The Daily Beast’s Marlow Stern had the pleasure of speaking with David Lynch about everything from his influential foundation, to when we can expect to see his next film, to disappointing Kanye West & George Lucas.
It made the rounds online awhile back that George Lucas had approached you to direct Return of the Jedi.
I can say something about that. That shouldn’t have been put up there. I publicly apologize to George Lucas. I was telling that story to just a few people, and then it somehow ended up on the Internet. I didn’t know it was going to go online, and George is a great guy. He did offer me that, but it wasn’t my thing. I said, “It’s your thing, George. You should direct it.” And we parted friends. But he’s a great one.
My Uncle Mike told me to watch Eraserhead when I was… I think 12. Is your follow-up to Eraserhead, the amazing-sounding Ronnie Rocket, ever going to see the light of day?
That’s a little young, buddy! [Laughs] I love Ronnie Rocket, and I love the world of Ronnie Rocket, and I wouldn’t mind going there. The thing that kept me from doing it, really, is that I haven’t quite gotten the big idea for it. Something is still somewhat missing in the script. I think about it from time to time, but it’s just never happened. It’s not what you would call a “summer blockbuster.” It would be a very tough sell these days.
Speaking of the “tough sell” aspect, what’s your take on the state of Hollywood? The sweet spot for independent films, the $4 million to $20 million area where most of your films lie, seems to be disappearing, and now there are just microbudgeted flicks and tentpoles.
Exactly. And it’s harder to get the big screens. It’s a strange time. There’s not a whole lot that any of us can do about it. You’ve seen waves of things go up and down, but maybe the arthouse will be back in vogue, and they’ll reappear all over the place again. I don’t know. It would be beautiful. Cable television is the new arthouse, so it’s there, but it’s not the big screen. If people have a big screen at home, great sound, and they turn the lights down and turn their phones off, they can get into the world and have an experience. But most people don’t watch films that way anymore.—David Lynch on Transcendental Meditation, ‘True Detective,’ and Collaborating With Kanye West
If you are a fan of David Lynch, Pretty as a Picture: The Art of David Lynch (1997) is essential viewing. It was mainly filmed during the making of Lost Highway and most of the features are set around that film, but there is also some other scenes like the reunion of Eraserhead, where Lynch along with some of the cast and crew return to the Stables location where it was filmed and reminisce over the trials of the making of the film. Also featured is Lynch’s trip to Prague along with the composer on most of his films, Angelo Badalamenti, and his love of the sound and music which is so important in his films. His paintings and photography are shown, too, and his fascination with ants and animals in his art. There is a rare look at his early short films, Six Men Getting Sick, The Alphabet and The Grandmother, and his former wife Peggy’s views on them. This is a fascinating and interesting behind the scenes look at this distinctive filmmaker, artist and photographer’s work.
Toby Keeler, with his unlimited access to David Lynch — behind the scenes during his films, with friends and family and collaborators, and in his painting process — has a documentary that’s essential to get at least a glimpse into a man and his work like this. Lynch’s films are abstractions, nightmarish landscapes and what is just around the corner in the seemingly brightest sides of small-town American life, and his art is a reflection not just of his own interpretations of people and places that are usually conventional, but that this interpretation springs out so many ideas that would not be there otherwise without the specific framework he’s chosen. One of the most fascinating examples of this method of Lynch’s in being a true master of mood is with Eraserhead; he worked five years on the film, and Keeler shows us Lynch and old friends walking around where the original sets were, and with this revealing how after two years of painstakingly filming a movie (a shot a night, nevermind a scene, depending on the lighting), a rhythm developed that was unmistakable. If one of the primary goals of an artist is to transport people to another place that is unconventional, but still grounded in recognizable emotional connections, Lynch is such an artist, as revealed here fully.
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