Au Revoir, David Lynch

Lynch announces he will no longer be making films

When the news came out that David Lynch will no longer be making any movies my heart sank. His last film, Inland Empire, was released in 2006 and, and was only his 10th feature film. Now, with the announcement, related in an interview he gave The Sydney Morning Herald, it seems that 10 features will be all that we will ever have from Lynch.

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Twin Peaks

There is still hope, on the other hand. Twin Peaks, Lynch’s famous and iconic 1990 TV show, is currently being revived for the Showtime channel and fans of Lynch and Peaks will be treated to 18 hours of content. Lynch has found a freedom on television that he doesn’t have with film; the restraints of staying within a 2-hour running time and also the pressure of making a film that is profitable. Since cable TV makes money through subscriptions, there is no financial pressure on Lynch; also, long-format storytelling, (which is in a lot of ways superior to current films) has been enjoying a major boom over the last decade and a half. With binge-watching seemingly a part of everyone’s day-to-day life, Lynch (and other filmmakers) are finding not only creative and artistic freedom with this medium, they are also finding new fans.

First encounters with Lynch

When I first began to obsess over film and began to follow film directors, one of the first directors I was attracted to was David Lynch. I was a huge fan of Dune and had just seen Blue Velvet which had completely taken me by surprise. The mixture of the dark and horrifying with the humor and the corn struck me, even at the tender age of 12 or 13, as something special. When news came out that he and co-creator Mark Frost were going to create a TV show set in the Pacific Northwest (where I reside) I was ecstatic. When the series initially aired, I was unable to catch it as my family had decided to watch another program instead. Growing up in a poor-middle-class home with only one TV to share between us, this often times caused us to sacrifice one show over another. Of course, being 1990, there was no on demand viewing, or even YouTube, so the only way I could hope to watch this show is if it was ever shown again.

Thankfully for me the show was a sensation. It was promptly re-aired to coincide with the second season premier and I was ready and armed with my blank VHS tapes to record the entire phenomena. I don’t remember how many times I watched the entire series on those old VHS tapes. I was obsessed with the show, with the characters, and I even began to drink my coffee black like Special Agent Dale Cooper did. When the show was cancelled and the story ended on huge cliffhangers I was devastated. In those days when a show was cancelled that was the end. No revivals, no pickup from another network; the show was dead and buried.

Shortly before the premier of the second season of Twin Peaks, Lynch’s Wild at Heart was released. I remembered reading that the film had been booed at the Cannes Film Festival after it won the Palme d’Or. I remember reading that a lot of the complaints about the film were mostly in its content; the sex and violence. When I finally saw the film I enjoyed it. I loved Nicolas Cage and thought Willem Dafoe was brilliant. It wasn’t as good as Blue Velvet but it wasn’t a horrible film either.

Post Twin Peaks

A year after Twin Peaks was cancelled, Lynch returned to the Pacific Northwest to shoot the prequel, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me. Shortly before the premier, the film debuted at a tiny movie theater in North Bend, Washington, which was about 30 minutes from my family’s home at that time, in Redmond. The weekend of the premier, the town of North Bend, along with Snoqualmie, had a Twin Peaks Festival, which I attended with my father and my best friend. I didn’t see any of the cast or Lynch himself unfortunately but I still had a lot of fun.

The film itself was very powerful for me. The restrictions of TV having been lifted, Lynch was able to tell the tragedy of Laura Palmer in a brutal and graphic way. The final scene was haunting, as was the score by Lynch regular Angelo Badalamenti. Although I thought it was a good film (not without some flaws) it left a lot of unanswered questions as to the mythology of this world.

Lynch’s film output since Fire Walk with Me has been sporadic, (similar to Stanley Kubrick in his later years) Mulholland Drive being the best and most widely seen of these later films. Now, with the news of his retirement, Lynch has given his fans almost a farewell present with his return to Twin Peaks which will, hopefully, offer some closure.

Lynch seems to enjoy the TV medium. If he insists on not continuing to direct features perhaps we can hope that he will continue to create new TV shows. As a fan of film, I still appreciate that a lot of television is superior to most of the films that are shown at the cinemas nowadays. As a fan of Lynch, the idea of being able to see more of Lynch, un-tethered to the requirements of film, is something that I would always welcome, whether it is on the silver screen or on my laptop.

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