David Keith Lynch was born on January 20th, 1946,in Missoula, Montana, in the U.S. He is one of themost interesting film directors of all time.
There’s always the danger that I’ll be forever labelledresolutely odd. Because these days there is no time forshading in people, and you’re put in a little box. I’malways put in the category of strange, which I find alittle odd. I’m a little different from that, I think.(Lynch on Lynch, 1990)
Lynch’s film Wild at Heart (1990) won a Palme d’Orat the Cannes Film festival. He has received two CésarAwards for Best Foreign Film: for The Elephant Man(1980) and Mulholland Drive (2001). He has alsohad three Best Director nominations for an AcademyAward: for The Elephant Man, for Blue Velvet (1986)and for Mulholland Drive.
Three times married and with three children, DavidLynch is indisputably one of a kind in the world ofcinema. While fans, critics and Lynch himself havecited major influences and heroes, he is in compositeterms absolutely unlike any other filmmaker, in hisability to combine both the mundane and the darkside of the American psyche with an often dreamlikeand surprisingly optimistic worldview. His use ofrecurring motifs: physical discomfort, characters whostutter nervously, odd haircuts, theatrically-curtainedantechambers, compulsive-obsessive outsiders and faux-naïf beautiful women populate all-Americanhometown landscapes filled with the anticipation and the delivery of the unpredictable, and a menacingly slow action pace.
Then there’s the scrupulously crafted sound design,often involving Lynch and composer-in-residence,Angelo Badalamenti, and collaborators such asTrent Reznor and Barry Adamson… and the strange factory machinery pumping out industrial monotony as abackdrop to the early black and whites.
He has baffled and delighted viewers and critics forforty years, and he keeps coming up with new angles,despite maintaining an instantly recognisable style all ofhis own. Like his (mutual) hero Stanley Kubrick, Lynchmanages to deliver something utterly original andahead of its time with each new much-awaited feature,and, again like Kubrick, he does so with completecommitment to his vision. Much of this he attributes tohis long-term devotion to Transcendental Meditation.
But despite (or some may say because of) his ardentindividualism he has not always been an easy fit forHollywood. In the case of Mulholland Drive, differencesof opinion resulted in the pilot being rescued fromthe cutting floor by powerful Lynchophiles in France.
Originally destined to be a US TV series, it was rescuedfrom obscurity by an enthusiastic production executivefrom the French company Canal Plus.
The film proved a huge success across Europe, andestablished actress Naomi Watts as a face to watch as sheheavy-breathed her way to instant credibility in the nowamous audition scene halfway through. Lynch has maintained many longstanding working relationships with his cast and crews.
Production assistant Jack Fisk had travelled to Europe with Lynch in the 1960s to study art with Oscar Kokoschaka (they stayed for two weeks!) Fisk married actress Sissy Spacek and took a part in Eraserhead. Both Spacek and Fisk were later instrumental in the Straight Story – Spacek in a leading role and Fisk as production designer. He also worked on Mulholland Drive, and directed an episode of Lynch’s short-lived series, On The Air. Lynch’s second wife, Mary Fisk, is Jack Fisk’s sister.
Esteemed British cinematographer Freddie Francis who
passed away in March 2007, did beautiful work on
both The Elephant Man and The Straight Story. Actress
Laura Dern, who starred in Wild At Heart, is again the
lead player in 2006’s Inland Empire. Justin Theroux,
who plays opposite her in Inland Empire, played a
benighted film director in Mulholland Drive. Twin
Peaks alone featured a whole slew of actors whose names
and faces would remain synonymous with this quirky
TV series. Actors now often perceived as Lynchian
include Kyle MacLachlan, Sherilyn Fenn, Lara Flynn
Boyle, Madchen Amick, Isabella Rossellini, Grace
Zabriskie, Ray Wise, Crispin Glover… and then there’s
Jack Nance of course.
Nance, now immortalised as the quintessential Lynch
figure, played Henry in Eraserhead, inspiring a whole
wave of experimental industrial geek imitators with
his hairdo. Jack was married to Catherine Coulson
[‘The Log Lady’ in Twin Peaks], and they were both
instrumental in getting Eraserhead made, offering
Lynch hands-on support and a longstanding friendship,
which continued until Nance’s unfortunate and brutal
death in the late 1990s.
And then there’s the wonderful Michael Anderson,
or Little Mike as he is affectionately know in Lynch
circles. ‘The man from another place’ in Twin Peaks, he
reappears years later in Mulholland Drive as Roque, a
powerful backroom Hollywood string-puller. His use of
reverse-speak in Twin Peaks was perceived by viewers as
a remarkable use of sound manipulation at the time.
Editor/producer Mary Sweeney has been working
with Lynch since Blue Velvet, and is the mother of his
youngest child. The list goes on… and, for now, so does
Lynch, for which we are grateful.
According to David Lynch is a selection of just some
of the more interesting and amusing things he has said
over the years. To give the newcomer a well-rounded
primer on what’s what in Lynch world, as he sees it.
To give the fan, student or critic a handy pack of references and good Lynch copy.
Because, although there are several good
books already out there, which I will note
in the bibliography at the end, the new up and coming
generation of film buffs need a quick answer to the
question, ‘David Lynch, who’s he?’ and if your first
Lynch experience is Inland Empire, it might help to
have a little extra background to get you on track.
Creatively, there are a lot of sides to David Lynch. Apart
from the fact he’s been involved in films for over 40
years now he’s also a painter who exhibits and sells
his work worldwide, he’s a furniture designer who has designed items for the Swiss design firm Casanostra and
as we know, he’s a long-time devotee of Transcendental Meditation.
His beautifully designed hardcover 2006 book, Catching
The Big Fish is selling all over the world, and his
accompanying celebrity-propped lecture tours have
been very popular. Lynch exhibited his paintings at the
Cartier Foundation in Paris in Spring 2007 in a wellreceived show entitled The Air Is On Fire.
A few notes on Inland Empire:
His latest film, Inland Empire, was shot on low-res DV.
When asked to describe the film and what it is about he
says it is ‘about a woman in trouble, and it’s a mystery,
and that’s all I want to say about it.’ And: ‘We are like
the spider. We weave our life and then move along in it.
We are like the dreamer who dreams and then lives in the
dream. This is true for the entire universe.’
Inland Empire began as the filming of a script which
was originally a long monologue read by Laura Dern,
parts of which run throughout the film. Allegedly
planned as a 7/8 episode series to be broadcast
exclusively on the website davidlynch.com back in
2002, it was to be called ‘Axxon N’ and now briefly
features at the beginning of Inland Empire as the longest
running radio show in the Baltic region, and recurs as a
motif, or possibly a stage direction to Laura/the actress
throughout. The monologue was the first thing shot –
and as it was shot in low res on Lynch’s Sony PD150
camera, the rest of the film was shot in keeping. It was a
four year process.
To save money, Lynch decided to lobby for Laura Dern
before the Academy Award nominations rather than
take out trade advertisements for the film. While he
has always maintained a fairly outside (as opposed to
anti-) Hollywood stance, he nonetheless felt that an
Oscar would be a wonderful thing for Dern, not least
of all because of her coming from a very Hollywood
family (her parents being Bruce Dern and Diane
Ladd). His idea of promotion was to park himself on
Sunset Boulevard with ‘For Your Consideration’ and
‘WITHOUT CHEESE THERE WOULDN’T BE
AN INLAND EMPIRE’ banners, and a cow (see cover
image). When asked to elucidate a little on his pitch, he
replied simply, ‘I ate a lot of cheese during the making
of Inland Empire.’
Helen Donlon’s book According to… David Lynch, is published as a hardback by A Jot Publishing and is available in all good retail outlets.
Readers of FAULT magazine can purchase a copy at 30% discount on the RRP, £16.99, directly from the publisher, by visiting this link:
At check out, simply type FAULT offer in the space provided for coupons and you will get an automatic 30% off the RRP.
“This is a Revelation”