There certainly aren’t many artists, directors, writers, or creators who have developed such a personal aesthetic that they’re superficially recognized. The moment you turn on a screen or open a book, you know whose work you’re observing instantly. In particular, not many filmmakers have their name attributed to a widely-used adjective. I’ve certainly used Kubrick-ian from time to time, but perhaps the only living director with whose name also denotes a particular style is David Lynch.
An anomaly in many senses of the word, Lynch has a decades-spanning career working in many mediums — short films, features, music, fine art, sculpture — and in each of those categories his work is undeniably, well, Lynchian. Just last year I was fortunate enough to see Lynch interviewed live at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and as a subject, he speaks and narrates like no other human being. His answers to questions and adoration of Edward Hopper and industrial places in Pennsylvania are sublime; they explain a bit about his inspiration, but leave enough to have you wanting more.
In a new video from Fandor based on Dennis Lim’s book “David Lynch: The Man From Another Place,” Kevin B. Lee dives into producing a better definition for “Lynchian” by compiling clips from his ten features, various short films, and television series.
Infamous and exemplary artists like David Foster Wallace (in an interview with Charlie Rose) and Bruce Springsteen use the word Lynchian, and Wallace in particular explains how it’s the perfect balance of “macabre and mundane.”
Next time you happen to pass by a television, if there’s a two-lane highway, perfectly-reddened lips, a spotlight gleaming onto red curtains, or a disturbing, stark radiator sound, you’ll know who the auteur is behind it. Watch below.