Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Now it's dark...

(Or Lynch 2: Electric Boogaloo)

It's lucky for us that David Lynch was probably electrocuted as a child. I'm convinced that electricity is the key to nearly every one of his films.

It's not just that rumbling on the soundtrack. It's that at some point a character is always immersed in some blinding, all consuming light and you know things aren't going to be alright. It almost seems like every supernatural element can be connected to this, as if they bring along with them an overpowering electrical current.

The transformation of Henry's baby into an oversized monster in Eraserhead, or frustrated saxophonist Fred morphing into suburban mechanic Pete in Lost Highway; with them comes a burst of electrical charge. In Inland Empire, Nikki slips into her character and finds her identity progressively fracturing alongside a blinding strobe of light, not to mention the mysterious Phantom's taunting red lightbulb. In Twin Peaks you can anticipate Bob's arrival, and those of other Black Lodge inhabitants, by a surge of static and ominous electrical hum, while evil Frank Booth's death causes an outage in Blue Velvet. The sinister appearance of the old couple, the magician and The Cowboy, spark wayward power surges in Mulholland Drive, while crazy Cousin Dell makes contact with aliens and a powerful electric force in Wild at Heart. Hell, even good old Alvin of The Straight Story experiences his life-changing revelation during an electrical storm.

Perhaps it's just the universal connection; a source between light and dark, where these characters often seem to dwell. It acts, as typical of Lynch, as a mundane subversion in which everyday surroundings become enigmatic and possibly even terrifying. Positive and negative charges thrown together as we watch for the sparks.

It also makes for a great drinking game.


Pax Romano said...

It's been awhile, but in Mulholland Drive, when the hit man kills all of those people in the sleazy office building, doesn't he blow a fuse or cause a short?

Adam said...

Take a shot!

Those pictures don't do remote justice either, the connections are everywhere. I wonder how conscious he is of his signatures and how much of that is written into the script. Inland Empire went on light seizure at one point.