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Another look at David Lynch's "Inland Empire"

Studio Canal
"Inland Empire" will be screened at the OKC MOA on Aug. 10.
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OKLAHOMA CITY -- Film as narrative-free art is a conundrum that not everyone, audience or artist, can answer. 

Art isn’t suppose to have an answer or a destination. It’s just meant to be.

Inland Empire, after the 40-minute mark, has no plot to speak off. No divided acts and no signs of understanding.

Nikki Grace (Laura Dern) is a Hollywood actress that takes a role in a remake of a Polish production that has never been completed because it is supposedly haunted.

The more she preps for it with her costar (Justin Theroux), the more she starts to see herself becoming the character she is portraying. It goes beyond common similarity and becomes something that dwarfs her life into a surrealist vessel of murder and nightmarish imaginary.

Shooting on video is the best way to make your film look atrocious and age like milk.

After Mulholland Drive's beautifully vibrant cinematography, the antithesis is Inland Empire’s ugliness. 

Both detail the dark underbelly of Hollywood, but Inland Empire (2006) has a way of exploring the deep layers in vastly different circumstances.

This wasn’t meant to be a “feature-film.” It was shot over the course of a few years with writer-director David Lynch writing short vignettes and shooting them on DV cameras. Eventually a similarity between the unrelated scenes began to form into a three-hour epic that doesn’t try to be anything other than itself.

It reminds me vaguely of Andrei Tarkovsky’s films, in which the meaning of the film is less about plot, characters, conflict, and more about what the viewer brings to the film. If you try to find the common connectivity, you will be vastly disappointed. 

Scenes exist for no substantial reason. Characters appear and disappear without any concrete knowledge of who they are. You just have to be down for the ride. Lynch has a way to make the random and uninteresting seem meticulous and perfectly calculated.

The decision to shoot on video apart from its ease of use starts to make more sense.

The look and the camera movement makes all the abstract scenes feel even more authentic in their abrasiveness. They don't feel or look real. Scenes like these present themselves almost as recordings of a fever dream. It makes it seem not quite like reality and very unsettling.

Eraserhead dealt with a character’s subconscious anxiety coming to terms with fatherhood. Mulholland Drive was the exploration of a character’s fantasies and realistic desires that merged into a depression reality. 

Inland Empire is an exploration of reality and fiction blurring the lines of your sanity in the film business, which is explored at grand, gluttonous levels herein.

It’s an experience that is understandably and absolutely off-putting. Any fan of Lynch should know what they are getting themselves into, but I cannot recommend it at all to anyone that isn’t familiar with his work already.

As part of the Summer of Lynch, Inland Empire will be screening in 35mm only on August 10th at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, along with Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, and others. Tickets and more information are available on the OKC MOA website.

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Kevin Tudor

Born and raised in the mean streets of Yukon, Oklahoma, Kevin is currently majoring in...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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