Thursday, October 11, 2007


Deleted or additional scenes included on DVDs are rarely discussed in reviews or criticism, except to note their presence. This isn't surprising, since these scenes are generally equivalent to authors' rejected drafts. The additional scenes on the U.S. Inland Empire 2-DVD set, however, are a different case. For one thing, Lynch has labelled them "More Things That Happened," implying that they are "in continuity," so to speak. For another, they are not tangential, as such scenes often are. In fact, any full analysis of the film has to take them into account, even though doing so makes things more instead of less confusing.

In Chapter Four (using the chapter breaks on the DVD for identification) we see more of the mysterious "Phantom" than we do in the film itself. He is at a party, selling "licky watches," and apparently hypnotizes an unfortunate customer. Chapter Six is a lengthy and cryptic sequence (possibly beginning with Chapter Five) which includes the Bruised Woman, the Housewife, and Nikki, or possibly two Nikkis: nowhere in the film iirc are these three personas juxtaposed so closely. The first fifteen minutes of Chapter Fourteen are a monologue by the Bruised Woman providing information on her family history and current situation: she's living with her sister and sister's husband, something you would never guess from the film. We also learn a bit about the red lamp which is a visual motif in the film, associated particularly with the Housewife. And at the end of this monologue, the Bruised Woman makes the baffling statement that she was 41 in 1960, although what other chronological indications there are set the film firmly in the 00s.*

But the scenes in "More Things That Happened" are not just valuable for the data they provide; they are well worth watching in themselves. Two in particular stand out. The fifteen-minute monologue by the Bruised Woman referred to above is brilliantly written and acted -- one of the best portraits of dead-end working-class life I've encountered. And the light effects in Chapter Eleven are as beautiful as anything in Inland Empire.

Still, the scenes collected in "More Things That Happened" are anomalies. They're not part of the film, yet too closely connected to it to be treated as stand-alone entities. Neither wholes themselves nor integral parts of a larger whole, they're something that the mainstream of contemporary film criticism doesn't know how to deal with.

*The title page of the script for "On High in Blue Tomorrows" states "Received April 06, 2005"; and in the second part of Chapter Fourteen, a prostitute is paid by a client in Euros, which did not exist as physical currency before 2002.

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