Part 4: (2003-Present)
Fully embracing digital media, David Lynch continues to make works of art on his own terms. Jumping from features to shorts to commercials to everything in between, Lynch’s creative juices show no signs of slowing down. Of course this is good news to for his fans, especially those who are eagerly awaiting the 2017 revival of Lynch’s iconic 90’s show Twin Peaks.
Inland Empire (review)
Following a year break from projects, Lynch decided to make Inland Empire, his first feature film shot entirely on digital video. Although he didn’t have an actual script, Lynch decided that the concept of a woman in trouble was enough create an improvised feature around. Reuniting with Laura Dern, who both agreed to play the lead role of Nikki Grace and be one of the film’s producers, the film was the final chapter in an informal Los Angeles trilogy with Lost Highway and Mulholland Dr. Taking a more hands on approach, Lynch got the opportunity to try his hand at sound design, photography, music, and editing.
Blurring the lines between reality and fiction, the film focused on Grace, an actress, as she struggled to decipher if what she was experiencing was due to the role she was playing or simply a variation of herself. With regulars Justin Theroux, Harry Dean Stanton, Diane Ladd, Laura Elena Harring, and Grace Zabriskie making appearances in the film, Lynch filled out the rest of the talented cast along with Jeremy Irons, Julia Ormond, Mary Steenburgen, Peter J. Lucas, and William H. Macy. The production took two-and-a-half years to complete as Lynch worked within a limited budget. He did, however, get the service of renowned Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki to contribute music to the film.
Unlike most productions, Lynch decided to take the footage that didn’t make the final cut and compile it into a separate film entitled More Things That Happened. The film was released as a special feature on the Inland Empire DVD. Inland Empire made its premiere at the 2006 Venice Film Festival and Lynch received the festival’s Golden Lion award for career achievement. For its release, Lynch decided to do a roadshow exhibition rather than a traditional theatrical release. As a result, the film took in $4 million at the box office and received excellent reviews from critics.
Finding Inspiration in Short Form Storytelling (reviews)
In a need of inspiration, Lynch turned to towards experimental short films and music videos as his creative outlets. Lynch once again used his website as a tool to unleash Boat, the first of seven short films Lynch made in 2007. Shot on digital video, the film revolved around young woman on a boat that Lynch himself was driving.
Using the digital medium to fuel his return to the realm of animation, Lynch created Bug Crawls, a story about a bug crawling on top of a house. Playing into the sense of the unknown, Lynch crammed a lot of ideas into the film’s brief four minute running time.
In a 33-minute documentary short, Lamp, Lynch reveals the meticulous approach needed to create a lamp out of a tree. It was a step-by-step into instructional piece in which the finished product is unveiled at a 2007 art show.
Frequently making music when not working on films, the director created Industrial Soundscape based on one of his musical experiments. The film involved a loop of a machine making noises that sounded like a musical piece. The 10 minute static shot piece emphasized that music can be found in every aspect of life.
Another experimental piece, Intervalometer Experiments, embraced the notion of time-lapse observation. Lynch focused his lens on shot three simple things: some steps, a room from the inside, and a sunset viewed from a hill. The purpose of the work was to show that even the simplest things can display their beauty if one is willing to take the film to see it.
The sixth Internet short Lynch made for his website, Ballerina, revolved around the art of ballet. Incorporating a cloudy dissolve over the images of a young ballerina dancing to ambient music, the 12-minute short was another exercise in simplicity.
During his hiatus from big projects, Lynch was asked by Cannes Film Festival organizer Gilles Jacob to contribute a short film for the anthology film To Each His Own Cinema to celebrate the festival’s lengthy history. The film featured contributions from Wong Kar-Wai, the Coen Brothers, the Dardenne Brothers, Gus Van Sant, Michael Cimino, Jane Campion, Wim Wenders, Ken Loach, Roman Polanski, David Cronenberg, and many others. For his three-minute short, Absurda, Lynch decided to create a mixture of horror and surrealism in his observations of teens who get more than they bargained for when going to see a movie.
Blue Green, shot entirely in a factory, was the last short Lynch made in 2007. Encompassing elements of his own music projects, Lynch collaborated with David Vegara to craft a piece in which a skipping child and a young woman wander around the factory.
After a year off from projects, Lynch returned to the world of experimental filmmaking with the animated short Dream #7 for an anthology film called One Dream Rush. The 15 second piece found Lynch going back to the type of works he made when first starting to make films.
Having done commercials in Japan, including a coffee advertisement inspired by Twin Peaks, Lynch was asked by Dior to make a short, Lady Blue Shanghai, for one of their products. Starring Marion Cotillard, and shot entirely on location in Shanghai, the short involves a woman who discovers something in her hotel room that triggers memories of a life she once had with another man in Shanghai.
In 2011, to celebrate the Venice Film Festival, Lynch decided to create a sixty-five second short film entitled The 3 Rs. The avant-garde piece carried and air of simplicity as it focused a man and the rocks he is holding.
Two years later, as Lynch was delving into other creative mediums, such as music, art, and photography, he traveled to Paris’ famed Idem Paris fine art studio. Realizing the craft and dedication needed for the lithographic processing, Lynch decided to make a simple eight-minute documentary to showcases both the meticulous steps involved and the danger of the art form becoming extinct in the modern world.
Twin Peaks (Limited Revival Series)
In late July of 2014, after many years of anticipation, Lynch released a new DVD/Blu-Ray box set of the entire Twin Peaks series. The release was a big deal for fans, however, it was small in comparison to the bombshell announcement Lynch made in October when he revealed that he was planning to revive the show for a limited nine episode run on Showtime. Reuniting with co-creator Mark Frost, the revival hit a bump in the road when Lynch and the network squabbled over financial issues. The dispute was resolved after several cast members spoke out against the idea of the series without David Lynch’s involvement. Lynch not only received more money to shape the show in step with his vision, but he also agreed to expanding the series from nine to eighteen episodes.
With the exception of Michael Ontkean, who has retired from acting, and Catherine E. Coulson, who passed away in late September 2015, many members from the original series are expected to make appearances in the new version. Lynch also brought in Amanda Seyfried, Robert Forster, Balthazar Getty, Bailey Chase, Robert Knepper, and Jennifer Jason Leigh to play new characters in the show. Though it was set to premiere in 2016, Lynch decided to push the series premiere to 2017 so that he and Frost could spend more time developing the narrative.
Regardless of whether he is dabbling in film, music, art, or television, there is no question that David Lynch has made an impact on the world of popular culture. Many filmmakers and TV series creators all cite Lynch as a major influence on their works. Remaining a distinct voice for nearly 50 years, David Lynch continues to provide a dose of Americana cinema that always say something captivating to say. He has left a legacy that will be admired and studied for years to come.
(Part 1) – (Part 2) – (Part 3)
© thevoid99 2016
What an absolutely outstanding piece. Over the four parts you’ve written something to be treasured on one of my favourite directors! Bravo sir! This was a great read!
Thank you. This did take a while as I knew doing a piece on Lynch couldn’t just simplified into his just his feature films as there’s so much about him that makes him far more interesting.
I can imagine it must have taken ages. I’ve yet to catch up with a few of his shorts and some tv stuff but Twin Peaks is genius and the film is vastly underrated too. I actually liked Hotel Room as well. It’s a shame that never grew further, it had a lot of potential. Needless to say, I’ve seen all his films and it’s disappointing that he hasn’t done a feature film for a while but I suppose a revisit to the classic tv show next year will make up for that!
I think part of the reason it’s going to take a while for a new film from Lynch isn’t just money but I think he’s trying to find new ideas that would become a film. I would just like for him to make one more movie and then ride off into the sunset.
Yeah, just one more good one would do it for me too. I was just under the impression that he’d hit a high note with the likes of Mulholland drive and Inland Empire and then he seemed to fade. I was kinda hoping he’d have a bit more left in the tank. Lost Highway is one I often like revisit too.
Great series. Reminded me of how many truly great, and truly diverse, collaborators work on his films.
Part of the reasons into what makes filmmakers so great is the people they work with and who they stick with to work with them which probably makes their job easier.
Outstanding! Wow, I learned a lot. I’m interested in Lady Blue Shanghai.
You can find the short on YouTube as you just click on the reviews link of the shorts and you’ll see it there.
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