Few directors have produced such a striking and individual body of work as David Lynch. Even fewer get a word to describe their oeuvre. Now, as the world embraces the return of Twin Peaks, here are the reasons we love all things Lynchian.
Taking inspiration from the Airfix model kits of his childhood, Lynch produced a series of photographic artworks based around animal kits. His first kit was a fish he made while in London shooting The Elephant Man. While filming his much-maligned adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune he made a chicken kit and a duck kit. The idea was to dissect an animal, label all the parts and provide instructions so they could be reassembled and enjoyed. Lynch regular Laura Dern told Rolling Stone, “I looked in his freezer once. He had mice and a dead fish inside. It freaked me out. He said he was making a Fish Kit.”
The Red Room in 'Twin Peaks'
When it was first broadcast, the surreal moment when Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) first visits “The Red Room” in his dreams in the episode 'Zen, Or The Skill To Catch A Killer', became Twin Peaks' signature moment. The red curtains, the zigzag flooring, the backward talking dwarf and a seemingly alive Laura Palmer freaked out mainstream audiences not used to such unsettling imagery.
Eating at Bob’s Big Boy Diner for seven years
A stickler for routine and good old Americana, Lynch became a mainstay at Bob’s Big Boy Diner for seven years straight. As he told the New York Times, his regular fix of “granulated happiness” fed his hunger for abstract creativity, "I like things to be orderly. For seven years, I ate at Bob's Big Boy. I would go at 2:30, after the lunch rush. I ate a chocolate shake and four, five, six, seven cups of coffee - with lots of sugar. And there's lots of sugar in that chocolate shake. It's a thick shake. In a silver goblet. I would get a rush from all this sugar, and I would get so many ideas! I would write them on these napkins. It was like I had a desk with paper. All I had to do was remember to bring my pen, but a waitress would give me one if I remembered to return it at the end of my stay. I got a lot of ideas at Bob's."
Along with Alejandro Jodorowsky’s El Topo and John Water’s Pink Flamingos, Lynch’s debut feature is often cited as one of the first midnight movies. A monochrome nightmare starring Jack Nance as a oddball loner looking after his newly born mutant baby, the film channels many thematic tropes that would become commonplace throughout Lynch’s career. Slabs of atonal industrial noise soundtrack typically surreal imagery, including the diseased cheeks of a blonde songstress living behind a radiator and Spencer’s deformed child (seen as a reaction to Lynch’s then young daughter who was born with club feet). Once seen, never forgotten, the moment when the meaning of the film’s title becomes clear, well almost clear, is bizarre, weird and pure Lynch.
The Rabbit family in 'Inland Empire'
Over ten years since it was released, Inland Empire remains Lynch’s last feature. An experiment in digital filmmaking, the hallucinatory horror stars Laura Dern as an actress on the verge of a nervous breakdown when she begins to take on the persona of the character she is playing. At the time Lynch was ensconced in his Rabbits web series which featured Scott Coffey, Laura Harring and Naomi Watts as three rabbits, living in a box room to a soundtrack of canned laughter. It was strange. And even stranger when the rabbits also appeared in Inland Empire.
He created his own coffee brand
Probably realising how much money he was spending on caffeinated products at Bob’s Big Boy Diner, Lynch decided to release his own signature coffee brand. It’s a perfect fit. Legend has it the director used to knock back 20 cups a day and the Twin Peaks cast, especially Agent Cooper and the police force, take the black stuff intravenously.
He turned down the chance to direct 'Return Of The Jedi'
Fresh from eight Oscar nominations for The Elephant Man, the man who Mel Brooks called “Jimmy Stewart from Mars” was in demand. George Lucas was looking for a director for the third instalment of his Star Wars saga. Lynch claims he had “next door to no interest” but still met up with the Star Wars creator. The security measures and Wookie chats gave Lynch a migraine. The drive to a salad lunch in Lucas’s Ferrari didn’t help. Lynch refused the gig and the job went to Richard Marquand.
The Mystery man in 'Lost Highway'
On edge after receiving strange video cassettes that reveal that their house has been under surveillance, jazz saxophonist Fred Madison (Bill Pullman) and his wife Renee (Patricia Arquette) attend a party. Fred meets a mystery man (a freaky looking Robert Blake) who announces the pair had previously met at Fred’s house. In fact, he was standing in Fred’s house at that precise moment. Fred calls his house and the Mystery Man, who is standing right in front of him, answers the phone. The sound of minds being blown is deafening!
“Are you the one who found the ear.”
David Lynch’s films have always been heavy on symbolism. None more so than Blue Velvet when Kyle MacLachlan’s innocent Jeffrey stumbles across a severed decomposing ear in the backlot behind his house. As the camera zooms down into the dark ear canal and ants scampered on the rotting flesh, Jeffrey’s nightmares begin. The white picket fences hide a multitude of sins and Lynch is more than happy to rip them down. With the help of a crazed Dennis Hopper in a gas mask.
He became a Transcendental Meditation Guru
Setting up the David Lynch Foundation to spread the word of transcendental meditation and actively teach TM methods for relaxation, stress reduction, and self-development to adults and children worldwide. Lynch states “I started Transcendental Meditation in 1973 and have not missed a single meditation ever since. Twice a day, every day. It has given me effortless access to unlimited reserves of energy, creativity and happiness deep within. This level of life is sometimes called “pure consciousness”—it is a treasury. And this level of life is deep within us all.” And all that coffee and sugar probably helps as well.
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Watch 'Blue Velvet'
Saturday 10 October, 12:30am on SBS VICELAND
NOTE: No catch-up at SBS On Demand
Genre: Drama, Thriller, Mystery
Director: David Lynch
Starring: Kyle MacLachlan, Isabella Rossellini, Dennis Hopper, Dean Stockwell, Laura Dern