I’ve been a fan of David Lynch‘s films for a long time.
I’m not sure when his work first registered on my consciousness. I think it was probably his TV series Twin Peaks–and I only got into it during the second season. However, it was when a friend of mine showed me Lost Highway years later that Lynch popped up firmly on my radar.
It’s a film about psychosis and the slipperiness of identity, and I found it a profoundly disturbing, and scary, film. Despite its flaws, Lost Highway is an extraordinary film and one that the viewer does not forget–even if s/he dislikes it.
I should back up at this point and note that I’ve always enjoyed horror films. Even as a kid I used to seek out the black and white monster flicks, the zombie films, and the psychological horror movies. I remember watching The Thing (Carpenter’s version) as a teen for the first time and being totally horrified.
I love being scared by a film, because I’m pretty difficult to frighten by conventional horror films. Sure, I might jump at the occasional shock, but that’s not a proper creep-out, just a cheap surprise.
Films do not continue to scare me once they are over. I have heard apocryphal stories from friends about certain films that have given them nightmares for days or weeks after they’ve seen them. I’ve never had this problem. It’s not that I didn’t have the occasional nightmare, or that things didn’t scare me when I was a kid (real life, with its collection of strange and hidden experiences, is far more unsettling to a child than any movie), but I released myself from the glamour of the film once it ended.
David Lynch’s films affect me on a profound level. There is something eerily familiar in his depiction of the inherent duplicity of life: on the surface all is serene and everyone flashes bright smiles, but in the right light, or from an obtuse angle, one can glimpse odd and bizarre events that make the skin creep with goose flesh.
There are scenes in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me that freaked me out. There are few directors that can capture how weird our lives are at times: especially how traumatic events can catapult us into a totally different reality. Lynch taps into the deep recesses of our minds and projects it onto the big screen. He possesses a rare and complex talent.
The revised edition of Lynch on Lynch, edited by Chris Rodley, has just been published and I picked up a copy today. Over a strong cup of coffee I began reading the first section, and was excited by Lynch’s description of how he views the world.
It was like listening to a friend. Lynch had a happy childhood in a middle class environment in the 1950s, and yet he creates art, and films, that reflect a total understanding of where the bogeyman lives. It’s not in the closet, or under the bed; it’s in your local grocery store, in your front yard, in your bedroom, and perhaps, leaning over your shoulder right now and reading these words.
I’m going to enjoy reading this book. Here’s an early snippet I liked in which Lynch describes his budding awareness of the strangeness of life:
I learned that just beneath the surface there’s another world, and still different worlds as you dig deeper. I knew it as a kid, but I couldn’t find the proof. It was just a feeling. There is goodness in blue skies and flowers, but another force–a wild pain and decay–also accompanies everything. Like with scientists: they start on the surface of something, and then they start delving. They get down to the subatomic particles and their world’s now very abstract. They’re like abstract painters in a way. It’d be hard to talk to them because they’re way down in there.
Jesus, I aspire for the day when my work reaches the subatomic level, and I can play with the molecules of fear, joy, and desire, and reflect them in all their multifarious glory.