Watch: Was David Lynch’s ‘Lost Highway’ A Dig at Oliver Stone?
Every work is, whether it knows it or not, a comment on another work. The filmmaker, the poet, the songwriter may pray for originality and often the prayers are answered. But, the work produced will always be the product of all the works that have come before it, absorbed and re-emitted by the artist. Sometimes the work will comment on other works, either slyly or openly. Take, for example, ‘Lost Highway,’ David Lynch’s 1997 tale of crime and loss. This video essay by Jeff Keeling takes a close, methodical look at the film’s potential commentary on two works by Oliver Stone–‘Natural Born Killers‘ and ‘Wild Palms‘–for which Stone received a tremendous amount of acclaim. The similarities and points of careful divergence are striking; the films’ casts overlap (Robert Loggia and Balthasar Getty), and certain scenes from Stone are quoted by Lynch, but the dialogue is significantly different. What do you think?
Watch: What Makes a David Lynch Film So… Lynchian?
If you ask me the question What makes a David Lynch film "Lynchian"? And I answer, If I have to explain, you probably won’t understand it, I’m not being as obnoxious as you might think. There is a quality to Lynch’s films that resists understanding, description, summary, analysis, or any of the other activities we engage in to make artworks more palatable. This excellent new video essay by Kevin B. Lee for Fandor, using text from Dennis Lim’s book David Lynch: The Man from Another Place comes as close, really, as one might ever get to characterizing Lynch’s work, with some surprising cameos. Susan Boyle? Lynchian? Perhaps. You be the judge…
Watch: David Lynch’s Films Are All Chapters in One Story
Try to imagine a universe in which one might have complaints about the films of David Lynch. I can’t, personally, but maybe you can. In this hypothetical, impossible-to-imagine universe, the closest thing I might possibly be able to conceive as a vague complaint–not a complaint, really, but a concern–is that sometimes his films lack–and this isn’t to say this is required, just that certain people require it, who knows why–narrative continuity. There might be all kinds of reasons for this characteristic–that is, if we’re actually saying it’s a quality of his films–and, if I had to produce a statement of "defense," I might offer the idea that the films are all meant to both talk to each other and to work together as a large assemblage, a story, if you wish. Joel Bocko asserts this idea, both directly and indirectly, in this brilliant video essay. He begins by noting points of correspondence between the creepy interiors of ‘Eraserhead
‘ and those of ‘Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me
,’ and then he goes to broaden his vision a little, making the work of Lynch resemble, more than anything else, a hall of mirrors. The difference between Lynch’s oeuvre and a side-show distraction, though, is that each mirror, each reflection, moves you forward; each repetition of a motif develops it, expands its girth. At this point in time, when we watch a new Lynch film, from ‘Blue Velvet’ to ‘Wild at Heart’ to ‘Inland Empire,’ we are truly watching it to see what happens next: not within the body of the film, but within the body of his work. How will the symbols change? What new side of the human face will he show us? Who will disappear next and the re-appear, magically transformed? Who will die? Who will triumph?
Watch: 7 Reasons Why David Lynch’s ‘Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me’ Is an Underrated Masterpiece
Coming as it did on the heels of the more-than-a-cult-show ‘Twin Peaks,’ David Lynch’s film annex to the series, ‘Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me’ had an uphill climb with its viewers and reviewers. Such is the way with extensions like this: Tolkien’s Silmarillion never had much of a chance beside the Lord of the Rings series, just as the X-Files films have not seen much critical acclaim. (Ever read the "other" Oz books by L. Frank Baum? Didn’t think so.) It’s hard to say what causes this syndrome of reception, if you want to call it that: perhaps the simplest way of saying it is that once viewers decide they’ve had enough, they back away? Or, in the case of Lynch’s film, a creative world that teemed and had true magnetism in one medium didn’t have the same draw for its viewers in another, for reasons that weren’t the film’s fault? Whatever the case, Joel Bocko is a defender of ‘Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me,’ and defend it he does, with 7 well-supported points and an appropriately dreamy tour of Lynch’s much-maligned film, which takes imaginative leaps that shouldn’t be overlooked. Take a look yourself: you might want to enter into the Twin-Peaks dreamscape once more after you watch this piece.
Watch: David Lynch’s ‘Blue Velvet’ and ‘The Elephant Man’ Have Eerie Similarities
If I were to say that David Lynch’s ‘Blue Velvet’ was a pillar movie of my adolescence, and remains something of a gold standard against which I measure other films, that wouldn’t speak very well of me, in some senses. But in other senses, it might. The film is indelible for a number of reasons, chief among them being its opening: there are few films I can think of that start in such a settled way, as if the strange universe we are entering at the story’s start has always been there, waiting for us. So, I was delighted to discover this short piece by Liz Greene focusing on ‘Blue Velvet”s opening, honing in on its similarity to the opening of ‘The Elephant Man,’ another great Lynch film but one which has not, perhaps, lodged itself in the public consciousness to such a great extent as the later work. Viewed this way, side by side and simultaneously, all sorts of correlations arise: the movements, the visual cadences, even the music… Take a look.
Watch: ‘Twin Peaks’: A Short Video History
What is it that made ‘Twin Peaks’ so influential in so many different cultural areas? This is the question most often asked about David Lynch’s and Mark Frost’s pioneering television series–beyond, of course, "What’s it mean?" This video essay by YouTube user "Glit Boy" offers us a history of the show and, in so doing, provides a possible answer to the question, perhaps uninintentionally. The video shows us snippets of the show’s origins, alluding to Frost’s previous work with ‘Hill Street Blues,’ by way of saying that the show was wholly unconventional in a time at which the networks were dominated by police procedurals and other similarly plot-driven vehicles. After a run-down of the plot, we get an explanation of the show’s influence on video games such as ‘A Link to the Past’ and ‘Deadly Premonition,’ as well as series such as ‘The Killing’ and countless others. What all of this accumulated evidence indicates is that what made the series so influential may have been its confidence: not just its storytelling skill, or its cinematography, but the sense that all of its elements, from Agent Cooper’s love of coffee to the fixation of the Log Lady, were in place before Lynch even imagined them, that he simply walked into the world of the show and began filming.
Watch: What If David Lynch Had Directed Stanley Kubrick’s ‘The Shining’?
If David Lynch had directed Stanley Kubrick’s ‘The Shining"–let’s just stop there. In a sense, he did, just as much as Kubrick directed many of Lynch’s films. (In a sense.) It’s been said many times that there are only 4 or 5 good ideas, and they keep being passed around over and over, re-shaped, re-imagined. And the creative animus, the deranged, meticulous force of imagination that fueled Kubrick’s mind when he took a good thriller by Stephen King and made it into a horrific masterpiece could well have been flowing through Lynch’s mind when he made… anything. Except, perhaps, ‘The Straight Story.’ Or ‘Dune.’ This mash-up (though it’s a lot more) by Richard Vezina has a lot of beautiful little touches: a log truck rolling by outside the window as Jack Torrance is conducting his entrance interview at The Overlook; Dick Hallorann ending up in the tractor from ‘The Straight Story’ when he’s driving to the hotel to save the lives of Torrance’s family; Torrance watching ants gnawing and gnashing their teeth as he looks at a model of the hotel grounds… Far from just a random supposition, the question at the heart of the piece prods us to pay more close attention to the similarities between these two cinematic emissaries from the dark side of the mind.
Watch: Why WERE the Lights Always Flickering in ‘Twin Peaks’?
In the world of ‘Twin Peaks," the lights are on the fritz. Transformers buzz. Electrocutions may occur. Events of great significance take place almost entirely through circuitry, be it on a television screen or through a phone wire. What does it all mean? Everything and nothing. In David Lynch’s vision, the electric spark is the clash of small-town sensibilities and big-city decadence, between the past and the more modern world, between human life and the shadowy world beyond it where Laura Palmer and "Bob" dwell, between the baffling, horrific day-world and the world of dreams. This video essay by A. Martin and C. Álvarez López takes us through the short-circuitry of ‘Twin Peaks,’ at times hilarious, at times awful–it’s a beautiful, uncomfortable, ride. Enjoy.
Watch: All of David Lynch’s Most Bizarre Moments… in Three Minutes!
Each video in this series will trace a crucial element of a brilliant American director’s work throughout the director’s filmography–in three minutes. Our first subject: David Lynch.
The films of David Lynch are
certainly not the easiest to digest. Lynch has two well-known
fascinations in filmmaking: the inexplicable and the bizarre. Often in a
David Lynch-directed work, we are presented with isolated moments that
simply do not seem to fit with, or make any coherent connection to, the rest
of the piece. Even after further analysis and repeated viewings, many
of these moments just cannot be logically explained. In addition to
these moments, Lynch frequently employs bizarre, disturbing
visuals and situations. Frequently, the bizarre and the inexplicable
work together to create a sensation that can only be experienced
through David Lynch.
filmmaker’s knack for the unsettling was apparent from the start with
the squirming cooked chicken spewing blood in his feature film debut, ‘Eraserhead,’ a film which is inexplicable, bizarre, and
disturbing in equal parts. Lynch’s unique styling seemed to settle down a bit in his next
two films, ‘The Elephant Man‘ and ‘Dune,’ due to an abundance of studio
interference. However, Lynch returned to independent filmmaking with
what many consider his masterpiece, ‘Blue Velvet,’ and solidified the
Lynchian style. From here onwards, every one of his films, as well as his television
series, ‘Twin Peaks,’ screamed "David
Lynch." In 1999, Lynch veered slightly off course and tried something
different with the G-rated film ‘The Straight Story,’ which was produced
by Disney. The clearly self-aware title says it all, in this case. However, despite the "normal" nature of the
film, there are still glints of Lynchian filmmaking peeking through the
is a look at some of Lynch’s trademark inexplicable and disturbing
moments, from the perplexingly caustic ‘Eraserhead’ to the hauntingly
beautiful mess ‘Inland Empire.’
The Elephant Man (1980)
Blue Velvet (1986)
Wild at Heart (1990)
Twin Peaks (series) (1990-91)
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992)
Lost Highway (1997)
The Straight Story (1999)
Mulholland Dr. (2001)
Inland Empire (2006)
Jacob T. Swinney is an industrious film editor and filmmaker, as well as a recent graduate of Salisbury University.
Watch: 7 Reasons Why KISS ME DEADLY Is the Greatest Noir Film of All Time
Quentin Tarantino in ‘Pulp Fiction.’ David Fincher in ‘Se7en.’ David Lynch in ‘Lost Highway.’ These directors, and many others, were all influenced by Robert Aldrich’s 1955 film noir milestone ‘Kiss Me Deadly.’ In this haunting and frequently inspired piece,
Königsburg lists seven reasons why the film is so important–and in so doing she manages to bring in everything from ‘Friends’ to Ronald Reagan. The film itself was a bizarre masterpiece, but this analysis by Königsburg is a challenging work on its own, acquiring independent power as it moves along.