INLAND EMPIRE 47 (Vier Sieben)

two_chalfonts

Sparkwood & 21
Mar 22, 2023
15
20
So, last night, having watched Inland Empire again for the first time in a while, I noticed that, in the final scenes, Nikki/Sue finds herself at a room numbered 47, and a lot of ominous music is played.

So, are there any theories about what's happening at this point in the movie? We know that the original film was called Vier Sieben, and Sue/Nikki turns up at a room with that number...but what does it all mean?

It does feel more & more to me that Nikki is engulfed by a psychosis where she no longer has any idea whether she's in character and being filmed, or not. By the end of IE, she seems to have no idea that she's filming the final scene of "On High In Blue Tomorrows", which clearly ends with Sue being stabbed on Hollywood & Vine.
 

Jordan Cole

White Lodge
Sep 22, 2022
733
1,145
Hm, I never assumed psychosis. I just took it as the things we're seeing happening are really happening to her. IE (heh, I.E.) she's been sucked into a supernatural curse where there's just no real rules of reality anymore. I tend to take a lot of Lynch's work at face value, because it feels to me that he does as well.
 

Mr. Reindeer

White Lodge
Apr 13, 2022
775
1,740
It’s all pretty ambiguous and open to interpretation. For me, the ending of the film (starting with her waking up from the “death” scene) is a Nikki who understands what she has to do to break the curse and save Lost Girl from imprisonment. She doesn’t have a single line for the rest of the movie, but she seems to have a steely determination (well, once she shakes the initial PTSD-like shellshock). She ultimately frees Lost Girl by submitting herself to the curse, symbolized by the “47” door. But in her death, she finds peace (a common occurrence in Lynch movies…Eraserhead, The Elephant Man, FWWM, Mulholland Drive…even arguably The Grandmother).
 

Jordan Cole

White Lodge
Sep 22, 2022
733
1,145
Hm, I never thought that she died in the end, not quite...more that she overcame everything and not so much died but ascended to some sort of godess-hood....something more profound than death...becoming one with the story, as all actors attempt to achieve when taking on a project.
 

Mr. Reindeer

White Lodge
Apr 13, 2022
775
1,740
Hm, I never thought that she died in the end, not quite...more that she overcame everything and not so much died but ascended to some sort of godess-hood....something more profound than death...becoming one with the story, as all actors attempt to achieve when taking on a project.
I don’t disagree with that. Like I said, it’s pretty wide open to interpretation. I can see what you’re saying, with her entering the Rabbits set and facing the spotlight and applause. Although there’s also her appearing to shoot herself when the Phantom takes on her distorted creepy smiling face. I guess the ending means more to me if there’s a sacrifice involved, but I think both interpretations can work hand in hand.
 

Jordan Cole

White Lodge
Sep 22, 2022
733
1,145
I can see how the sequence over the credits and her being surrounded by possibly other lost-and-found souls, with that sort of ghostly song playing, could definitely indicate she's dead now...But I had never thought in real-world terms "oh, Laura Dern's character actually died." It's hard to explain! This is easily the Lynch film I have the least particular insight or opinions on...I just kind of let it...happen.
 

Mr. Reindeer

White Lodge
Apr 13, 2022
775
1,740
I can see how the sequence over the credits and her being surrounded by possibly other lost-and-found souls, with that sort of ghostly song playing, could definitely indicate she's dead now...But I had never thought in real-world terms "oh, Laura Dern's character actually died." It's hard to explain! This is easily the Lynch film I have the least particular insight or opinions on...I just kind of let it...happen.
I think that’s the way to do it! Maybe the only way to do it. Still fun to try to logic it out, but at the end of the day, letting it just wash over you is the best way to do it…for probably most Lynch films, but definitely this one.
 

Jordan Cole

White Lodge
Sep 22, 2022
733
1,145
If anyone is interested, some of my favorite writing about the film was done by an online friend of mine (who I've posted here before) Chris Stangl. Here's the link but I'll just quote it in full for convenience:


David Lynch's shot on video horror movie tops the very short shortlist of that lowly genre's unabashed masterpieces. It is not as bizarre spectacle as Boardinghouse nor as depraved and feverish as Splatter Farm, but it has many fine qualities and is scarier. INLAND EMPIRE was received, ignored, and criticized in a manner that means mounting a defense, writing a simple appreciation and beginning a cursory exploration all amount to the same thing. Insofar as INLAND EMPIRE is a difficult work, three roadblocks typically greet those having difficulty, and rather than demerits, they are simply its qualities. 1) INLAND EMPIRE is a piece unabashedly shot on digital video, and arriving in theaters with the announcement that Lynch has no future plans to shoot on film. 2) INLAND EMPIRE announces itself as a narrative feature and contains abundant plot information but is firmly rooted in modes of avant-garde cinema that include the non-narrative and entirely abstract. 3) The narrative of INLAND EMPIRE is consistently oblique, but explicitly links itself to mystery stories. It seems to offer thousands of clues and few conclusions. At its most explicit it seems to suggest that it might be solved, at its most opaque it seems to suggest that something crucial and meaningful is being missed.

Speaking of solutions, these problems are all, naturally, intertwined. If there is any help to be found below, I would suggest instead that perhaps if you are sitting in front of INLAND EMPIRE with your eyes pointed at the screen, then you do understand INLAND EMPIRE. Unless your eyes are closed.

Lynch often foregrounds the materials used in the creation of his art — like a Jackson Pollack drip painting, the fabric and construction is the subject. Even his figural paintings are dollopped with paint and scribbled on, flat-planed and collaged. Think of the puppet robin meant as real in Blue Velvet or his film-loop-on-sculpture "Six Men Getting Sick" or the incandescent "Premonitions of an Evil Deed", a stunt film of poetry and prowess shot on a Lumière camera. INLAND EMPIRE is boldly, proudly a video project, exploiting and exploring those things only video can do. The result is Lynch's most abstract feature since The Straight Story (1999) and most experimental since Industrial Symphony No. 1 (1990). That is, a true experiment of the let's-see-what-happens variety, this one exploring the visual qualities and editorial rhythms of consumer grade digital video, and in shooting hours and hours of scenes with no master blueprint for assembly.

How to Watch INLAND EMPIRE may be, as Roger Ebert once opined of Dune, to let it wash over you like a dream. This is, in this case: don't fight it. It is the same advice Lynch gave critic Martha Nochimson when they looked at a Pollack together: you do understand it, he told her, I saw your eyes moving across the painting. To engage that dream any more analytically will find one scrambling for purchase, just as in a dream or maybe as when trying to explain one. Some things that happen, you're at a loss to articulate, some are intuitively understood. Anyhow we're squarely (well, asymmetrically) on the shoulders of Laura Dern as actress Susan Blue, who is warned off making the film On High in Blue Tomorrows, and then walking alongside Susan playing Nikki Grace, who is perhaps her own person or several people. An issue that frequently arises when discussing Lynch's film is that the filmmaker finds increasingly sophisticated ways to preserve what he loves about Mysteries, and that love is not in the solving but of luxuriating in Mystery itself. As Sandy asks Jeffrey in Blue Velvet, "you like mysteries that much?" And Jeffrey answers: yes. So analytical language will be wrongheaded at worst, coy-sounding at best. It is not that Lynch films can't be written about, but the task is like tracing letters in smoke or drawing diagrams on wet paper with a fountain pen filled with perfume. And yet, here we are.

This free-associative ebb and flow creative process births a work about a film struggling to be born — or perhaps resisting its creation — and documents the challenge put forth to Laura Dern. Never positive during shooting where her character had been, or where she was going, Dern is ultimately playing an actress grappling with a role. This is a film of linking and connection, disparate geographies, identities, chronologies that peer at one another through torn membranes, down dark hallways, through burn holes in fabric, ruptures in spacetime. Passageways are important in Lynch's work, and all of the films contain a signature movement/image in which the camera descends/dives/probes/is-sucked-into a mysterious black hole: moving deeper into Another Place. In Lost Highway, Fred Madison wanders into a dark corner of his windowless home and emerges somewhere in his own echo chamber head. Blue Velvet famously tilts down from the sky, dives underground, enters a severed ear, reemerges from a reconnected ear and gazes back to the heavens. INLAND EMPIRE is a series of tunnels sliding into one another, connecting back on themselves.

Susan Blue's task is to fully understand Nikki Grace, and to do so she ventures all the way inside and inside out — for Susan to understand and become Nikki, she'll have to plumb the mystery of herself. Along the journey she finds and embodies a replicating chain of Lost Women, ventures all the way to the heart of the universe to find the most lost of souls, and in the end perhaps she does not fix everyone, but finds them. Susan gathers the lost to her and they rejoice.

And these are the keys to INLAND EMPIRE, but there are so, so many keyholes to be tested. Like Mulholland Dr. on back to Eraserhead, INLAND EMPIRE begs to be played with, have its pieces shifted, riddles catalogued and links tested. The puzzle-solver is not on a fool's errand, but is engaging INLAND EMPIRE as designed: playing an infinite game.
 

AXX°N N.

Waiting Room
Apr 14, 2022
283
648
I always took it as her reaching some kind of inner core to the layers of the curse. She goes from the most exterior, latest reworking of the central tale, and ultimately ends up in a concrete place that is actually the most interior, earliest, originating iteration. When she opens the door she frees those who have been trapped (and reflected outward) into the whole cursed gordian knot, and everything collapses (unifies). As for why the original tale would involve anthropomorphized rabbits, it's always given me a rudimentary, folklore feeling, and it just seems right that those at the innermost level are more ill-defined, and a sort of platonic ideal of narrative manifestations. Something something Greek fable.
 
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