to reunite and "pay the bill" for the Lost Girl resonates in a huge way.
I would like to know what your thoughts are about some of the things in MTTH - do you think that LG and The Phantom are aware of their "past lives" together in the watch-buying scene?  It seems like The Phantom might know who she is but she is unsure of who he is.  Is this why he asks her to hold his hand for "12 seconds"?  So that she will connect with him and remember him and what he was to her?  And what do you think about the extended scene with the prostitutes on Hollywood Blvd?  I assume Blondie with Mohwak is trying to get their drug dealer on the phone to show up?  Why are the Spirit Guides in such a degraded state - Sue isn't around to be a part of this. 
I wonder as well about the scene in MTTH with Nastassja Kinski... clearly she has been seduced by Billy... I can't tell if Nikki/Sue is upset by this... she is in Nikki's house but she's wearing that blue dress and looks rather frumpy - she doesn't look like Nikki... but she also doesn't look grizzled and dark like Sue... who is this version?  She's the same version we see in the credits.  Is she Sue "redeemed"... is she who Sue becomes after she confronts and kills Her Own Evil and frees LG?  But back to Nastassja Kinski - ok here's something weird that occurred to me when I was watching MTTH again... she seems like a middling/halfway point between LG and Sue... she's got that vaguely Baltic accent and she kind of looks like LG but she's blonde and seems to be rather like Sue as well?... Your thoughts?
Another question for you - why does The Phantom incarnate as a human being in Old Poland and not incarnate as a human being in Sue's time?  Is The Phantom supposed to be a human being in New Poland?  I assume HE was the man who was supposed to be in the shed to which Janek took Smithy?  Was he human in New Poland but then he became a supernatural creature in the Inland Empire (Sue's world)? 
Also I'm confused about Smithy... is his trip to New Poland where Janek takes him to the shed BEFORE he meets Sue ...in other words, does he go to meet The Phantom at the shed, find out The Phantom has moved to the Inland Empire and then does Smithy move there in search of The Phantom, happen to meet Sue and get married to her OR does he leave Sue after finding out she's gotten knocked up by Billy and move back to Poland and THERE have the experience with The Phantom not being in the shed?  Or am I wasting my time trying to make this into some sort of chronology?
Ok, that's all for now.  I'll wait to see what response(s) I get.  Thanks again!!
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on June 21, 2014, 11:56:18 AM
Still there is one point which was left largely unanswered. It's about the end of "On High in Blue Tomorrows", when Sue dies. Contrary to this, in the beginning Nikki says to crazy Polish neighbor that there is no murder in the movie.

I get that this is kind of explained in your analysis, but just I can't wrap my mind around it. Something's off here. Did they change the movie's ending or was it always supposed to be so? Who changed the ending and why? Or is it all, because (if Nikki is the fantasy of Sue) Sue wanted her story to end without murder in the beginning, but it slips inside the movie (the allusion to murder in Scene 35/the murder of Sue in the end), which is a fantasy of Sue.

When Nikki claims that there is no murder in On High in Blue Tomorrows, she's simply wrong. Perhaps it's an illustration of just how deep her denial (as Nikki) goes. Even at the table read, they are describing a murder that happened:

Devon: Are you cryin'?
Nikki: Uh huh. Yeah.
Devon: You sorry bout last night?
Nikki: Are you?
Devon: Why you cryin?
Nikki: I'm sorry, Billy. I'm so sorry.
Devon: What?
Nikki: Oh, shit. Look in the other room.

Smithy/Krol being dead in the other room, of course.

The last "gaze of emerging reality" is what ends the table read, as Nikki walks away to meet (and "become") Sue. So the difference between her earlier denial ("there is no murder"), and then literally reading a scene that involves murder, completely makes sense.

On another note, this was the scariest movie I ever watched... And somehow Laura Dern's Crazy Clown Face was always been there in the scariest moments. I think first the running (after the actual clown face), then "I'm a whore! WHERE AM I? I'M AFRAID" (is this the right quote?) and then the reflection of evil. :shock: The scariest moments of Mulholland Dr. were also about the confronting of the evil (the bum is the evil side of Diane, isn't it? Or am I wrong here?).

I'm definitely not an expert on Mulholland Drive, but yes, I think you're right about that. I think Mulholland Drive is proto-Inland Empire in many ways. Lots of MD themes become explicit and enlarged in IE.

Anyway, lovely movie.

Hmm maybe that's how I should sell it to people.

Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on June 21, 2014, 11:57:08 AM
Madame Wd - first of all thanks for all the kind words! I haven't seen More Things That Happened in a while, but I'll try to answer from what I can remember and my notes.

I would like to know what your thoughts are about some of the things in MTTH - do you think that LG and The Phantom are aware of their "past lives" together in the watch-buying scene?  It seems like The Phantom might know who she is but she is unsure of who he is.  Is this why he asks her to hold his hand for "12 seconds"?  So that she will connect with him and remember him and what he was to her?  And what do you think about the extended scene with the prostitutes on Hollywood Blvd?  I assume Blondie with Mohwak is trying to get their drug dealer on the phone to show up?  Why are the Spirit Guides in such a degraded state - Sue isn't around to be a part of this.

Those scenes were also the most problematic for me, because they are definitely incongruous with the movie proper, even if you don't buy my interpretation (but I guess especially if you do). The solution: I don't think they have to be considered canon. Some of them, even most of them, do actually feel like "more things that happened" and enrich the movie. But others are so contradictory, for exactly the reasons you described. I interpret the ones that don't fit as things that Lynch set aside because they didn't fit. And I think that's fair.

The deleted scene with Nikki/Sue on the phone is pretty much proof of this. It's an amazing scene, pure Lynch... it's so great that the only reason to exclude it from the movie is that it doesn't make sense.

Another question for you - why does The Phantom incarnate as a human being in Old Poland and not incarnate as a human being in Sue's time?  Is The Phantom supposed to be a human being in New Poland?  I assume HE was the man who was supposed to be in the shed to which Janek took Smithy?  Was he human in New Poland but then he became a supernatural creature in the Inland Empire (Sue's world)?

Also I'm confused about Smithy... is his trip to New Poland where Janek takes him to the shed BEFORE he meets Sue ...in other words, does he go to meet The Phantom at the shed, find out The Phantom has moved to the Inland Empire and then does Smithy move there in search of The Phantom, happen to meet Sue and get married to her OR does he leave Sue after finding out she's gotten knocked up by Billy and move back to Poland and THERE have the experience with The Phantom not being in the shed?  Or am I wasting my time trying to make this into some sort of chronology?

That's pretty much my interpretation -- that the Phantom is incarnated as a human in Old Poland, but that his incarnation in New Poland and Inland Empire is supernatural in nature. He seems to have been in charge of the circus, so he represented himself as human, but his supernatural properties must have eventually supplanted that, since he eventually took on the role of guarding the purgatory.

Something just occurred to me, and just for fun I'll follow it... What if the watch-buying scene represents Lost Girl's imprisonment? Maybe that is a sort of visualization of what happened between the end of Lost Girl's life and being held in purgatory. It's kind of perfect, actually. Death represented by a Hollywood party. From my analysis:

There are many paintings on the walls, and pretty much all of them have something to do with falling into hell. Lost Girl enters the scene . . . She approaches the Phantom wanting to buy a lucky watch . . . We do get a better sense of Lost Girl's general desperation, I guess. But the scene appears to suggest (not even in a subtle way) that she sold her soul to the devil or something like that.

So maybe this conversation is what seals her fate (a figurative cinematic representation of that process). This would actually make sense with the self-directed model of spiritual progress that the rest of the film seems to follow -- Lost Girl "imprisons" herself. I think it's also valid to discard the watch scene, and this is just a theory, but I like it so far.

Anyway, back to what I was saying...

In terms of chronology, my interpretation is that Smithy's life in New Poland comes before (and probably immediately before) his life in Inland Empire. Here's the quote from my analysis:

The contemporary Smithy is born in New Poland and lives in New Poland for quite a while working with the circus. In the mean time, it's quite possible that he becomes aware of the injustices in his past life. When he is brought to the seance, he comes to understand that his past life lover (Lost Girl) has been imprisoned, that "the man he works for" (the Phantom) is somehow involved, and that he can be found in Inland Empire. Smithy goes to Inland Empire and moves nextdoor to the Phantom. He can't, however, confront the Phantom—probably because he knows what he'd be facing. Smithy's cowardice and his unsatisfiable desire for vengeance turns him into a bitter, angry, abusive man.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Helicopter on July 14, 2014, 08:02:34 AM
Hi all! First of all I think I need to say sorry to Jeremy Blackman for my nickname.. I tried several ones but they were occupied, and then this word came to my mind - of course because I've seen it many times reading this topic :D But at that moment I just didn't realize that.. So if I could ask you, JB, as admin, to change my nickname if possible..
Also I need to say sorry for my English, I think you've got it's not my native language. But I hope it's good enough to explain somehow my thoughts :)

Now more close to the topic. I've read your "Halfborn" article and I find it really great! It explains perfectly many things - especially about Phantom character, which was rather confusing for me.. So thank you for such a huge job!
But still I have some questions and misunderstandings.. Sorry if they would seem a bit stupid for you, possibly that's because I'm a bit lost inside this complicated plot - so I really hope that you could answer my post to make things a bit clear for me..

So the first one is related to murders in Sue's reality. You say that Smitty is planning (and actually killing?) Billy, and Sue is killing her husband Smitty.. And finally we have a dialog from “Blue Tomorrows” script, where Sue is talking to Billy and hints that there’s Smitty murdered in other room… But wait, how can be Smitty already murdered, if he still needs to kill Billy? Looks like paradox… Moreover, I didn’t find in the film any clear evidence that Billy is really murdered. Maybe I’ve just miss one?

The next thing is about Nikki – I’ve doubts if it’s just a fantasy (yes, I’m not original at this point). Again, let’s look at event sequence: you mean that Sue if actually killed, and only after that she imagines herself like successful actress, relives her own life, and performs some actions to kill evil represented by Phantom? Did I got it right?
So, effectively we have that both soulmates (Lost Girl and Sue) are dead, but while Sue if performing some mental actions (for how long time? for 45 years?), Lost Girl is trapped in the purgatory and has to watch everything that happens with Sue/Nikki. But when we use soulmates concept, it seems rather strange that both souls are not alive, doesn’t it? In which actual state the Sue’s soul is?
From my opinion, there’s one more thing saying that Nikki’s reality is at least something more than just a fantasy. And this if, for sure, Visitor#1 and #2 characters. I think you agree that this are clue characters and everything related to them is extremely important. And it’s rather evident that in fact these visitors are indeed the same person! If we accept that Sue’s reality takes place more or less in 1960, while Nikki’s one – in 2005, we have 45-year difference, and there’s no surprise that a middle-aged woman we see as Visitor#2 becomes old woman (Visitor#1)! And while they’re speaking about the same thing (unpaid bill) and even have the same facial gestures, it makes no doubt that it’s the same person, and in fact we have just one Visitor. (Sorry if this was already evident for you, but as I remember you don’t clearly mention this fact in article, so I decided to write about this rather detailed).
Moreover, there’s a scene where Nikki is maked up before filming, and film staff is talking about strange old woman who’s asking “Who is playing Smitty?”. Someone doubts they’re talking about this Visitor#1?
So we need to ask: could Sue of 1960 just imagine all that stuff about actress Nikki in 2005, visited by that strange woman, along with that complicated things the Visitor is talking about? I’m in doubt about that… Possibly we need to accept that Visitor is real person who acts both in 1960 and 2005, and she’s somehow involved and interested in all the things that are going on.
To conclude, you mentioned Occama razor in one of you posts – and with this “instrument” we should always pay attention in order not to cut something more than necessary… And actually it seems to me that some important facts related to Visitor, are cut.. And we can’t say it’s something unimportant, as the Visitor seems to be really clue characted…
I need to repeat that maybe I just lost the point, that’s why I hope to get your answer. Thank you in advance!
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on July 16, 2014, 07:01:49 PM
So the first one is related to murders in Sue's reality. You say that Smitty is planning (and actually killing?) Billy, and Sue is killing her husband Smitty.. And finally we have a dialog from “Blue Tomorrows” script, where Sue is talking to Billy and hints that there’s Smitty murdered in other room… But wait, how can be Smitty already murdered, if he still needs to kill Billy? Looks like paradox… Moreover, I didn’t find in the film any clear evidence that Billy is really murdered. Maybe I’ve just miss one?

The part about Billy having been murdered is indeed a paradox, but it's from a deleted scene. Paradox solved! (There are at least a couple other paradoxes introduced by "More Things That Happened.")

In reality, it becomes clear that Smithy wants to kill Billy, so Sue kills Smithy.

From my analysis: "These are basically two versions of the same murder story. The only difference is whether Smithy gets a chance to kill Billy before he himself is killed."

Again, let’s look at event sequence: you mean that Sue is actually killed, and only after that she imagines herself like successful actress, relives her own life, and performs some actions to kill evil represented by Phantom? Did I got it right?

Yes, I think Doris does in fact kill Sue, but to be clear, when that is represented in the film, it can be considered "reliving," since Sue simply gets up and walks away. (It's an imitation of Sue's actual death that happened a long time ago, which was probably visually similar, but still.) This play-death is what brings the reliving to a close and begins the journey to Room 47. It ends the reliving, because reliving that process of being killed makes Sue realize that she is dead. For the rest of the film, she very visibly has this spiritual awareness, and has completely transcended the illusion... which is brilliantly illustrated as she ignores and walks past Kingsley etc.

So, effectively we have that both soulmates (Lost Girl and Sue) are dead, but while Sue if performing some mental actions (for how long time? for 45 years?), Lost Girl is trapped in the purgatory and has to watch everything that happens with Sue/Nikki. But when we use soulmates concept, it seems rather strange that both souls are not alive, doesn’t it? In which actual state the Sue’s soul is?

I tried to explain the "twin soul" concept (still regret also saying "soulmates" as a shortcut), which is when one soul watches/empathizes/guides/learns as the other is incarnate. That's the simplest way I can describe it without getting too muddy.

When Sue says she "lost a bunch of years," yes it's unclear, but I do believe her spirit was in limbo on earth for all those years, her fantasy as Nikki probably taking up much of that time. And yes, Lost Girl observed Sue's life and Sue's post-life wanderings and relivings, which surely made that process even more agonizing. However, the purgatory probably exists outside of time, which is sort of customary with that kind of spiritual mechanic.

From my opinion, there’s one more thing saying that Nikki’s reality is at least something more than just a fantasy. And this if, for sure, Visitor#1 and #2 characters. I think you agree that this are clue characters and everything related to them is extremely important. And it’s rather evident that in fact these visitors are indeed the same person! If we accept that Sue’s reality takes place more or less in 1960, while Nikki’s one – in 2005, we have 45-year difference, and there’s no surprise that a middle-aged woman we see as Visitor#2 becomes old woman (Visitor#1)! And while they’re speaking about the same thing (unpaid bill) and even have the same facial gestures, it makes no doubt that it’s the same person, and in fact we have just one Visitor. (Sorry if this was already evident for you, but as I remember you don’t clearly mention this fact in article, so I decided to write about this rather detailed).
Moreover, there’s a scene where Nikki is maked up before filming, and film staff is talking about strange old woman who’s asking “Who is playing Smitty?”. Someone doubts they’re talking about this Visitor#1?

So we need to ask: could Sue of 1960 just imagine all that stuff about actress Nikki in 2005, visited by that strange woman, along with that complicated things the Visitor is talking about? I’m in doubt about that… Possibly we need to accept that Visitor is real person who acts both in 1960 and 2005, and she’s somehow involved and interested in all the things that are going on.
To conclude, you mentioned Occama razor in one of you posts – and with this “instrument” we should always pay attention in order not to cut something more than necessary… And actually it seems to me that some important facts related to Visitor, are cut.. And we can’t say it’s something unimportant, as the Visitor seems to be really clue characted…
I need to repeat that maybe I just lost the point, that’s why I hope to get your answer. Thank you in advance!

It actually never occurred to me that Visitor #1 and #2 are the same person. Interesting possibility! They're credited as separate characters, but that could mean nothing.

However, I don't think that can be used as clear evidence of anything, really. If the Visitor ages and Sue/Nikki does not, clearly either Sue or Nikki is not real, but it doesn't suggest which. I think that the best explanation, which fits with the rest of my interpretation, is that the Visitors are both spirit world figures reminding Sue of the debt. That idea connects with basically everything else that I've laid out.

I'm inclined to think the Visitors are not the same person. Their personalities, their level of passion, and their methods of persuasion are so different. (Although, maybe one is a manic episode, and the other is a depressive episode.)

It's like this, I think. When Sue was Sue, they sent the lethargic Visitor as a plain (but memorable) reminder. Then when Sue was deep in her Nikki Grace fantasy, they sent the psychotic woman for a decidedly less gentle approach ("brutal fucking murder!"), to snap her out of it, and to present her with enough incongruity that she would being to realize that something was very wrong, that her reality was not real.

To answer your PM:

I need to ask you one more question that's a bit confusing for me.. The term "New Poland" means "contemporary Poland", or is it just some region where Polish emigrants live?
Also a bit confusing is a "Baltic region", it's unlikely that there could be a radio-play in English in actual Baltic region of Europe.. But my guess is again that it's somewhere in USA where Baltic emigrants live, could this be right?
I'm not from USA as you can see, and that's why I've some doubts about film geography, so I hope you could help me at this point.. Thanks!

Yes, I used "New Poland" to mean contemporary Poland. As for the radio play being in English, I'm honestly not sure that's an important detail. Although maybe a case could be made... I'd need my memory refreshed.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Helicopter on July 29, 2014, 06:30:52 PM
I tried to explain the "twin soul" concept (still regret also saying "soulmates" as a shortcut), which is when one soul watches/empathizes/guides/learns as the other is incarnate. That's the simplest way I can describe it without getting too muddy.
Yes, I more or less understood what do you mean (for me I see no great difference between terms "twin souls" or "soulmates" in context of the film), but the fact that makes me uncertain is that we don't see the second soul indeed incarnated, but already dead and existing in "limbo" state or smth like this. The twin soul connection between soul in purgatory and limbo is somethat more complicated. Ok that still could be, but I wonder if Lost Girl was trying to guide her "soulmate" Sue while she was still incarnated and actually living? And how exactly she tried to do this, if yes?
In fact, it could be crucial to try to figure out, which events have really taken place in Sue's life and which ones actually have "happened" only in reliving. Such things as Visitor#2, her meeting with Phantom when she took screwdriver etc..


Quote
It actually never occurred to me that Visitor #1 and #2 are the same person. Interesting possibility! They're credited as separate characters, but that could mean nothing.

However, I don't think that can be used as clear evidence of anything, really. If the Visitor ages and Sue/Nikki does not, clearly either Sue or Nikki is not real, but it doesn't suggest which. I think that the best explanation, which fits with the rest of my interpretation, is that the Visitors are both spirit world figures reminding Sue of the debt. That idea connects with basically everything else that I've laid out.

I'm inclined to think the Visitors are not the same person. Their personalities, their level of passion, and their methods of persuasion are so different. (Although, maybe one is a manic episode, and the other is a depressive episode.)

It's like this, I think. When Sue was Sue, they sent the lethargic Visitor as a plain (but memorable) reminder. Then when Sue was deep in her Nikki Grace fantasy, they sent the psychotic woman for a decidedly less gentle approach ("brutal fucking murder!"), to snap her out of it, and to present her with enough incongruity that she would being to realize that something was very wrong, that her reality was not real.
About the Visitor, I noticed in one moment very distinctive head movement of V#2, that we can see also when we see V#1.. Behaviour and temperament can change, but some small gestures may not.. Moreover, the age difference between them seems to be perfectly equal to 45 years: if you see V#2 and you know that it's 1960, would you be surprised that she looks like V#1 in the year 2005? I think not. And I don't think that Lynch could make just a sort of co-incedence for such a crucial character(s).
Btw, we see V#2's watch, I can say even that our attention is forsed to see her watch for some moment. Isn't that the same watch which are sold to Lost Girl (or not her but someone who look like her?) in "More things that happened"? And which bring "good luck"? That's also something to think about..

Finally about V#2, I need to say that it's not just reminder - in fact, surprised (or scared) Sue went to Phantom's house exactly because of this talk (even if not immediately after that, like in film), and that launched the following sequence of events that resulted into her death. That makes me think of, how I said before - how did all this looked like in actual Sue's life, did all happened exactly as she sees in reliving (including her visit to Billy when she tells that "something is bad wrong" and makes Doris Side angry), or in some different way? Of course I understand that it looks like we can't get exact answers from the film, but it's something to think over..

As for Nikki, I want to say that she could be reincarnation of Sue's soul, or she could become a spirit world character herself, but not realizing her actual nature until the gets the role in "On high in blue tomorrows" - she behaves and appears to all others as real person. This better explains how could Sue's soul (from 1960-s as we remember) fit so perfectly to the reality of 2005.

One more thing  is interesting to figure out, about the place where gets Sue when she runs from shooting stage into "Smitty's house" set. If we're using term "purgatory" for Lost Girl's room, doesn't it look like that Sue also gets into her purgatory? Maybe we could even say that she's captured into it.. The thing that makes me think like this, is who she meets there - the prostitutes. You see that they're not just helping her, when we first see them they're talking about some person they were in love with. I could suppose even that they're talking about the same person - that's why they're indeed together in this place. So what it is? A collective purgatory for everyone who was in love with Smitty? Looks like that...

Smitty/Piotrek personality is also something too complicated. Piotrek is pretty equal to Smitty - of course we could tell that Sue just imagined him in her Nikki fantasy but I'm not sure that's right. One episode makes me think other way: when Nikki just got the role, and he goes down the stairs.. And from "More things ..." we could notice that you get on this stairs when you walk from Sue's reality (and Smitty's house) to Nikki's one! So we can assume that Smitty in fact controls (or keeps watching) Sue's soul and can easily travel between two realities..


Quote
Yes, I used "New Poland" to mean contemporary Poland. As for the radio play being in English, I'm honestly not sure that's an important detail. Although maybe a case could be made... I'd need my memory refreshed.
Ok thanks. I was just a bit confused with the fact that he's moving there and back several times.. To go from California to Poland is really not like to take a car and to drive to city nearby :) Btw the sequence of events is not so clear: he already lives with Sue when circus comes to picnic (this picnic is in their house in Inland Empire or not?), then he leaves with them to Eastern Europe, as Sue tells.. Then happen all that affairs with circus, and only after that he gets information that Phantom is involved in that story with Lost Girl and that he's in Inland Empire. Hm.. that could look like another paradox but maybe it's just necessary to think of "what was before and what after"...
The case is that he not only moves close to Phantom, but he meets Sue and marries her - at what moment he does that, and does he know from very beginning who she is?
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Fernando on October 21, 2014, 11:15:37 AM
In the latest installment of Academy Originals web series, Moby shows his fans his favorite film of all time.

Legendary singer and DJ Moby is best known for his electronic music and eclectic and charitable lifestyle. But, his music career has long been intertwined with cinematic endeavors as well, given how many of his songs are used film scores.

So, it was no surprise when the Academy invited Moby to choose a favorite film from their archives to watch with a few of his friends as a part of their new web series, Academy Originals. But, never one to be normal, Moby tweeted his invitation to all of his fans and chose quite possibly the most Moby-esque film possible: David Lynch's "Inland Empire."

Moby explained to his fans, "If you have a pathological attachment to a conventional three act narrative, you'll either leave or blow your brains out. If you approach it like a psychedelic experience experimental film, then all of a sudden it's wonderful."


There's a short video of that screening that I can't embed, click on the link.

http://www.indiewire.com/article/watch-moby-takes-his-fans-to-a-really-weird-movie-20141021
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: jenkins on October 21, 2014, 01:42:00 PM
^this is the kind of marketing the academy does, btw, in regard to how in the iv thread i said the academy doesn't do marketing so much. this is how they do it
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: kylefoley76 on April 06, 2015, 10:54:38 PM
Hi Jeremy,

Thanks for posting your analysis on Inland Empire.  It's really good.  Yours and Fred Palakton's essay are the only two essay that I've seen who have handled the film with any competence.  I'm working on 15,000 word essay which I will post in about a month.  However, there is one part in your essay that is really bugging me.  You said that there is a scene in Old Poland where Piotrek appears to have a bullet hole through the head.  I cannot find this scene.  Is this on the deleted scenes?
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on April 06, 2015, 11:25:29 PM
Thanks! Please be sure to post your essay here when you're done! And I will have to read Fred Palakton.

Yeah, he was either shot or stabbed in the head with something. The shot is very dark, but you can find it at 1 hour 42 min. I increased the brightness/contrast:


(http://xixax.com/jb/kroldead.jpg)


It mirrors the deleted scene where we are shown Billy's murdered corpse (who was the illegitimate lover, like Piotrek in Old Poland).

Here's what I said about it:

Quote
The Phantom lookalike kills the Smithy lookalike. This is probably the most clear-cut case. The motive is certainly there, just as it is for the contemporary Smithy. He has been cheated, and he wants to exterminate the illegitimate lover. He even does some cryptic bragging when he meets Lost Girl in the street. [17] Judging by the shot of the dead Smithy lookalike, it appears to have been a gunshot wound to the head.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: kylefoley76 on April 07, 2015, 03:27:48 AM
Wow, that's really amazing.  Thanks for that post.  I think maybe you have better photoshop equipment than I do.  I'm trying to figure out who is walking up the stairs with the screwdriver in Old Poland at 1:30 (I think). I know you think it is lost girl.  But I want to get a better view.  This is the only thing my equipment was able to produce. See attachments.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on April 07, 2015, 05:04:36 PM
Yeah, that (the screwdriver girl) is something I struggled with at first, because her hair looks weird, but I am sure it's Lost Girl. I'll try to get a better image of it later.

The top image is obviously Julia Ormond, playing the (not so mysterious) mystery woman, who is Piotrek's wife in Old Poland. It's my opinion that she is stabbed by Lost Girl, which sets everything into motion. That stabbing is the thing that creates Lost Girl's spiritual crisis. It gets her stuck in purgatory and leads to her repeating a similar life "half born" through Sue. But this time Sue is the one who is stabbed by Julia Ormond. Being the stabee instead of the stabber is a very simple empathy exercise, but it seems to work.

It's been a while since I've watched IE, but I think it's actually unclear chronologically (and otherwise) whether Lost Girl stabs Julia Ormond before or after Piotrek's death. After makes more sense to me, and that means it's probably in mistaken revenge. Before would also make sense and would mean it's out of jealousy, a more evil act.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on April 07, 2015, 09:55:46 PM
Edit: I've updated my analysis with the new stuff in this post.


Screencaps of Lost Girl with the screwdriver are below. But I think I also just made a breakthrough. And it seems so obvious now, I don't know why I didn't get it before, or why no one corrected me. (The breakthrough is in #5.)

The following sequence, from 1:38:00 to 1:42:25, is incredibly important...


1

Sue is in a reliving limbo state at the barbecue (one of the clearest cases of that mechanic). Sue sees the ketchup all over Smithy’s t-shirt. This immediately reminds her of the stabbings — her own, and Lost Girl’s.

2

Speaking of Lost Girl’s stabbing, let’s go there! We see Lost Girl’s face flicker in the ketchup. Then we fully shift back to Old Poland. Lost Girl is illuminated by candlelight and says a little prayer as if preparing for something:

“Cast out this wicked dream that has seized my heart.”

3

Lost Girl slowly walks up the stairs, looking unsure of herself (see below), but she goes through with it and kills her lover’s wife.

The scream. The stabbing has happened.

We hear the screwdriver fall on the floor. Lost Girl kneels down and holds her head in a classic “what have I done?” pose (see below).

4

Lynch shows us Julia Ormond from behind. “Who is she? Who is she?” Literally asking us to put it together. Then he shows us her face.

5

Lost Girl, now a murderer, briskly walks down the street and runs across her husband. They have that tense, awkward conversation, in which they fully acknowledge the awkwardness (which doesn’t make things less awkward).

“You seem different.”
“You too.”

They are both on edge because they both just killed someone. Lost Girl is more nervous because she is more disturbed by what she has just done. This escalates into existential horror when she finds out what her husband has just done.

In other words, there is no revenge in Old Poland. Lost Girl killed Piotrek’s wife out of jealousy ("this wicked dream that has seized my heart"). The Phantom lookalike killed his wife’s lover. At the same time.

Watch how Lost Girl responds when he says “you too.” She has this look on her face like she knows her soul has been severely damaged.

Seriously though, Karolina Gruszka’s acting in this scene is astounding. She communicates every level of meaning. And in general, she seems to get the film even better than Laura Dern.

6

We see Piotrek dead, and Lost Girl watching all of this from purgatory.

Note that this whole sequence was bookended in perfect duality, beginning with Sue recalling and triggering it, and ending with Lost Girl watching this memory and absorbing the experience, shivering in tears.




(http://xixax.com/jb/ie/lg1.jpg)

(http://xixax.com/jb/ie/lg2.jpg)

(http://xixax.com/jb/ie/lg3.jpg)

(http://xixax.com/jb/ie/lg4.jpg)

(http://xixax.com/jb/ie/lg5.jpg)

(http://xixax.com/jb/ie/lg6.jpg)

(http://xixax.com/jb/ie/lg7.jpg)

(http://xixax.com/jb/ie/lg8.jpg)

(http://xixax.com/jb/ie/lg9.jpg)
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: kylefoley76 on April 08, 2015, 04:14:22 AM


We hear the screwdriver fall on the floor. Lost Girl kneels down and holds her head in a classic “what have I done?” pose (see below).

I can't find the image that refers to that.


Quote
Lynch shows us Julia Ormond from behind.
I agree with that.

Quote
“Who is she? Who is she?” Literally asking us to put it together. Then he shows us her face.
Are you talking about the face of the dead woman on the floor?  Because I'm not sure that that's Julia Ormond.


Quote
Lost Girl, now a murderer, briskly walks down the street and runs across her husband.
How do you feel about the Phantom being possibly her pimp with whom they have some sort of abusive, perverse love-hate relationship?  I have trouble believing that they're married.

Also, I'm having difficulty finding out who kills whom.  Lost girl clearly walks up the stairs but then we see Julia Ormond's back and she's alive.  This is after the scream.  Perhaps just like on Hollywood Blvd Julia Ormond stabbed Sue Blue but this time she's stabbing Sue Blue's other half, which is Lost Girl, even though admittedly if we assume that the next scene is chronologically after the murder scene it would not make sense for Lost Girl to be alive but perhaps that scene chronologically precedes the murder scene and the murder the Phantom is referring to is his own murder of Piotrek.  Admittedly, it makes more sense that the Phantom witnessed Lost Girl killing someone but it really seems like the woman dead on the floor is lost girl and that Julia Ormond survived the event immediately after the scream.  Or maybe it's the case that Lynch intended the events to be deliberately misleading.




Quote
Watch how Lost Girl responds when he says “you too.” She has this look on her face like she knows her soul has been severely damaged.
ok, i'll take a second look.

Quote
Seriously though, Karolina Gruszka’s acting in this scene is astounding. She communicates every level of meaning. And in general, she seems to get the film even better than Laura Dern.
Well, I wouldn't go that far but she is a good actress. Looking at her filmography on IMDB she gets a good amount of work.

Also, they took my attachments down.  Do you know why?
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on April 08, 2015, 12:01:46 PM
We hear the screwdriver fall on the floor. Lost Girl kneels down and holds her head in a classic “what have I done?” pose (see below).
I can't find the image that refers to that.

The last 3 images in my post above.

It takes place in the hall outside, so she presumably dropped the screwdriver in the room, came back out, and kneeled on the floor there.


Are you talking about the face of the dead woman on the floor?  Because I'm not sure that that's Julia Ormond.

It seems pretty clear to me that it's Julia Ormond. She has a distinctive nose.


Quote
Lost Girl, now a murderer, briskly walks down the street and runs across her husband.

How do you feel about the Phantom being possibly her pimp with whom they have some sort of abusive, perverse love-hate relationship?  I have trouble believing that they're married.

He says "our home." It seems most likely that he's her abusive husband. But yeah, pimping her could be part of his abuse, and there could be some other weird things going on. She certainly seems justified in falling in love with another guy.


Lost girl clearly walks up the stairs but then we see Julia Ormond's back and she's alive.

Right, but when Lynch shows us Julia Ormond's back, it's to remind us of that same image that appeared earlier. That is not a chronological scene. It might as well be a freeze frame. The prostitutes literally poke their head in the frame, break the fourth wall, and ask us "who is she?" It's an insert. "Hey, remember this woman? She just got killed." It's there to help us.


Admittedly, it makes more sense that the Phantom witnessed Lost Girl killing someone

He doesn't know that Lost Girl killed anyone. What he is referring to throughout their chat is, as you said, his own murder of Piotrek, whose body we see immediately afterwards to make it clear to us.


but it really seems like the woman dead on the floor is lost girl and that Julia Ormond survived the event immediately after the scream.

I'm not sure where you're getting that from. The dead woman's face looks nothing like Lost Girl and exactly like Julia Ormond.

Lost Girl being killed there would necessitate a severe and awkwardly deceptive jumbling of the chronology. Because right after that, we see her walk on to the street, very much alive and looking like she just killed someone.


Or maybe it's the case that Lynch intended the events to be deliberately misleading.

The thing is, nothing in that whole sequence is misleading. If you accept that insert shot / freeze frame as what it is, everything is in order.


Also, they took my attachments down.  Do you know why?

They're still there.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: kylefoley76 on April 09, 2015, 01:32:02 AM


Right, but when Lynch shows us Julia Ormond's back, it's to remind us of that same image that appeared earlier. That is not a chronological scene. It might as well be a freeze frame.
I suppose that makes more sense than Lost Girl lying dead on the floor.  Thanks for pointing that out to me.  Without people like you, I can't learn anything.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on April 09, 2015, 10:21:28 AM
Thanks. Sorry if I sounded argumentative there, I just got into it. :yabbse-grin:
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: kylefoley76 on April 12, 2015, 08:45:48 PM
Palakton believes that this scene where Piotrek is arguing with a woman that the woman is Lost Girl but I think it's the actress played by Julia Ormond.  It's one of the scenes that takes place in Old Poland sometime between 1:20 and 1:40

LOST GIRL I can’t give you children. I know that…Are you listening to me?
PIOTREK I’m going out now.
LOST GIRL I’m not who you think I am! I’ll never let you have her! Never…

Who do you think is the woman?
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on April 12, 2015, 08:49:21 PM
Yes, I'm with you on that one. I always understood that to be Julia Ormond. I'll check that out again, but I remember it being pretty clear.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: archetek on November 23, 2015, 07:36:35 AM
Jeremy,

Your analysis of this film is outstanding! Your work on this is very much appreciated, it showed me that my initial derivations after watching for the first time were not far off, but were also not-even-close, if you know what I mean.

Cheers for an awesome analysis and thread! Great forum, plan to stay indefinitely.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: archetek on November 23, 2015, 07:55:52 AM
[TL;DR - A theme of the movie: 'There are only two, the third does not belong and must be purged so the two can become one.' Look for the numbers 2 and 3, sets of pairs vs. trios/love-triangles, two girl rabbits and one boy, two fertile and one barren/sterile, Nikki being exposed as a fantasy to help Sue and lost-girl find each other, etc]

Jeremy, if you don't mind my asking, what is the image in your profile pic from? It kind of reminds me of the shape of the red lamp in IE, which also sparked my interest, as it seems to symbolize a trinity of some sort, which struck me because initially I was only thinking of the pairs of characters, when actually there are many more instances of characters/entities in groups of three. Maybe the Phantom represents the third part of Lynch's holy trinity here? I.e., the three main characters of everyone's life are themselves, their soul mate, and their spirit guide (could this also be the Phantom maybe? It seems like a stretch but I feel like the 'pairs of two within sets of three' is a common theme, I will give some examples below that may intrigue you)

My first naive and myopic interpretation of the movie was that all of the female characters were representative of mother nature, and all male characters represented mankind. This is especially represented in the first scene with the prostitute lost-girl, which set the whole tone of the movie for me. There is definitely a 'men making women's lives hell' feel to everything that happens, and that to me screamed symbolism of mankind ruining mother nature, but I care about the environment so that is likely me projecting. (funny word that, its two main meanings are a big part of IE)

If you watch the movie with this dualism in mind though, I think you might find some very interesting new ideas, for me what came to light was the concept of two vs. three, e.g., character + lookalike/reincarnation + the Phantom, the two lovers in the multiple love triangles, two of the three in the love triangles being fertile while the 3rd is barren/sterile, the two female rabbits vs the one male rabbit, sue and lost-girl vs. nikki, the two candles lit by one of the two female rabbits while the 3rd male rabbit is absent, the list goes on. There are also multiple instances of grouping 2 females with one male, an obscure example are the homeless people there for sue's death. The 3 rabbits representing Lynch's trinity godhead definitely makes sense, especially if there really is a Polish fable about that. (I plan on searching for that fable and finding out myself)

This is a bit of a silly interpretation, and a small one at that, but I think you'll find the numbers 2 and 3 permeating the entire movie, and the 3rd is almost always hidden/offscreen/ambiguous. I see a few examples of triumph or defeat of 2 due to actions/encouragement/reflection of a 3rd. Also, the male rabbit asks, "Where was I?" in the rabbit scene that happens after the two-candle rabbit scene where he is missing, but fades in and out briefly, the same way the Phantom disappears in Sue's story to Mr. K. I honestly feel like there's an argument to be made for this dynamic pervading the film: one + one's other half +(vs.) fear/evil/negativity. What is striking to me is that there is always one of the three missing, it's not always the phantom, either...as far as I can tell there are no scenes that include sue, lost-girl AND the phantom together. I feel like the two-lights theme is related to this. (Two candles at the seance, two lights reflected on the TV, and two candles lit by the rabbit)

It seems to me that all of this points to, 'There are only two, the third does not belong and must be purged so the two can become one.' This pertains to quite a few dynamics,  just think of what a love-triangle murder actually is. Like I said, a bit silly but it's definitely there.

Such a fantastic movie, and I have to say the OP's interpretation seems to be the closest to what Lynch's internal narrative actually was, it really opened my eyes to what was really going on. I was actually a little disappointed in myself for not giving it another watch before looking up online interpretations, but my own was so fantastical I knew it was more myself projecting my own demons onto the screen. Lynch has a way of creating a box we all fill with our own insecurities, hopes, dreams, and fears.

Cheers! Sorry for the long-winded post!
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on November 23, 2015, 01:04:23 PM
Thanks, and welcome!

My avatar is from the Black Mirror episode "White Bear," one of the best episodes of TV I've ever seen.

Speaking of which, I also highly recommend The Leftovers — last night's episode was truly remarkable, and heavily Lynch-inspired. Season 1 is mixed (though worth watching), but Season 2 is on a new level.

I love your interpretations of IE. I think it's really the case here that Lynch didn't grasp the entirety of what he was making; I don't think one human mind could.

I like the examples of trios/trinities you found! I'm sure they're in all kinds of places I haven't noticed before. When you say "This is a bit of a silly interpretation," well, that's just how the entire movie works. There's a lot of silliness and off-the-wall symbolism throughout... What keeps it from being dumb is the foreboding, and the ever-present sense that something else is going on.

I honestly feel like there's an argument to be made for this dynamic pervading the film: one + one's other half +(vs.) fear/evil/negativity. What is striking to me is that there is always one of the three missing, it's not always the phantom, either...as far as I can tell there are no scenes that include sue, lost-girl AND the phantom together. I feel like the two-lights theme is related to this. (Two candles at the seance, two lights reflected on the TV, and two candles lit by the rabbit)

This is fascinating. I wonder what conclusions can be drawn.

The Polish mediums seem to be manifestations of the spirit world rabbits. But the rabbits are still a bit of a mystery — their role is very fluid. Not only might they be the mediums, they might also be Janek and Mr. K.

(http://xixax.com/halfborn/076rabbitglow.jpg)

(http://xixax.com/halfborn/078rabbitdesk.jpg)

With the other trios, what is Lynch getting at? My theory has been that direct correlations are being drawn between Old Poland and Inland Empire to show what reincarnation can do. I think that's true and that it's the core of the film. But it might go beyond that — I think there's a lot of room to expand on the idea of trios/trinities, because you're right, it pops up in other areas of the movie.

'There are only two, the third does not belong and must be purged so the two can become one.' This pertains to quite a few dynamics, just think of what a love-triangle murder actually is.

Ooo I definitely like this! Have to let it sink in.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: markfilipak on January 07, 2016, 01:33:28 AM
Hello,

Thanks for having me over. The IE board at IMDB has been taken over by trolls, so I came here. I trust that, as a moderated board, this will be a welcoming and productive place.

I think I've pretty much figured out IE, but I have a few questions.

What's the cylindrical thingy on Mr. K's desk?

How is it that Sue can go through the door into the beige hall that connects Smithy's house & the old hotel, yet almost immediately reappear at the door into the Neuron -- my name -- from the blue landing above the cinema?

What do you make of the very short time distortions:
1, when Sue, on her way to the Smithy's house prop wall (soon to become her home), and passes the 6-light window -- it is empty -- on Stage 4, then a few seconds later passes it again -- this time Smithy wearing a green jacket is standing in it; and
2, Doris sneaks up on Sue while on Hollywood Blvd. and passes her, then jumps back 1 second and reaches Sue again, but this time grabs the screwdriver.

Thanks,

Mark.
(I hope this posts okay... It's my first.)
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: polkablues on January 07, 2016, 04:56:46 PM
Hi! I'm not going to be of any help to you, as I'm not one of the hardcore Lynchophiles around these parts, but welcome!
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on January 11, 2016, 06:11:35 PM
Markfilipak are you still here? If so I may take a crack at this.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Matt_Muerte on January 17, 2016, 01:06:31 AM
I watched Inland Empire last night for the first time and regret the fact that I haven't seen it sooner. I've been a David Lynch fan for over twenty years, but for some reason never got around to watching IE. Your analysis was very thorough and thought-provoking; while I haven't devoted a fraction of the time you've spent with your structured analysis, I did come away with a few impressions that I didn't see mentioned in the forum. The mention and use of back alleys seems to suggest that they are a more direct path to enlightenment; they are far less glamorous as opposed to the storefronts and facades that are in the front, but there is "always a place to park" there. This suggests to me that few people choose that route despite its effectiveness because it does not have attractive illusions.

The second thing that really struck me about IE was the fact that one cannot view it passively. Often, it felt like the actors were looking out of the screen, involving the viewer. The motif of life being a recorded/observed event is emphasized by the fact that we are viewing it as well. There was at least one scene of infinite regression in which the Lost Girl was watched by us, while she watched a television, and so on ad infinitum.

The idea of purgatory makes great sense. I also believe that it has a connection to Akashic records, or recordings of all of our deeds in a lifetime.

A strange theory that I have concerns the incidental mention and end scene with the woman who had two prosthetic legs. This seems to run parallel to the little man in the Lodge (Twin Peaks, FWWM). He was actually the arm of Mike; since there were a few scenes that involved the number 2 (the two floating lights), might this indicate in some way that they are the legs of the woman? The little man feeds off of Garmonbozia (cream corn), which I believe is pain/suffering. The lights might be entities feeding off of negative energy. It was mentioned that the legless woman killed children; this theory might make sense of that incidental story.

Another thing that caught my attention was the group dancing of the whores. This seemed to objectify them and make them seem almost soulless, a cog in the machinery. Their group dancing was a display of acting in accordance with society's expectations; if we view this in light of the woman being treated like a whore, this might make more sense.

Sorry for the random nature of my observations, but I felt compelled to share them with other Lynch enthusiasts.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Aponys21 on March 27, 2016, 05:23:15 PM
Hello everyone and thank you all for the mind-blowing interpretations of this mind-blowing movie. But I have some questions whose answers I didn't seem to find on this thread:

Why did Sue enter Room 47 walking backwards and why did the rabbits disappear? I have watched that scene many times and it seems to me that Sue doesn't stand in front of the entrance when the door is finally opened. It seems to me that she comes somewhere from the left with her back towards the room initially, as though she didn't see the rabbits at all.

When Lost Girl is finally freed, she walks out of the room (which is not room 47, it's room 202 or 205, I fail to remember at this point, sorry), and then meets her husband/lover and his son. First of all, I have to ask: is Lost Girl trapped in the hotel room or somewhere behind room 47?  And how come Smithy knows her and rejoices when he sees her?

Thank you very much and I truly apologize if these questions have already been answered here.

Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Erniesam on April 23, 2017, 02:55:30 PM
Hi Jeremy,

I just skimped through your analysis and found it interesting. I will read it thoroughly next weekend. What I gathered now is that you approach the movie as depicting "real" events. By this I mean things that we see are actually happening though depicted in an abstract way. My question is: what do you think is the crux of IE? What story does it tell and what is it conclusion?

I'd like an in-depth discussion of this masterpiece. IMDB board is gone so I'm looking for another forum to discuss this and other movies by Lynch. My experience is that you can learn alot from a wide variety of views.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on April 23, 2017, 03:52:45 PM
What I gathered now is that you approach the movie as depicting "real" events. By this I mean things that we see are actually happening though depicted in an abstract way.

I think with this movie Lynch does his best to show us the mechanics of the spiritual world he's dreamed up. That's mostly why I did that analysis; when you begin sorting through all the insanity, a logic emerges.

Lynch has to make the spiritual mechanics at least somewhat abstract and confusing — otherwise it would all just lose its magic. In fact, I think you need to use heavy doses of mystery and confusion to describe spirituality in a way that makes sense. Inland Empire's spirit world operates with its own set of rules that we only somewhat understand. That feels right to me — if there is a spirit world, why should it be immediately understandable by the human mind?


My question is: what do you think is the crux of IE? What story does it tell and what is it conclusion?

This is definitely something I didn't really get to in my analysis. I think the film's crux can be summed up by the joyous climax, when Lost Girl and Sue merge. It's the perfect culmination of both their experiences. Throughout the film we see how dark and difficult life can be, but much is gained, and it's all for a purpose when that journey ends. This is a literal spiritual unification that we're actually being shown. You can take from that whatever you want — love, compassion, ultimate understanding.

Just think about what Lost Girl actually does when she watches Sue's experiences. From the start, she is bursting with empathy, and that only accelerates, until she achieves a profound understanding of both Sue and (I argue) herself, until she is finally ready for that unification.


(http://xixax.com/halfborn/034merge.jpg)
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Erniesam on April 27, 2017, 04:57:04 PM
Hi Jeremy,

I've read your analysis and I found it interesting. Certainly an approach I've never encountered before. I'm not into spiritual stuff, but I know Lynch is to some extent. It may well be that you hint in the right direction where Lynch's intent is concerned. I will have more detailed questions for you later on for your analysis is pretty well argumented. As of now I have some general questions like:

1. Why do the same actors play different characters?
2. Why is Lost Girl at the end ecstatic while the Dern character is not?
3. Why is everybody so happy in the last scene while the Dern character is mildly happy? What does the sawing of the log represent?
4. Why does Sue get murdered and Lost Girl not?
5. What is the significance of the boy?
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on April 27, 2017, 06:49:20 PM
Why do the same actors play different characters?

I believe it's a cinematic illustration of reincarnation. As they go from one life to the next, seeing the same actor lets us know that it's the same "soul."

Why is Lost Girl at the end ecstatic while the Dern character is not?

For Lost Girl, this is the climax she's been building to. And she's been aware of it. Sue, on the other hand, is still absorbing the insane reality of the situation, being in a spirit world now. She's not confused, per se — just acclimating and slowly gaining an understanding. That is definitely how Dern's performance reads to me, and it's consistent with everything else.

Why is everybody so happy in the last scene

This is a reunion and the end of a period of suffering, so I think it's a happy occasion for everyone. The prostitutes are especially happy because they've been trying to guide Sue here, and now she's arrived.

Why does Sue get murdered and Lost Girl not?

First I should mention that apparently I still need to make this correction to my analysis. I confirmed earlier in this thread, here (http://xixax.com/index.php?topic=10711.msg339523#msg339523), that Lost Girl did in fact kill her lover's wife. That is why she's in her little viewing purgatory.

Lost Girl's experience via Sue allows/forces her to see the flip side — being the actual victim of a jealous lover. This goes to the whole point of the movie — the "ultimate understanding" I talked about.

What is the significance of the boy?

I suppose he's the son that Lost Girl never got to have. She clearly wanted a life and family with Old Poland Smithy, so this a fulfillment of that dream.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Erniesam on April 28, 2017, 03:36:29 PM
Hi Jeremy,

I'm responding now quite spontaneous without having written some notes on paper beforehand which I usually do. Like other users here I come from the IMDB board which is closed now. There I had some extensive and in depth discussions about some movies I love and this one in particular. Yes, IMDB could be a board with an unusual amount of trolling and egos, but now and then one could have interesting talks. I was looking for another film forum to discuss movies in depth and so I came upon this site. At first glance it seems pretty good to me with thoughtful and polite discussion and feedback. My experience is that while discussing a movie on an open thread it tends to result in people trying to explain their particular view and convince others. Perhaps that's only human when one is really invested in their approach, but it does stifle the conversation fairly quick. I try to keep an open mind, but I sometimes catch myself doing just that also. But...what do you learn from spouting thing one already knows?

I had seen Eraserhead  on tv in the eighties when I was quite young. Well, needless to say I couldn't watch it all the way through; I didn't understand it and I found it incredibly dull. I had seen Blue Velvet in the late eighties and this too was not my cup of tea back then. I did follow Twin Peaks when it aired in the early nineties; I didn't understand it, but I found it pretty entertaining. Still later on I watched Lost HIghway and I simply hated it: this frustrating feeling that I did not understand it and could not figure it out bugged me, so I decided Lynch was not for me. Still, I found the photography of his movies stunning, the music quite good and the imgaery interesting; if only I could make SOME sense of his work. Than came Mulholland Dr. I was flabbergasted by what I had just seen in the theater. I could make SOME sense out of it, but alot of things I couldn't place nor figure out. So...I talked about the movie with friends and family, searched online for interpretations and took part in discussions about the movie just to get a grip on it. Through this process I came to look at Lost Highway also through a different lens and it finally clicked with me. A large part of the interpretation is subjective, of course, but I'm convinced that Lynch does leave tangible clues in all his work that leads the viewer in a certain direction. Still, when one takes one sidestreet before another one can end up in vastly different places.

I was very, very excited to watch Inland Empire for the first time (somewhere in 2012 I believe it was). Wow, what was I disappointed! The digital camera, absense of a "classical" soundtrack and a story....well, I couldn't mak heads of tails out of it. I couldn't watch it all the way through and the time I watched it completely was about a month later! Well, the same process as with MD started, but very, very slowly. Again many discussions and searches for meaning online etc. I finally came to some interpretation with which I feel pretty comfortable. What's more: it enhances the actual viewing experience immensely. I still have questions though and some parts I struggle with to place in the whole. I don't know how it is with others on this board, but the way I go about is to first have a general overview of what I sense the movie is about and than see if individual scenes can  be placed in it. I have revised this overall view many times over the years sometimes due to very minute details. I came to the conlusion that Lynch's LA trilogy (LH. MD and IE) are very similar in themes, but that the structures are different. Moreover, it seems to me that Lynch gets more mild and nuanced in his work when I notice that the endings of all three movies go from violent, to mournful and melancholic to upbeat and positive.

I find it pretty difficult to get some coherence and structure in the discussion about IE because I find that pretty much all in IE is connected to each other: when one discusses one scene it's very difficult to isolate this from one's overall view for this pretty much determines WHY one interpret this scene a particular way. Like you state in your analysis Jeremy, one objective could be to be at least consistent in one's interpretations: if it does not contradict any other interpretation it's a possibillity and therefor legit. I think logic should be the driving force behind...well, any discussion really, though in the case of the work of Lynch I guess logic doesn't always cut it and one must leave some room for cinematic poetry.

I will read your analysis more thoroughly tomorrow and see if we can start a fruitful discussion with that as starting point.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on April 28, 2017, 06:47:31 PM
Sounds good! I look forward to it.

I just overhauled the "Murder" section (here (http://xixax.com/halfborn/2.html)). Also edited some other things in Part 2.

The rest didn't seem to need much editing, although I think the "moral of the story" section is somewhat of a lame copout... I should rewrite that at some point. Using what I've written on this page if nothing else.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Erniesam on April 29, 2017, 09:35:40 AM
Jeremy,

The most obvious way to start this discussion would be to folow your analysis a chapter at the time. Before I do that I want to mention that we have different….I would say radically different views and that makes it all the more interesting. Like I said I never encountered such a view as yours (with supernatural elements) and perhaps I get to see things differently (and for the better) during this discussion.

Right of the bat you state that Nikki Grace is not real, that she’s a fantasy. Hmmm, it seems we share the same view on this aspect (it seems to me this aspect is rather obvious). Than you state that (“For starters”..) many things are not in chronological order. Here we already are put into a position where we have to elaborate on our overall view. It is my contention that everything we see is strictly in chronological order…except it is the order of a dream logic. It seems like a copout perhaps to state that we are following the logic of a dream, but I approach IE just like that: the inner workings of a woman’s mind (the woman in trouble). So many things ARE indeed out of chronological order in the physical reality, but following dream logic this order is essentially the only way that makes sense: the appearance of one memory triggers the appearance of another while this memory could be of something that happened before the other. I’m of the contention that the element of time is of crucial importance in IE: thematically as well as structurally.

You state that the characters are real and the actors are fake. You write that Sue Blue and Billy Side are real people. I was wondering: since you believe that Sue and Lost Girl are two halfs of the same person than how can Sue Blue be real? She represents one half so she must be metaphorical wouldn’t you agree? Maybe I’m reading your analysis wrong. But…I’m getting ahead of myself; let’s stick to the first part.

So…according to you Sue is real. Who according to you is the Dern character who talks to Mr K with a southern accent and is quite vulgar? And who is the Dern character on Hollywood Boulevard? Are these all representations of the same Sue according to you? If so than what do they represent according to you? And if you believe Sue Blue to be real than do you think that what we see happening to her is real and in real time?

Like you I see IE as the unfolding of a repressive fantasy, but it seems that half way through we come to follow radically different paths. I’m not sure I grasp your view on Sue Blue and Lost Girl being two halfs of the same person. I cannot see how you connect this with all that we see.

I believe it is helpful to stick to well defined topics at a time otherwise the discussion could be overwhelming.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on April 29, 2017, 10:53:47 AM
So many things ARE indeed out of chronological order in the physical reality, but following dream logic this order is essentially the only way that makes sense: the appearance of one memory triggers the appearance of another while this memory could be of something that happened before the other. I’m of the contention that the element of time is of crucial importance in IE: thematically as well as structurally.

Yeah, I like that way of putting it, and I basically agree.

Memory is definitely crucial, in that Sue is remembering her life. (Since she is very much dead.)

You state that the characters are real and the actors are fake. You write that Sue Blue and Billy Side are real people. I was wondering: since you believe that Sue and Lost Girl are two halfs of the same person than how can Sue Blue be real? She represents one half so she must be metaphorical wouldn’t you agree?

This is a movie that is showing us actual spiritual mechanics, not just crazy dream metaphors. I think that view has mountains of evidence to support it, all of which is seen in the film.

Sue and Lost Girl being spiritual halves — if not halves, very intimately linked — seems very clear to me.

That's why I titled the analysis "HALFBORN." I think it's the crux of the movie. And it's a term coined by Lynch himself within the film:

"A little girl went out to play. Lost in the marketplace as if half-born."
– Visitor #1

Lost Girl is not experiencing incarnate life. But she is "half" experiencing Sue's life as she very empathically and emotionally watches it unfold on the TV. Her connection with Sue goes even beyond that empathy link. Lynch and Dern themselves lay it out pretty well as they're shooting the scene:

Lynch: She'll see you looking at her from the TV.
Dern: Okay. Okay.
Lynch: You know, like that. You're lookin' right at the camera.
Dern: And I'm looking at the camera as though I see myself?
Lynch: You see your—yeah, yeah.

She sees Lost Girl, and Lost girl sees her. They are seeing each other but also themselves.

Just to put a cherry on top and make sure we understand, Lynch actually shows them merging at the end.

So…according to you Sue is real. Who according to you is the Dern character who talks to Mr K with a southern accent and is quite vulgar? Are these all representations of the same Sue according to you?

Yeah, when Dern is talking to Mr. K, that is probably the purest embodiment of Sue. It's the same Sue we see having the affair with Billy or slogging through that horrible relationship with Smithy... just a bit grittier. Because she is talking about the worst parts of her life.

And who is the Dern character on Hollywood Boulevard?

Sue, when she "dies" on Hollywood & Vine, is already dead. Play-acting her death (probably as it happened) triggers her realization that she is and has been dead, and that it's time to move on.

She then does just that — moves on — walking past Kingsley, ignoring the Nikki Grace fantasy, because she knows it is a fantasy. We then see her slowly travel through the layers of the spirit world until she reaches Lost Girl.

And if you believe Sue Blue to be real than do you think that what we see happening to her is real and in real time?

This is one of the more mysterious parts of Inland Empire. I believe what we see is an ambiguous combination of living and reliving. There is certainly a lot of dream-like and surreal reliving. (Most of it is probably that.) The question is how much of which are we seeing. I'm not sure the answer is actually important, but it's kind of interesting.

If that didn't make sense, I try to explain this starting with Part 3 - Dream Origin, supported by plenty of evidence.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Erniesam on April 29, 2017, 02:29:00 PM
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Lost Girl is not experiencing incarnate life. But she is "half" experiencing Sue's life as she very empathically and emotionally watches it unfold on the TV.

Lost Girl IS indeed experiencing the Dern character’s life, but do you see something odd about it? Their experiences are each others opposites. Moreover: their experiences swap during the movie: Lost Girl begins as a prostitute and Dern ends up being a prostitute. In other words: they literally swap places.
What do you think is the significance of that (if any)?

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Yeah, when Dern is talking to Mr. K, that is probably the purest embodiment of Sue. It's the same Sue we see having the affair with Billy or slogging through that horrible relationship with Smithy... just a bit grittier.

There’s something interesting about this Dern, the one on Hollywood Boulevard and indeed the one in the last scene: we never hear her name. Yes, she looks like Sue, but then again Sue does look like Nikki. In fact: we never hear Smithy calling her Sue either. Only Devon / Billy calls her that and no one else (well, except Kingsley, but he’s obviously referring to the script). My point is: why should we believe these Derns are all Sue when we have witnessed an alter ego change already? One could indeed interpret these Derns to be Sue, but there are other possibillities.

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She then does just that — moves on — walking past Kingsley, ignoring the Nikki Grace fantasy, because she knows it is a fantasy.

If Sue ignores the Nikki Grace fantasy just at that particular moment, than what are we to make of all that went before? Was this all part of the script? Has Sue been playing her part al this time? And what is the function of the death scene?

You see: alot of questions. Right now I will ponder over your next chapter “Murder.”
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on April 29, 2017, 03:26:04 PM
Lost Girl IS indeed experiencing the Dern character’s life, but do you see something odd about it? Their experiences are each others opposites. Moreover: their experiences swap during the movie: Lost Girl begins as a prostitute and Dern ends up being a prostitute. In other words: they literally swap places. What do you think is the significance of that (if any)?

That is covered in the analysis. It's profoundly useful in a spiritual sense for Lost Girl to experience a life that is similar to her own, but from the other end — mainly, being the victim of a jealousy murder instead of the perpetrator.

If you take all the Old Poland content together, I don't think Lost Girl is a literal prostitute. She is certainly made to feel like one, by the Phantom, who she seems to have a relationship with (husband is what I go with). Just as Sue was made to feel like a prostitute.

My point is: why should we believe these Derns are all Sue when we have witnessed an alter ego change already? One could indeed interpret these Derns to be Sue, but there are other possibillities.

Sure, Sue might have alter egos or doubles, completely separate from Nikki Grace. We do see her doppelganger in the street at one point, and in another moment she looks down and sees herself. Here's what I said about that in Part 4:

What exactly is the meaning of the doppelganger on the walk of fame?

At 1:13:50, Sue looks down and sees a more desperate version of herself sitting on the floor, looking up with terrified eyes. Is this the same doppelganger? Is this a representation of the prostitute state?

Since these both occur at heights of confusion in her bizarre reliving experience, I think it would be reasonable to liken them to projected images. I'm not sure we need to believe that these are anything more. They are still meaningful.

If Sue ignores the Nikki Grace fantasy just at that particular moment, than what are we to make of all that went before? Was this all part of the script? Has Sue been playing her part al this time? And what is the function of the death scene?

There is always something off about the Nikki Grace fantasy — it's dissolving from the very beginning of the film. It falls apart completely after she walks through the first Axxon N door.

It doesn't come back until the roleplay death on Hollywood & Vine. Its reemergence there is completely hopeless, like a flickering memory that is never going to stick. It fails because Sue finally roleplaying her death makes her remember that it happened, and that she is actually dead for real.

"Was this all part of the script?" ... No. The script itself and the existence of "On High In Blue Tomorrows" are part of the fantasy.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Erniesam on April 29, 2017, 03:54:48 PM
I’ve read your “Murder” chapter and I find it difficult to respond in a constructive manner since it is clear we have very, very different views on things. I’d like to stick to alot of questions so that maybe you can enlighten me on your view in certain areas.

Your contention that Sue and Lost Girl are dead raises alot of questions. To begin with: it seems to me they have to be dead from the beginning of IE for we never see them literally murdered (the Dern character only as part of the script). And if they are dead than what is the purpose of the events unfolding the way we see them?

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What Billy sees in the other room is probably Smithy's dead body. Smithy, Sue's husband, was aware of the affair and had threatened Billy's life. [10] Sue apparently decided to take pre-emptive action.

I admit that it’s rather difficult to make sense out of this: “Look into the other room.” You state that it’s probably Smithy’s dead body and that Sue killed him. That’s quite a stretch. We actually do see Billy / Devon looking into (another) room when he looks through the window and can’t see Sue. Remember that it’s not Smithy we see lying dead, but a Piotrek / Smithy look-a-like in Old Poland. I don’t see any evidence that Sue / the Dern character killed her husband unless you take the stories the southern accent Dern tells literally. We have to ask ourselves whether we can trust anything we see since we are dealing with a highly unreliable narration. It seems to me that you take the murders literally and you argumented the motive for each murder. But if these murders indeed took place literally than what story do they tell according to you? They take place in different time frames.

You state that the Woman in White, the wife of Moustache Man, is Doris Side. I find this unconvincing. There is a reason why Lynch doesn’t show her face and makes such a fuss about it with the girl asking directly to the camera: “Who is she?” Furthermore, we see Doris Side at one point being married to Billy Side. So…which is it?

What do you think is the significance of this infertillity we hear this Woman in White and Smithy talk about?

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and that the contemporary Smithy is definitely not fertile.

If he’s not fertile than how is it we see him coming home to Lost Girl with his son? We know this because this boy is listed in the credits as “Smithy’s son.”

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So Lost Girl killed Smithy's wife out of jealousy ("this wicked dream that has seized my heart"). And the Phantom killed Smithy. At the same time.

You’ve lost me here. Lost Girl kills Julia Ormond, but we don’t know who the wife of Old Poland Smithy is. I agree it seems pretty clear that the Phantom killed Old Poland Smithy.

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You've probably noticed by now that the murders in Old Poland and the murders in the contemporary Inland Empire are rather similar. Hopefully you've also noticed that the characters are, too. Here's a chart that describes the parallels:

I’m not sure what you’re getting at here. In Old Poland we see two murders (one cheater, Smithy lookalike, and Julia Ormond) and in contemporary Hollywood we only see one (and a scripted one at that). Yes, there are certainly connections, but I do not see any parallels. On a narrative level the murder of Sue is committed by Doris Side due to her cheating with her husband Billy, but…Dern isn’t really murdered is she? The only common thread in these three murders I can see is the REASON why they are murdered; infidellity. Well, and the screwdriver of course. What do you think is the meaning behind the screwdriver?

When you take the murders literally as if they really happen then you do run into problems such as Doris Side killing Dern on the Walk of Fame and Smithy returning to Lost Girl at the end.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on April 29, 2017, 04:24:45 PM
Have you read to the end of my analysis? It doesn't make full sense until you've read at least through Part 3. Most of these questions are answered there.

I admit that it’s rather difficult to make sense out of this: “Look into the other room.” You state that it’s probably Smithy’s dead body and that Sue killed him. That’s quite a stretch. We actually do see Billy / Devon looking into (another) room when he looks through the window and can’t see Sue. Remember that it’s not Smithy we see lying dead, but a Piotrek / Smithy look-a-like in Old Poland. I don’t see any evidence that Sue / the Dern character killed her husband unless you take the stories the southern accent Dern tells literally. We have to ask ourselves whether we can trust anything we see since we are dealing with a highly unreliable narration. It seems to me that you take the murders literally and you argumented the motive for each murder. But if these murders indeed took place literally than what story do they tell according to you? They take place in different time frames.

I actually mostly agree — We can't be sure that Sue killed her husband. That is not necessarily one of the important murders. (And I only mentioned it in passing.)

The most important murders, for sure, are Lost Girl killing Smithy's wife (Old Poland) and Doris killing Sue (Inland Empire). The tragic lovers also die in each case, assuming we take at face value Billy dying in "More Things That Happened." Those are less important than Lost Girl being a murderer, and Sue getting murdered.

Less important still is Smithy being murdered in Inland Empire. In fact, it's a paradox — either Smithy kills Billy, or Sue kills Smithy and then tells Billy. Maybe we're supposed to believe that both happened, in a cosmic sense, or that either one could have happened.

You state that the Woman in White, the wife of Moustache Man, is Doris Side. I find this unconvincing. There is a reason why Lynch doesn’t show her face and makes such a fuss about it with the girl asking directly to the camera: “Who is she?”

Lynch has her back turned to us at first, but then a split second later he DOES show her face — Julia Ormond's face — flashing over the murdered body. It's definitely her. You can tell even without that massive hint — her hair and her body shape are the same.

Furthermore, we see Doris Side at one point being married to Billy Side. So…which is it?

It's both. Doris is married to Billy in Inland Empire, but she's married to Smithy in Old Poland. She is yet another repeated character.

What do you think is the significance of this infertillity we hear this Woman in White and Smithy talk about?

It's another thing that repeats — Smithy is infertile in Inland Empire. It's also a thematic signal that their relationship is dysfunctional and unsatisfying.

If he’s not fertile than how is it we see him coming home to Lost Girl with his son? We know this because this boy is listed in the credits as “Smithy’s son.”

Because that's taking place in the afterlife.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Erniesam on April 29, 2017, 05:23:16 PM
Just a quick response for now, it’s getting late over here.

Yes, I’ve read your analysis, but I would like to get through it step by step. I must admit I haven’t checked off all the questions I have before I posted it, so it would be more helpful when I do that from now on.
 
You state that it’s not important if Sue killed her husband or not. If she has not killed him than what is the fuction of her fantasy of Nikki Grace? What “sin” does she have to attone in order to “reach the palace”?

You state that Lost Girl is a murderer and therefor finds herself in purgatory. Yet…we see Doris Side in contemporary Inland Empire killing Dern. WHY do we see these characters played by the same actres(ses)? Lost Girl is freed by Dern from this purgatory. What exactly does this embrace entail according to you? How is it that Lost Girl can leave this purgatory after this embrace?

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Lynch has her back turned to us at first, but then a split second later he DOES show her face — Julia Ormond's face — flashing over the murdered body. It's definitely her. You can tell even without that massive hint — her hair and her body shape are the same.

I’m sorry, still not convinced. We see the face of the murdered woman and not that of the Woman in White. It’s tempting to make the connection, but we cannot trust what we see. This doesn’t explain WHY Lynch has this woman with her back to the camera. It’s rather TOO obvious wouldn’t you say: a girl asking towards the camera “Who is she?” and the following scene exposing who she is. Another pertinent question is of course: who does this girl talk to?

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Because that's taking place in the afterlife.

True, but that doesn’t explain it, it only makes it possible. WHY does Smithy have a son in this scene? In fact we see a boy two times before; with Smithy in bed and with Doris and Billy Side when he’s ill. What do you think is the connection between them (if any)?

Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on April 29, 2017, 05:44:39 PM
You state that it’s not important if Sue killed her husband or not. If she has not killed him than what is the fuction of her fantasy of Nikki Grace? What “sin” does she have to attone in order to “reach the palace”?

Like I say in Part 2, Sue inherits Lost Girl's debt. This happens because their souls are connected. And they may be even less distinguishable than that.

You state that Lost Girl is a murderer and therefor finds herself in purgatory. Yet…we see Doris Side in contemporary Inland Empire killing Dern. WHY do we see these characters played by the same actres(ses)?

I covered the repeated characters, and the Sue / Lost Girl connection, in the analysis and in my responses here. I'm not sure what you're asking. The same actors are used to illustrate reincarnation.

We see the face of the murdered woman and not that of the Woman in White. It’s tempting to make the connection, but we cannot trust what we see. This doesn’t explain WHY Lynch has this woman with her back to the camera. It’s rather TOO obvious wouldn’t you say: a girl asking towards the camera “Who is she?” and the following scene exposing who she is. Another pertinent question is of course: who does this girl talk to?

I think you're stretching here to break connections that are obvious in the film. I urge you to revisit that whole sequence and storyline.

I'm not worried about rejecting hints because they are too obvious. That is truly a path to madness.

WHY does Smithy have a son in this scene? In fact we see a boy two times before; with Smithy in bed and with Doris and Billy Side when he’s ill. What do you think is the connection between them (if any)?

Not sure. This is a great question and one worth examining on rewatch.

My default position is that this is the family Lost Girl and Smithy wanted to have together, and in the afterlife that can finally happen. I wonder if there's anything in the movie to further support or to contradict that. Given the context of spiritual triumph when that happens, I think it's a pretty good theory.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Erniesam on April 30, 2017, 11:12:26 AM
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The same actors are used to illustrate reincarnation.

What according to you does that accomplish? What is the function of this reincarnation?

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I think you're stretching here to break connections that are obvious in the film. I urge you to revisit that whole sequence and storyline.

I'm not worried about rejecting hints because they are too obvious. That is truly a path to madness.

I admit that the Woman in White could most certainly be Doris Side, but it is by no means a certainty. This assertion is fine, but it doesn´t explain why we see the Woman in White from the back. In fact it truly negates this emphasis that Lynch is putting on her. If you want to see it that way, that´s fine, but somehow it doesn´t jell with me.

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My default position is that this is the family Lost Girl and Smithy wanted to have together, and in the afterlife that can finally happen. I wonder if there's anything in the movie to further support or to contradict that. Given the context of spiritual triumph when that happens, I think it's a pretty good theory.

Admittedly a possibillity. It all depends on one´s own experience and what one WANTS to see in things. I´m guessing you are somewhat into spirituality and hence you look at IE through that lens, while I have different experiences and interests through which I look at things. I must admit that I find it a pretty poetic interpretation. I believe there are some things in the movie that connect to this reunion and other things that I interpret wildly different than you that lead me to interpret this scene in a completely different way. Within your view I think it makes good sense, albeit that I find it rather arbitrary: where does this boy come from?
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Erniesam on April 30, 2017, 11:24:35 AM
So I’ve read your chapter “The Connection” (between Sue and Lost Girl) right before I’m typing this in order to fill in the possible blanks of understanding I should have with the chapters I deal with now: ‘Un Unpaid Bill” and “Purgatory.” I see now that a couple of questions I had in the previous post are made clear in this following chapter. So I try not the ask silly questions.

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You could say that Sue's debt is the murdering of her husband, her infidelity, and the way she lived her life in general. That's valid, but it's not quite enough. I've concluded that the actual unpaid bill—the debt of real consequence—belongs to Lost Girl. Note that self-defense almost legitimizes the murder of Sue's husband, who was abusive and overtly homicidal. Lost Girl, by contrast, killed someone who was innocent, simply for her own desires. This is the debt.
Sue inherits Lost Girl's debt. This is absolutely consequential and will be explained later.

You state that the debt is of Lost Girl and that’s her murdering Julia Ormond, the wife of her lover. Since Lost Girl is the spiritual part / guide of Sue on the other side, Sue inherits her debt. And you believe this debt is the experience of the real consequence of this action?

Seems pretty plausible, but there are a couple of questions I have. If Sue inherits the debt of Lost Girl, why is she still in purgatory? How did she get into purgatory in the first place? Your suggestion is she probably committed suicide, but we do not see tangible clues to this effect except when Karolina seems to regret the murder she just committed when she kneels down at the stairs.  On the other hand: it IS possible.

You write in regard to Sue: “…and the way she lived her life in general.” Do we actually know HOW she lived her life? We see Sue / Dern changing all the time yet you seem to conclude that Sue is the real character we see and therefor what we see happening to her is real. Yes, these other manifestations of the Dern character do not have a name so therefor the distinction is probably less obvious, but they are just as radical as the one between Nikki Grace and Sue. You state they are different manifestations or reincarnations of the same person (Sue). Fair enough, but what is the function of these different manifestations? I can understand when you say that these different characters played by the same actors are reincarnations reliving past experiences, when their storylines are bottled in. This is not the case with the Dern character for we see her changing character midway plotlines (like changing into this southern accent Dern). Yes we see the Dern character degrading from Nikki Grace to a prostitute on the Walk of Fame, but what evidence do we have she was actually a whore?

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For example, when the Phantom hypnotizes Julia Side, [24] that is symbolic for Julia Side being hypnotized by her own inner evil.

What has Julia Side done that would reflect her own inner evil? She is the one that gets murdered and the murder she herself commits (though Sue isn’t really murdered as we witness when she wakes up on the movieset) hasn’t taken place when we see the Phantom hypnotizing her. How do you square these two opposites: Doris side getting murdered and being a murderer later on?

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Lynch actually shows us Sue's scary clown face earlier in the film, when Sue runs at the camera in full homicidal "I'm killing my husband" mode.

So…did Sue kill her husband or didn´t she? If she did not than what does the blood on her hands in this scene represent? If she did than why isn´t she in purgatory?
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We know that the purgatory does not literally exist on earth, that Lost Girl is dead when she is confined within it, and that Sue is dead when she arrives there

Well, we don’t know that. This is an assumption that you make. It’s a solid interpretation in that nothing I can see would contradict that, but there are other possibillities.

You state that the face of The Phantom transforms into a grotesque version of Sue´s face and that this is a reflection of her evil. So…do you think that when for instance Doris Side or Karolina had shot The Phantom their own face would appear? Is it specifically connected to the one who shoots him? And can he only be killed once?

Why does Sue encounter the Phantom in the vaccinity of Room 47? Why has Piotrek put the pistol in that drawer where Sue gets it from?

You talk about the old tale Visitor #1 tells. Indeed it´s a pretty important clue as to what´s going on. I believe as you so rightly note that it´s pretty obvious that The Phantom is this `evil` that was born and follows the boy. But who is this little boy she is talking about? And what is this doorway? I´m not convinced the interpretation of this tale is of crucial importance, but it is a helpful one.

As you can see again a lot of questions. I must say I´m enjoying this discussion since it makes me look at the movie from other perspectives.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on April 30, 2017, 12:32:21 PM
What according to you does that accomplish? What is the function of this reincarnation?

I guess that's a big theological question, but basically it seems that reincarnation would allow one person/soul to gain more experience and understanding, leading to further and further enlightenment. That certainly happens in Inland Empire with Sue and Lost Girl, and I'm sure it's happening with the other characters to some degree. (If only the film were 5 hours long, all of that could be covered.)


I admit that the Woman in White could most certainly be Doris Side, but it is by no means a certainty.

If you're looking for certainty in Inland Empire, you've come to the wrong movie.


It all depends on one´s own experience and what one WANTS to see in things. I´m guessing you are somewhat into spirituality and hence you look at IE through that lens, while I have different experiences and interests through which I look at things.

To be fair, Inland Empire is viewed by nearly everyone as a spiritual movie to some degree. I am not coming at it from a controversial angle. The non-spiritual interpretation is the outlier — and it's very difficult to make that argument, because you would need to somehow controvert so much of what we see the movie.


Within your view I think it makes good sense, albeit that I find it rather arbitrary: where does this boy come from?

You've definitely inspired me to revisit the boy. I'll watch closely and report back sometime soon.


If Sue inherits the debt of Lost Girl, why is she still in purgatory? How did she get into purgatory in the first place? Your suggestion is she probably committed suicide, but we do not see tangible clues to this effect except when Karolina seems to regret the murder she just committed when she kneels down at the stairs.

Suicide is total speculation, and I tried to characterize it as such. As for "why is she still in purgatory," I'm not sure who the "she" is in your question. Neither Lost Girl nor Sue remain in the purgatory. Lost Girl moves on to domestic bliss with Smithy, and Sue moves on to the room (the palace?) we see in the end credits.


You write in regard to Sue: “…and the way she lived her life in general.” Do we actually know HOW she lived her life? We see Sue / Dern changing all the time yet you seem to conclude that Sue is the real character we see and therefor what we see happening to her is real. Yes, these other manifestations of the Dern character do not have a name so therefor the distinction is probably less obvious, but they are just as radical as the one between Nikki Grace and Sue.

Strongly disagree with your last point. I will keep an open mind on rewatch, but I don't see enough distinctions between the manifestations of Sue to view them as separate from each other. The difference between Nikki Grace and Sue is extreme by comparison.


Yes we see the Dern character degrading from Nikki Grace to a prostitute on the Walk of Fame, but what evidence do we have she was actually a whore?

I don't believe Sue or Lost Girl are ever literal prostitutes. I would just reiterate what I wrote in Part 4:

In the scene that follows, we see Lost Girl brought into a hotel room and treated like a prostitute by a mysterious man who is neither the Phantom nor Smithy. I believe this scene is figurative and that its purpose is to establish what I call "the prostitute state." After all, this is another connection—Sue and Lost Girl are both made to feel like prostitutes by the abusive men in their lives. (Sue even cries out "I'm a whore!" in one of her late scenes.) While they are definitely not literal prostitutes, they do cheat, and thus they sink into the prostitute state, which leads to self-loathing and spiritual desolation.


What has Julia Side done that would reflect her own inner evil? She is the one that gets murdered and the murder she herself commits (though Sue isn’t really murdered as we witness when she wakes up on the movieset) hasn’t taken place when we see the Phantom hypnotizing her.

I think there's a little evil in all of us. In Inland Empire's theological view, everyone would have to defeat their own inner evil to one degree or another.


How do you square these two opposites: Doris side getting murdered and being a murderer later on?

I mean, this goes back to the absolute core of my interpretation. Is it not clear? These two events happen in two entirely different places, times, and LIFETIMES. The Doris in Inland Empire and the Doris in Old Poland are different incarnations of the same soul.


So…did Sue kill her husband or didn´t she?

We don't know. And we're probably not going to know. That paradox that I described is really beautiful, actually — Lynch is forcing us to accept this permanent mystery.


Well, we don’t know that. This is an assumption that you make. It’s a solid interpretation in that nothing I can see would contradict that, but there are other possibillities.

Right, nothing is absolutely certain. That's fine. As such, I prefer to go with the theories that have evidence to support them. That seems like the most sane way to approach the movie.


You state that the face of The Phantom transforms into a grotesque version of Sue´s face and that this is a reflection of her evil. So…do you think that when for instance Doris Side or Karolina had shot The Phantom their own face would appear? Is it specifically connected to the one who shoots him? And can he only be killed once?

I would just be guessing, but I suppose I would guess that everyone that takes a path like Sue's has to kill their own version of the phantom. He may not appear as that man for other people, but I think he would show them a grotesque reflection in a similar way.

I would also guess that Lost Girl went straight to purgatory. It was Sue's role to defeat the phantom, not hers.


Why has Piotrek put the pistol in that drawer where Sue gets it from?

The mediums in New Poland give him the phantom-killing gun. I assume they told him to put the gun there. Then later, the projectionist in the theater (likely Mr. K) shows Sue the location of this gun.


You talk about the old tale Visitor #1 tells. Indeed it´s a pretty important clue as to what´s going on. I believe as you so rightly note that it´s pretty obvious that The Phantom is this `evil` that was born and follows the boy. But who is this little boy she is talking about? And what is this doorway? I´m not convinced the interpretation of this tale is of crucial importance, but it is a helpful one.

Agreed. I'm not even totally convinced of my interpretation of "the old tale" (because it's so cryptic), and I'm not convinced that all of it is crucially important.

As for "Evil was born and followed the boy" ... My best guess translation: The Phantom followed Smithy to his second life. (And then killed him.) This would make Smithy the boy.

"As he passed through the doorway" ... This part obviously has spiritual meaning — going through the doorway could mean dying/crossing over or reincarnating. (I lean towards reincarnating.)
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Erniesam on April 30, 2017, 05:54:42 PM
Okay, so just a quick response for now.
 
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To be fair, Inland Empire is viewed by nearly everyone as a spiritual movie to some degree. I am not coming at it from a controversial angle. The non-spiritual interpretation is the outlier — and it's very difficult to make that argument, because you would need to somehow controvert so much of what we see the movie.

Well, I personally have never encountered such a spiritual approach to IE. I just find it interesting to see it from a perspective I´ve never encountered before. Whether it´s controversial or not isn´t the issue, since the arguments should determine one´s case. I guess several if not many interpretations are possible; it all depends on like I said one’s personal viewpoints in life. I assure you; non-spiritual interpretations are pretty easy to make and some are very consistent. I’ve read some way way out there interpretations indeed, but also some that really do make alot of sense. That’s the beauty of this movie and Lynch’s work in general; people see what they want to see in it like in abstract paintings. In order for an interpretation to be taken seriously one has to indeed be coherent and make some sense of course. So far as I have read and understood your analysis I think it’s pretty solid and it seems pretty plausible to me. That said I do believe that one can hold interpretations to certain degrees and determine the inherent relevance of connections to each other and within the whole, but in the final analysis when it comes to surrealism it all boils down to personal preference.

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Suicide is total speculation, and I tried to characterize it as such. As for "why is she still in purgatory," I'm not sure who the "she" is in your question. Neither Lost Girl nor Sue remain in the purgatory. Lost Girl moves on to domestic bliss with Smithy, and Sue moves on to the room (the palace?) we see in the end credits.

What I meant by “Why is Lost Girl still in purgatory” is that since she has no longer the debt to pay (this is inherited by Sue) why is she still there? Well, perhaps the debt must be paid no matter who pays it. So Sue goes through these hardships and frees Lost Girl by the embrace. But…do you think Doris Side REALLY kills Sue on the Walk of Fame? If so what do you think is the relevance of the camera pulling back and the viewer witnessing it was “part of the script”?

You state that Lost Girl moves on to domestic bliss with Smithy and you mentioned earlier that you believe this to be a lovely fantasy of Lost Girl in the hereafter. Now…where exactly does this fantasy begin? Right after the embrace we see Lost Girl frantically running through the hallway and desperately searching for the front door through wich we see Smithy and son appear. Is the running of Lost Girl also part of this fantasy?
 
We see this reunion taking place in the same house as we have seen Sue and Smithy. What do you think is the significance of this?

Indeed we see Sue sitting in that room in the end. Supposing she is dead and in the hereafter, why are the people so joyful? And why is she dressed in a light blue dress?

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. The difference between Nikki Grace and Sue is extreme by comparison.

It is of course a real stark difference, all the more since we witness such an emphasis on the difference (with Sue being trapped in Smithy’s house). The differences between the other “Sues” are more subtle. For instance: the Sue we witness in Smithy’s house wears often colourful, light clothes, while the Sue with Mr. K wears dark clothes. The Sue with Mr. K is also bruised on the face. Another Sue, also with Mr. K speaks with a southern accent, while another Sue claims she’s a whore on the Walk of Fame. You state that this is all the same person yet we do not see the same bruises in the face other than the Sue with a southern accent. We also see doppelgangers of Sue, or rather Sue sees them. Do you think they are also the same person?

Well, it’s just my observation and it seems you do not share that view. One can look at Sue and conclude that we see her “paying the debt.” It is indeed another way of looking at it.

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After all, this is another connection—Sue and Lost Girl are both made to feel like prostitutes by the abusive men in their lives. (Sue even cries out "I'm a whore!" in one of her late scenes.) While they are definitely not literal prostitutes, they do cheat, and thus they sink into the prostitute state, which leads to self-loathing and spiritual desolation.

Yes, I agree with you that Sue and Lost Girl are not literal prostitutes, although I come to that conclusion since it fits within my overall view. I do not agree with you that the abusive men in their lives are to blame. Afterall it is Lost Girl who is cheating herself. We never see Sue actually cheating. Yes she gets hit by Smithy in some late scene, but we don’t know what’s going on (on a narrative level). So why would Sue become a whore?
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I think there's a little evil in all of us. In Inland Empire's theological view, everyone would have to defeat their own inner evil to one degree or another.

Well, I would imagine there’s also a little good in all of us; wouldn’t that mean a straight pass to heaven? So since Julia Side has murdered Sue she is also in purgatory? But how can she be guilty when she is hypnotized by the Phantom and ordered to kill Sue? We know that she is told by him to murder someone, since she says so in the scene at the police station. Speaking of which: why does she have this screwdriver in her belly?

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These two events happen in two entirely different places, times, and LIFETIMES. The Doris in Inland Empire and the Doris in Old Poland are different incarnations of the same soul.

I can understand the reincarnations of Sue and Lost Girl depicted in IE, but why should Lynch bother to depict reincarnations of other characters when they have no role to play in the movie? Why couldn’t cast Lynch just random actors when the reincarnation issue doesn’t play a role regarding these other characters?

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We don't know. And we're probably not going to know. That paradox that I described is really beautiful, actually — Lynch is forcing us to accept this permanent mystery.

So where does the blood on her hands come from?

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I would also guess that Lost Girl went straight to purgatory. It was Sue's role to defeat the phantom, not hers.

But does Sue know that? And does Lost Girl know that she is dependent on Sue?

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The mediums in New Poland give him the phantom-killing gun. I assume they told him to put the gun there. Then later, the projectionist in the theater (likely Mr. K) shows Sue the location of this gun.

Check. I also assume that these old men directed Smithy towards this location. I don’t think however that Mr K shows Sue the location. We only see him looking at Sue and then going up the stairs. Sue simply follows him and ends up in this maze of corridors and doors. In fact, I don’t see anybody directing Sue to this location, she simply finds it on her own.

I would like to continue this discussion, but tomorrow is monday and this week I’m pretty busy at work. I guess it will be friday or saturday when I will be able to continue. In the mean time I will ponder over your feedback and will read the last part of your analysis attentively.

Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on April 30, 2017, 06:58:55 PM
What I meant by “Why is Lost Girl still in purgatory” is that since she has no longer the debt to pay (this is inherited by Sue) why is she still there? Well, perhaps the debt must be paid no matter who pays it. So Sue goes through these hardships and frees Lost Girl by the embrace.

Yes, essentially. I think they share the debt. I probably should not have used the word "inherit" (note to self). Because, you're right, Lost Girl is also paying the debt in her current role.


But…do you think Doris Side REALLY kills Sue on the Walk of Fame? If so what do you think is the relevance of the camera pulling back and the viewer witnessing it was “part of the script”?

I believe that Doris killed Sue, and that Sue is reliving that memory, play acting her death that happened long ago. What we see on screen might be part of the original, or the memory, or both, or maybe it doesn't matter. Either way, the fact that this is a memory is crucially important.

The words "remember" or "memory" are in the film so many times (maybe I should count). Definitely far more than "dream." I think Lynch is trying to tell us something.


You state that Lost Girl moves on to domestic bliss with Smithy and you mentioned earlier that you believe this to be a lovely fantasy of Lost Girl in the hereafter.

No, I don't believe that Lost Girl is experiencing any fantasy. Sue is. Lost Girl is experiencing the afterlife. I think in this afterlife, she can have what she wants — domestic bliss with her true love, a son, etc.


We see this reunion taking place in the same house as we have seen Sue and Smithy. What do you think is the significance of this?

That's an interesting question. Not sure it has huge meaning aside from drawing parallels between Lost Girl and Sue. Lynch interchanging them in that scene is certainly a big hint that they are somewhat, you know, interchangeable.


Indeed we see Sue sitting in that room in the end. Supposing she is dead and in the hereafter, why are the people so joyful?

Because it's heaven.


For instance: the Sue we witness in Smithy’s house wears often colourful, light clothes, while the Sue with Mr. K wears dark clothes. The Sue with Mr. K is also bruised on the face. Another Sue, also with Mr. K speaks with a southern accent

I'm sure there were thematic intentions with the wardrobe choices, and that's meaningful, but I don't think it's going to unlock any secrets. I don't think Sue wearing different clothing makes her a different Sue. People change clothes. People get bruises.

The bruise on her face does add some weight to that scene, though, given that she's talking about domestic violence.

I am currently browsing through the movie, trying to find the Sue you're talking about who doesn't have a Southern accent. For the life of me I can't find it. Sue has a Southern accent in every scene that I'm seeing. If you could point me to a time, I will check it out.


while another Sue claims she’s a whore on the Walk of Fame.

We don't need to take that literally. If I heard a woman scream "I'm a whore!" in existential agony, I would not think she is literally identifying herself as a prostitute. It's an expression of her internal torment in that moment.


We never see Sue actually cheating.

We see Sue having sex with Billy at 58 min. Smithy walks in and witnesses her cheating. This is also when the Nikki Grace fantasy is actively collapsing.


So since Julia Side has murdered Sue she is also in purgatory? But how can she be guilty when she is hypnotized by the Phantom and ordered to kill Sue?

Not sure what you're responding to — I didn't say that. I don't know where Doris goes when she dies.


We know that she is told by him to murder someone, since she says so in the scene at the police station. Speaking of which: why does she have this screwdriver in her belly?

I assume that indicates her having been stabbed just like that in her previous life, like I've been saying.


I can understand the reincarnations of Sue and Lost Girl depicted in IE, but why should Lynch bother to depict reincarnations of other characters when they have no role to play in the movie? Why couldn’t cast Lynch just random actors when the reincarnation issue doesn’t play a role regarding these other characters?

No role? Not sure how to respond to this. It seems perfectly logical to include them in the reincarnations, since those actors are repeated too. I fully believe these other characters could be on their own paths of spiritual progress. I have no idea why you would exclude them from that. Why not just follow the movie's logic?
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on April 30, 2017, 07:16:58 PM
Here are screen caps of Doris and the murdered woman. They are both Julia Ormond. You can tell by her nose in particular.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Erniesam on May 01, 2017, 06:00:42 PM
It seems I got off from work earlier than I expected so let me see if I can make some sense this late in the evening.

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I believe that Doris killed Sue, and that Sue is reliving that memory, play acting her death that happened long ago. What we see on screen might be part of the original, or the memory, or both, or maybe it doesn't matter. Either way, the fact that this is a memory is crucially important.

So according to you Sue is already dead at the beginning of IE? You believe the murder of Sue on the Walk of Fame is a memory of hers. Now where does this memory begin and where does it end?

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No, I don't believe that Lost Girl is experiencing any fantasy. Sue is. Lost Girl is experiencing the afterlife. I think in this afterlife, she can have what she wants — domestic bliss with her true love, a son, etc

Since Lost Girl is experiencing the afterlife how can she show Sue her past life? How can she guide Sue by telling her for instance about the silk when she is confined to purgatory?

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Because it's heaven.

What do you think is the significance of the woman beside Dern on the couch in that scene? Why do we see Rita from Mulholland Dr there and why does she show the watch on the arm on the man next to her? Why do we see a woodsman sawing a log? And what is the significance (if any) of Ben Harper on the piano?

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The bruise on her face does add some weight to that scene, though, given that she's talking about domestic violence.

I am currently browsing through the movie, trying to find the Sue you're talking about who doesn't have a Southern accent.

We get to see this bruised Dern with Mr K for the first time right after the scene where the Phantom hits Karolina. We see Dern bruised, but not Karolina / Lost Girl.
I have to admit that I’m not sure about a Dern with Mr K speaking without a southern accent; I have to check that myself also. I could have sworn that was the case, but then the mind can play dirty tricks on you. It’s been quite a while since I have seen IE, so perhaps this weekend I will endulge myself again in this gem.

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We don't need to take that literally. If I heard a woman scream "I'm a whore!" in existential agony, I would not think she is literally identifying herself as a prostitute. It's an expression of her internal torment in that moment.

Sure, I also said “she claims to be a whore.” I take this scene metaphorically, like I take just about everything in IE as such. Though I do think that Dern at that moment literally claims to be a whore I view this symbolically.

You state that Sue is reliving her own death in her memory. Does this mean that the murder we see actually happened that way? If so than Sue must indeed have been a whore. If it did not actually happen that way than why does she imagine it did?

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We see Sue having sex with Billy at 58 min. Smithy walks in and witnesses her cheating. This is also when the Nikki Grace fantasy is actively collapsing.

I have to rewatch this scene again, but I do distinctly remember that in this scene Dern actually thinks she’s Nikki and having sex with Devon, while Devon claims he’s Billy and calling her Sue. That’s why Dern is so mad at him at the end of the scene.

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I assume that indicates her having been stabbed just like that in her previous life, like I've been saying.

Don’t you think that’s quite a coincidence? Or does the Doris Side in contemporary IE know about this screwdriver? Remember that it’s Dern herself who got the screwdriver, so it wasn’t a conscious choice of weapon by Doris. What is the connection between these two screwdrivers? And WHY a screwdriver in the first place?

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It seems perfectly logical to include them in the reincarnations, since those actors are repeated too.

But that’s like calling the chicken an egg. If these actors were NOT repeated one wouldn’t have had to include them in the reincarnations. The question is: WHY use these same actors when their reincarnation isn’t important to the story in anyway?

And finally about Julia Ormond. Yes, she is the dead woman most definitely. No doubt about it. The question is who is this Woman in White and WHY do we not see her face?
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Erniesam on May 01, 2017, 06:06:44 PM
Let’s take a look at your chapter “The Connection.”

We have talked about your view on Sue and Lost Girl as soul mates and that you take the view of Lost Girl guiding Sue. Some things I will skip because you’ve clearified it for me already.

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Even those who might have a radically different interpretation than my own will acknowledge the existence of many scenes which must take place in some kind of afterlife.

We sometimes have blinders on and we don’t notice it. I’ve caught myself many times thinking that some things had to be obvious until I learned other ways of looking at things. Often it is not easy to abandon your own comfortable way of looking at things or indeed doing things and learn to adapt brand new ways. Sometimes ego or pride can be a real hurdle too. Like I’ve said I’ve seen several pretty good and consistent interpretations: all very different in themes and structure. One can interpret IE without considering the afterlife or supernatural elements. It’s a matter of subjective experience and personal preference.

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"Half-born" can only mean a limited number of things. Actually, it can only mean one thing—that Sue was half-born.

The problem is that Visitor #1 doesn’t say that the little girl is half-born. She says “…AS IF half-born.” Yes, the old Polish people say to Piotrek that Nikki is half-born, but aren’t they part of the Nikki Grace fantasy? We find duality in so many things in IE that it’s hard to connect this phrase to a specific element or indeed to one thing.

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That song belongs to Lost Girl, who is in fact the unborn half who watches the born half through her purgatory television.

Why is Lost Girl the “unborn half”? She has been born, but died and sits in purgatory. How is she “unborn”? Sue according to you is also already dead, so why isn’t she in purgatory?

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She "guards" Sue by creating or co-creating the comfort-blanket Nikki Grace fantasy (which reimagines Sue's life as that of a happy, successful actress).

Actually, Lost Girl doesn’t co-create the Nikki Grace fantasy. In fact quite the opposite: she is the one who suggests to Sue to fold silk, burn a hole in it and look through it. After Sue does this we arrive in Old Poland for the first time. Lost Girl leads Sue to this Old Polish story in which we see infidellity and murder. Yes she guides Dern in this important instance, but what is protective about this? Does she want to give Sue a look at her own life / affair? Does she want Sue to suffer and pay the unpaid bill so that she can be freed from purgatory?

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This is a pretty remarkable moment of exposition for Lynch. If you had any doubt about this connection, that should take care of it. (I just wish we could hear everything they whispered.)

Even if Dern acts this like she is looking at herself doesn’t neccesarily mean that Lost Girl is her “soulmate.” It could be, but there are other possibillities.

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If she's not only guiding but is also "in partnership" with a spirit guide, who is this spirit guide? Well, make that plural, because we're talking about the prostitutes.

Why should Lost Girl be in “partnership” with a spirit guide? Do you think the prostitutes have good intentions?  Yes, Sue eventually gets on the other side, but only through reliving her own horrible death. This is the way to pay the unpaid bill? Hmmm, sounds rather Christian to me.

You interpret the running of the two prostitutes in the hallway as blissful. It seems to me that they are running away and are rather scared. Just like they did when Dern got murdered on the Walk of Fame.

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Remember the stunning parallels between Old Poland characters and contemporary Inland Empire characters?

It seems to me that we are dealing with a third time frame and that is somewhere in the sixties, early seventies. Looking at the clothes of Sue in Smithy’s house along with the furniture this definitely has the style of that period.

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Let's review. Lost Girl lives a tragic life, makes some pretty horrible mistakes, and ends up dead in purgatory. She watches and acts in a guiding capacity [44] as her soulmate (Sue) lives out a very similar existence, dies, struggles badly to return, and then finally does, destroying their shared inner-evil. The unpaid bill has been paid. They accomplish this—albeit in a certain involuntary manner—as a kind of spiritual team.

How does Lost Girl know that Sue is her soulmate? Where does Sue live out this similar existence? You state that Sue struggles badly to return. Return to purgatory? Was she already in purgatory before or do you see her as part of Lost Girl and therefor a part of Sue is indeed in purgatory?

Question, questions.

I wanted to ask you Jeremy how you interpret Mulholland Dr? Do you believe there the same actors playing different characters are reincarnations? Just curious.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on May 01, 2017, 07:20:12 PM
Since Lost Girl is experiencing the afterlife how can she show Sue her past life? How can she guide Sue by telling her for instance about the silk when she is confined to purgatory?

I gotta say I'm concerned about, and kind of exhausted by, your approach. The movie is not a series of answers to a list of questions. We are not going to know how everything works.

^ If you're still asking that question, I'm not sure you're ever going to buy into my interpretation. Spiritual powers work because they are spiritual powers. This is magic.

I am not going to be able to give you a satisfactory explanation for how spiritual powers work. Lost Girl can guide Sue because she has been given that power. It's that simple. There is just no point in getting hung up on something like this.


I have to rewatch this scene again, but I do distinctly remember that in this scene Dern actually thinks she’s Nikki and having sex with Devon, while Devon claims he’s Billy and calling her Sue. That’s why Dern is so mad at him at the end of the scene.

Right... I think that's why we know we're seeing an episode from Sue's life. This is actually probably a good example of reliving. Sue is not yet convinced that she is Sue, but she is inside an experience from Sue's life.


The question is: WHY use these same actors when their reincarnation isn’t important to the story in anyway?

I think Lynch trusts the viewer enough to allow them to make inferences and extrapolations. He does not need to hold our hands and show us a separate story for every reincarnation — we can deduce that they exist.


And finally about Julia Ormond. Yes, she is the dead woman most definitely. No doubt about it. The question is who is this Woman in White and WHY do we not see her face?

There is a possibility that woman with her back to us is someone other than Julia Ormond. But she looks, even from behind, like Julia Ormond. And all other contextual evidence points to it.

Given that there is little or no evidence for an alternative, I don't think I have to prove that it's Julia Ormond. I'm going to accept that as the likely truth without knowing for sure absolutely. That is the only rational way to engage with this movie.


Why is Lost Girl the “unborn half”? She has been born, but died and sits in purgatory. How is she “unborn”? Sue according to you is also already dead, so why isn’t she in purgatory?

I certainly didn't mean she was never born. I wrote "unborn" in that sentence and probably should have used a different word.


Actually, Lost Girl doesn’t co-create the Nikki Grace fantasy. In fact quite the opposite: she is the one who suggests to Sue to fold silk, burn a hole in it and look through it. After Sue does this we arrive in Old Poland for the first time. Lost Girl leads Sue to this Old Polish story in which we see infidellity and murder. Yes she guides Dern in this important instance, but what is protective about this? Does she want to give Sue a look at her own life / affair? Does she want Sue to suffer and pay the unpaid bill so that she can be freed from purgatory?

It's true, my suggestion that Lost Girl co-created the Nikki Grace fantasy doesn't have much evidence for it.

It did feel right to me at the time. Lost Girl is the "half" that is currently in a spiritual realm, so she would have more access to those powers than Sue, who is lost and wandering. More than that, I believed that Lost Girl's strong bond of empathy for Sue might have led her to create a comforting fantasy.

I don't think I believe that anymore, though. When we first see Lost Girl engage with the tape of Sue's experience, the visitor is coming to the door. It's as if Lost Girl has been put here to help bring about Sue's awakening (NOT contribute to the fantasy) and to also guide Sue with empathy and love until they can be re-unified.

By the way, at that moment when Lost Girl's viewing experience begins, we hear this lyric on the soundtrack: "On the other side I see you."


Even if Dern acts this like she is looking at herself doesn’t neccesarily mean that Lost Girl is her “soulmate.” It could be, but there are other possibillities.

What is a more likely alternative?


You interpret the running of the two prostitutes in the hallway as blissful. It seems to me that they are running away and are rather scared.

You should revisit that scene — they are grinning cartoonishly and are clearly very excited. They are happy. Sure there's also a weirdness to it, but that's this movie.


It seems to me that we are dealing with a third time frame and that is somewhere in the sixties, early seventies. Looking at the clothes of Sue in Smithy’s house along with the furniture this definitely has the style of that period.

Remember when Sue says "I lost a bunch of years"? This is from More Things That Happened, referenced in Dream Origin:

"You gotta understand, I was 41 years old in 1960. I'm freaked out about it, cause I lost a bunch of years."
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Erniesam on May 02, 2017, 07:24:45 PM
It’s very late over here (just got home from work) so I will keep it brief. Just wanted to comment on your last post.
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The movie is not a series of answers to a list of questions. We are not going to know how everything works.

Maybe you’re right and I am overanylizing. Since we are dealing with surrealism and metaphors there are bound to be elements which will always be hard to make sense of. The main thing is to get a satisfactory overall interpretation that works for you.

 
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Sue is not yet convinced that she is Sue, but she is inside an experience from Sue's life.

Sounds reasonable, So do you think Sue isn’t aware that she’s Sue? Or isn’t she aware that she is reliving a past experience?

About Julia Ormond…yet again. It seems I’m a bit stick on that part, doesn’t it? Anyway my question remains: why do we not see her face in that scene and why does the girl ask straight into the camera: “Who is she?”. It’s just an element in the movie that I think is important otherwise Lynch wouldn’t have put so much emphasis on it. If you do not find this question important than just skip it. There’s so much other stuff to talk about regarding this movie.

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It's as if Lost Girl has been put here to help bring about Sue's awakening (NOT contribute to the fantasy)

This seems very plausible to me since the advise that Lost Girl gives about the silk does bring the Old Polish scenes in play. In these scenes we see Karolina and Smithy (as the Moustache Man). Do you think that Sue can see these scenes or that only Karolina can see them or can they both see these scenes? Your position is that what we see is a reliving of the past of reincarnations of Sue and Lost Girl. Sue doesn’t appear in these Polish scenes so would it be of any use for her to be able to see them?

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By the way, at that moment when Lost Girl's viewing experience begins, we hear this lyric on the soundtrack: "On the other side I see you."

Yes, a very poignant clue it is indeed. Clearly Lost Girl and Dern are on opposite sides from each other, but these sides can be interpreted in a number of ways. To stick with your approach: it fits right into your view and makes sense.

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What is a more likely alternative?

That’s not easy to explain; it would mean a whole exposition of my personal view.  A “likely alternative” depends on the nature of the overall view. One interpretation I’ve come across stated that Dern and Lost Girl were old girl friends and just before the latter died they had a fallout of some kind. The theory was that Lost Girl couldn’t go on until Dern had made it up to her. Well, that could make sense, but it all depends on how it fits the overall view. To coin a IE-phrase: regarding their relation “there’s an ocean of possibillities.”  In your overall view there is not a more likely alternative, but depending on one’s view there could be more likely alternatives out there.

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You should revisit that scene — they are grinning cartoonishly and are clearly very excited. They are happy. Sure there's also a weirdness to it, but that's this movie.

It’s very difficult to come to a consensus when the interpretation of one image is concerned. You see blissfulness, I see anxiety. Do you know what the expression on the face of the girl on the left reminds me of? Of the clownish smile we have seen on Dern twice and on the clownsface itself. But…maybe I’m seeing things.

How do you interpret LH and MD? Also along similar lines as you do IE? I think it is inevitable that we tap out of our own experiences in order to interpret these movies. I know that I do anyway: in all three I see a similar pattern and structure. How do you interpret the same actors playing different roles in these other two movies?
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on May 03, 2017, 02:51:56 PM
Sue doesn’t appear in these Polish scenes so would it be of any use for her to be able to see them?

I think it expands on Lost Girl & Sue's symbiotic relationship. Lost Girl is being shown Sue's experience. Lost Girl then shows part of her life experience to Sue to more fully form that connection. Perhaps they are scenes that Sue can especially relate to. It's getting Sue to realize that there is someone out there who is deeply connected to her and guiding her to some degree. I think this helps make Sue aware her aware of that guidance, and of that pull. She is constantly being pulled toward something.

How do you interpret LH and MD? Also along similar lines as you do IE? I think it is inevitable that we tap out of our own experiences in order to interpret these movies. I know that I do anyway: in all three I see a similar pattern and structure. How do you interpret the same actors playing different roles in these other two movies?

I did make a theory for Mulholland Drive here:

http://xixax.com/index.php?topic=1285.msg123289#msg123289

I've since come closer to the conventional explanation. Still not sure who is actually having the dream, though... that still nags at me. I talk about that here:

http://xixax.com/index.php?topic=1285.msg331397#msg331397
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Erniesam on May 03, 2017, 07:15:41 PM
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I think it expands on Lost Girl & Sue's symbiotic relationship. Lost Girl is being shown Sue's experience. Lost Girl then shows part of her life experience to Sue to more fully form that connection. Perhaps they are scenes that Sue can especially relate to. It's getting Sue to realize that there is someone out there who is deeply connected to her and guiding her to some degree. I think this helps make Sue aware her aware of that guidance, and of that pull. She is constantly being pulled toward something.
We see Lost Girl watching events unfold on the tv, but we never see the Dern character do that. Moreover, when Dern looks at Lost Girl on the monitor at the end she doesn’t know her. She looks familiar, but Dern doesn’t give a sign of recognition. Now IF Sue did indeed see these scenes with Karolina, surely she should recognize her.

I have to take a look at your theory for MD. I just browsed it through rather quickly and it seems to me that you indeed view MD along similar lines as you do IE. It would have been a surprise if you didn’t of course. I’d love to talk about MD too, but this isn’t the place for it obviously. I was disappointed to see that there’s no activity on that (and this) thread for nearly 2 years! Do you have any suggestions to attract more people to these threads? When it comes to interpretations of surrealism the more ideas and feedback there is the more fruitful it becomes.
 
As for who’s having the dream… After some pondering over MD I came to the conclusion that that must be Diane and that Rita dreams within this dream of Diane. We can talk about this more, but I guess it’s better to do it in the right thread.

This weekend I wil check out the rest of your analysis of IE and see if I get it.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on May 03, 2017, 08:44:40 PM
Moreover, when Dern looks at Lost Girl on the monitor at the end she doesn’t know her. She looks familiar, but Dern doesn’t give a sign of recognition.

Dern doesn't look at Lost Girl on a monitor, though...

When Sue looks directly at Lost Girl after her death, we don't know exactly what Sue is seeing (or how). Lost Girl is looking at her TV, but how does Sue see Lost Girl? We don't know. The image Sue sees could be anything or of any quality. Lost Girl's face has already been blurred in the movie, for example. Given that she's in the spirit world now, Sue might be seeing some crazy spectre of an image, or she might be seeing the idea of Lost Girl, the abstract thought of her. When you're in this spirit realm, rules go out the window. Physical continuity is no longer a valid concern.

I would say that Sue probably sees Lost Girl's face clearly at the earlier points in the movie, when she sees Lost Girl's instructions and then watches the scene(s) from Lost Girl's life. Being spiritually lost and confused at that point, I would not expect Sue to recognize Lost Girl quite yet — not in the full sense.

We see Lost Girl watching events unfold on the tv, but we never see the Dern character do that

At 1:11:30, the prostitutes ("valley girls") transport Sue to Old Poland and show her where Lost Girl's life took place. ("This is the street. Do you want to see?") And just BEFORE they do that, they (collectively) told her this:

"In the future, you will be dreaming in a kind of sleep. When you open your eyes, someone familiar will be there." [Obviously referring to Lost Girl.]

Once Sue is transported, the beautifully insane thing is that we then see that Lost Girl is watching Sue watch her memories. Inception! Once that connection is made, Lost Girl then steps in as a guide. I seriously recommend revisiting this sequence and watching it closely — all of that is pretty clearly laid out through the visual language.

Then, when Sue burns the hole in the silk, we see time spinning backwards (on the watch), and Sue finally gets to see actual scenes from Lost Girl's life. Just as Lost Girl has been watching scenes from Sue's life. (I think that's indisputable, frankly.)

After Sue "dies" (realizes that she is dead) on the walk of fame, her mood and manner become serene and zen-like. And it persists. I would be careful not to mistake that for confusion. She is not confused — she consistently appears to have some idea of where to go and what to do. Just enough to lead her to each new discovery. She is feeling that pull stronger than ever now, and it is also more clear.

When Sue finally meets Lost Girl at the end, there is no confusion here. I think it can only be described as profound recognition. We see Lost Girl wide-eyed and shocked that this is actually happening. She stands up. Their eyes lock. We see Sue visibly smiling with wonder. Sue, in fact, slowly steps forward and initiates the kiss that melds them.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on May 05, 2017, 06:58:28 PM
Currently going through the movie pretty carefully and re-examining my interpretation.

A few changes/additions so far:

- Rethinking the Phantom a bit. He is more complex and inscrutable than I gave him credit for.

- Calling Nikki "fake" is not quite right. It's better to think of it this way: Nikki is the spirit, and Sue is who she was in one life. Nikki "becomes" Sue because she is remembering (reliving) that life. Then when she finally returns to spirit form, that is indeed Nikki once again.

- "On High In Blue Tomorrows" is a cursed story that Sue is trapped in, and "47" is a cursed story that Lost Girl was trapped in. I view these as metaphors for each of their lives. (Our lives are all cursed stories!)

- There is a trespasser during rehearsal, and that is Sue. As a ghost, she exists outside of time. That is how/why this time travel paradox thing can work, when Sue later sees Nikki in that same moment.

- It could be that Nikki realizes she is not real, so she ceases to exist, and we then follow Sue. But that actually seems less likely now. When Sue sees Nikki at the rehearsal table, we have switched to Sue, but Nikki still exists. Nikki can still exist because she has not yet realized she is Sue. If Nikki had disappeared or ceased to exist, she would not be there to see. And again, Sue can travel outside the bounds of time because she is a ghost.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Erniesam on May 06, 2017, 11:42:01 AM
Hi Jeremy,

Let’s see if we can continue this discussion now that it’s weekend.

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When Sue looks directly at Lost Girl after her death, we don't know exactly what Sue is seeing (or how). Lost Girl is looking at her TV, but how does Sue see Lost Girl? We don't know.

Yes, you’re right about that. We don’t know what Dern is seeing. I’ve checked that scene just now and it’s indeed pretty odd. The only thing we know for sure is that Lost Girl sees Dern staring straight into the camera. Although we later on see a projection on the celluloid in the theater with things that occur right at that moment, I don’t believe that Dern can see Lost Girl at that moment. It seems to me that Dern doesn’t show signs of recognition, but rather of something she feels intuitively. She looks in the direction of Lost Girl intuitively and feels something…perhaps it feels “familiar?” It’s obvious this whole sequence is surreal since we suddenly find Dern in the theater, while she was at the backlot of the studios.

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I would say that Sue probably sees Lost Girl's face clearly at the earlier points in the movie, when she sees Lost Girl's instructions and then watches the scene(s) from Lost Girl's life. Being spiritually lost and confused at that point, I would not expect Sue to recognize Lost Girl quite yet — not in the full sense.

The only time we see Dern and Lost Girl interacting is when they embrace: we NEVER see them together in one scene before this. I find it hard to believe that when Sue watched the scenes of Lost Girl that she doesn’t recognize her.

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Once Sue is transported, the beautifully insane thing is that we then see that Lost Girl is watching Sue watch her memories. Inception! Once that connection is made, Lost Girl then steps in as a guide.

But…we have ALREADY seen Lost Girl give advise to Sue. After she tells Sue about burning a hole through the silk the first thing that Sue sees is another Dern. Right after this the prostitutes show her Old Poland. So…the connection is made AFTER Lost Girl already had stepped in as a guide.
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Then, when Sue burns the hole in the silk, we see time spinning backwards (on the watch), and Sue finally gets to see actual scenes from Lost Girl's life. Just as Lost Girl has been watching scenes from Sue's life. (I think that's indisputable, frankly.)

Why do you think that we see time spinning backwards right at that moment?

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Sue, in fact, slowly steps forward and initiates the kiss that melds them.

Yes, indeed. Dern is the one that initiates that kiss. Why do you think that is?

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- Calling Nikki "fake" is not quite right. It's better to think of it this way: Nikki is the spirit, and Sue is who she was in one life. Nikki "becomes" Sue because she is remembering (reliving) that life. Then when she finally returns to spirit form, that is indeed Nikki once again.

This is such an instance where I think our views of LH and MD do come into play. I see similar patterns in all three movies where some names are concerned. Lynch uses names just as he uses colours: they do play a significant part in the storytelling. So…Nikki Grace is rather obvious of course as is Sue (aka Sue Blue). We never hear the name of the last Dern we see. She also looks very different than the Nikki we were introduced to. What do you think the image of the last Dern means? And why does she wear a blue dress?

On a side note: I’ve read the analysis of Kylefoley76. Although I admire the effort he has put into this, I’m not at all convinced by his reasoning. Many of his interpretations are pretty farfetched and his overall view (in regard to the meaning of IE) I find pretty convoluted. Your theory of reincarnations at least has consistency and no contradictions. I think it is a viable interpretation. I do think it is inevitable that there are always some minor things or little scenes we cannot put our fingers on, but that’s part of the ongoing appeal of this movie, I think.

You notice that I ask many questions. They involve things that I do not find in your analysis and think are important. I am just wondering how you incorporate these things into your overall view. Yes, we have different views and that makes a discussion like this worthwile. My view isn’t complete and maybe it never will, but I’m pretty confident about certain aspects of it. Like for instance:

-   We never see the actual “woman in trouble”
-   The Dern character never committed a “real” murder
-   The Dern character had an extra-marital affair
-   We see a suppression fantasy unfolding through time

These are observations I’m pretty convinced of. This does contradict with your view in that you see only the Nikki Grace sequence as a fantasy, while the rest as a journey to the purgatory (well to put it simple and blunt anyway). To discuss all the non-Nikki Grace scenes means we are comparing apples and oranges. For instance: I’m not worried about explaining locations and movements of characters, since I view IE as the inner workings of the mind of the Woman in Trouble. Hence I view practically everything in IE as metaphorical. Though your theory of reincarnation I find pretty sound, you do have to explain alot more when it comes to these things. You’re right about not having to explain how reincarnation or the spiritual realm works, but even than there are scenes that do not fall into that category like The Rabbits for instance.
 
Okay, tonight I will check out the next chapters in your analysis: from “Dream Origin” to “Enlightenment.” Looking forward to it.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on May 06, 2017, 01:01:17 PM
I don’t believe that Dern can see Lost Girl at that moment. It seems to me that Dern doesn’t show signs of recognition, but rather of something she feels intuitively. She looks in the direction of Lost Girl intuitively and feels something…perhaps it feels “familiar?”

Sort of agree, yes. I think Sue experiences recognition there, but it doesn't last in a strong way — she is still unsure. Lost Girl has a much stronger reaction and seems to be more clear about it.

But…we have ALREADY seen Lost Girl give advise to Sue. After she tells Sue about burning a hole through the silk the first thing that Sue sees is another Dern. Right after this the prostitutes show her Old Poland. So…the connection is made AFTER Lost Girl already had stepped in as a guide.

If I understand what you're saying here, you do not have the chronology right.

Why do you think that we see time spinning backwards right at that moment?

Because we're going back in time. Yet another example of how spiritual beings can move through time. Which is also how Sue is able to arrive at the rehearsal to see Nikki before her awakening.

So…Nikki Grace is rather obvious of course as is Sue (aka Sue Blue). We never hear the name of the last Dern we see. She also looks very different than the Nikki we were introduced to. What do you think the image of the last Dern means?

As I was saying, I agree that we see Nikki again at the end. It makes perfect sense to me that "Nikki Grace" would be the name tied to her spirit, where "Sue Blue" was her name during that unpleasant life.

We never see the actual “woman in trouble”

Speaking of doubles. That tagline has a double meaning, referring to both Sue and Lost Girl, who are both clearly in trouble. Its singularity ("a woman") hints once again at them being unified.

The Dern character never committed a “real” murder

Right, probably not. Her role in this life is to be murdered.

I view practically everything in IE as metaphorical.

A lot of things are, for sure. But I think there's a clear deeper logic at work.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Erniesam on May 06, 2017, 04:07:04 PM
Hmmm, I just stick with the chapter “Dream Origin” for this post for your analysis is pretty elaborate. I just read through it and came to the conclusion that handling three chapters at once was a bit much.
 
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In the future... you will be dreaming... in a kind of sleep... When you open your eyes.
.. someone familiar will be there. (This "someone familiar," of course, is Lost Girl.)

Yes, a very important clue it is indeed. I think you’re right in that Lost Girl is that someone familiar (though I believe that many clues and phrases Lynch uses in his movies and IE in particular can mean several things simultaneously). What’s interesting is that Lynch uses the phrase “in a kind of sleep” suggesting we are not dealing with a dream how it usually is perceived. Now…if this is not a dream than what are we to make of “When you open your eyes”? What do you think this phrase could mean?

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There is, in fact, a ton of evidence that Sue has been dead for a while, wandering the world as a confused and reflective ghost. We know incontrovertibly that she is in this classic limbo state after the Hollywood & Vine scene. The question is whether she is dead even before that. I am inclined to believe she is. Exhibit A is Sue's constant chronological confusion.

You label the state Dern is in after the death scene as “incontrovertibly” a classic limbo state. I don’t believe that’s as indisputable as you might think. Yes Dern acts like she doesn’t know the people around her and does not respond to them, but there are other possible interpretations out there. Your interpretation is valid though, I do not see a contradiction in regard to your other interpretations. As for Sue already being dead; I do not see convincing evidence of that. Yes she is constantly confused, but that can mean alot of things.

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During the blue-lit under-the-covers lovemaking scene, Sue (on the verge of self-realization) talks to Billy (who is not Devon anymore). She says this: [46]
This thing that happened. It's a story that happened yesterday, but I know it's tomorrow.

Much later in the film, Sue reiterates her chronological confusion to Mr. K: [47]
The thing is, I don't know what was before or after. I don't know what happened first, and it's kind of laid a mind fuck on me.

“It’s a story that happened yesterday, but I know it’s tomorrow” clearly reiterates the phrase Visitor 1 mentioned: “For instance like I said it was 09:45 you would think it was after midnight.” So isn’t it fair to say that the Dern character connects something inseperably that happened later to something that happened earlier? The question is of course: WHAT are these two instances? WHAT is the trigger at 09:45 that makes Dern think of something after midnight? She says she doesn’t know what happened first, which would seem to suggest that these two “instances” have become synonymous to Dern; she cannot seperate them and it seems to me that this indeed has made her confused if not to say mentally very unstable.

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You gotta understand, I was 41 years old in 1960. I'm freaked out about it, cause I lost a bunch of years.

Ah yes, More Things That Happened. An absolutely fascinating addendum to IE. They are certainly way more than just deleted scenes, although I do understand why Lynch has cut some of them: it would make things too obvious. However, I don’t understand him cutting that scene with Dern sitting in the living room with the prostitutes behind her: that’s such an amazing scene, absolutely gorgeous.
 
Like I said earlier: I’m not convinced we can trust everything we hear and see, since I view the “narrator” as highly untrustworthy (for obvious reasons). Still let’s take this dialogue to be truth. Perhaps Dern was indeed 41 in 1960, that would mean she is in her 80’s in 2005. She also says: “I lost a bunch of years.” If she died in 1960 how could she loose a bunch of years? To be honest, I don’t find your explanation for the 2005 setting at the beginning of IE convincing. How can someone imagine the future?
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Erniesam on May 06, 2017, 04:15:30 PM
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If I understand what you're saying here, you do not have the chronology right.

What do you mean by this? The chronology is just as I described it: I have checked it especially before I posted that.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on May 06, 2017, 04:35:03 PM
Re: Chronology. I really don't understand what you're saying about Lost Girl giving her advice before a certain point and establishing a connection. We can skip that but if you want to get into that you'll have to restate it in a different way.

Re: "incontrovertible." Yeah, agreed, not the best word to use there.

Re: "when you open your eyes, someone familiar will be there." I think it's clear that Sue/Nikki emerges from the "kind of sleep" after she is stabbed, and that is when she opens her eyes and comes to the realizations I've described.

Perhaps Dern was indeed 41 in 1960, that would mean she is in her 80’s in 2005. She also says: “I lost a bunch of years.” If she died in 1960 how could she loose a bunch of years? To be honest, I don’t find your explanation for the 2005 setting at the beginning of IE convincing. How can someone imagine the future?

My theory (as stated in the analysis) is that she has been wandering the world as a ghost, and possibly within fantasies, for that time.

But also, as I've said, I think it's clear that Sue has the ability to time travel. We see her go back in time at least once, when she goes back to see herself as Nikki at the rehearsal table. I'll have more content on that coming soonish though.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Erniesam on May 07, 2017, 11:28:50 AM
In your chapter “It Takes a Village” I came upon several remarkable observations and interpretations, but let’s go at it step by step.

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We've established that Sue, in her living and reliving, is guided by Lost Girl and the prostitutes.

I find it remarkable that you view the prostitutes as guides for Sue. I understand it when you view the reliving of this horrible life as essential to the cleansing of Sue, but they aren’t exactly friendly to her, are they? Yes, they act like they are her friend and try to lure her into prostitution. At the end, when Dern gets stabbed on the Walk of Fame the prostitutes all abandon her. I got the impression that the prostitutes work on behalf of the Phantom. Remember they talk about “that thing he does”and we see The Phantom doing his “thing” when he hypnotizes Doris. Perhaps they do “guide” Sue, but I don’t believe that they have good intentions.

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It's fairly clear that "LB" means "light bulb." In fact, this is probably the least controversial topic in INLAND EMPIRE interpretation.

To be honest, I never heard or read about LB meaning “Light bulb.” It is indeed a possibillity though I wonder what meaning you are able to attach to the crossing of the letters LB on Dern’s hand in that scene.

You state that the bulb is red, but it’s not. It’s a plain glass light bulb.

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We see no negative effects from the light bulb, but we do see plenty of positive ones. The light bulb establishes the very first clear line of communication between Sue and the prostitutes, Lost Girl, and Lost Girl's past life (a version of which Sue is living/reliving, after all). This is extraordinarily meaningful. The Phantom, in his capacity as keeper and installer of the red light bulb, makes all of that possible.

Earlier in this chapter you state that you’re not convinced that he’s a nefarious figure. That really baffles me ‘cause it seems to me pretty obvious that he IS the evil that Dern is afraid of. You say that the light bulb has positive effects like the establishment of the communication between Sue and the prostitutes, but I don’t see any positive traits in these prostitutes. To me they act like loverboys and are luring Sue over to…well, the dark side you might say. Furthermore, the lampshade is red which indicates prostitution. Do you also notice that right after this shot we see the prostitutes in the room and a small blue bright light. Lynch often uses blue to indicate reality or truth. I understand why you might view the Phantom not as nefarious for it coincides with your overall interpretation that it’s a good thing that Sue relives her life, but I don’t see the Phantom guiding Dern. We only see him looking for her and scare the living daylights out of her; hardly a friendly guide.
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We can also talk about the Phantom's role as guardian of the purgatory.

I don’t see evidence of the Phantom being a guardian of Room 47. We see him trying to prevent Dern from entering, but we never see him in the vaccinity of that room. He’s only there when Dern is there. I would argue that The Phantom is specifically attached to Dern.

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Remember what Sue says when she arrives in Mr. K's room? "I was told you can help me." He is not simply a device.

Who do you think "told" her that?

About Mr. K. The reference to Kafka is obvious, but also the likeness to Stanley Kubrick.
 
I forgot to mention it earlier, but in the chapter “The Connection” you quote the parable of Visitor #1. You wrote: “ …a ghost – a reflection – evil- was born…” That’s not what Visitor #1 says. It’s: “HE CAUSED a reflection – evil was born.” Depending on one’s interpretation, this could make a huge difference of course.

And finally just a random question: why do you think Dern walks backwards twice: when she takes a look at the exterior of Smithy’s house and when she goes into the Rabbit’s Room?

Next I will check your Part 4 and perhaps I will add some more questions I might have.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Erniesam on May 07, 2017, 11:38:46 AM
I forgot to address the point about the chronology.

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Re: Chronology. I really don't understand what you're saying about Lost Girl giving her advice before a certain point and establishing a connection. We can skip that but if you want to get into that you'll have to restate it in a different way.

I got the impression you believe that Sue and Lost Girl make a connection after this transportation to Old Poland scene from this sentence you wrote:

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Once Sue is transported, the beautifully insane thing is that we then see that Lost Girl is watching Sue watch her memories. Inception! Once that connection is made, Lost Girl then steps in as a guide.

You state that AFTER this connection is made that Lost Girl steps in as a guide. That’s why I mentioned this advise of Lost Girl that takes place before this transportation scene.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on May 07, 2017, 12:30:45 PM
Re: prostitutes ("valley girls"). I understand your interpretation there. But I don't think they need to be friendly. The visitors are certainly not friendly to Sue, but they also guide her in the right direction (we assume).

I think it's obvious that the valley girls are guides for Sue. They appear inside some of her memories and literally show her Old Poland. Is that not guiding? They're also pretty friendly in that scene.

LB meaning "light bulb" was the predominant theory on the official David Lynch forum. I'm open to other interpretations. It could also mean "little boy," since that's a phrase we hear many times.

The light bulb produces a red color. It didn't seem overly important to me whether the light bulb was actually red (might have a red tint) or whether the lampshade was causing the red color. Maybe that is important, though.


I forgot to mention it earlier, but in the chapter “The Connection” you quote the parable of Visitor #1. You wrote: “ …a ghost – a reflection – evil- was born…” That’s not what Visitor #1 says. It’s: “HE CAUSED a reflection – evil was born.” Depending on one’s interpretation, this could make a huge difference of course.

Totally agreed — I actually found this error a few days ago when going through the movie and started thinking about how that would change my interpretation. That is what prompted my May 5 post. It makes me less certain about the Phantom and less sure that we can specifically pin him down. I still very much believe he reflects evil, because we see that, and I believe he's a force of nature — but I think he is more evil than I previously believed. (Anyway, I'm surprised you're the first person to spot this.)

As I continue going through the movie I'll look for exactly what the Phantom does. Just an example — when he first startles Sue with that light bulb in his mouth, he scares her enough that she picks up the screwdriver, which will be used to "kill" her. That directly leads to her awakening. In that case, it seems like he's simply setting things in motion.

I have a hard time viewing the Phantom as pure evil. It's not as if he runs at her or curses her — he simply appears with the light bulb in his mouth and just stands there.


I don’t see evidence of the Phantom being a guardian of Room 47. We see him trying to prevent Dern from entering, but we never see him in the vaccinity of that room. He’s only there when Dern is there. I would argue that The Phantom is specifically attached to Dern.

He does seem to be a guardian — Sue has to get past him to get to the room. I'm not sure he is always posted there. In fact, I would agree that he is probably specifically tied to Sue and Lost Girl (both, clearly). Other people may have their own version of the Phantom who was a figure from their own lives.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on May 07, 2017, 12:30:56 PM
Re: Chronology. I think we are in agreement. Here's my original quote:

[1] Once Sue is transported, the beautifully insane thing is that [2] we then see that Lost Girl is watching Sue watch her memories. Inception! Once that connection is made, [3] Lost Girl then steps in as a guide. I seriously recommend revisiting this sequence and watching it closely — all of that is pretty clearly laid out through the visual language.

 Then, when Sue burns the hole in the silk, we see time spinning backwards (on the watch), and Sue finally gets to see actual scenes from Lost Girl's life. Just as Lost Girl has been watching scenes from Sue's life.

This is the sequence I was talking about:

1:11:07 — "In the future, you will be dreaming..."

1:11:36 — [1] Sue is "transported" to Old Poland. "This is the street. Do you want to see?"

1:12:52 — [2] Lost Girl sees this. As I said: "Lost Girl is watching Sue watch her memories."

1:13:03 — [3] Lost Girl tells Sue what to do next. As I said: "Once that connection is made, Lost Girl then steps in as a guide."
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Erniesam on May 07, 2017, 04:48:42 PM
First I’d like to respond to your last post. I was mistaken in that I thought that the “transportation” scene to Old Poland occurred after Lost Girl talks about the hole in the silk, but that is the scene where the camera just pans out of the window and into the doorway on the other side of the street.  So…your theory about Lost Girl guiding Sue when the connection is made in the Old Poland scene is indeed viable.
 
In this sense I can understand your positive view of the prostitutes. Although the girls who are showing Sue the street are constantly singled out as her guides: we see them in the scene with the Woman in White and later on during the barbecue scene where Sue asks them: “Look at me and tell me if you’ve known me before.” I believe they are also the ones in that scene wherein Lost Girl asks the same question, although I’m not really sure about that.

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I think it's obvious that the valley girls are guides for Sue. They appear inside some of her memories and literally show her Old Poland. Is that not guiding? They're also pretty friendly in that scene.

You are right about a guide not needing to be friendly in order to be functional. We see indeed many characters being unfriendly towards Dern: both Visitors, the visitors from Poland, Smithy and others. I just have a hard time believing that the prostitutes have good intentions. The biggest clue to them being hostile or at least egotistical is when they run away when Sue is murdered. They lure her into prostitution and when Sue needs them most they abandon her. Yet in the beginning they DO give Sue advise about dreaming a kind of sleep etc. My contention is that there is a progression from helpful to hostile.
 
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LB meaning "light bulb" was the predominant theory on the official David Lynch forum. I'm open to other interpretations. It could also mean "little boy," since that's a phrase we hear many times.

While Light Bulb certainly an option is, I don’t see the meaning of these letters being crossed out on Sue’s hand. What meaning do you attach to this? Yes, I believe LB to stand for Little Boy. It all depends on your overall view and what makes the most sense to you; “Little Boy” fits perfectly in my own view and it references back to the parable. This “He caused a reflection” does play a role in my interpretation and maybe that’s why I noticed it. Funny that you start to be less certain about the intentions of The Phantom due to something you discovered in your theory. Isn’t it great to discover mistakes and make theories even better?
 
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I have a hard time viewing the Phantom as pure evil. It's not as if he runs at her or curses her — he simply appears with the light bulb in his mouth and just stands there
.

Well, the same can be said of the bum in MD. He / she doesn’t do much and yet it’s hard to see him / her as anything but frightening. I don’t think evil has to DO something in order to be evil.

About The Phantom being a guardian of Room 47. I’ve thought about that somewhat and it could be the case. I’ve looked at it with my own view in mind and it does make sense. I have to think this through some more although I find it hard to believe we’ll get a definite answer to this. Is he the one holding Lost Girl there? I guess it is possible.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: TwinPeaksFan on May 16, 2017, 04:00:45 AM
Some great speculations on this board, thanks to everyone who has contributed! I did find a lot of answer's in Lidstone's book though, best analysis so far, here is the link for those who haven't checked it out yet: https://www.amazon.com/David-Lynchs-INLAND-EMPIRE-Explained-ebook/dp/B004LGS7I6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1494925215&sr=8-1&keywords=lynch+inland+empire
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on May 16, 2017, 04:50:46 PM
Some great speculations on this board, thanks to everyone who has contributed! I did find a lot of answer's in Lidstone's book though, best analysis so far, here is the link for those who haven't checked it out yet: https://www.amazon.com/David-Lynchs-INLAND-EMPIRE-Explained-ebook/dp/B004LGS7I6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1494925215&sr=8-1&keywords=lynch+inland+empire

Hello again, Michael Lidstone. (Your email gave it away this time.)

You don't have to hide your identity. Just be civil and you won't be banned again.

Still, though, praising your own book under false names is not cool. 
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: drepoe29 on June 29, 2017, 07:17:22 PM
Hello, definitely enjoyed reading thus analysis and all the other theories that were provided. Definitely cleared some things up for me that I missed watching the first time. I could not get subtitles to work to hear all dialogue. I like both the purgatory theories and someone else talked about multiple personalities, which is what I thought at first because I thought she ended up being a drug addict..but by the end didn't get the sense that she was. A couple of things I wanted to add:

Does anyone have any comments on the rabbits involved in the movie or the polish gypsy folklore at all?? I agree about the comments here but I also have more to add. From online reading rabbits or hares have a a variety of meaning over time.. The holy trinity, messengers of dieties, they have represented fertility death and rebirth, also a trickster (they have all of these elements in the movie). I think that this movie touches on all of those things, not to mention the male rabbit was definitely some sort of messenger. Also, the one folktale in the movie talked of the alley on the way to the palace (palaces are in fairytales) and there is a Russian man named Vladimir Propp of the 20th century who named the elements of the folk tale (which also came to be known as the fairytale) and this movie has all of those elements. I took this movie as a surreal fairytale of the subconcious, which leads to true enlightenment. It's hard for me to explain my thoughts but definitely look up some of the above.
I also read somewhere recently on a different article that David Lynch really likes that Vladimir Propp (has a picture in his house) and did research on rabbits or hares over the years? I don't know if this is true but linking these two things, after doing some reading online, gives me a feeling that the name Inland Empire refers to a subconscious fairytale (palace..empire). The movie definitely has all aspects of the structure of what fairytales are considered. It's extremely interesting and thought-provoking to me. Below are links to some info on what I brought up in my response.

http://www.terriwindling.com/blog/2014/12/the-folklore-of-rabbits-hares.html

http://changingminds.org/disciplines/storytelling/plots/propp/propp.htm
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on June 30, 2017, 06:44:43 PM
I think that's valid. I will have to read more about rabbits representing fertility, because that is certainly a big issue in the film.

For a really great distillation of the Propp formula and Inland Empire, be sure to read this post by SamFZGames:

http://xixax.com/index.php?topic=10711.msg330952#msg330952

I would also say the rabbits serve as a kind of spiritual source for the whole thing. They are often visually matched with characters in the film, especially characters from the spirit world. But more than that, the rabbits clearly represent the folktales, and the folktales are the ultimate source. It unfolds like this:

Folktales/rabbits ––> 49 ––> On High In Blue Tomorrows

These stories represent lives. I believe Lynch is making an illustration here that each of our lives is like its own story that is cyclical and repeating. 49 is the "story" that Lost Girl is stuck in. "On High" is the story that Sue is stuck in. Nikki is spiritually separated and sees that as a story — so essentially, we see Nikki's journey. (If it wasn't clear, I view Nikki as the non-incarnate version of Sue.)

The final piece is Axxon N., "the longest running radio play in history." I believe Axxon N. represents the whole system of lives, deaths, and reincarnations playing out like stories.
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: janetshlox on September 16, 2017, 06:24:33 PM
Two things that kinda stick out to me is:

1. A little girl/boy went out to play. Can this be a reference to the cheating love affairs?

2. Is it possible that the phantom can only be seen as the reflected evil?
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: statsrespecter on September 21, 2017, 11:16:48 AM
This is a REALLY good analysis, probably the best I've read.  I agree completely with *most* of your assessments, with a few exceptions.

The biggest is that I don't believe that Nikki Grace OR Sue Blue and the people of her reality are real.  I think that it's a multiple layered projection on the part of the Lost Girl.  Like you, I believe she's in a sort of purgatory, for the reasons you so eloquently spelled out.  However, rather than Sue being a reincarnation or spiritual "twin" to the lost girl, I think she's a device created by the LG to understand and overcome the purpose of her existence in this limbo, ie: the debt requiring payment.  I think Nikki is her attempt to "clean up" Sue's story, just as Sue herself is a means of "cleaning up" LG's story, but ultimately the Nikki facade falls away, leaving it nothing but the rationalization through Sue for LG.  Just as Nikki is "half born" from Sue, Sue is "half born" from LG...Nikki is Sue's avatar just as Sue is LG's avatar...but only LG is a real person.  To me, this is why we see some repeating characters that are "real" to Sue and Nikki -- Piotrek, The Phantom, Doris Side\Piotrek's wife -- are all actual people from LG's life in Old Poland.  Of particular interest -- the Phantom was the primary antagonist in her life -- her abusive, controlling husband, the same one that killed her lover.  It would stand somewhat to reason that the Phantom, the reflected evil or debt collector, would take on that persona as it pursued Sue.

I think the "Sue\Smithy\Billy\Doris are reincarnations of past people in a real world" is just a little too convenient or on the nose.  No one can say for sure, and I certainly could be wrong, but that explanation just doesn't "feel" right to me, and I can't find enough in the film to support it.  It reminds me a little of a popular(and in my opinion, VERY incorrect) theory that the Phantom is some kind of deity\demon that travels through time forcing victims to act in his "play" and the LG\Sue team up to defeat him.  It just doesn't feel "Lynch" to me.

Another minor detail that I'm not sure about in your piece is the Rabbits -- but I can't fault it either, because I can't really explain their connection either.  To me, that's the biggest missing piece for me..there's clearly something important being conveyed, but I can't see what it is.

Overall...tremendous work...I've read countless interpretations, and maybe it's confirmation bias, but this is far and away the best, most "correct" one I've come across!
Title: Re: HALFBORN: An Inland Empire Analysis
Post by: Jeremy Blackman on September 21, 2017, 05:37:28 PM
Thanks for all the kind words!  :oops:

I am working on a major update, which I think addresses some of what you're saying.

The biggest is that I don't believe that Nikki Grace OR Sue Blue and the people of her reality are real.  I think that it's a multiple layered projection on the part of the Lost Girl.  Like you, I believe she's in a sort of purgatory, for the reasons you so eloquently spelled out.  However, rather than Sue being a reincarnation or spiritual "twin" to the lost girl, I think she's a device created by the LG to understand and overcome the purpose of her existence in this limbo, ie: the debt requiring payment.  I think Nikki is her attempt to "clean up" Sue's story, just as Sue herself is a means of "cleaning up" LG's story, but ultimately the Nikki facade falls away, leaving it nothing but the rationalization through Sue for LG.  Just as Nikki is "half born" from Sue, Sue is "half born" from LG...Nikki is Sue's avatar just as Sue is LG's avatar...but only LG is a real person.  To me, this is why we see some repeating characters that are "real" to Sue and Nikki -- Piotrek, The Phantom, Doris Side\Piotrek's wife -- are all actual people from LG's life in Old Poland.  Of particular interest -- the Phantom was the primary antagonist in her life -- her abusive, controlling husband, the same one that killed her lover.  It would stand somewhat to reason that the Phantom, the reflected evil or debt collector, would take on that persona as it pursued Sue.

I like this interpretation! I prefer mine, unsurprisingly, but this is really good. It has a lot of things going for it, including something that could be seen as a smoking gun: when they "merge" at the end, Nikki fades away while Lost Girl remains. We do see Nikki after that, though, still existing in some capacity and then seeming to go into her own afterlife — perhaps one of fiction, if you're correct, which is also kind of supported since we see (presumably) Camilla/Rita from Mulholland Drive.

I fully agree with you that Lost Girl is at the absolute center of the film, and that everything about Sue flows back to Lost Girl. I just feel like Sue has her own distinct journey in this narrative with her own agency. So in that sense, personally, I don't see her being an avatar of Lost Girl. Our interpretations are not necessarily incompatible, though, in many ways.


It reminds me a little of a popular(and in my opinion, VERY incorrect) theory that the Phantom is some kind of deity\demon that travels through time forcing victims to act in his "play" and the LG\Sue team up to defeat him.  It just doesn't feel "Lynch" to me.

Spoilers for new Twin Peaks... I would argue that the finale shows that Lynch is very much interested in forces of good teaming up to defeat an evil supernatural entity. Whether he was in 2006 is I guess an open question.

But I agree the Phantom is not as important as many people believe. I view him as a "threshold guardian," a type of figure that we also saw throughout new TP. What's important in Sue's confrontation with the Phantom is what Sue chooses to do — she chooses to openly face and defeat her own evil.


Another minor detail that I'm not sure about in your piece is the Rabbits -- but I can't fault it either, because I can't really explain their connection either.  To me, that's the biggest missing piece for me..there's clearly something important being conveyed, but I can't see what it is.

Yeah, I didn't really deal with the rabbits too much. They were discussed somewhere in this thread, though. Essentially, they can be seen as direct connections to the Polish folktale (and representations of it).

If you haven't, read this, one of the best / most important posts in this thread:

http://xixax.com/index.php?topic=10711.msg330952#msg330952

In my update, I'll have an explanation that addresses the four "levels" of reality/narrative at work in this universe. But here's a sketch of what I have in mind:

1. Axxon N. — Represents the whole spiritual system of this universe — incarnate lives as stories — a plane on which all of this takes place. The way Axxon N. is used to frame 47, it's like 47 is an iteration within Axxon N. — an episode of it. Here's an excerpt from what I'm writing that elaborates on that:

When Sue gets to see some scenes from Lost Girl’s life via Axxon N., it plays out like Sue is vividly watching… yet there is the crackle of the needle, reminding us this is all still a story playing out on Axxon N., as is all human drama, as are all lives.

2. The Old Tale / Polish Folktale — The creative source of all narratives that run through lives. (Credit to the post linked above.)

3. 47 — Lost Girl's story. Ostensibly a German film based on a Polish folktale. However, we see Polish characters speaking Polish (not German), all but proving that Lost Girl is not literally in a German movie — rather, the fictitious 47 is a figurative representation of her actual life.

4. On High In Blue Tomorrows — Sue's life. A "remake" of 47. Which neatly illustrates that Sue's life is based on Lost Girl's life. Now we see exactly how these "movies" are being used to represent these two lives.