David Lynch Swerves

David Lynch Swerves: Uncertainty from Lost Highway to Inland Empire

MARTHA P. NOCHIMSON
Copyright Date: 2013
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7560/722958
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  • Book Info
    David Lynch Swerves
    Book Description:

    Beginning withLost Highway, director David Lynch "swerved" in a new direction, one in which very disorienting images of the physical world take center stage in his films. Seeking to understand this unusual emphasis in his work, noted Lynch scholar Martha Nochimson engaged Lynch in a long conversation of unprecedented openness, during which he shared his vision of the physical world as an uncertain place that masks important universal realities. He described how he derives this vision from the Holy Vedas of the Hindu religion, as well as from his layman's fascination with modern physics.

    With this deep insight, Nochimson forges a startlingly original template for analyzing Lynch's later films-the seemingly unlikely combination of the spiritual landscape envisioned in the Holy Vedas and the material landscape evoked by quantum mechanics and relativity. InDavid Lynch Swerves, Nochimson navigates the complexities ofLost Highway,The Straight Story,Mulholland Drive, andInland Empirewith uncanny skill, shedding light on the beauty of their organic compositions; their thematic critiques of the immense dangers of modern materialism; and their hopeful conceptions of human potential. She concludes with excerpts from the wide-ranging interview in which Lynch discussed his vision with her, as well as an interview with Columbia University physicist David Albert, who was one of Nochimson's principal tutors in the discipline of quantum physics.

    eISBN: 978-0-292-74460-8
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-v)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vi-viii)
  3. PREFACE. CRITIC ON FIRE
    (pp. ix-xvi)
  4. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xvii-xx)
  5. INTRODUCTION. THE PERPLEXING THRESHOLD EXPERIENCE
    (pp. 1-27)

    You are being invited to enter this study of David Lynch’s films fromLost Highway(1997) toInland Empire(2006) through a discombobulating doorway because we are about to establish the perplexing threshold experience as the defining characteristic of David Lynch’s four most recent films. Simply put, the Lynchian threshold is a key departure point for understanding the arc of action and meaning in each of Lynch’s films, fromLost HighwaytoInland Empire. As we get to know it better, we shall see that it has always been a Lynchian staple, but that it began to play a more...

  6. CHAPTER ONE LOST HIGHWAY: “YOU’LL NEVER HAVE ME”
    (pp. 28-59)

    If we analyzeLost Highwayfrom what we know to be David Lynch’s perspective, that we live in a universe of unbounded possibility, the first film of Lynch’s second stage reads easily as an account of the ways in which protagonist Fred Madison and the society around him close themselves off from the freedom that is the natural prerogative of humanity. In this tale of violence and seduction, Lynch gives us no character with whose point of view we can identify. Rather, he sets us the task of being active spectators who do not lose ourselves in the confusion, fear,...

  7. CHAPTER TWO THE STRAIGHT STORY: “AND YOU’LL FIND HAPPY TIMES”
    (pp. 60-88)

    From certain vantage points in Manhattan, the Empire State Building seems to be directly ahead in a straight line and very close when it is actually significantly east or west of where it seems to be and very far away. This kind of illusion is typical of space as Lynch presents it—usually. But inThe Straight Story, things are generally exactly where they appear to be. Spatially straightforward in its construction,The Straight Story(1999) is a fictional recounting of the trip one Alvin Straight (played in the film by Richard Farnsworth) actually made in 1994 from Laurens, Iowa,...

  8. CHAPTER THREE MULHOLLAND DR.: AN IMPROBABLE GIRL IN A PROBABLE WORLD
    (pp. 89-121)

    Hey, Betty, Betty Elms (Naomi Watts), you are throwing your life away, saysMulholland Dr. (2001). And she isn’t alone. David Lynch reflects both a dangerously destructive world of mysterious entanglements and a “neurotic fairy tale world” in this second-stage fable of misrecognition in Hollywood. There’s reflexivity in the air, of course, since Lynch himself is a filmmaker and has a relationship, ambiguous and ambivalent though it may be, to the Hollywood community, but he’s not creating a self-portrait. He is using his intimate knowledge of Hollywood as a very particular part of the marketplace that shows with vivid clarity...

  9. CHAPTER FOUR INLAND EMPIRE: THE BEGINNINGS OF GREAT THINGS
    (pp. 122-158)

    Actress Nikki Grace (Laura Dern) isn’t sure what’s going on or even who she is. She has the role she’s been hoping for in a new film,On High in Blue Tomorrows, yet at the same time, she’s more confused and frightened than she has ever been. But is that a bad thing? The director ofBlue Tomorrows, Kingsley Stewart (Jeremy Irons) is certain of what he’s doing, as he begins to tackle a script blueprint, for which he sees himself as a kind of construction boss who faces the task of building the film from script specifications with the...

  10. AFTERWORD. A SUMMARY: LIVING LARGE AMONG THE PARTICLES
    (pp. 159-170)

    Lynch began in darkness, where seeds sprout. In his first cinematic work,Six Men Getting Sick(1967), a sculpture designed to work with a film loop. (The name of this sculpture has since been changed toSix Figures Getting Sick, but I will stay with the original title.) In this sculpture, Lynch called into play a disturbing vision of blurred borders between inside and outside. As insides were regurgitated unceasingly over a series of unchanging molded heads through the nonstop loop, the work seemed to declare an uneasy, diseased, but inevitable interplay between human surfaces and “what lies beneath,” an...

  11. APPENDIX I FRAGMENTS FROM MY MARCH 18, 2010, INTERVIEW WITH DAVID LYNCH
    (pp. 173-182)
    DAVID LYNCH
  12. APPENDIX II EXCERPTS FROM MY INTERVIEWS WITH PROFESSOR DAVID Z. ALBERT
    (pp. 183-214)
    DAVID Z. ALBERT
  13. NOTES
    (pp. 215-250)
  14. BIBLIOGRAPHY AND FILMOGRAPHY
    (pp. 251-256)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 257-275)