Director David Lynch has always been idiosyncratic, but the legendary filmmaker was also way ahead of the curve in realizing that the internet could make him and his projects go viral. In a new special feature for the Criterion Collection release of his 2006 film Inland Empire, star Laura Dern sits down with Lynch’s friend and frequent collaborator Kyle MacLachlan to talk about the director’s famous early internet moment that he shared with a cow.
As part of the awards-season campaigning for Inland Empire, Lynch decided to promote Dern in the category of Best Actress in a very unconventional way. Rather than spending millions of dollars on a traditional advertising campaign, the director just sat outside on a street in Los Angeles with a big sign and a cow.
According to Dern, Lynch insisted that news of his very strange activity would spread via the internet and before long more people would know about it and be thinking about Inland Empire than any traditional awards campaign could manage. And while Dern never actually got nominated for the Academy Award, Lynch wasn’t wrong. The stunt was attention grabbing and now, 17 years later, it might be more widely known than the film it was meant to promote.
Thankfully, the new Criterion Collection edition of Inland Empire should help rectify that sad fact a little bit. Part of the reason Inland Empire isn’t talked about like Lynch’s most widely seen movies is that it’s been hard to find for the last few years. Because of the format Lynch used to shoot it (a low-resolution Sony handheld camera) remastering the movie for Blu-ray and 4K releases was a complicated chore and one that didn’t happen until last year when a restoration was overseen by Lynch himself.
Criterion Collection’s remastered version of Inland Empire is out now. It’s available for $27.99 through Criterion, Amazon, and Best Buy.