Gone Fishin’

David Lynch Casts a Line Into the City of Dreams

Both Mulholland Drive and Lost Highway deal with the guilt, paranoia, and pain that accompany the end of a relationship. Yes, on some level. It would be nice if we all traveled with psychoanalysts, and they could tell us, you know, "Dave, you better pay attention to these things." But I'm not aware of it. For me it's more like the things don't come out of my neuroses; they seem to come from somewhere else.

Where's this "somewhere else"? It's an ocean of ideas. Everything that we see, man-made, started with an idea. An idea had to come from somewhere, so I think they're sitting out there.

"Endings are terrible things. They can have a great beauty, but only if they leave room to dream."
Photograph by Robin Holland
"Endings are terrible things. They can have a great beauty, but only if they leave room to dream."

Does everyone have equal access to this ocean? Yes, you don't need to go through any metal detectors or anything, you just can get 'em. Some people are really interested in . . . inventions and new products, like this thing I saw on TV was this, um . . . bag? Where you put like, say, some blankets to store. You run this Ziploc zipper closed, and then you put your vacuum cleaner on this part of the bag and suck the air out of it, and it collapses down to next-door to nothing, and then you store the thing away. And it's compact and it's clean and it reduces the space. Now that's a pretty cool idea, and somebody had to come up with that. It's out of maybe studying, or having a need for something, and that's the desire to solve a problem, and then [snaps fingers] the idea comes in. And how does it come in, and where does it come from? Nikola Tesla, sitting on a park bench, he's looking out into the sun or something, and bingo, all of a sudden, there's the alternating current motor, and he saw every wind of wire, every screw, and the knowledge of how it works [snaps fingers] like that in a pop. And all he had to do is go back to his lab and build that. It wasn't there and now it's there, with total knowledge and understanding of how it works. How'd that happen?

But where does talent fit into this theory of creativity? I'll tell ya, only in the translation. There's the idea, and say the idea's for a chair. And you don't know how to work with wood so well, or metal and upholstery, and it's a great idea but you're not handy in the shop, so your chair doesn't reflect the beauty of that idea. But if you are really handy with wood and metal, and you got this idea for this beautiful chair, and you go in the shop and you just do the idea, people see it and they say, man, that is a killer chair, and it goes like that. Translation is the next step, and it could go into still photography, or painting, or film. Some ideas are chair ideas, and some ideas are film ideas.

It's so much like fishing, and the desire is the bait. You have to have patience, and you have to lower the line in there and wait. You could be catching fish, but you're wanting that one beautiful little fish you fall in love with.

This is all very democratic. Artists tend to talk about an idea as something that emerges from within, not something they go fishing for. Well, inside and outside is a strange thing. I really believe that the inside goes to that place where they reside, but it seems like they come in from outside, the reason being they weren't there, and suddenly they're there. You know what I mean?

Mulholland Drive's rupture point is cued by a Spanish-language version of Roy Orbison's "Crying." Lynch says his discovery of the singer, Rebekah del Rio, was a "happy accident": A music-agent friend brought her over to his recording studio, and "four minutes off the street, she hadn't even had her coffee," del Rio belted out a stunning a capella "Llorando." Lynch wrote her—and that very recording—into the film. To hear him tell it, her choice of song was destiny. "In 1985, going through Central Park, I heard Roy Orbison's version of 'Crying' on the radio. I was riding with Kyle MacLachlan, and we were going down to start shooting Blue Velvet, and I said, 'I gotta get that song!' I got an album with Roy's greatest hits, and I listened to 'Crying,' but listening to it again, it didn't marry with the film. I was a little bit depressed, but I kept listening, and I heard 'In Dreams,' and instantaneously, every note, every nuance married to the film. It was 'Crying' that led to 'In Dreams,' and years later, it comes back but in a completely different way."

The scene is accompanied by convulsive weeping—a recurring motif in Lynch's films, most conspicuously in the Twin Peaks pilot and Fire Walk With Me. "The thing about crying is, it's contagious, you know, if there's some honesty to it," he says. "On The Straight Story, in the editing room, I'd just be sobbing my eyes out."

« Previous Page
Next Page »