Admittedly, I’ve only seen two David Lynch films in my life, on two distant sides of his spectrum: Elephant Man and Mulholland Dr. Now, the main difference is this: whereas Elephant Man actually maintains a coherent plot-line throughout its journey into the souls of men–disfigured internally end externally in different ways–Mulholland Dr. is purposefully delinear, shockingly abstract and cryptically imaginative. Without spoiling the film (because it doesn’t makes sense anyway), the story introduces a few characters rather conventionally for the first hour and a half. And just as you begin to feel comfortable with them, actors begin switching roles, scenes fly in and out with no clear direction and a sort of dreamlike state takes over. The ending provides little resolution, and any semblance of meaning you derived from the beginning is quashed by the obscurity of the final chapter. Surprisingly, this has become David Lynch’s trademark.
Mulholland Dr. was so obscure, that it prompted an English teacher at a Q&A to question the themes and general meaning behind the film, expressing a confusion that generated laughter and applause from the audience. To this, Lynch gave a very responsible answer (worth a watch). Where ideas originate is a mystery to us all, and Lynch approaches the writing process with abstract ideas that he falls in love with, regardless of whether he himself knows their meaning. In the case of Eraserhead, he claims to have only found a meaning halfway into the film’s production. This is very freeing to a filmmaker and an audience, his purpose being to allow an audience to inject their own meaning and find their own truths into his work. His films are much more an exploration of ourselves than a directed message.
Blue Velvet is one of those films. Released shortly after David Lynch wrote and directed Dune (no joke), Blue Velvet stars Dennis Hopper is what many consider to be his pinnacle performance. Other than that, I can tell you there’s a lot of foul language, plenty of Freudian sexuality (get my drift?) and voyeurism. From IMDB:
A man returns to his home town after being away and discovers a severed human ear in a field. Not satisfied with the police’s pace, he and the police detective’s daughter carry out their own investigation. The object of his investigation turns out to be a beautiful and mysterious woman involved with a violent and perversely evil man.
The screening is tonight at 7pm at the Frist, plus admission to the Frist is free for another few weeks, so make an evening of it! Emily and I will be there; definitely give us a shout if you see us. Oh, and don’t miss the William Eggleston photography exhibit, of which the film series is celebrating.