As his surrealist tour-de-force Twin Peaks returns to our screens, we thought it high time we heaped some praise on legendary film maker David Lynch. Featuring a plentiful supply of his movies, a smattering of his music and a huge dollop of what makes him unique, here’s an ode to all things Lynchian.
10 His debut, Eraserhead (1977)
The best debut films offer a whisper of the output that a career will establish. Eraserhead, on the other hand, was a gigantic scream of intent. Derided as “unwatchable” by many critics on its initial release Lynch’s “unexplainable” masterpiece has since been deemed worthy of inclusion in the National Film Registry. So there’s hope for Adam Sandler’s Jack and Jill yet…
Not content with the Holy Trilogy of Writer/Director/Producer, David Lynch has more IMDb credits than God. Or Samuel L. Jackson. It’s not that he’s made a truck load of films, in fact the auteur only has 11 full features under his belt, but on those films he’s taken on a variety of jobs from composer to construction crew. Oh and he’s also released an album. You can listen to a track below. It will make you feel sick. Probably intentionally.
Dubbed his “most experimental” work, The Straight Story is exactly that; a linear, crystal clear narrative with little room for little people dancing and speaking in reverse. The premise – a septuagenarian travels to see his estranged brother, with a lawnmower his vehicle of choice – may appear more quintessentially odd than any other 25-word-pitch for a Lynch film but the execution is perfectly simple. Lynch also elicits a terrific turn from lead Richard Farnsworth (no relation to Professor Herbert J.) and a beautifully elegant score from Angelo Badalamenti.
It’s an impossible task to explain why people who love movies do so so vehemently. And while it’s often a pleasure to answer the question in the form of a film quote, for example “To begin with…Everything”, a better explanation comes courtesy of a sentence or two from Mr. Lynch. A sentence or two that encapsulates just what it is about each flickering frame that gets the heart beating and the pulse racing.
I like to make films because I like to go into another world. I like to get lost in another world. And film to me is a magical medium that makes you dream…allows you to dream in the dark. It’s just a fantastic thing, to get lost inside the world of film.
Karl Pilkington’s favourite movie of all time (see below), The Elephant Man is, in his words, “about a fella with a funny head”. In a sane normal person’s words The Elephant Man is the tragic true story of Joseph Merrick (changed to John for the film) born with incredible disfigurements told with an enormous amount of heart by Hurt, Lynch and perhaps most surprisingly Blazing Saddles and The Producers funny man Mel Brooks.
When he’s not drinking Columbia dry of coffee or addressing his “Twitter Friends” online, Lynch divides his time between stories, paint and music. The latter of these addictions has, over the past few years, seen the well-coiffed gentleman release one album, a few singles and help out remixing and collaborating with artists ranging from Karen O to Interpol, from Zola Jesus to Duran Duran.
Good films create conversations. Great films create debates. Mulholland Dr. had the ability to create violent, confrontational arguments. “What in holy balls is that cowboy on about?”, “How can the ‘reality’ of the story begin two-thirds in?”, “Who the fuck is that in the bed?” and the most prevalent box related query since Seven. It also gave Lynch his third Academy Award nomination for Best Director. You’d be hard pressed to find another director with such a unique approach to cinema honoured so much.
Every good person knows films should be watched on the big screen. Or as David succinctly puts it…
A potent combination of detective noir and nightmarish surburban surrealism, despite being the most recognised Lynch film, Blue Velvet still sits firmly with the rest of his output in the cult camp. It’s difficult to know what’s more disturbing, the finished product or the late, great Dennis Hopper’s exclamation that he has “Got to play Frank! I am Frank!”. And who doesn’t love to see Al from Quantum Leap lip-syncing to Roy Orbison.
Forget influencing every TV show from The X-Files to The Sopranos, as well as often being referenced by the yellow bodies of The Simpsons – the reach of Twin Peaks stretches higher still, to the monarchy itself. During a chat with composer Angelo Badalamenti about the triumphant number one spot achieved by the Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me soundtrack in NME’s Greatest Soundtacks Ever the Lynch collaborator revealed an incredible, somewhat unbelievable, story about the show, Paul McCartney and Queen Elizabeth II. We’ll let the composer’s words speak for themselves.
Back when Twin Peaks was kicking off around the world, I flew by Concorde to London, to work with Paul McCartney at Abbey Road. He said, ‘Let me tell you a story’. Not long before we met, he’d been asked to perform for the Queen for her birthday celebrations. And when he met her, he started to say, ‘I’m honoured to be here tonight your Majesty, and I’m going to play some music for you.’ And the Queen says, ‘I’m sorry, I can’t stay, it’s five to eight and I have to go and watch Twin Peaks!’