The Cultic Art of David Lynch, Top Essay Sample

Published: 2022-06-08
The Cultic Art of David Lynch, Top Essay Sample
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Movie Art
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1778 words
15 min read

The film industry is a growing and dynamic one with every year, decade or century experiencing a different level of characterization, graphic designs, and plotting. David Keith Lynch is a renowned filmmaker; film director, producer, sound designer, and screenwriter. His film works include Twin Peaks, in 1990-91, a television series that revolutionized the cult culture. For more than 25 years, this television series is still in the mouths and hearts of viewers and critic's aliketime (Lacey 2016, p.130). His other works include Eraserhead in 1977, elephant man in Dumbland in 2002 among many others.

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Traditionally, a film served entertainment purposes, and people would gather around black and white motion pictures to have a peek at the characters with their imaginations captured within the world presented in the films. It then came to a point where films were utilized to communicate societal norms, injustices and the feelings of the natives. The cult film culture matured from this point and a movie series could attract a massive audience and an unrelenting fan-base for years. Watching these films was evolved and became a social culture with the audience talking, walking, dressing and living the virtual lives presented in the movie (Pett 2013, p.1) No amount of criticism could make them back off, and others go to the point of breaking the law in cases of the film bans.

David Lynch started off as a regular film director, releasing films that received little or no recognition at all. This perspective was until the premiere of the film twin peaks on April 8, 1990. This soap-opera-like TV series was a captivating film that sought to bring to justice the murderer of Laura Palmer; a high school homecoming queen found dead in a river surround by industrial filth. Analyzing its time of release from the technological spectrum, this film had very slim chances of surviving as it was either too weird, or too quirky, or just too sophisticated to be aired in that era. The film piloted on ABC, on Thursday nights and instantly robbed NBC its audience for the Thursday night 'cheers'. No one ever imagined themselves watching this film, but almost everyone did.

The cult film culture is a contagious aspect of filmmaking that has made and broken dreams (Pedler 2012, p. 96). The sociocultural dimension of filmmaking was for long the primary characteristic audiences looked for in films, but David surpassed this limitation. The characterization, content, themes, and styles he incorporated in his film went against the sociocultural expectations of his audience, but they loved it anyway. Twin Peaks came at a time when sexual behaviors and appropriateness were highly valued, and a ban on a film having a woman in her lingerie was no news. David, however, went past this and presented a disgusting and unimaginable father-daughter incest. This scene was inappropriate and quite offensive to some if not many viewers. The film was destined for doom, but it started at its peak, unexpectedly. He boldly and fearlessly drew enormous antithetic of what is evil and right and subjected his characters to the imprisonment of the resultant turmoil. He presented two different worlds within the same film, where the bad was demonically evil while the good was angelic.

When another of his films, blue velvet debuted in 1986, it met immediate criticism and mockery. A critic identified as Roger Ebert rated the film with a single sympathetic star and termed it a sick joke. The dominance of unflinching violence did not put the audience off, but they remained divided on both ends of the rating spectrum. However, the movie survived the destructive criticism and was a remarkable influence and point of reference to many other films that preceded it. Many describe it as a harrowing, stomach-churning, mesmerizing woozy horror.

Lynch was not just a filmmaker, he was talented, daring, and creative and he took many risks that paid him off later on. He employed vast symbolism, motifs, visual styles and mise-en-scene. Twin peak was a town that was out of this world, literary and he made sure this aspect was well known to the viewers. He uses motifs like the third eye, the frontal knob, dilation of time within the black lodge, fire among so many others. A quote from twin peaks says, 'the owls are not what they seem.' Practically, nothing in this town is as it seems and this other world with spiritualism, demonic characters, and violence intrigue the viewers to this time (Lacey 2016 p.130). The Twin Peaks streets have flickering lights and an unceasing obsession with the physical and metaphysical aspect of electricity. The dreams and visions that the FBI agent Dale Cooper experiences present a new world with visionary symbolism and the supernatural realm. The ideas correspond almost entirely with the reality, and this is an open road to vast imaginary creativity.

We all view an ideal society as one with a peaceful coexistence among its inhabitants, high moral standards, love, and a place where everyone has the other persons back. Lynch, contrary depicts a society with violence, bloodshed, sexual immorality, hatred, and greed. It is a society where those who have are not satisfied and will do anything to take the little that the poor possess (Pedler 2012, p. 96). Critics view this as an effort to campaign for misconduct and to diminish the value of human life. The outrageous incest between Palmer and her dad is yet another level of sexual immorality many do not conform to. It takes quite long to bring the killer to justice, and as the cliche goes, justice delayed is justice denied. The audience declined significantly after the revelation of the killer, partly because the mystery was now solved and also because justice was finally achieved.

The first and immediate responses to the twin peak film were that it wasn't commercial and doesn't stand a chance to succeed. This film was unique and nothing the viewers were used to seeing regularly. After the revelation of the killer, forced by ABC, the ratings of this TV series decelerates, and this forces its cancellation despite lynch's unceasing efforts to come up with a new captivating episode. To many, this would have been the end of the short-lived series on the air. However, this was like a rotting rhizoid that marks the beginning of the sprouting of fleshy stems and healthy leaves. The airing died, but the legacy has lived to surpass its name. Lynch ensured that he had created something that will always keep the viewers and audience on toes. The film stirred a multitude of water cooler syndrome, the after-episode talks, analysis and criticisms among the viewers, often in groups (cult cinema 2008, p.1). Being an era when social media wasn't yet born, the ratings and popularity of the film within the few hours of airing were unbelievably astounding.

The film director had qualified as a cult filmmaker before he could even succeed to air it on national television. He utilized a distinct and unique visual style and graphics effects still in use, although modified in films like Grimm. However, the limitation in technology in the 1990's was forthcoming, and he embraced these limitations. He limited the movement of the camera and instead relied on the still video shooting. This shortcoming made him keep a distance between the cameras and the characters and used angular lenses to give an all-inclusive caption for the cases of multi-characterization (Lacey 2016, p.124). He also incorporated color coding to boost his characterization, themes, and plot. In agent coopers dream with little bob, he brought to a room with red curtains among so many other scenes and episodes. It merely brings out anger, danger or lust.

The surrealism that lynch adopted was somewhat the force behind his success as a cult filmmaker. He was mainly responsible for the maintenance of the films allure with his passion for contrast and defined differences between the comic and the eerie, light and dark, and exquisite and famous. He creatively devised a continuation strategy for his works, more so in twin peaks, and whenever one mystery was solved, another one was formulated, and the audience was on another ride to finding out more and more (Pett 2013, p.3). The return of agent cooper from the black lodge in his doppelganger form was the most likely end of the show, but in a twisting turn of events, lynch rewound and the narration in a much sinister and confusing way that no viewer could see it coming. Reality is a constant and it occurs to a person whether they are awake or sleeping, daydreaming or dreaming in their sleep. He is one of the most creative surrealists, and his narrations hit his audience with curiosity as he narrated the bizarre occurrences and scenes. A film like the twin peaks, fire walk with me, goes beyond surrealism and is replete with dreams and logic.

For so long, the accreditation of life to art has prevailed, but the difference between a thriving art and a cultic art is their half-life. Many films of the late 1990s are unheard for, yet others have lived to oversee the technological transforming from the still motion pictures, black and white pictures, animated movies, enhanced visual effects and the three-dimensional filming. The unavailability of social media and the limited numbers of people who possessed television sets significantly limited the statistical quantification of the masses behind David Lynch's works, but the after-episode discussion depicted the contagious effect of these creative artistic works. From the disperse statistics available, the pilot airing of twin peaks attracted a 22 rating which extrapolated to around 620,000 views (Adalian 2017, p.2). It is quite a following regarding the disparity in sociocultural norms and values that these film presented, from the beliefs of the communities. The film introduced vulgarity, social taboos, violence, and other socially unacceptable cultures, but this did not bar lynch from reaching into the heads and hearts of his prospective audience. Up to date, a draft overview of David Lynch's works, more specifically twin peaks, is at 4.3 million views, and this does not take into account the other non-technological sources like the DVDs.


Adalian, Joseph (2017).The Ratings for Twin Peaks Weren't Good. Who Cares?Pp. 2-4.

Cult Cinema: A Critical Symposium. Cineaste magazine, winter 2008, Volume 34, No.1, cited on The Official Home of Joe Bob Briggs. Retrieved on 19 April 2013.

Lacey, Stephen (2016). "Just Plain Odd: Some Thoughts on Performance Styles in Twin Peaks". Cinema Journal. 55 (3): 126-131.

Pedler Martyn (2012). Good taste is the enemy of art. An Interview with Philippe Mora. Metro Magazine: Media & Education Magazine, (161), 96-98.

Pett, Emma (2013). "'Hey! Hey! I've seen this one, I've seen this one. It's a classic': Nostalgia, Repeat Viewing and Cult Performance in Back to the Future" (PDF). Participations. Volume 10. Pp.1-4.

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