Review: “David Lynch” by Justus Nieland (Contemporary Film Directors series)

This was a review a long time in the making considering I was first approved for this galley back in 2012, but I’m glad I read it when I did (better late than never, and I figure it’s a good time for me to reach back and peruse my book collection, particularly those I have digitally on my Kindle space). Admittedly, if you’re going to pick up this book – or any in this respective series, it would be a good idea to familiarize yourself with some of the director’s work and have seen at least some of the movies that are mentioned in the filmography. The book does a decent enough job describing details of scenes for those who aren’t familiar with the films and to use the scenes to support their arguments, I think it brings the point home much more if you are aware of the mentions and can make the link between the element Lynch incorporates and how he uses it in the films mentioned.

I’ve been familiar with David Lynch’s work for years – from “Twin Peaks” to “Blue Velvet” (which was filmed in part in the city I grew up in, but interestingly enough caused a bit of controversy to boot because…well, if you’ve seen the movie, you kind of know), from “Muholland Dr.” to “Inland Empire.” This book feels like a thesis on how Lynch uses common artistic elements in each of his films to create a specific effect and elaborate on certain themes, ideas, and moods to communicate with his audience. I had always taken notice of Lynch’s use of interior space in his works, but not quite to the degree this book expounds upon that and manages to link the details through a number of different films. It was a fascinating argument and definitely something I appreciated more upon reading this book.

The book is divided into specific sections: first “Wrapped in Plastic” – which is a reference to Laura Palmer’s role in “Twin Peaks”, but actually has far more reach in influencing Lynch’s work throughout his filmography. Then three different sections: “Interior Design”, which talks about the use of space through three of Lynch’s films; “The Art of Being Moved”, which talks about emotion in three of Lynch’s films as examples; and finally “Organism”, which discusses seemingly inanimate elements coming to life in four of Lynch’s films (i.e. moving pictures in “Six Men Getting Sick”). The book rounds out with interviews from Lynch himself, a filmography and brief biography to round out the essay. I think this is definitely an academic resource and very thought-provoking for the examination of Lynch’s films and use of mixed artistic presentations. I liked it, and I certainly appreciated the time reading through it.

Overall score: 4/5 stars.

Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley from the publisher.

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