The Passion of David Lynch: Wild at Heart in Hollywood
Filmmaker David Lynch asserts that when he is directing, ninety percent of the time he doesn't know what he is doing. To understand Lynch's films, Martha Nochimson believes, requires a similar method of being open to the subconscious, of resisting the logical reductiveness of language. In this innovative book, she draws on these strategies to offer close readings of Lynch's films, informed by unprecedented, in-depth interviews with Lynch himself.
Nochimson begins with a look at Lynch's visual influences—Jackson Pollock, Francis Bacon, and Edward Hopper—and his links to Alfred Hitchcock and Orson Welles, then moves into the heart of her study, in-depth analyses of Lynch's films and television productions. These include Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, Wild at Heart, Twin Peaks, Blue Velvet, Dune, The Elephant Man, Eraserhead, The Grandmother, The Alphabet, and Lynch's most recent, Lost Highway.
Nochimson's interpretations explode previous misconceptions of Lynch as a deviant filmmaker and misogynist. Instead, she shows how he subverts traditional Hollywood gender roles to offer an optimistic view that love and human connection are really possible.
murder were more explicit but so horrified test audiences that most of them walked out during this scene. In the original cut, after Johnnie was decapitated by a gunshot, Juana applied the bloody head directly to her body to finish off her sexual experience. The physical horror of this scene, misperceived by the test audiences as gratuitous obscenity, was in fact a searing representation of the obscenity of the controlling will that conventional Hollywood films have glamorized. Unfortunately,
question, he is reasserting his will over his circumstances—poverty, victimization by Marietta, and Lula’s purported betrayal. His response signals that stock Hollywood moment when the hero gathers his resolve. However, the spectator’s identification with the resolute Sailor, a familiar moment of seeming unity, brings both the viewer and Sailor to disaster. In asserting himself, Sailor has actually submitted to Peru’s strategy to fulfill Marietta’s contract on his life and finds himself in the
Peaks was canceled, it was drifting, sustained by the original actors who labored against increasingly self-conscious dialogue, hackneyed casting of new characters, and emotional and action-oriented storylines that occasionally sank to cult strategies of parodying and commenting on itself. Gone was Audrey’s original characterization as a young woman resistant to her father’s willful stratagems through her visceral spontaneity. Ruthless Ben and verminous Jerry Horne (David Patrick Kelly) were
gushing, is no longer constructed spectacle but rather raw force, now at an angle that suggests a penis emerging from his trousers, now with a life of its own. More free energy appears when a baby wanders obliviously toward the fallen man and across his body, and a small dog leaps repeatedly for the stream of water flowing from the hose (see figure 21). Once Beaumont’s domination of the frame has lapsed, we see into the activity in the grass, no longer a flat, solid green but a vast universe
illusion. By contrast, Lynch struggles to use the eloquent tools of popular culture to portray unspeakable reality for a mass audience. This is a struggle from which I have much to gain since so much about me as a woman has been unspeakable in cultural discourse. However, all moviegoers have a stake in Lynch’s filmmaking, for nothing is so prevalent—or so I judge from private conversation and from the media—as the feeling of being invisible in some important respect. Lynch puts us in touch, as a