David Lynch

Sog., Scen., F., M., Mus.: David Lynch. Scgf.: Christina Wilson. Int.: Laura Dern (Nikki Grace/Susan Blue), Jeremy Irons (Kingsley), Justin Theroux (Devon Berk/Billy Side), Harry Dean Stanton (Freddie Howard), Karolina Gruszka (la ragazza polacca), Julia Ormond (Doris Side), Diane Ladd (Marilyn), Peter J. Lucas (Piotrek), Krzysztof Majchrzak (fantasma). Prod.: Mary Sweeney, David Lynch per Studio Canal, CamerImage, Asymmetrical Productions. DCP. Bn. and col. 

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

At the beginning, there is light, that of the beam of a projector which displays a film entitled Inland Empire. Then there is the arm of an electrophone playing a phonograph record. Beyond the intrinsic beauty of these shots, there is the promise of a visual and sonic spectacle that   is seemingly contradicted by the images that follow… It is as if a surveillance camera had become a substitute for the sophisticated equipment of professional cinematographers.
There is a bit of this in the approach of Lynch, who has given up shooting in 35mm (and Peter Deming’s sublime lighting) to film in simple DV, nowhere near high definition. Does this  make his movie any less spectacular? Not at all, since the depth of the image corresponds well to the uncertain contours of the nightmarish universe depicted and since the filmmaker has found new freedom in this shooting method. He was able to free himself from the constraints of lighting and set-up, to take his lit  tle camera and film without worrying about the cost or length of the takes.  The lightness of the shooting conditions allowed him to occupy a maximum number of positions, as in the days of Eraserhead… Lynch had the luxury of researching his film by shooting (and editing) it for years (the first shots date back to 2002). The result is an extraordinary œuvre that should perplex some of the filmmaker’s regular viewers and excite others. Even more than in Mulholland Drive, it is impossible to grasp everything at first sight. And you must be willing to feel before you understand. There is no doubt that all the pieces of the puzzle can be put together, but you will have to see the film several times before you succeed.
For enthusiasts of a narrative, the film does leave a few elements to hang on to. Hollywood actress Nikki Grace (Laura Dern) is ecstatic when she lands the female lead in On High in Blue Tomorrows. Although she was warned not to fall in love with her partner Devon Berk (Justin Theroux), a confirmed seducer, she does just that, merging her fate with that of her heroine. Where does reality end? Where does the movie within the movie begin?… Even if the figure of the director of the film within the film remains in the background, this entanglement of mise en abyme is indeed his own 8½.

Philippe Rouyer

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Restored in 4K in 2022 by courtesy of The Criterion Collection in collaboration with StudioCanal