Understanding: LYNCH

THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING DAVID LYNCH
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Growing up in Missoula, Montana, David Lynch’s childhood is pretty much as picturesque of Suburban America as it gets. It wasn’t until he moved to Philadelphia where David Lynch was exposed to the deepest, darkest mysteries that encompass the ordinary things we all know. Since then David has been intrigued by this sense of duality that is common in people alike as well as places. It’s somewhere between these two extremes that is who we really are and maybe that point in the middle is where all of David’s films take place. When you watch David’s films you might see a story take place in LA, but it isn’t quite like the LA we really know. It’s all a little off. Familiar, yet ambiguous and mysterious. There’s a sense of fear that clouds the judgment of the characters in Lynch’s works. Through the use of Transcendental Mediation, Lynch is able to traverse through the depths of his unconscious and present to viewers a tangible depiction of the universal unconscious we all share. Facially, it seems like it is all just a dream, but who’s to say we aren’t the ones living within the dream? 

Here’s our recommended order of getting into and understanding Lynch! 

1) MULHOLLAND DR. (2001)

The Lynchian world is a weird one, alright, so I figure it would be pretty rude of me to throw the regular “movie viewer” into something like Eraserhead off rip. Mulholland Drive is both David’s most critically acclaimed film as well as his most “popular”, in the mainstream sense that is. Lynch loves exploring the duality of nature and people through his work and Mulholland Drive is one of the best exemplifications of this. There’s a duality in everything we see, two sides to each story. Mulholland Drive takes this idea and pushes its limits in a dreamy, surreal story about two young girls, one of which suffering from amnesia from an accident, as they try to discover her identity. Crazy twist, great story, and one hell of a sex scene with Naomi Watts and Laura Harring. If that’s not enough to get you on board, then shit I don’t know what will.

The Lynchian world is a weird one, alright, so I figure it would be pretty rude of me to throw the regular “movie viewer” into something like Eraserhead off rip. Mulholland Drive is both David’s most critically acclaimed film as well as his most “popular”, in the mainstream sense that is. Lynch loves exploring the duality of nature and people through his work and Mulholland Drive is one of the best exemplifications of this. There’s a duality in everything we see, two sides to each story. Mulholland Drive takes this idea and pushes its limits in a dreamy, surreal story about two young girls, one of which suffering from amnesia from an accident, as they try to discover her identity. Crazy twist, great story, and one hell of a sex scene with Naomi Watts and Laura Harring. If that’s not enough to get you on board, then shit I don’t know what will.

2) BLUE VELVET (1986)

The one that started it all for me. Blue Velvet grabbed my attention like no movie I had ever seen before had. It was the first film of Lynch’s I had seen and had no idea what I was getting myself into. In keeping with the sense of duality Lynch presents us with Mulholland Dr., we see this duality shift from a personal level to a communal level. Blue Velvet analyzes the deep underbelly of suburban America. How even the quietest and friendliest seeming towns, carry a dark side that is buried under the surface much like the bugs that rule under the surface of a perfectly cut lawn.

The one that started it all for me. Blue Velvet grabbed my attention like no movie I had ever seen before had. It was the first film of Lynch’s I had seen and had no idea what I was getting myself into. In keeping with the sense of duality Lynch presents us with Mulholland Dr., we see this duality shift from a personal level to a communal level. Blue Velvet analyzes the deep underbelly of suburban America. How even the quietest and friendliest seeming towns, carry a dark side that is buried under the surface much like the bugs that rule under the surface of a perfectly cut lawn.

3) ERASERHEAD (1977)

David has said that Eraserhead is his most spiritual film. It was Lynch’s first feature and centers around a young man named Henry in a desolate, industrial town. One day he gets the news that his girlfriend is pregnant, but when she gives birth, what comes out isn’t exactly human. I don’t mean not human, like how newborn babies kinda look like aliens, but like this thing is a legit alien creature. In reality, during the making of Eraserhead, David’s wife had given birth to their first child. David has said that even when he was making Eraserhead he had no idea what any of it meant. He solely entered his unconscious and allowed the only thing that’s true in any of us to encompass him and he put it into a tangible format for us to interpret and come to our conclusions to. For me, I see it as David’s true unnerving fear of fatherhood that he was wading through in his unconscious mind. In essence, that’s what all of David’s films are though. They are just tangible expressions of unconscious matter. Something that is unique to the individual visually, but is universal at its subject matter.

David has said that Eraserhead is his most spiritual film. It was Lynch’s first feature and centers around a young man named Henry in a desolate, industrial town. One day he gets the news that his girlfriend is pregnant, but when she gives birth, what comes out isn’t exactly human. I don’t mean not human, like how newborn babies kinda look like aliens, but like this thing is a legit alien creature. In reality, during the making of Eraserhead, David’s wife had given birth to their first child. David has said that even when he was making Eraserhead he had no idea what any of it meant. He solely entered his unconscious and allowed the only thing that’s true in any of us to encompass him and he put it into a tangible format for us to interpret and come to our conclusions to. For me, I see it as David’s true unnerving fear of fatherhood that he was wading through in his unconscious mind. In essence, that’s what all of David’s films are though. They are just tangible expressions of unconscious matter. Something that is unique to the individual visually, but is universal at its subject matter.

4) THE ELEPHANT MAN (1980)

One of Lynch’s more “straight-forward” films this is the one that I’m sure your parents all saw and know very well. Even Seinfeld had a little spoof of an iconic scene from this movie in an episode. After Lynch made Eraserhead, Mel Brooks’ assistant suggested that David should direct The Elephant Man, a historical drama about Joseph Merrick, a real-life man who suffered incredible facial deformities and had been coined the name “The Elephant Man.” It seems like the biopic that was made for Lynch. Bookended by two very Lynchian sequences, The Elephant Man holds up in Lynch’s repertoire as an all-time classic film and it allows David to apply his depiction of our universal unconscious into a real-life person making it that much more relatable and touching. And plus I figured this would be a nice little break for y'all who are sticking through the Lynchian weirdness so far.

One of Lynch’s more “straight-forward” films this is the one that I’m sure your parents all saw and know very well. Even Seinfeld had a little spoof of an iconic scene from this movie in an episode. After Lynch made Eraserhead, Mel Brooks’ assistant suggested that David should direct The Elephant Man, a historical drama about Joseph Merrick, a real-life man who suffered incredible facial deformities and had been coined the name “The Elephant Man.” It seems like the biopic that was made for Lynch. Bookended by two very Lynchian sequences, The Elephant Man holds up in Lynch’s repertoire as an all-time classic film and it allows David to apply his depiction of our universal unconscious into a real-life person making it that much more relatable and touching. And plus I figured this would be a nice little break for y'all who are sticking through the Lynchian weirdness so far.

5) TWIN PEAKS (1990-1992, 2017)

Now that you’ve made it through some of David’s films I’m gonna go ahead and leave you with one of his more “mainstream” contributions. Twin Peaks has pretty much influenced any slightly surreal show you see on TV today like Black Mirror, Atlanta, and the X-Files. It’s with Twin Peaks that Lynch allows you the furthest in depth look at the characters he usually only presents to you for 2 hours. This connection you build with the citizens of Twin Peaks lets David manipulate you on an even deeper, personal level and for first time Lynch viewers, it hits home hard. I’d probably like to recommend this at the top of the Lynch journey, but seeing as it’s a full-on show and not a film I figure it’s best to leave it here with you at the end, because after Twin Peaks you’ll pretty much be up for to watch anything David has his name attached to, if you’re not already. Twin Peaks is about the murder of a homecoming queen in a small Pacific Northwestern town called Twin Peaks. It’s here where FBI Agent Dale Cooper discovers that there’s much more to the small town of Twin Peaks than meets the eye. It originally aired in the early 90's and in case you've been living under a rock for the last 2 years, they came back for a return season last summer!

Now that you’ve made it through some of David’s films I’m gonna go ahead and leave you with one of his more “mainstream” contributions. Twin Peaks has pretty much influenced any slightly surreal show you see on TV today like Black Mirror, Atlanta, and the X-Files. It’s with Twin Peaks that Lynch allows you the furthest in depth look at the characters he usually only presents to you for 2 hours. This connection you build with the citizens of Twin Peaks lets David manipulate you on an even deeper, personal level and for first time Lynch viewers, it hits home hard. I’d probably like to recommend this at the top of the Lynch journey, but seeing as it’s a full-on show and not a film I figure it’s best to leave it here with you at the end, because after Twin Peaks you’ll pretty much be up for to watch anything David has his name attached to, if you’re not already. Twin Peaks is about the murder of a homecoming queen in a small Pacific Northwestern town called Twin Peaks. It’s here where FBI Agent Dale Cooper discovers that there’s much more to the small town of Twin Peaks than meets the eye. It originally aired in the early 90's and in case you've been living under a rock for the last 2 years, they came back for a return season last summer!

- @youngxgosling