Tuesday, 1 January 2013


Rabbits is a 2002 series of short video films written and directed by David Lynch. The movies depict three humanoid rabbits played by Scott Coffey, Laura Elena Harring and Naomi Watts (in episode 3 Rebekah Del Rio stands in for Laura Elena Harring) in a room. Their disjointed conversations are interrupted by a random laugh track. Rabbits is presented with the tagline "In a nameless city deluged by a continuous rain... three rabbits live with a fearful mystery". As with most of David Lynch's films, the score was composed by Angelo Badalamenti.

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.

The prologue – the Lost Girl is the star of the original Polish film, she is traumatised, and watches Rabbits. Either Rabbits is a Lynchian distraction technique, such as we are familiar with from Eraserhead, or it is a clever metaphor. The rabbits represent the guys at the top of the chain in Hollywood, they speak a language nobody really understands even though everyone laughs along with them; although public faces, they are always hiding a profound mystery which all makes sense only to them. This is the better interpretation. [Note that Rabbits began as a mini-series on Lynch’s website, predating INLAND EMPIRE. The footage in INLAND EMPIRE is taken from the series, which was originally tagged ‘In an unnamed city, deluged by constant rain, three rabbits live with a fearful mystery’]. The sequences in Polish at the very start of the prologue is footage from the original film.
Daniel Barnes

From her own den of frustration, a woman—Nikki/Sue's 4/7 proxy or, perhaps, a spectator of Inland Empire—watches Rabbits, whose canned laughter undermines her fit of busy tears. These shorts act as one of many exciting portals in the film through which characters cross between worlds, and what is Inland Empire in the end but a hall with walls equipped with barbed rabbit holes, each one daring us to peek through, possibly even to take a plunge into the sea of Lynch's id?
Ed Gonzalez

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 clich├ęd, 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.”

For many INLAND EMPIRE viewers, the rabbits are one of the most confusing and irreconcilable parts of the film. My reaction was very different—not because I had some amazing insight, but because I had seen these rabbits before. These rabbits, in fact, appeared in Lynch's episodic short film series, Rabbits. Search for "lynch rabbits" on sites like YouTube, and you'll find most of the episodes. So when I first saw the rabbits appear in INLAND EMPIRE, I was pretty much taken out of the movie and almost laughed.

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.
Jeremy Blackman


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