David Lynch

by Tim Ballingall

“Blue Velvet,” Mulholland Drive,” “Twin Peaks,” “Eraserhead,” “The Elephant Man”—the list of filmic head trips by Surrealist director David Lynch spans three decades.

A Montana native, Lynch was born Jan. 20, 1946. He studied painting at the Boston Museum School but dropped out, feeling underwhelmed by the tepid intellect of other students.

In 1965, he enrolled in the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia. The city of Philadelphia became inspiration for the dark, dreary, wastelandishness of many of his famous films. His 1977 film-school masterpiece, “Eraserhead,” attracted the attention of Mel Brooks, who commissioned Lynch to direct “The Elephant Man,” the film based on the life of Joseph Merrick, a nineteenth-century Londoner who most likely suffered from neurofibromatosis type I.

Following 1980’s “The Elephant Man,” Lynch directed “Dune,” a Sci-Fi adaptation of Frank Herbert’s novel of the same name, “Blue Velvet,” a commercially and critically successful crime/mystery film starring Dennis Hopper and Laura Dern (the woman from “Jurassic Park”), and the television mystery series, “Twin Peaks.”

The Lynchian film style is unique. Many of his films take place in American small towns that possess sugary innocence and a dark, violent underbelly, which is mirrored in Lynch’s main characters who often lead double lives or have multiple personalities. Lynchian films often juxtapose graphic horror with campy satire and what Lynch calls dreamlike logic.

For further reading on director David Lynch, here is an article from the Gale Virtual Reference Library, courtesy of the Rohrbach Library. (You may have to click the link twice for it to work.) If Surrealism interests you, search “David Lynch” on the Library’s Films On Demand database. If crime fiction suits your fancy, from the ebrary (found under e-books in Articles and Databases), you can peruse an excerpt, starting on page 184, from Thomas M. Leitch’s book, “Crime Movies.”

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