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Venice honors Lynch

By By Mike Collett-White, Reuters, September 6, 2006

Understanding director David Lynch's films is never easy.

But with his new picture "Inland Empire" the master of mystery and the macabre is more impenetrable than ever, prompting a journalist to jokingly ask after his mental health.

In his latest collaboration with actressLaura Dern, Lynch, who receives a Golden Lion lifetime achievement award from the Venice Film Festival later on Wednesday, blurs the boundaries between one story and the next, and between dream and reality.

Nearly three hours long, the most obvious plotline centers around the making of a movie and how the lead actress fears the wrath of her husband when she has an affair with her co-star.

But where that story begins and others, including one set in Poland, begin, is impossible to tell.

Asked if the film was supposed to make sense, Lynch told a news conference following a press screening: "It's supposed to make perfect sense."

Lynch relies heavily on the score to create tension and atmosphere, and the movie features a series of claustrophobic scenes following characters down darkened corridors and fearfully entering darkened rooms.

Lynch was in no mood to help journalists fathom the film's meaning.

When asked to explain the appearance of three actors wearing rabbits' heads, one of whom stands in the corner doing the ironing, the 60-year-old replied: "No, I can't explain that."

Another reporter asking about a different aspect of "Inland Empire" was told:

"I really would like to be able to explain, but the film ends up being the explanation. That's what's so terrible about press conferences. It's all about the film, not about the words."

And in reply to a question about his wellbeing, he said: "Thank you for asking. I'm doing really well."


The director of cult classic like "Eraserhead," "The Elephant Man" and "Mulholland Drive" and a television series that spawned a generation of copycats -- "Twin Peaks" -- suggested audiences tend to try too hard to find exact meaning in his work.

"You should be not afraid of using your intuition and feel, think your way through," he said. "Have the experience and trust your inner knowing of what it is."

Lynch explained how he launched into his latest project without knowing exactly what he wanted to do next, and Dern, who has starred in previous Lynch movies "Blue Velvet" and "Wild at Heart" called the experience "unique."

"We worked over the course of about 2-1/2 years and each day was a different direction, each day was a different idea because we did not have a script we were following," she said.

Lynch added: "Little by little by little it started revealing itself."

He stressed the importance of sound in making a picture, and attacked the now common practice of dubbing over films after they have been shot on camera.

"Cinema to me is sound and picture rolling along together in time and it's so important, the sound, how it goes with the picture, how it marries.

"I think that this dubbing of pictures has got to end. It ruins the picture, completely and totally ruins the picture."

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