Podcast Episode 118: David Lynch Revisited
‘Twin Peaks,’ TM, and beyond
Friday, May 26, 2017
Episode 118: David Lynch Revisited
With "Twin Peaks: The Return" on Showtime, I dig back into the archives for a 2005 interview with David Lynch about how Transcendental Meditation plays a role in his art. And you might be surprised by the two characters he most identifies with in his films.
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With the return of "Twin Peaks" and a revival screening of "Fire Walk With Me," I decided it was time to dig into the archives for an interview with David Lynch.
I have always been a fan of David Lynch. I was hooked from "Eraserhead" on, and even when his films disappoint or baffle me, they are a million times more interesting than anything else out there. The term visionary is often tossed around and usually assigned to people wholly undeserving like Zack Snyder. But Lynch is truly a visionary director, and his stamp can be felt on every frame of film.
I had the privilege of seeing the "Twin Peaks" pilot before most people because I was at the 1989 Telluride Film Festival where they held a late-night premiere of the feature length pilot. No one at the festival knew exactly what we were in for and when the film ended not with the revelation of who killed Laura Palmer but rather on a cliffhanger. As a hand pulled out Laura Palmer's locket from under a rock, you could hear an audible gasp from the entire audience. And what would make things even worse was that we saw the pilot in September of 1989 and the show would not be officially picked up for broadcast by ABC until April of 1990.
I had to wait seven long months before I could revisit "Twin Peaks" and get another taste of that outrageous, audacious, insanely weird soap opera. That a major network would even consider running Lynch's show was remarkable on so many levels. It was also something that couldn't last. I knew that at some point nervous network executives would start suggesting that Lynch turn down the weird and not be so ambiguous. And I also knew that if the network started to lean on Lynch to make changes that he would grow frustrated and rebel.
All those things happened and "Twin Peaks" lasted a mere two seasons (in terms of episodes it was really only a season and a half). Lynch ended the series with a truly bizarre episode that raised more questions than it answered and then memorably turned one character — Joan Chen's Josie Packard — into a knob on a nightstand (I think that's the piece of furniture it was). On one level, I felt like Lynch had taken out his anger at the networks on his fans and was flipping everyone off with his crazy finale. But on another level, I totally got it, and the eccentricity of that finale was just what I expected from the visionary mind of David Lynch.
Lynch would return to "Twin Peaks" in 1992 with the prequel "Fire Walk With Me" (which screens Saturday at midnight and Sunday at 11:00 AM at Landmark's Ken Cinema). That film explored the last seven days of Laura Palmer's life. Lynch claims that the film is "very important" to understanding his latest "Twin Peaks" outing, the 18 episode Showtime series "Twin Peaks: The Return."
I watched the premiere of the new series while suffering a cold and taking medication, and I don't know if that slightly feverish state was the perfect way to watch "The Return" or if it made the show even more hallucinogenic than Lynch even intended. I loved the first episode (Part One of the premiere). It was exactly what I was hoping for. It revisited the show and the characters that I had come to love with just the right mix of familiarity and surprise. It was as unconventional and genre-defying as the original series. Part Two was also brilliant, but when I hit Episode Three I don't know if I had entered a sort of delirium from medication, lack of sleep, and a cold or if that state had been brought on by watching the truly trippy third installment where all sense of plot and form seemed to be thrown out the window.
But as with all of Lynch's work, I am hooked.
To pay tribute to Lynch, I went back into the archives and found an interview from 2005 when Lynch was on a speaking tour to promote his Transcendental Meditation program. I had interviewed him on other occasions, but I have not been able to track down those audio files or the ones from my interviews with Dean Stockwell and Kyle MacLachlan about Lynch directing "Blue Velvet." But this interview, even though Lynch said he did not want to talk about his films, is revealing of how Lynch thinks and works ... and he did end up talking about his films. And you might be surprised to find out which two characters he identifies most with in his films.
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