crikey, this thread has exploded!
for the record : "i likes it" x 40
much as i enjoyed LeoF's perceptive, freewheeling, free-associative rambles, it seems a little harsh pasting so much up on here at once, answering questions directed from other boards, and in the process completely intimidating some of the less-confident members on here and possibly discouraging them from posting less comprehensive opinions. however, i think he makes some fascinating connections, and does acknowledge how previously-viewed films obviously shape the response to and highlight similarities with new works. the quotations from FWWM / omitted Black Lodge script were much appreciated, thanks (i had forgotten all about those lines).
Lynch cannot bear to be asked for literal interpretations of his films, and yet clearly loves the wild forays of speculation that his work provokes in the more obsessive fans. some people are so eager to demonstrate their erudition in relation to this (and other) films, that they occasionally end up being a little too certain of their own interpretations, or that specific symbols in this very open film can be neatly nailed and cross-referenced. mysteries are addictive and constructively frustrating. while i do admire those who spend long periods of their life dedicated to "solving" riddles in such films, and offering helpful insights for the less-inclined, there does come a point when so much talk begins to detract from the abstract beauty of a complex work of art, as i'm sure Lynch would agree. people strive to reduce loaded symbols, but while this can help with understanding in one way, it can diminish the potential subconscious resonance of abstractions carefully placed in the context of a narrative, however unconventional or non-linear that narrative is. celebrated storytellers deal with universal issues using specific / locally-relevant details, to make truths which cannot be easily articulated more comprehensible. i think Lynch is a master of fusing quotidian minutiae with mythical, universal storytelling.
anyway, the first two times i went to see IE was with friends. much as i loved the initial experience, the second viewing brought a lot into clarity, in that the tension of not knowing what was coming next gave way to a better ability to look around the screen for subtle details and pay more attention to the soundtrack. the sound design in this film really is wonderful - and critical in places, forcing associations - and as someone mentioned above, those train hoots are so atmospheric and memorable. during this second viewing, it also helped to be seeing the film "for the first time" vicariously through the reactions of friends sitting either side of me, as sometimes happens, and made me more conscious of what i was witnessing.
the third time i went to see IE, i went alone. i felt sufficiently comfortable with my own basic interpretation of what the film represented, and wanted to see it again without trying to uncover anything new by watching too closely. essentially, i went for the mood and the mood alone, being in the privileged position of still having the opportunity to see it on a big screen with huge speakers. for all that i brought to it third time around, after reading reams of text on the main message board, the film is so well constructed that it is possible to leave that all behind and have a relatively pure experience, however good one's memory may be. the only thing which would jeopardise this for me, as Lynch has stated many times, would be a director's commentary where he flies in the face of his previous obfuscatory techniques and gives away more than ever before.
for anyone who has seen the film for the first time recently, i would recommend they skip reading deep analysis (possibly a redundant comment if you have read this far in this thread already!), allow some time and space to digest things, watch it again closely, and then think about diving into the official forum at :
fwiw, the sense of understanding i grafted after watching the film a 3rd time (5 months ago) was rooted largely in terms of acknowledging how brilliantly edited IE was, having become more aware of internal consistencies and a structural coherency that just isn't immediately obvious upon first viewing. this understanding is not easily articulated, and can allow the existence of multiple explanations, leaving core elements and symbols vaguely-defined. in this respect, it doesn't matter what alternative world / meaning Lynch himself finally attributes to "Rabbits" (as a show in its own right, or placed as it is within IE) - people are likely to gain the same sense that there are worlds within worlds here, each with a particular mood / tone / texture, many being interconnected and influencing others across time and space, and that - for example - "Rabbits" is one of these interzones that lays bare certain truths through its surrealism when considered in isolation or when introduced into a much more complex web of correspondences.
while Lynch is cleverer than he sometimes tries to appear, he admits that for much of the time shooting IE he had no idea what it was about or where it was headed, and we have no reason to disbelieve that. as with Eraserhead, he even resorted to reading the Bible "to find out what this film was about". (nb scene in LYNCH 1 where he refers to the Gadarene / Gerasene demon - one of the most revealing moments of that documentary)
with his pure commitment to the primacy of "the idea" in mind, and considering that he is often happy to give free reign rather innocently to the depths of his mind, it seems fair to say that other people are bound to be better than him at unravelling certain tendencies in his work, once he has released it into the world for analysis. Zizek will always give a better Lacanian reading of Lynch than Lynch could himself, and his perceptions do indeed shed light on interesting aspects of Lynchian themes and influences. Todd McGowan - imho - does a superb job of taking the Lacanian critique further, and i'd be very interested to see what he has to say about IE. barryconvex mentions Anne Jerslev, and i'd be intrigued to hear if she has been translated into English, and what barry recommends. most of these critics tend to come from a particular critical strand, as one would expect, and so ultimately there are limitations to adopting one particular approach, whatever is illuminated in the process.
for me, the quote from the Upanishads about the spider and the dreamer is a lovely, succinct way of approaching the film. everything can be connected in this film to everything else if you have the strong inclination / belief that everything in the universe is held together within a unified field, as espoused by TM. we needn't get Hegelian here or discuss the failure of his ambitious attempt to contain Absolute Mind within one rational German Idealist head. if you have a collection of scenes shot on the hoof, and want to squeeze them into as neat a package as possible, throw in some symbols that offer bridges between the scenes. the bum's blue box from MD, a subject of much speculation and analysis, is - in the end - a blue box to which Lynch needs attach no other meaning than that it connects two worlds.
Annie did say it would be good to try and start a discussion. so, apart from offering individual interpretations of what it is actually about, i'd be really interested to hear what it was that people particularly liked / disliked about it - thematically, technically or otherwise.