My take on INLAND EMPIRE

Discussion of INLAND EMPIRE

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gavriloP
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My take on INLAND EMPIRE

Postby gavriloP » Sat Jun 14, 2008 2:40 am

Ignore everything I wrote earlier, I think I got it now! So here is what I think about INLAND EMPIRE at the moment:



Lost Girl commits a murder out of jealousy in Poland or at least gets involved with it. Essential part is that it affects her deeply. This however is only the beginning and it is not actually important what happened. But it happened in that gateway and stairs on that street in Poland.

She moves to USA with her husband who is Smithy.

He makes a deal with neighbor, Mr. Crimp and buys a watch from him. In fact she gets hypnotized either willingly or secretly, this is not important. The main thing is that she gets hypnotized. And this happens in USA not in Europe because they are speaking in English. In fact LG never speaks anything in polish. Maybe she even isn't polish. Like I said, these details are not important considering the real story.

Lost Girl now thinks she is Sue, an american woman.

Sue lives rough life with Smithy and there is some infidelity involved maybe from both parts. Sue gets paranoid about Smithy.

Then Smithy joins the circus and goes to europe.

Sue has a record player and she listens AXXON N radio play from vinyl. This is the story in old Poland. She gives faces to the characters and actually sees her real self as the LG character. Neighbor Crimp gets to be the evil husband.

Timeline in Sue's life isn't actually important. It doesn't matter if she hears AXXON N before Smithy leaves or after.

At some point she also dreams. She dreams to be a filmstar named Nikki. And this Star is then making a movie about the dreamer, Sue. So dream makes a star that makes a dream. She wakes up from it, maybe with some assistance from Smithy.

Question remains do Smithy know Sue is LG or is he hypnotized also. This is something I don't know and there still lots to think about this whole Smithy and Side family business.

In the barbecue scene the important thing is that the ketchup stain on Smithys shirt reminds Sue about her real past in Poland and the fact that she is actually LG. Maybe it is also red that triggers it. LG prays for the nightmare to end.

When Smithy leaves to Europe, Sue starts falling down and cracking. At least she thinks she is a whore, even though she might not be. She may let her streetfriends to stay at her home but maybe she is imaging it... She also gets somekind of multiple personality disorder or maybe it is just that this fictional character that is Sue starts to break down.

The important thing is that bill that needs paying. When neigbor comes she asks if Sue knows Mr. Crimp, the other neighbor. This starts the final chain of events that lead to the end of this movie.

Sue goes to the Crimp and gets the screwdriver. after this she escapes her reflection that is the phantom. I mean phantom is Sue's reflection, it is Sue. Sue is the Lost Boy.

Mr. K is either completely her imagination or maybe she actually sees a shrink when she thinks she's Sue.

Sue gets killed and while dying she releases the Lost Girl, her real self that was trapped in her hypnotized subconscious. So Sue, this figment of imagination, creation of Mr. Crimp is the real heroine who kills herself in order to release LG. And she does it without the help from hypnotizer who could have released her but for some reason let her stay in that condition.

When we see the camera in Sues death scene, it is her final attempt to dream to be a Nikki (she is on the pillow) but she remains Sue and finishes her task.

In the end the Lost Girl returns as herself to her life with Smithy and Son. She has watched her life whole time trapped inside her mind.

There has been no mention about Billy or Doris yet. It is possible Sue had an affair with Billy but at least the nemesis that is Doris who "kills" Sue isn't real. No one else sees her and she comes from out of black and white imagination. Sue also knows that she's about to die when she snaps her fingers (LG will wake up now).

Well, then what about the Rabbits?

They are the link between life and death. Death is in room 47, on the stage. This is where Sue phones to seek "dead" Billy. Also the mediums in séance are rabbits or at least are deeply connected to them. Sue snaps 4 and then to the 7 (if we think in musical terms) and then she dies. There is also red light that is seen through the window in room 47 and that light is seen from the séance, a passage from the land of living to the land of the dead. Rabbit also leads Sue to Mr. K's office that is behind the final curtains and where she sees her life as a whole. It is going like a film past her eyes. Rabbits are in between two worlds.

These rabbits like the idea of life and death in here is of course only figments of imagination. They are constructs in LG's mind. It is her mind that "uses" them to release itself.

The Magic with cigarettes and silk is a way to see little bit through the hypnosis, from one world to another.

INLAND EMPIRE: Woman lives in a hypnosis thinking she is someone else and little by little she frees her real self from that state by killing her imaginary self.
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Re: My take on INLAND EMPIRE

Postby gavriloP » Sat Jun 14, 2008 3:22 am

Replying my own post, oh my. Well, anyway I had to add one observation.

When those whores show the polish street for the first time to Sue they say that she will be dreaming in a somekind of dream and when she opens her eyes, someone familiar is there. It happens when Sue closes her eyes on that street and then she opens them in black and white, superimposed on the record player. And who she sees? She sees Lost Girl, and she knows her quite well... Her real self "teaches" her the magic trick to see through the illusions of hypnosis. That is, if she "wants" to see...
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Re: My take on INLAND EMPIRE

Postby jina » Sat Jun 14, 2008 10:53 am

gavriloP, i really like your thoughts on this.
i usually get bored reading explanations about everything on films, i like to keep things as open as possible, but you got me at this point :
gavriloP wrote:When we see the camera in Sues death scene, it is her final attempt to dream to be a Nikki (she is on the pillow) but she remains Sue and finishes her task.


i never thought it this way and i think it's possible to see it this way.
i have in mind something totally different but your take is very very nice as well! :D

gavriloP wrote:INLAND EMPIRE: Woman lives in a hypnosis thinking she is someone else and little by little she frees her real self from that state by killing her imaginary self.


this too.
i like your take. never thought it this way myself, but i think you got something here
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Re: My take on INLAND EMPIRE

Postby Carl » Sun Jun 15, 2008 5:20 pm

The beautiful creatures actually say something like 'In the future - you will be dreaming -in a kind of sleep- and when you open your eyes someone familiar will be there.'
True, in the street, Sue does open her eyes and see, for the first time, LG. Shortly thereafter, in that beautiful starry night scene, she sees herself. I don't think this is exactly the incident referred to by the lovely girls, though.
I agree it'[s LG she sees, but that's 'in the future' , to my mind when Nikki finishes dying in OHIBT and takes her bizzare walkabout, everything seeming strange, one improbable place after another, then wakens and sees LG.
My wife makes the point that Sue sees the Past,Present and Future, when she 'sees'. She 'sees' herself, in the future, degraded, a refugee from Hollywood Blvd; she sees, in the past, what is either 4 7 or the lives of it's principals and their unfortunate spouses.
Sometimes the end of the 'seeing' is explicitly marked, as by the shot of the cig smoldering, beside the silk. Sometimes not, as when we see Sue sleeping, maybe dreaming, after the initial 'see'.
We are , in our leisurely manner, collating just which scenes appear to be viewed through the silk.

:arrow: sidebar:We are told ( by Kingsley, who depends for this info on Freddy) that the 'principals' are murdered. I figure that would make it Lukas and Gruska( the one whose identity I am still unsure of). Of course, no one else knows if this info is accurate.

**ALL-IN-ALL, another interesting Interpretation to discuss, one that depends more heavily on clinical psychology than I prefer, but that doen't make it invalid.
I'll Post back here when I think of something relevant to this Interpretation.
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Re: My take on INLAND EMPIRE

Postby Kiddo » Sun Jun 15, 2008 6:10 pm

in the street, Sue does open her eyes and see...in that beautiful starry night scene, she sees herself.

Sorry, but those "beautiful stars" you refer to are not stars at all. That's actually just the funky ceiling texture of Smithy's house in the storage room where Susan is standing. We see that funky, sparkling ceiling many times throuhgout the film. Check it out.

as when we see Sue sleeping, maybe dreaming, after the initial 'see'.

The seated woman played by Dern, wearing blue and apparently listening to Lost Girl's instructions on how to "see," is not necessarily Susan. She actually has the slip on her lap as Lost Girl instructs her, and we see her look up into the camera and apparently make upside-down eye-contact with Susan, who is still in the storage room. This character appears a few more times throuhgout the film, and is almost always dead silent, seated, and wearing blue.
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Re: My take on INLAND EMPIRE

Postby gavriloP » Mon Jun 16, 2008 2:35 am

There are many Derns in this movie, so it seems. But what is interesting to me in the Smithy's house scenes is the fact that she actually never truly sees herself. Just like the bizarre closeup scene where she looks up and "sees" herself, when the camera shows her against the "stars" (that really are ceiling reflections) looking down there is no one else in the room anymore. And then this standing sue starts once again to look into the other room. BTW those "stars" are also there when she picks up the gun in the end. One time there definitely is a reaction on Dern's face to her other self, is the scene with spotlight when that freaky sue comes to the camera. But I think it is on the street where we finally see different Derns really reacting to each other.

Earlier I have had some half theories that have involved limbo and afterlife and all that jazz but the beauty of this hypnosis angle is it's "elegance". There are still quite a bunch of questions remaining, though.

If time loses it's meaning in IE and it seems this is the case then those different Sues can be from different times of her life. It seems that she doesn't go out much at least at some point. Other explanations could be for example multiple personality disorder, twin sister :) (yep, evil twin, how cool is that) or maybe there are more than one person hypnotized to think themselves as Sue. And probably There is More.

And of course if we think we are completely inside her mind they can be whatever. I myself don't think this movie is entirely in her mind. I think that Sue goes little crazy but her real self remains sane inside.

Again about those ceiling stars, I think that every ceiling in Smithy's house has them, at least it is in bedroom where she gets the gun.
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Re: My take on INLAND EMPIRE

Postby jina » Mon Jun 16, 2008 5:04 am

gavriloP wrote:
If time loses it's meaning in IE and it seems this is the case then those different Sues can be from different times of her life...

And of course if we think we are completely inside her mind they can be whatever. I myself don't think this movie is entirely in her mind. I think that Sue goes little crazy but her real self remains sane inside.


yes, as Carl said this interpretation is closer to clinical psychology, a bit all in the mind point of view, but i like it that you shared a personal view and that you're very kind :mrgreen:
there's a connection to past-present-future that we see clearly and there are actions that lead to changes.
great thing is that the images we see, seem to be more true than... real life?
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Re: My take on INLAND EMPIRE

Postby Carl » Tue Jun 17, 2008 3:54 pm

'...Sorry, but those "beautiful stars" you refer to are not stars at all. That's actually just the funky ceiling texture of Smithy's house in the storage room where Susan is standing. We see that funky, sparkling ceiling many times throuhgout the film. Check it out....'
Everytime we watch these scenes I say,'The starry sky' and my wife says, 'It's the glitter in the ceiling.'
It's not the 'stars' that are beautiful, in my Post above, but the scene itself.
The point of that Post was that she sees herself, though not in the future.
**Had to take yesterday off from the Boards to drink Bushmills and read from Ulysses, this year from the lying-in sequence with the parodies of successive prose styles. Happy belated Bloomsday!
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Re: My take on INLAND EMPIRE

Postby gavriloP » Tue Jun 17, 2008 4:03 pm

Heh, you reminded me of my ancient curse that is Ulysses. Usually I have no problems with "difficult" novels, even though I haven't been reading lately, but this book is something. I haven't actually finished it once. I have lend it from library many times but somehow I never got through it. It is not that I don't like it, in fact I find it quite fascinating but alas, I am cursed. I even included this in one of my songs, called Unfinished Ulysses... Happy Bloomsday!
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Re: My take on INLAND EMPIRE

Postby gavriloP » Wed Jun 18, 2008 11:07 am

One very important observation:

I really think these women in this film are more or less one and the same. This movie is about woman in trouble, not women. And the idea of hypnosis or madness or any old symptom that takes place in the brain is logical in a sense that if there is afterlife involved it gets pretty messy considering this release of LG. If she goes to heaven, there is some awful interior design there. I think she she goes back to her old life (of course family life is heaven on a good day, hell on other :) ).

If there is real death in the end then it gets very complicated about who saves who. If women are one and the same it would only meant that one has to know oneself in order to "move forward" in the land of the dead. If they are not the same person then it is strange that some ghost is released by an other real or imaginary woman that dies too.

AND NOW SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT:

There is a little treat for anyone with good ear for english language. What is said in this little audio excerpt? It is zipped.
Attachments
strangeline.zip
strange line
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Carl
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Re: My take on INLAND EMPIRE

Postby Carl » Wed Jun 18, 2008 1:59 pm

No idea about the zipped file.
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Re: My take on INLAND EMPIRE

Postby applesnoranges » Wed Jun 18, 2008 8:42 pm

Sounds a little as if it were being played backward.
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Re: My take on INLAND EMPIRE

Postby gavriloP » Thu Jun 19, 2008 1:04 am

That sound is from MTTH, and I assume it is Lynch doing the black lodge speech thing, you know figuring out how to spell something backwards, recording it and reversing.

When this is reveresed it is completely gibberish.

This sound is sped up guite hard. It is that low low rumble after Dern tells she was 41 in sixties or how was it...

It is most likely just some joke but interesting nevertheless.

BTW to me it sounds like: "I'm stepping nike fish" :)
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Re: My take on INLAND EMPIRE

Postby gavriloP » Thu Feb 25, 2010 6:02 am

Holy batman! We have more proof about this (well at least it fits nicely)!

On IMDB board about IE there is a writer called milkdudrct3 and he discovered that when LG, Smithy and their son reunite in the end, we hear her calling man Smithy (this I didn't catch) and him calling her Sue! I could hear this too. It was a whisper that comes while they are embracing and the song on the background says the word laughter. It is there. So LG was real persona of Sue, trapped inside her mind. Wow, what a feeling...

Well, there is still room for plenty of dreams and interpretations but how cool is it to get evidence to your pet theory, the one you love while thinking that surely he didn't really meant it this way... oh Joy.
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Re: My take on INLAND EMPIRE

Postby gavriloP » Fri Feb 26, 2010 2:29 am

Ok, I thought I should rewrite my ponderings as the original text was actually very bad. So here it is in hopefully better form:


Lost Girl had a tragedy in Poland. She probably killed another woman. This horrible event (whatever it really was) took place in that stone gateway, on that polish street (we see the place superimposed on opening title sequence). It was probably crime of passion, made out of jealousy. Then she moved to USA with her husband, Smithy. Lost Girl's name is Sue. At some point their neighbor hypnotizes her, either willingly or unwillingly. From now on she thinks that she is Sue Blue, an american woman (played by Dern). Her marriage goes on the rocks and there is infidelity on both sides, at least she thinks so. While she lives in this world as Sue Blue, an american woman, she starts to go crazy. She starts to imagine things. She thoughts that her son dies and even that she kills her husband. At some point before that her husband leaves her "to join the circus" which might be true or not. The fact remains that he leaves. Sue's condition gets worse.

Now at the same time we see LG trapped in hotel room watching TV. This is the true persona of our woman in trouble. She is imprisoned in her own mind, unable to do anything. She just watches her life go by, lived by this imaginary persona, created by hypnosis.

When Sue (Dern) is alone she listens to vinyl records in her living room. There is a record player there. But she doesn't listen music, she listens audio books. And this AXXON N is a radioplay that is recorded on the vinyl. She listens to it and she sees. In her mind's eye she imagines the situations in the story that she is listening. She gives faces to the characters, and they are familiar faces from her life. Interestingly she gives her own true face (LG) to one of the characters. Now, not all images from Poland are from vinyl, some of them are probably just her memories and warped dreams. But essentially, she also listens to this AXXON N story. And we know this because parts of this polish dialog has vinyl noises on them.

For some reason Sue cannot get to that one room in her apartment (well, Smithy's apartment, but they are couple so it is hers too). The house seems like a maze but it is actually completely realistic space after one makes a blueprint out of it. There are only couple of peculiarities in it. One is the backdoor that never gets opened from the inside and the other is "Smithy's door" where we see him going occasionally. This door seems to repel Sue. She goes through that door one time, two times if we cound MTTH too and both times the results are the same: she seems to go to somekind of loop that leads her back to where she started. It seems that the hypnosis prevents her to go there. It will make sense later.

Even though the geography of Smithy's house seem realistic it is safe to assume that we see the whole film through subjective perspective, much like Fred Madison's house in Lost Highway.

Then what about Nikki and OHIBT? Well, as the announcer puts it: "from Hollywood, where dreams make stars and stars make dreams". In other words this whole segment is Sue's dream. She dreams about the star Nikki who in turn makes a film about her life (she makes a dream). It is important to see that while Sue is dreaming this, she thinks that she is american woman (Dern). But just like in Mulholland Drive, the dream never holds and this time too the dream starts to get aware of itself. Nikki starts to do a film that is actually the life of the dreamer. This leads to waking up and shattering of that dream persona. We see her briefly in the end but more about that later.

At some point Sue becomes a prostitute or at least she imagines this At least she imagines lots of things and characters in her home. Her persona gets fractured and she kind of splits in two. She has really hard time to really see "herself". Everytime she watches herself in this subjective dreamlike reality she has difficulties, time jumps or vision gets distorted etc. It is also possible that she goes to see mr. K. who is probably a therapist. At least she thinks she goes.

In the barbecue scene the red ketchup on Smithy's shirt invokes a memory from the trauma that Sue had in Poland. At this brief moment she gets a connection to her true self (LG) who keeps praying for the nightmare to end. She wants to wake up from hypnosis. This scene also shows that hypnotized Sue (Dern) isn't really in touch with reality or her son. Maybe the boy is taken away because she is considered to be dangerous. We don't know. But we do see his teddybear on their lawn. Sadly, Sue doesn't wake up.

Little by little the imaginary life of Sue start to fall in pieces. When she dreams about those prostitutes in her home (they are not really there as the locomotion scene shows), they tell her this: In the future she will be dreaming in some kind of sleep and when she opens her eyes, someone familiar will be there. So when Sue is dreaming about the street in Poland she closes her eyes and then opens them. Now we see black and white image of record player. And on top of that we see the superimposed face of the Lost Girl, the real Sue. She is definitely familiar to her. LG shows her the way to see through the hypnosis, as if it would be magic.

But the bill needs to be paid. When the neighbor comes to her and starts to talk about Crimp, the end begins. Sue then goes to Crimp and gets the screwdriver from there. She runs away. The Phantom goes after her. But actually it isn't Crimp. It is herself. She is her own doom. When Sue collapses and finds herself from the street, as a whore, the Phantom Sue is there too. She is chasing herself.

Now, I haven't written anything about Doris or Billy Side. I don't know if Doris is also hypnotized by Crimp or what but I do believe they are not important (at least to me). Even though it is Doris who kills Sue (Dern) and not Sue herself, I have always thought that this scene is very strange. First of all we see Sue chasing Sue and then this other woman comes out of the blue and kills her, with Sue's own screwdriver. It also seems that other people on the street don't see her. Does it make sense?

Well I think it does. Sue (Dern) is actually imaginary character that kills herself, with aid of another imaginary character or not. But the key moment comes actually before the killing. Sue snaps her fingers, four times first and then three (musically she counts to 4 and 7). This wakes her up, ultimately.

Of course we see the dying scene next. When we see the camera in Sue's death scene, it is her final attempt to dream to be Nikki (she is lying on the pillow). But it doesn't work and she remains as Sue to finish the task of freeing the real Sue and killing the imaginary character.

Her final journey through the dark maze of her mind goe on and she finally comes to AXXON N, where roadsigns have been leading her all along. She opens the door and finds herself in her own home (she comes in from the back door that hasn't been opened from the inside). Her home had become a stage for imaginary story. Most of her delusions were probably made up from that radio play. At least it had influenced her imagination, probably mixed with her own traumatic past. Anyway, her life is only a story. She is almost done here. She gets the gun.

Then Phantom gets her. She shoots him and it is finally revealed that it was Sue herself all along. She killed her shadow and now she enters to room 47. It is the Rabbits' room, or rather a stage. While she is in this room, she also gets to the hotel room and frees LG. Then she stays in room 47.

LG is goes down the stairs of her subconscious (she comes down from the attic, so to speak)and comes through the Smithy's door and finds herself from her home. Suddenly she hears that her husband and son come home and they embrace in love. During this scene, when the song in the background mentions laughter, we hear husband whispering to her: "Sue". So she really was Sue all the time. And now she is free.



I have to say little something about 47. I think that Rabbits room is this same place of death that we see in Eraserhead (Lady in the Radiator and her stage), in Twin Peaks (Red Room) and in Mulholland Drive (Club Silencio). We know that when Billy is dead and Sue tries to call him, the phonecall goes to room 47. Also the seance makes a connection to room 47. 4 and 7 are also the snaps that kill Sue (Dern). And in the end she ends up in that place. But it is important to see that LG isn't in this room.




INLAND EMPIRE: Woman lives in a hypnosis thinking she is someone else and little by little she frees her real self from that state by killing her imaginary self.



Ok, then, what about Rabbits? Well, don't ask me. They might be messengers, they might be quides, they might be narrators, they might be spirits, or they might be guys and gals in funky costumes.

So what was it all about? I think it shows the power of imagination, the power of stories and imaginary things. It shows to us how our identity can be tricked, and how we can trick it ourselves. It shows also that there can be magic in our lives. And it shows the preciousness of our dull everyday life. It can be heaven if you just can see it that way. It is also damn interesting puzzle.


There is lots of loose ends, as anyone can see. They might be solved or then again maybe not. At least there is room to dream.

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