Preaching to the Lynch Choir

Anyone who’s read a considerable amount of my posts or taken a schmooze at my Favourite Directors page might notice I have a slight obsession with the film catalogue of David Lynch. I’d like to talk to you– and hopefully not bore you –with a little explanation about why he is one of the greatest minds in the art of film at the moment and what makes him special to me.

David Lynch was always interested in art, and in the mid-sixties he spent $200 to finance a short artistic ‘picture,’ entitled Six Men Getting Sick. He won an award, and was approached to create another feature. His next was called The Alphabet, and is among my Top 10 Horror Movies even though strictly speaking, it’s not a horror. It’s a short film based on a nightmare that his wife’s niece had. Watch it for yourself and tell me you’re not creeped out:

This is a perfect example of the madness in David Lynch’s head. Many of his shorts were like this, including two that followed it: The Grandmother and The Amputee.

After those two came Eraserhead, his first feature length film and his weirdest.

But I’m not here to catalogue his whole career (that you can see on the banner at the top of this post). I’m just here to help some people to come to grips with this man and perhaps make peace with the weirdness he produces.

Many have had problems with his films, and if you’re not into big, confusing, think-about-it narratives, then I suggest to stay away from Eraserhead, Lost Highway, Mulholland Drive, and INLAND EMPIRE. Thankfully, he has made some more accessible films, such as The Elephant Man, Dune, Blue Velvet, Wild at Heart, and The Straight Story.

But I think the real talent lies in those tricky mythological mazes of deception and disturbance. It is within those labyrinths of destruction and terror that true entertainment and artistic value lies. The first time I saw INLAND EMPIRE only a few months ago, I was utterly bamboozled and kind of annoyed that it made almost no sense to me at all. Yet… I strangely enjoyed it. Even the completely frustrating and annoying parts had artistic value and entertainment within them. Sometimes it comes from the writing, and sometimes it comes from the acting.

The point I’m trying to make is that no-one can really be 100% satisfied when they reach the end of a Lynch film, because often, they don’t get what they’ve just seen. But it’s not about getting it… its about enjoying it. And you might find, as I did, that if you mull over what you’ve just seen and think about it for a few days, a light bulb might go off and you might finally get it. Lynch himself has said that he doesn’t like to explain his films because he believes each movie should have its own interpretation to the viewer.

Of course, there’s no reason you should have to listen to me, I’m no expert, I haven’t even seen all of Lynch’s movies (The Straight Story still eludes me and I’m trying to finish Season 2 of “Twin Peaks” before I watch the movie). It’s just… I’ve heard too many people say they’re fed up with Lynch that haven’t really given him a proper chance. A person I like to refer to in this case is Roger Ebert. He gave Blue Velvet, Wild at Heart and Lost Highway all bad reviews, but then he gave Mulholland Drive and INLAND EMPIRE the most positive reviews you could have hoped for. Here was a man who had given up on Lynch (well… almost) but who radically changed his mind when finally something clicked.

Oh… listen to me. I’m full of crap. I’m rambling, and I’m sorry, but hey! Hopefully you’ve learned something. Now go watch INLAND EMPIRE.

Thanks for reading.


About Tyler

Patient observer of all things film and music, from Béla Tarr to Boards of Canada. Foul mouthed and clinging to the edge of sanity.

Posted on April 16, 2011, in Filmmakers, Movies and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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