Rabbits originally consisted as a series of eight short episodes shown exclusively on DavidLynch.com, no longer available there. It is now available on DVD in the "Lime Green Set" collection of Lynch's films, in a re-edited four-episode version. In addition, the set and some footage of the rabbits are reused in Lynch's Inland Empire, an inclusion that leads some Lynch fans to believe that his entire catalog comprises a single, disjointed story.
Take the rabbit scenes in Inland Empire, where three characters dressed in rabbit costumes deliver dead-pan, serious but obtuse dialogue highlighted by canned laughter, after the fashion of your typical sit-com. Most reviews of Inland Empire cannot seem to make any sense of these scenes, why they are in the film, what the rabbits are doing and how they may or may not relate to the Polish characters in the upstairs room into whom they magically dissolve. But perhaps the rabbit scenes are best read as a mordant critique which is simultaneously humorous in an absurdist way for all its intensity; a critique of that narrative drive which turns the extraordinary and unexpected reality of everyday existence into a clichéd, banal and in a radical sense, mundane set of stories and lines whose structure, syntagm and conclusions, whose cardinal functions are already totally known and which seem to perpetuate themselves by a kind of fundamentalist evangelical auto-propagation; light entertainment that repeats incessantly and constantly on our TV screens informing us, by way of attempts at comedy, that reality constructed as a clean narrative with beginning, middle and end; introduction, body and conclusion is the safest and surest, though ultimately terribly dreary way to write human existence. As Shakespeare once noted “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.”
I initially suspected that Lynch was simply recycling old material—that it was a bit of a copout, if an amusing one. I've revised that opinion. If you watch Rabbits (the series) with the details of INLAND EMPIRE in mind, you'll see the origins of the film. Rabbits basically set a new standard in Lynch cryptography. For starters, the rabbits speak in a purely nonlinear fashion. I'll leave it to someone else to piece all the bits together, but we can definitely say that there is a decent amount of meaning there.
As a result of this heritage, it seems throughout INLAND EMPIRE that the rabbits are repeating much of what the human characters say, like "it was red" and "it was the man in the green coat." In actuality, these lines were present in Rabbits long before INLAND EMPIRE was made.
Lynch does connect the rabbits directly with his human characters. At the beginning of the film, we see a rabbit enter the royal-looking Old Poland room where Janek meets the Phantom. The three Polish mediums fade into the three rabbits in identical positions. There is even more rabbit/human juxtaposing in the deleted scenes.
In one scene, a quasi-demonic ritual seems to transport Jack Rabbit directly into Mr. K's room.
You may remember, too, that when Sue enters Room 47, we discover that it's the rabbits' room. Imagine that—they are physically connected with the purgatory, and perhaps even adjunct gatekeepers of it.
Extra credit assignment: Watch all the Rabbits episodes, paying special attention when the door (yes, the one with the 47 on it) opens. This happens quite a few times. What does it mean, exactly, in this spiritual context?
And more generally, what do the rabbits mean for INLAND EMPIRE? My best guess—considering the vaguely satanic content and the general feelings of confusion and danger surrounding them—is that the rabbits and their creepy little world represent something like the mysterious and mixed-up darkness of the subconscious. This, in other words, is precisely what Sue and Lost Girl are trying to purge, the world they are trying to emerge from.