Music is a big part of David Lynch’s work, from the eerie soundscapes of his early films to his own studio releases. As his career continued and full length feature films became a rarer sight, he began to make his own music—and now has five albums and a record label to his name. Twin Peaks‘ season 3 revival looks to include more music than ever, with appearances by Trent Reznor, Sky Ferreira, Eddie Vedder, Sharon Van Etten as well as Lynch alumni Rebekah Del Rio and Julee Cruise. Continue reading →
Finding out that Twin Peaks was returning was like having the most beautiful dream and the most terrible nightmare all at once. When David Lynch and Mark Frost’s endlessly strange, hugely influential TV show was cancelled in 1991, it left a lot of questions unanswered.
Today, fans everywhere are still wondering which loose ends will be tied up when season three gets underway on 22 May. The secrecy surrounding the project makes it extremely difficult to decode, so to help separate the facts from idle speculation, here’s a rundown of everything we know so far…
The original cast is back (well, mostly)
When the full cast list for season three was released in April 2016, there were plenty of familiar names on the docket: Special Agent Dale Cooper, Shelly, Norma, Bobby, James, Ed, Nadine, Andy, Hawk, Lucy, Sarah Palmer, Ben and Jerry Horne, as well as everyone’s favourite, Gordon Cole. Even David Duchovny is back as DEA agent Denise Bryson.
There are some notable omissions though: Piper Laurie won’t be returning as Catherine Martell, and neither will Lara Flynn Boyle as Donna Hayward (the same goes for Moira Kelly, who played her in Fire Walk with Me), Catherine E Coulson as the Log Lady, and, of course, David Bowie as Philip Jeffries.
I was a guest on Sean Fallon‘s podcast From First To Last, where he talks to people about the first and last episodes of their favourite shows. I chose Twin Peaks (obviously), and while we mainly talk about the pilot and the series finale ‘Beyond Life and Death’, we also talk about the show in general and David Lynch’s filmography.
At 10:30 AM on 26th March, I entered Duke of York’s Picturehouse, Britain’s oldest cinema in continuous use. At 19:30 PM on 27th March, I left. I’d just spent 33 hours drinking coffee, eating doughnuts, and watching Twin Peaks. I wouldn’t commit myself to a marathon screening of any other show – in fact, up until this point the longest I’d spent in the cinema was to see Nymphomaniac parts 1 & 2 back-to-back. But Twin Peaks is different.
21st Century Soundtracks is about music in Film, Television, and Video Games released from 2000 onwards that have had a lasting effect on me. It started out as one long post that eventually became too long to be manageable, so I’ve decided to make it a semi-regular series. Open to recommendations and reminders.
Thank the heavens filmmaker David Lynch and composer Angelo Badalamenti came together for Blue Velvet in 1986. Ever since then, Lynch’s images have been complimented by rich, beautiful and strange scores that enhance the experience, often taking it to another place entirely.
Jitterbug kicks the album and the film off with fast swing music, set to the opening dance sequence. It starts what will be an ongoing motif of the film, and something Lynch has been doing since Blue Velvet – playing music, whether it’s original to the movie or not, through his own particular lens. In this case sweet and innocent memories are turned into something else, Lynch and Badalamenti craft a scene of anxiety and stress out of what is typically pure and happy. The director has always been hands-on with the music in his films, from the soundscapes of sound designer Alan Splet earlier in his career to Badalamenti’s gorgeous scores; so that each song weaves into the scene’s own thematic and emotional concerns.
The album defiantly refuses to sound like it was made in 2001. The title track, and several others, instead borrow the synth of early 80s cinema, while echoing the more traditional classical instrumental music that was prevalent in early Hollywood pictures. These epic and often triumphant notes are slowed down to a lethargic and unnerving pace, as if pulling us into a dream-like state. The midway segue in Mr. Roque/Betty’s Theme, as the name suggests to those who have seen the intensely dark film, transitions from the ominous powers at work to the pure optimism of Betty as she arrives in Los Angeles. The contrast is brought to our attention again towards its close, as it creeps back into a reprise of the main theme, twisting in and out of fear and hope, an auditory expression of this inward battle. Continue reading →
At some point you have probably come across the term “Lynchian.” It’s often used thoughtlessly to explain away weird imagery and seemingly ineffable behaviour in film, but it’s in the popular vernacular for a reason. David Lynch’s particular outlook and cinematic approach has made him the authority on dream-like ambience. The distinct sense of unease in his movies often comes from his interest in the uncanny; a “disturbing unfamiliarity in the evidently familiar.” The abstract concepts he puts on screen inspire fear because they are uncomfortably close to our own reality. In Twin Peaks, the ceiling fan on the landing of the Palmer household is shown at a low frame-rate, as if asking us to focus on the mundane, the ordinary, and wonder what is wrong with the picture presented; objects and behaviour normally associated with normalcy, stability, and positivity are corrupted.
In The Philosophy of Horror, Noël Carroll attributed feelings of horror and the uncanny to apparent transgressions of cultural and conceptual categories. The most effective horror is often that which pushes us beyond the boundaries that give us stability. Even the most intelligent viewers carry their own preconceptions of what a narrative needs to achieve, and what the right emotional response is for a given moment. Examples Carroll provides of these categories are “living/dead,” “me/not me,” and “flesh/machine’,” dichotomies that are common in the horror genre because they challenge the principles that give us comfort, and make the world comprehensible.
We don’t see the titular “Elephant Man” until around the 13 minute mark, and it is a further 30 minutes before we hear him talk. What we do see, however, are the reactions of others. Frederick Treves (Anthony Hopkins) meets John Merrick as we do; we hear the myth of his creation, wherein his mother was “struck down in the fourth month of her maternal condition by an elephant.” We are told that this man is a monster, and enter the carnival amidst the curious crowd. It is impossible not to pity anything that lives in such a state of discomfort, but the shocking discovery is that this is an educated and benevolent man. As Treves remarks before he knows of this, “He’s an imbecile, probably from birth, man’s a complete idiot. Pray to God he’s an idiot”. The Elephant Man indulges our voyeurism, then punishes it; leads us from pity to empathy.
Surprisingly, the man we have to thank for The Elephant Man is Mel Brooks. The comedy-director decided to finance the film, and insisted on hiring David Lynch as the director after seeing a midnight screening of Eraserhead. By his own request, Brooks was left uncredited, so that audiences would not associate the movie with his usual comedy fare. Continue reading →