Born to a middle class family in Montana, David Keith Lynch is an amazing figure of any kind. He is a humble person who have transcend from being one of the brightest student in Pennsylvania Academy Of Fine Arts to the cult film director that has spawned many works from the black and white “Eraserhead” to the disturbing and complex “Lost Highway”. Absurd visuals, non-linear plot and cleverly built intensity through harrowing clashes of instruments have produced a somewhat disturbing entertainment that most of his loyal followers have come to loved.
Lynch first feature film was the relatively low budget “Eraserhead” that tells the story of a Henry Spencer (Jack Nance) a young man who is forced to care for his deformed child in an industrial landscape. It was a body horror film that sets the benchmark as one of the grittiest, darkest most disturbing horror ever. Lynch’s imaginative camera work have brought the film to be a mainstream success and soon gained recognition amongst the midnight movie circuit that is known for selections of quirky horrors, spin-offs and cult works. The film is also admired for its brilliant sound production that is hailed by many critics as a “solemn proof of perfect marriage between music and ambiance in a horror film”.
After critics praised Lynch’s first work, he was already busy prepping his second feature film “Elephant Man” that was then produced by Stuart Cornfield and Mel Brooks who went on unaccredited but decided to be involved because of their love of Lynch’s work. The film tells the true story of Joseph Merrick, a deformed man living in 19th century London played by the brilliant John Hurt and includes major casts like Anthony Hopkins and John Gielgud. Adapted from two books written by Sir Frederick Treves and Ashley Montagu respectively, the film received eight nominations for Academy Awards that includes Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Actor among others.
After two movies that are well received by the industry and critics, it seems like there’s no stopping Lynch at any point. Dino De Laurentiis who fronted De Laurentiis Entertainment signed Lynch for two feature films under one contract, the films which was called “Dune” and “Blue Velvet” was then become known as the ‘De Laurentiis Era’. Dune which was Lynch’s work in a different style. The film was a critical and commercial failure even though Lynch had envisioned the film himself. But the failure of “Dune” was short-lived because “Blue Velvet”, a neo-noir surrealist film, Were highly noted for its similar style to two of Lynch’s earlier work “Eraserhead” and “Elephant Man”. After Dune’s much unexpected failure, Lynch wanted to developed a more personal story that reflects more on his idea of cinema and visual works. “Blue Velvet” deals heavily with themes of dark mystery that is noted as one of Lynch’s most known signatures in cinema. The film also drew inspirations from the 1950’s noir film “Femme Fatale” which starred Dorothy Vallens.
David Lynch is also known for many of his television works which includes crime thriller “Twin Peaks” running from 1990-1991 and its cinematic prequel “Twin Peaks : Fire Walk with me”, “Wild At Heart” a road movie that starred Nicolas Cage, a family drama “The Straight Story” which was produced in 1999. His web-based animation feature “Dumblands” (2002) and the surreal sitcom “Rabbits” are also regarded even though failed to receive much critical praise. His works is known to be idealistic and not many producers can actually argue with him on his visual visions and how the film should be portrayed, how the characters should be built personally based on human interactions are some of the things that Lynch excels in.
He also produced and directed the ‘dream logic’ trilogy that helped Lynch into a wider market that appreciates his art. “Lost Highway” (1997) that tells the story of Fred Madison (Bill Pulman) a Los Angeles saxophonist who encountered many strange happenings in his live and was living in a dream-like state that revolves around his nightmarish flashbacks.
“Mulholland Drive” (which was later known to be Lynch’s most appraised work) was a work of a genius. This neo-noir film tells the story of an aspiring actress newly arrived in Los Angeles (played by Naomi Watts) and her search for fame. This deranged film was told in a non-linear concept, playing with vignettes of events from the past and rolls back to the future in no subsequent order that connect in one way or the other. The film garnered Lynch Best Director Award at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival. The next in ‘dream-logic’ trilogy was “Inland Empire” which was the final part of the ‘dream logic’ trilogy sees Lynch playing with the same theme that he has long been acquainted with, ‘a woman, in trouble, in a surrealist state’. Even though “Inland Empire” was not considered to be Lynch’s greatest work it is still a fantastic finale that fittingly closes the ‘dream-logic’ trilogy that he utilizes from his past experience handling noir and unreal visual enchantment that does not use many technology, but more to the camera work and a well-crafted script.
Lynch style in directing and visual progressions have grown extensively throughout the years, and he is also heralded as one of the most accomplished film makers in a whole, meaning that he would ‘dream’ up every sequence, every dialogue, every art direction and even the basic principal photography which he always do alone. David Lynch is not someone that can just be easily overlooked, his contribution to the film industry as a whole is something that the industry owed a huge debt too. Even though he never claimed any commercial success similar to the likes of Spielberg, Michael Bay and other ‘Hollywood-esque’ filmmakers, Lynch is heralded to be the finest of the few. We all owe a great debt to him for making idealism, existentialism as an individual director are two things that should be highly respected. His high respect for the culture of cinema are his winning forte, and let’s just hope he releases another sick mind-fuck films in the near future. If you’re not a fan, give it a try.
Text : gs