A long-armed monster lights a match. A worm with a weird baby face crawls out of a hole in the sky and releases flying eyeballs on stalks from a pair of hands growing from its eye sockets. It rains coal until everything catches fire. Elsewhere, the head of a poltergeist cries and tree nymphs dance to discordant violins. The end.
It resembles bleak Polish animation as created by Python-era Terry Gilliam, and we’ll definitely leave it to BBC film boffin Mark Kermode to pretend to know what it means – demons are fuelling global warming? Never trust a sky worm? – but we’re grateful it’s here. Fire (Pozar), a 10-minute black-and-white animated short film written, drawn and directed by David Lynch in 2015 as a collaboration with musician Marek Zebrowski, finally saw a public release on his YouTube channel this week. “The whole point of our experiment was that I would say nothing about my intentions and Marek would interpret the visuals in his own way,” Lynch said in 2015. “So I say it was a great successful experiment, and I loved the composition Marek wrote for the Penderecki String Quartet.”
As avid Lynchophiles get to work analysing the imagery and tracing stylistic connections to Eraserhead and Lynch’s LA Reader cartoon strip The Angriest Dog In The World, it’s becoming clear that David Lynch is cinema’s greatest lockdown hero.
While music has seen a race to the barricades of pandemic entertainment, with the likes of Charli XCX, Lady Gaga, Christine & The Queens and Death Cab For Cutie’s Ben Gibbard doing regular livestreams and releasing lockdown albums to keep our spirits up – not to mention the many and varied reinterpretations of viral hit ‘I Wonder What’s Inside Your Butthole’ – cinema has done little more than put Bond on hold for a few months and warble a line of ‘Imagine’ into its phone camera in a key previously unknown to musicologists. Except Lyncho. As the film industry’s safety curtain came down, he opened up a window into his own mysterious world.
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In an interview with Vice he revealed his lockdown routine of coffee, meditate and then get to work making lamps, and on his David Lynch Theatre YouTube channel he’s been giving us daily weather reports from what appears to be the most 1950s crime noir corner of his LA house, helpfully reminding us what day it is before looking out the window and declaring the temperature to be around 60 degrees, the Hollywood equivalent of deadpanning “scorchio!”. And now he’s clearing his bottom drawer of unreleased work while the rest of his industry stores up any pre-produced material for when the limited well of filmed footage runs dry and Netflix has to start trying to cut together new seasons of shows from footage filmed by individual actors in a range of emergency rehab centres.
Salut. When people talk about coronavirus being a great leveller, they’re acknowledging the empathy and fellowship of the likes of David Lynch, quite happy to explode his myth in a time of global crisis, aware that – when the whole world feels like its playing a bit-part in history’s most boring disaster movie – good-spirited kinship trumps any amount of cult enigma. After eight weeks of solid binging, our Netflix must-view lists are exhausted and we’re reduced to our third run through Brooklyn Nine-Nine with no major film releases due until July. So we’re crying out for rare treats like Fire (Pozar), and directors prepared to empty their back pockets of unseen cuts, shelved projects and long-lost juvenilia will gain legions of thankful new disciples this summer. In an industry built on self-interest, cinema’s pandemic philanthropists will be kindly remembered.