Yet Another Reason to Hate David Lynch

I recently got The Elephant Man from Netflix. I sat down to watch it about a week ago. I was drowsy when it started, but quite enjoyed what I saw. After about forty minute my sleepiness overtook me and I decided to turn it off and pick it up later. Today I returned to it. I turned on my DVD player, put in the disc, and waited for the title menu to load.


Shit, shit, shit.

I had three options on the menu: Special Features, Set Up, and Play. I checked Special Features. Theatrical Trailer, production featurette, interview with David Lynch. Try set-up. Language and subtitle options. I tried selecting Play and hitting the chapter skip button. No dice.

I had forgotten that David Lynch thinks very highly of himself and his films. So highly, in fact, that he does not appreciate the idea of folks watching his films willy-nilly, in manners that he does not approve of. Therefore, The Elephant Man, like Eraserhead before it, has no scene selection and no chapter stops. If you wish to watch a David Lynch movie, you must watch it the way David Lynch intended: Starting with the first frame, you must proceed through to the last frame, viewing each frame in order and giving it its proper due. If you wish to leave a David Lynch film that's your prerogative, but if you ever wish to see the ending you must start over at the beginning again and appreciate the genius of its totality.

I'm getting a bit hostile. DVD players aren't well-designed for fast forwarding, so it took fifteen minutes of holding down the "search forward" button to get to where I left off. This left me somewhat peeved. I very nearly took the DVD out and sent it back then and there.

It would have been a shame if I had, because The Elephant Man is actually a very good movie. I recommend it highly, though I'd also recommend setting aside the two hours, four minutes needed to watch it in its entirety, because David Lynch doesn't want you leaving in the middle.

Enough grousing. The Elephant Man is actually a normal movie, which if you've seen any of David Lynch's other works should be a shock. That is, it has a sustained and coherent narrative that starts at the beginning, moves to the end, and almost never makes you want to punch David Lynch in the face for being a self-absorbed pretentious git without the faintest idea of how to communicate his thoughts in a visual medium. This movie, by being as good as it is, actually makes me think less of Lynch: I'd always assumed that he couldn't shoot a movie that makes sense because of some infirmity on his part. Perhaps he had a great story in his mind, but he lacked the ability to put it onto the screen in a way that was understandable to others. I could certainly understand that; it's hard, in telling a story, to be sure that you've included all the parts that are necessary for someone else to make sense of it. Your mind fills in the gaps that you leave out, and you risk neglecting crucial details and thereby leaving your audience puzzled.

I had always assumed, until now, that David Lynch is just one of those people who can't quite tell a coherent story. I had a theory that critics and others had mistaken this for genius and, as a result of their ill-deserved praise, Lynch had never bothered to cultivate the core competencies of story-telling. But now I find out he can make a movie, and this makes all his other movies the more intolerable. Before I could watch Dune and say "...Well, it was certainly a nice try. You definitely put a lot into it, David. Maybe you should pick a slightly less ambitious subject next time." But no. Now I know that when Lynch makes me listen to Paul ramble cryptically over and over and over, he's doing it because he decided consciously that this is better filmmaking than actually providing the context necessary to make what Paul's saying make a damn lick of sense.

Wow. I didn't mean to get this angry. Especially since The Elephant Man is quite good. I recommend it. But, because he took out the chapter stops, I refuse to do Lynch the favor of elaborating as to why I like it.

February 2012
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
      1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29      

Contact Zach


Webcomics of Which I am a Fan

Sites I Read Daily: Politics

Sites I Read Daily: Video Gaming

Sites I Read Daily: General Miscellany

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Zach published on April 17, 2006 7:31 PM.

Hot Crackers! was the previous entry in this blog.

Driven to Madness is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Powered by Movable Type 5.04