At this point, someone who hasn’t even spent much time with the films of David Lynch knows, roughly, what “Lynchian” means. It might just scan as “weird” or “dark,” but then, after watching a few films, the throughlines become clearer: noir surrealism, mundanity and the macabre, and those wonderful, ominous ambient drones. A new video from ScreenPrism buzzes through Lynch’s history, starting with his early work as a painter, providing a solid primer on his filmography as well as a thesis that the primary throughline is his take on Americana.
From the post-industrial wasteland of Philadelphia in Eraserhead through the cross-country odyssey of The Straight Story, and now, the many locations of Twin Peaks’ third season, Lynch has remained obsessed with the idea that there’s another America hiding beneath the surface. It helps to explain why his films have resonated so well, and why the term “Lynchian” has gone on to be so widely applied (and mis-applied).
On the other hand, maybe we’re all just subconsciously terrified of tiny screaming old people. Either way, he’s on to something.