I agree that the library may lend or copy the thesis upon request from the date of deposit of the thesis. List of Illustrations 4. Acknowledgments 5. Introduction 6. Chapter I: Narrative Continuities Chapter V: The Dark Depths Conclusion Appendix: The Eye-of-the-Duck Selected Filmography of David Lynch Filmography Bibliography From its long and convoluted development, the baroque has taken many forms; it is an adjective, a style in the history of art and an aesthetical concept.
It derives from the Portuguese word barocco, which was used by the goldsmiths of the 16 th century to describe irregular pearls. The term retained its negative connotations and remained vaguely associated with the art of the 17 th century and everything that was not classic until the end of the 19th century.
By this time the germane historiography reinvestigated the art of the period and with Jacob Burckhardt the baroque becomes the dominant style of the 17 th century art. He tried to articulate a definition to unify an art which had taken many different forms, whether it was in Italy, Spain, Germany or the Netherlands. For him, styles evolve from a primitive period, during which new means of representation are experimented with, to a classic period where these means are brought to a harmonious expression before entering a baroque period where the matured artistic forms are set in movement.
This concept will be taken further by Eugenio D'Ors , who introduces the notion of a transcendental baroque in his Lo Barroco in He elevates the baroque as a metaphysical principle which he opposed to classicism; the baroque is a life principle in perpetual conflict with the barren reign of classic reason. If his work is generally held to be somewhat excessive and a little fantasist, it nevertheless brought the baroque into the realm of concepts. Each of these dimensions of the baroque - adjective, style and concept - are layered with different meanings, which has led to a wide and varied use to the term baroque.
The baroque developed in Rome at the beginning of the 17 th century and corresponds to the time of the Counter-Reformation in the Catholic Church. The Council of Trent had reaffirmed, in opposition to the reformist position, the importance of the visual arts for the communication of the Gospel to the people.
Thus the Catholic Church supported a great artistic activity through its patronage. This explains the predominance of religious subject matter, and the importance of Rome. The central idea of the Italian Renaissance is that of perfect proportion [ Every form developed to self-existent being, the whole freely co-coordinated: nothing but independently living parts. The ideal of beautiful proportion vanishes; interest concentrates not on being, but on happening.
These terms are quite alien to the baroque, and it is inevitable that they should be; the aim of this is not to represent a perfected state, but to suggest an incomplete process and a movement toward its completion. This is why the formal relationship becomes looser, for the baroque is bold enough to turn harmony into a dissonance by using imperfect proportions. The significant thing is not the attempt to complicate our perception of harmonious relationships but the intention to create an intentional dissonance.
Thus the baroque is not in opposition to the classical form developed by the Renaissance: it comes from and grows out of it. Its paintings use the same system of representation and the perspective, its architecture the same elements and order, but instead of seeking a harmony of forms it searches for the movement to animate them. Rome was already layered by the accumulation of the architectural and cultural remnants of the civilisations that had gone past.
Limited space did not stop the baroque artists to conceive the grandest projects fitted into the most confined spaces. This may partly explain the feeling of disproportion:. The baroque flaunts cramped niches, windows disproportionate to their allotted space, and paintings much too large for the surfaces they fill, they are transposed from a different key, tuned to a different scale of proportions.
The first one, the linear and the painterly, compares the clear linear style of the Renaissance to the intermingled masses of the baroque. The second, plane and recession, develops the difference between a composition in parallel planes to one where all planes are absorbed by a movement in depth. The third principle, the closed and open forms, sees the transition from a contained composition where every element is balanced by another to a mode of composition where the parts aspires to move out of the frame.
In the fourth principle, multiplicity and unity concerns the relationship between the various elements of composition. The multiplicity of the Renaissance is rather a multiple unity, that is a unity where the various parts are free elements which can still function independently, whereas in the unity of the baroque, all parts are absorbed into the movement of the composition and only make sense in relation to the whole. The fifth and last principle concerns the light and the shadows, clearness and unclearness.
The light of the Renaissance is an overall luminosity where the shadows are only there to shade the form. In the baroque it is the light that brings out the form out of the darkness. He proposed the seventeenth century philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz as the philosopher the baroque was lacking. In Deleuze was describing Leibniz to his students:. Imagine Leibniz, there is something frightening there. He is the philosopher of order, even more, of order and policing, in every sense of the word "policing. He only thinks in terms of order. But very oddly in this taste for order and to establish this order, he yields to the most insane concept creation that we have ever witnessed in philosophy.
Dishevelled concepts, the most exuberant concepts, the most disordered, the most complex in order to justify what is. Each thing must have a reason. This paradox is somehow reflected in the occurrence of the baroque as historical phenomenon. When Leibniz is the philosopher of order, the baroque is the art of the Counter-Reformation and as such is deeply embedded into the agenda of the Catholic Church to reassert itself in face of the growing reformist churches.
As such it is the art of authority, but at the same time it has overgrown any attempt to contain it consequently the 17 th century was a period of intense creativity. Deleuze developed his approach to the baroque from the concept of the fold; he undertook to establish that the baroque fold is different from others folds in the history of art:. Should we wish to maintain the working relation of the Baroque and the fold, we shall therefore have to show that the fold remains limited in the other cases, and that in the Baroque it knows an unlimited freedom whose conditions can be determined.
Taken in their rigor, have to account for the extreme specificity of the Baroque, and the possibility of stretching it outside of its historical limits, without any arbitrary extension: the contribution of the Baroque to art in general, and the contribution of Leibnizianism to philosophy.
The first of these traits is the fold, which the baroque develops as an infinite process. The fold is the expression of matter and produces form. The third trait concerns the resolution of this tension across a divide in two levels: the high and the low. The fold, moving between, differentiates into pleats of matter on the outside and folds in the soul inside: matter and manners.
The fourth trait is the unfold, which is not the contrary of the fold, but the continuation of its act. The unfold is the manifestation of the action of the fold. The unfolding does not reveal a void but more folds: folds are always full.
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Textures constitute the fifth trait of the baroque: texture is constituted by the manner into which the matter is folded; it is the forces of resistance of the material. The sixth and last trait concerns the paradigm of the fold: the search for a model through the choice of material but also through its formal expression. From these specific traits a number of terms emerge which are associated with the baroque taken in larger perspective: the notion of the fold is related to material and texture but also to manners and forces. The baroque can be approached in many ways and some may be in contradiction with each other.
The art historian Christine Buci-Glucksmann distinguishes two tendencies in the baroque: a baroque of fullness and a baroque of emptiness:. The relation to history is complicated. Besides, isn't there but one baroque? I believe that in reality there is a baroque of fullness such as Leibniz or Deleuze's. There is nothing but fullness. It is the baroque of the fold and the crease, the unfolding, the interior and the exterior, etc. But in the historical baroque there is also something that fascinated me, it is the baroque of emptiness.
Borromini isn't Bernini. The baroque of emptiness is the spiral, which climbs nowhere. There may be two tendencies within the baroque, but there may also be two different points of views from which to look upon the baroque. The different appreciations of the baroque seem to spring for a large part from the question of what is reality. The classical point of view considers the essence, the origin of things; classicism researches the truth through the perfect form. From this perspective the baroque representation, with all its artifices, excesses, decorations, trompe l'oeils and multiplied images, is necessarily superficial and false.
The baroque is the art of illusions deluding the beholder away from the truth of things. Thus theorists of the 18 th century, invested in classicism, found no redeeming feature in the baroque. More recently however, its very artificiality has seduced many for being more revealing of a world made of deceptive appearances. A manifesto for the neo-baroque aesthetic written by Erminia Passannanti gives a good example of this point of view:.
Neo-baroque is the rediscovery, exaltation and re-evaluation of the kitsch, it is the attribution to its codes of a scheme of values, and it is indeed the re-activation of these values in the contemporaneity. It is believing in the power of the false, the artifact as being more meaningful of the true. This also echoes the comparison with the art of rhetoric made by Christine Buci-Glucksmann.
There is, however, another line of thought, which not so much denies the existence of an origin than makes it one image among many just as valid. The search for descent is not the erecting of foundations: on the contrary, it disturbs what was previously considered immobile; it fragments what was thought unified; it shows the heterogeneity of what was imagined consistent with itself.
Thus considered, genealogy, far from seeking a mythological origin, exposes the diversity and multiplicity of descent. Friedrich Nietzsche denounced the notion of Truth as a fraud, the research of truth being used in effect to deny reality: reality, in this sense, is the world we live in, a world of appearances, the only thing we have.
Therefore appearances are the only truth we know of the world and not some abstract and otherworldly idea of Truth, which can only exist in denying life itself with all its illusions. From this vantage point the multiple images of the baroque are no longer seen as so many illusions, but rather as a representation of a world made of images. The images do not hide the truth or adorn emptiness, they are the truth, the many layered, multiple faceted truth. This is the baroque of fullness, the baroque of the fold, the baroque of Leibniz and Deleuze. Thus the question of reality and its representation is at the core of the history of cinema, as stated by Lapsley and Westlake in Film Theory an Introduction :.
Although since then few spectators have mistaken the image for reality itself, film's extraordinary power to imitate reality has made realism a central feature of cinema aesthetics. From its beginnings, the perception of cinema has been split into two tendencies: as a window on reality, with its mechanical system of reproduction as warrant of its objectivity; or as the ultimate creator of illusions with the possible manipulation of its mechanical eye allowing all the tricks with Georges Melies as the first illusionist:. Lumiere's camera awakes us to the world. Melies stretches behind his characters the painted canvas of the collective unconscious.
The history of cinema is situated between those two poles of attraction, between realism and artifice. However the pretension of a large part of the cinematographic production to realism relies, as in literature or in plays, on its capacity to hide its conventions of representation.
Thus associating cinema with the larger issue of realism during the 20 th century:. Far from being the faithful depiction of reality it is assumed to be, realism, through the various forms it has taken throughout its history, shows itself to be neither window nor mirror but a set of conventions. The political discourse contained in the claim to realism of theatre had been exposed by such as Bertolt Brecht :. The importance of realism is a direct consequence of its epistemic status, as Brecht recognised when he called it a major political, philosophical and practical issue.
The realist text functions on the articulation of various point of views, thus pretending to objectivity, but subjecting them to a unifying view presented as the truth:. The so-called classic realist text, then, whether George Lucas or George Eliot, is defined by a structure in which the various discourses comprising the text form a hierarchy. Among these various discourses, each of which proposes a version of reality, one is privileged as the bearer of the truth.
Each object is firmly framed in its position by the dominant discourse, and no ambiguities are left to the reader-spectator:. The unified subject confronts the hypostatised object, each locked into a paralysing fixity, with no perspective for struggle or possibility of transformation. Through its technological capacity for reproduction the cinema was even more apt to pretend to a transparent discourse; unlike literature or theatre, it was proposed to be only reproducing reality.
But by being directly engaged with the appearance of the world, the cinema was necessarily a privileged medium to represent its shifting appearances.
It may well be that the most likely medium to express a baroque aesthetic is the cinema. Hence it is not very surprising that the relationship between baroque and cinema has been a recurring feature of film theory. The film is no longer content to preserve the object, enshrouded as it were in an instant, as the bodies of insects are preserved intact, out of the distant past, in amber.
The film delivers baroque art from its convulsive catalepsy. Now, for the first time, the image of things is likewise the image of their duration, change mummified as it were. Bazin saw an ontological link between baroque and cinema, the latter bringing in the movement the former was striving for. The effects the baroque developed to create illusions, such as trompe l'oeil or other artifices, were not without similarities with those of cinema, as the art historian Rudolf Wittkower described:.
There is, however, on a different level an important connection between the theatre and the art of the baroque age. In the theatre we live in a fictitious reality, and the stronger the illusion the more readily we are prepared to surrender to it. At this period the most powerful effects were used to eliminate the borderline between fiction and reality.
The fire which Bernini arranged on the stage during the performance of one of his comedies and which provoked a stampede of the audience is a well-known example. While the search for movement and illusion already established a link between baroque and cinema, it is in that the baroque made his entrance as a new form of cinema in the film critics' vocabulary.
The literary developments of the baroque led to a set of definitions detached from its art historical context. The baroque became, from then on, a tool to examine a work with, a tool which is setting out its specificities as a style hyperbolic, complex, accumulative, decorative , a state of mind mix of genres, taste for contrasts, antithesis, paradoxes, for surprises and the singular, for the obscure and mysterious , and a dynamic preeminence given to movement, ellipsis and helices.
Thus defined the baroque became an easily applicable term to most artistic forms. The critics who saw the film as the revelation of a new form of cinema developed the idea further and extended the term baroque to the films of Orson Welles, Federico Fellini, Robert Aldrich or George Cukor. They hailed the baroque as a new age of the cinema:. It is another age in cinema, which in the same movement, makes and reveals the baroque expression, that of the directors of the accomplished and complex form, multiple and virtuoso, symbolic and singular, an age which would start with the Wellesiens manifesto, would be realized by Ophuls and would drain a whole block of modern cinema: Bergman, Hitchcock, Aldrich, Fellini, Kurosawa, Astruc An age which, by the ceaseless metamorphosis of forms, would succeed in the history of cinema to Hollywood classicism with its dry, simple, pure, ordained, efficient style.
Thus leaving the baroque manifesto hanging. The notion will return during the s with the apparition of a darker and self-reflexive cinema. However it is the term mannerism that will be retained to describe this cinema more inclined toward citations and parody. The term baroque may be one of the most un-thought of the cinematographic critic. Burgeoning very frequently in film reviews, it is almost always used in its archaic acceptation: bizarre, unusual, exuberant He warns against the uses of a term, which, if often applied is at the risk of losing all specificity and, ultimately, all interest.
To the question as to what cinema looks for in the baroque, Aubron suggests that it may be a return to the world. Thus, the notion of the baroque that has been so far developed in film critic is mostly issue from its literary associations and has suffered from a tendency to expand indefinitely. To approach the relationship between baroque and cinema, it may be necessary, on the one hand, to go back to the definitions of the baroque as a style in the history of art, and on the other hand, to avoid too much generalization in remaining focused on a specific set of films.
As it happens the first two terms are applied by David Bordwell and his collaborators in their study of cinema, The Classical Hollywood Cinema , so that we may draw parallels between their respective evolutions. This was a period during which a system of representation was progressively established in Hollywood. This system aims to ensure a smooth narrative continuity:.
The number of possible narratives is unlimited. Historically, however, the cinema has tended to be dominated by a single mode of narrative form. The authors believe that by the classical system was fully developed and continued to reign over cinematic representation up to circa If, then, other systems of representation were to appear, the classical system would remain the reference from which the others would demarcate themselves.
Following the course of art history, after the classicism of the Renaissance, there is a mannerist and then a baroque period. These two terms have appeared, sometimes rather confusedly in film theory to qualify films made since Citizen Kane Orson Welles, They both emerge from the classical system of representation but mannerism is more of a sophisticated ending to the Renaissance than a new style, as Erwin Panofsky has described:. The style freezes, crystallizes, adorns itself of the smoothness and hardness of a glaze, while its movements, which tend to an excess of grace, are at the same time, constrained and stifled.
The whole of the composition become a battlefield where contradictory forces confront each other, tangled up within an infinite tension. The cinematic equivalent would be found in a sophisticated and reflexive cinema, for which formal variations over the classical system has become the goal.
The baroque shares this dependence from the classical system but absorbs it into another view of the world and takes it into another realm of representation. Any given work of art is always larger than the label trying to contain it. Thus the only interest in approaching a film as baroque is to suggest new possibilities that will enrich the experience of the film.
It is to this end that this study will investigate the films of David Lynch as possibly resonant with a baroque aesthetic. David Lynch was born in in Missoula, Montana. He made his first short film, while studying in Philadelphia, Six Men Getting Sick , from a desire to see his figures move and for the sound, as told by Michel Chion:. And, one day, something clicked, though he could not have known that this would be a definitive turning point.
I was expecting a sound, or maybe the wind, to come out. I also wanted the edges to disappear. I wanted to get into the inside. It was spatial After a couple of shorts, The Alphabet , The Grandmother , and a first feature length film made with the help of the AFI, Eraserhead - which took five years in the making - David Lynch moved into major studio productions with The Elephant Man He had some difficult experiences notably with Dune where he found that the demands made by a large production did not fit his intuitive method of working.
He managed to find a place within the studio system without altering his approach to filmmaking with Blue Velvet It was produced by Dino De Laurentiis, like Dune , but on a much smaller budget thus giving him more freedom. While the success of Twin Peaks gave him more independence, his later forays into television On the Air and Hotel Room , did not meet with the same success. If sound and movement have been the decisive factors influencing his shift to films, Lynch's cinema has an arresting visual quality giving a careful attention to textures and colors as well as the lighting of his scenes - often demanding technical prowess from his cinematographers.
The work of David Lynch may in certain respects qualify only too easily for a reductive understanding of baroque - the extravagant settings and the weird or excessive behaviours of its characters. But the affinities go further and develop in unexpected directions. The films of David Lynch have often been submitted to a psychoanalytical interpretation for which many of their aspects lend themselves rather easily.
Semiotic and psychoanalytical analyses of films can often fail by an excess of interpretation, thus pin-pointing the meaning of images as if it was a text to be read and emptying them of their complexity. On the other hand a textual analysis is at risk of remaining too formal, as remarked by the authors of Aesthetics of Film :.
By setting out to return to the primacy of the signifier, textual analysis reveals its concern not to leap immediately to an interpretative reading. This study will keep to a formal approach to Lynch's films but will try to avoid a purely descriptive analysis. The classical Hollywood cinema will be the contrasting partner of a possible baroque cinema. The first chapter, Narrative Continuities, will transpose the linear rendering of the form of the Renaissance to a linear progression of the narrative in classical films. It will suggest the possibility of a non-linear continuity in the sequence of actions in time and space.
The second chapter, The Shot of Ambiguity, is concerned with the conception of the shot. It will draw parallels between the classical composition by planes and the development of editing in the classical system. The composition in depth of the baroque could find its translation into movements of camera and a more active depth of field.
It will develop the question of point-of-view and the subjectivity of the image. The third chapter, The Montage of Confusion, based on the notion of closed and open form, will be concerned with the montage of the film. The containment of the classical form is found in the montage of the classical film leaving nothing without resolution and thus controlling meaning. The open form will bring a form of montage which will multiply possibilities and leaves the spectator make his own interpretation. The multiplicity and unity of the fourth principle, which concern the relative independence of the elements of composition, will deal with the organisation of the elements of the film in the fourth chapter, The Texture of Film.
In the classical film the parts of a film are hierarchically organised according to their relevance to the narrative. The baroque unity could emerge from the absence of such distinction making an object or a particular texture as important to the overall structure than a scene of action. This will develop into a consideration of textures as a formative element. The last principle concerns the treatment of light and darkness, clearness and unclearness.
This concern with light easily transposes to the different types of lighting used in films. This will lead to the consideration of the realistic, expressionist or moralistic content of light and darkness in the fifth chapter, The Dark Depths. Each chapter does not so much examine a new aspect of the work considered than it proposes a new perspective on an aspect already approached. Repetitions and cross-over are bound to occur, but each part should have its own proceeding thus bringing new developments to attention.
A few words should be said about the choice of presentation. This work uses a large number of quotes which are divided into two categories. They structure - and resonate with - the main text, but they are not integrated into it. This choice was made to avoid an unfruitful mix of too many discourses; the questions of baroque and aesthetics are thus kept close but do not interfere with those of film theory and the cinema of David Lynch.
The second set of quotes, being part of the text, are conventionally used, however if they are given a pre-eminent part, it is in an attempt to keep the diversity in the expression of the different ideas. The quotes are used as voices resounding in harmony or dissonance with each other. Everything depends on how far a preponderating significance is assigned to or withdrawn from the edges, whether they must be read as line or not.
In the one case, the line means a track moving evenly round the form, to which the spectator can confidently entrust himself; in the other, the picture is dominated by lights and shadows, not exactly indeterminate, yet without stress on the boundaries. Only here and there does a bit of palpable outline emerge: it has ceased to exist as a uniformly sure guide through the sum of the form.
This first chapter will look into the development of and the form taken by the relationship between narrative and cinema and how one form, the classical narrative, has come to dominate the feature length film. Films have come to be associated with fictional narratives. This led to the situation described here by Christian Metz:. So narrative cinema is not just a genre in the possible cinematic expressions, it is the dominant form of the medium.
The possibilities offered by the narrative form are multiple, but as Bordwell and Thompson remarked in Film Art: An Introduction , one form has prevailed over others, that of classical cinema. Typically, a narrative begins with one situation; a series of changes occurs according to a pattern of cause and effect; finally, a new situation arises that brings about the end of the narrative. Thus are identified three aspects of narrative: causality, time and space. The narrative relies on the stability of these traits to ensure its continuity.
The time and space of the narrative are subjected to the logic of the action. The events are organized in the chronological order offering the clearest understanding of their causality: such as flashbacks or flash-forwards according to need. However, the classical narrative will usually be careful to give the necessary clues to enable the spectator to reorganize the events into a linear chronological order.
The same rules apply for space, if space is presented in fragments on the screen to highlight the most important actions; it is nevertheless narratively maintained in its continuity. If, for instance, a character has to cross a long distance between two shots, a narrative clue will indicate to the viewer that some time has elapsed enabling the character to effect his move. Thus, in a classical narrative, if the plot introduces disruptions in cause and effect, time or space, it ultimately refers back to a linear continuity.
Each effect has its cause, the time sequence is restored and the space is Euclidian. Bordwell and Thompson conclude:. Finally, most classical narrative films display strong degrees of closure at the end. Leaving no loose ends unresolved, these films seek to end their causal chains with a final effect. We usually learn the fate of each character, the answer to each mystery, and the outcome of each conflict. Filmic narrativity, by becoming stable through convention and repetition over innumerable films, has gradually shaped itself into forms that are more or less fixed, but certainly not immutable.
In the Renaissance every architectural member was simply and purely stated, while in the baroque, members were multiplied. This resulted in an illusion of movement, a suggestion that the form had first to move into its allotted position. The critical discourse accompanying the new cinema of the s often remarked upon its departure from narrativity to explain its novelty.
That in the past the cinema was entirely narrative and no longer is so today, or is so at least to a much lesser extent. I believe on the contrary that the modern film is more narrative, and more satisfyingly so, and that the main contribution of the new cinema is to have enriched the filmic narrative. Metz pursued the same approach elsewhere when discussing the conditions for a change of the narrative form:. The originality of creative artists consists, here as elsewhere, in tricking the code, or at least in using it ingenuously, rather than attacking it directly or in violating it-and still less in ignoring it.
Thus, it is within the narrative cinema itself that new forms of cinema developed, in using the existing code as a springboard, they have presented the viewer with the representation of a less clear-cut world than the classical cinema. In , Orson Welles made Citizen Kane , which epitomizes many changes within the cinematic form.
Another film articulated around an unfathomable character, is Joseph Mankiewicz's The Barefoot Contessa It tells the story of Maria Vargas from the point of view of the different people involved. But the film tells more about the narrators than about Maria, she is the blind spot of the film as if the radiance of her beauty was warding off any possible comprehension. The first scene of the film reflects its whole structure; in a Spanish cabaret, a producer and his director wait to see Maria Vargas dance.
When she does, the camera moves over the faces of the spectators and their various reactions, from ecstasy to jealousy, but the viewer of the film is left to his or her imagination. These two films are examples of narratives that cannot rely on the characters traits to play a causal role to further the action, because the characters have no fixed traits. The undecidability of the character personality shapes the narrative: endlessly revolving around a blind spot.
Some filmmakers have taken a more subjective approach to time, not necessarily referred to a linear chronology. Raoul Ruiz did not attempt to explain the events recounted for those who had not read the book, rather he plunged the viewer into the stream of memories and fantasies of the narrator. The chronology of the events is remodelled around the perceptions of the protagonist, as if time had become a malleable substance to be shaped by his stream of consciousness. Accordingly, the opening credits rolls over images of a stream whose waters flow from right to left - which, within occidental conventions of narrative representation is textually understood to mean backward.
In the film there is only a token attempt at pretending that the space of the action is any other than a sound-stage; there is no spatial relationship between the different spaces. Even for the two scenes happening in the street - when Don Lockwood jumps into Kathy Selden's car to escape his fans and the scene of the title song - it functions as an independent location rather than a junction between two places. The film exhibits and plays on its artificial settings, and even uses them as a narrative element in the scene of the love declaration of Don to Kathy: Don uses the available instrument of a sound stage to set the perfect romantic scene: sunset, gentle breeze, moonlight and so on.
For Dogville Lars Von Triers set the scene in one huge sound stage with little else other than a few props and lights to make it a little village in the Rocky Mountains. Von Triers' deployment of camera movements ensures that the film has little to do with theatre - from his use of elaborated crane shots to handheld camera. Thus filmmakers have never been completely subservient to the classical narrative developed by Hollywood, and have used reflexive or disruptive approaches to it.
However the classical narrative remains the framework from which other forms of narrative can expand. Essentialism makes a classic of Descartes, while Leibniz's thought appears to be a profound mannerism. Classicism needs a solid and constant attribute for substance, but mannerism is fluid, and the spontaneity of manners replaces the essentiality of the attribute. From his earlier shorts The Alphabet or the Grandmother , David Lynch has used the narrative form and has remained within its realm since then. In this quote she reflects upon the particular influence of Francis Bacon's paintings:.
For Bacon, narrative reality is inherent in the way that the image can cut through the static of its own conventions and those of the coherent self to reach the movement of feelings, the energies of the subconscious and the nerves. That is only possible if the artist permits such fissures to occur in the composing process. Narrative freedom does not mean indifference to the story, which is used as a pretext for saying something else, but rather such an intense belief in the story that like a child, one would like to draw it out as far and as literally as possible.
If Lynch has chosen the narrative form, it is as a necessary framework to express the tension with non-narrative elements. Thus developing a personal approach to such elements as the causal sequence of events and their relation to time and space. They are thus quite distinct from the notion of the subject as offered by Lacanian psychoanalysis. The notion is developed here by B. Herzogenrath in reference to Lost Highway :. Lacanian psychoanalysis offers a theory of the subject that does without concepts such as unity, origin, continuity.
It goes from the assumption of a fundamentally split subject and thus comes up with a model of subjectivity that grounds itself on a constitutive lack rather than wholeness. Thus, his theory lends itself as a useful and relevant background for the analysis of a sample of cinema that negates the idea of the autonomous, stable individual.
This fluctuating identity of the subject was already at the core of the earlier examples of Citizen Kane and The Barefoot Contessa. Lynch however takes a different approach; he is less concerned about the mysteries of identity than by the difficulty for the subject to find a place in the world.
As such his characters often seem to conform to type, but then, under changing circumstances they shift their appearances; they may change type. Back at Betty's apartment, the layers are reconfigured as Rita takes on Betty's appearance by covering her luxuriant, dark hair with a short, blonde wig. The narrative excuse for this is that Rita is fearful that the murder of Selwyn means that the thugs chasing her are getting closer.
But the tonal weight of this image is the move of Rita into Betty's place as the dominant personality, which she becomes when Betty invites her to share the bed rather than sleep on the couch and Rita initiates sex. The change in the relationship between Betty and Rita is thus signified by the wig, a sort of hat of authority.
Lynch's characters are exactly as they appear at a given moment but their appearance may change. In Fire Walk With Me, Laura Palmer is a regular high-school girl, a provocative seductress and a disturbed teenager; she is the sum of her images and cannot be reduced to one.
In Mulholland Drive , Betty and Diane are one and the same: the hopeful young actress coming to Hollywood and the sour rejected woman seeking revenge. But, the difference is, she assumes a different name for each of her selves, as pointed out by Martha Nochimson:. In life we maintain continuous signs of identity, like our names. But our young inexperienced dreams routinely undergo such transformations, as they collide with forces unleashed by power establishments and our own internal obsessions that a new name and identity would be entirely in keeping with the profound alterations in us, especially the commutation of early assumption about our possibilities.
The enthusiastic Betty did not develop her potential to be an actress, which she seems to possess given her performance during the audition, and became Diane, the bitter woman. In Lost Highway the transformative process was more brutal with the violent metamorphosis of Fred Madison into Pete Dayton. There is some resonance to the film in this comment by Bazin on Fellini:. If there are, still, tensions and climaxes in the films of Fellini which leave nothing to be desired as regards drama or tragedy, it is because, in the absence of traditional dramatic causality, the incidents in his films develop effects of analogy and echo.
Fellini's hero never reaches the final crisis which destroys him or saves him by a progressive dramatic linking but because the circumstances somehow or other affect him, build up inside him like the vibrant energy in a resonating body. He does not develop; he is transformed; overturning finally like an iceberg whose center of buoyancy has shifted unseen.
In the first part of the film the character of Fred Madison seems to be under a constant pressure from the inside, a constant ontological difficulty with being. The accumulation of energies that cannot find an expression, literally transforms Fred's body, as if trying on another shape for a fit. Bazin's thoughts about the relationship between events and characters in Fellini's films seem to be particularly relevant to the films of David Lynch:.
As for the characters themselves, they exist and change only in reference to a purely internal kind of time. In moving from the bill to the head, down the S curve, around the body to the legs and feet, and back to the bill, we would seem to have the organic form of the duck. And yet Lynch asserts that the secret of the ocular rapture is the eye of the duck, disconnected from the connected lines of the duck's body but the glowing impetus for all the movement that radiates mysteriously around it.
The narrative structure of Lynch's films does not follow a simple cause and effect reaction; the events portrayed relate to each other in a more layered way. Charles Drazin commented on Blue Velvet :. With its hoodlums and car chases, Blue Velvet has many of the trappings of a Hollywood movie but a different operating system. It has the logic of a dream, where you find yourself in situations without knowing how you got into them, where events and settings reflect an inner rather than an outer reality.
It is less a linear narrative than a coalescence of concerns. And in this landscape of the mind, the normal rules of time and space are secondary. Further comments on Lynch's narrative approach are made by Thierry Jousse; after comparing the screenplay of Lost Highway to the film, he observed that most of the scenes which had been cut out had explanatory function:.
This narrative trimming has allowed him Lynch to reach a disturbing opacity proceeding from a series of striking rhythmic punches. In avoiding simple resolutions, Lynch's films offer the viewer a multiplied range of possibilities. The priority which they [the neorealists] accord incident over plot has led De Sica and Zavattini to replace plot as such with a microaction based on an infinitely divisible attention to the complexities in even the most ordinary events.
This in itself rules out the slightest hierarchy, whether psychological, dramatic, or ideological, among the incidents that are portrayed. Lynch's films sometimes give the impression that they might spiral down into one moment infinitely extended, as remarked by Charles Drazin:. Pruned of the narrative strings, an incident which would otherwise have been a flat A-to-B moment takes on depth and richness. The discovery of Alvin, lying down with all his lucidity, surrounded by friends panicking without doing anything, is the occasion of a scene, oscillating between burlesque and tragic, at risk to go on indefinitely, like Lynch likes them.
The characters of this scene know what they are supposed to do, but somehow do not do it, brought to a standstill by their uncertainties.
They are not sure of their interpretation of the events; whether or not Alvin really needs help. Another scene in the same film is commented on by Joe Kember in his essay on Lynch. Here he describes Rose Straight at the checkout of the grocery store paying for sausages her father will take on his journey:. Rose attempts to conform to the conversational rationale in the store, but struggles against her speech impediment within the formality of their polite dialogue.
Speaking at cross-purposes, they misunderstand one another, and the conversation descends into a series of double takes and non sequiturs. The two women, smiling good-naturedly, pursue a gestural conversation with little more success. The facial expression of each is captured by a series of reactions shots, and the scene draws to an abrupt close when they mug back and forth their mutual dislike for braunshweiger. Thus, the scene shows what a banal exchange at the checkout involves: the conformity to social behavior and the effort required when the body is not perfectly disciplined in this.
Something like, In Eraserhead , the micro eternity that is folded into the few seconds too long that the elevator doors take to slide shut on Henry. The irrational number implies the descent of a circular arc on the straight line of rational points, and exposes the latter as a false infinity, a simple undefinite that includes an infinity of lacunaes; that is why the continuous is a labyrinth that cannot be represented by a straight line.
The straight line always has to be intermingled with the curved lines. The chronology in Lynch's film is generally continuous, which does not mean that it is straight. It means the action is shown in continuity without flashbacks, flash forward or jump in time. There are a few exceptions such as, in Wild at Heart , the flashback of the fire where Lula's father dies, or in Fire Walk With Me , the time gap between the Teresa Banks case and the story of Laura Palmer.
Generally, the events happen consecutively in time. What is disorientating to the viewer is the convoluted curves this continuity can take.
Instead of setting up their medical ID for the first time, would-be customers would have their records already on file. This was related to many earlier pictures Ensor had made of comic figures such as the clown Pierrot, but includes clergy- men, military figures, and members of the bourgeoisie as players in his sardonic assemblage. Fellini's hero never reaches the final crisis which destroys him or saves him by a progressive dramatic linking but because the circumstances somehow or other affect him, build up inside him like the vibrant energy in a resonating body. They provided shel- ter, although the name of one preserved stretch near Dijksmude of Death; fig. The first scene of the film reflects its whole structure; in a Spanish cabaret, a producer and his director wait to see Maria Vargas dance.
There is no clear distinction between the different levels in the narrative, as remarked by Eric Bryant Rhodes about Lost Highway :. Lost Highway is a film that would appear to have a complete disregard for differences in ontological levels. The confusion is already there in Eraserhead , in the moments where Henry is in the radiator with the girl.
Initially, it seems easy enough to assimilate the radiator to a portal of dreams, but as the film goes on, this distinction becomes increasingly difficult to ascertain. Blue Velvet presents itself as straightforward enough, but the scenes in Dorothy's apartment, on the seventh floor, have a dreamlike structure. In many respects they do not belong to the same reality plane as the scenes with Sandy for instance - Dorothy's apartment seems to be a projection of Jeffrey's fantasies. The time structure of Lost Highway is a kind of flattening out of the fantasy curves, all events follow each other but, ultimately, they revolve and end when they started.
This loop structure is described by Thierry Jousse:. The time loop of Lost Highway is very strange. Although the film's plot is ultimately linear enough and supposes a chronological succession, everything happens as if the relationship between past, present and future did not follow any hierarchy anymore. Without explicitly changing the chronology, Lynch makes it impossible to identify any given moment. The confusion between past, present, future, dreams and reality is also woven into the narrative structure of Mulholland Drive.
Like Lost Highway , the film is split in two parts articulated around one character's change. However this time there is no physical transformation, but an alteration of identity. The very title of The Straight Story , as Michel Chion pointed out, is a graphic contradiction with its two sinuous capital S. However this straightforward trajectory is doubled up by the backward movement of Alvin Straight's memory, as he recounts events of his life to people he meets through chance encounters.
And what started as a straight journey across fields ends as a sinuous progression through wooded hills. The final meeting of the two brothers, Alvin and Lyle, with its vista of a starry sky, seems to bring Alvin back to a unified self. Chris Rodley: I wonder if you could elaborate on a sense of place in terms of Twin Peaks.
Most American TV series have no sense of place whatsoever, even though so many of them take their names from specific cities or places. David Lynch: Right. In my mind this was a place surrounded by woods. That's important. For as long as anybody can remember, woods have been mysterious places. So they were a character in my mind. And then other characters came to our minds. And as you start peopling this place, one thing leads to another. And somewhere along the line you have a certain type of community. Then one day I was walking around a derelict hospital and suddenly a little wind-like thing came and entered me, and I was in that time - not only in that time in the room - but I knew that time.
As was the chronology, space in Lynch's films is continuous; there are very few spatial jumps. When the characters move - Wild at Heart, The Straight Story - the space they cross is vividly present all along. In The Straight Story there is the feel of the tarmac going slowly by, the movements of the combine harvesters in the fields, the change of nature from late summer to autumn and the passage from the flat cultivated countryside of Laurens to wooded hills once the Mississippi has been crossed. But, no more than time could be represented by a straight line, could the space of Lynch's films be represented within a single plane.
What makes the new harmony is, first, the distinction between two levels or floors, which resolves tension or allots the division. The upper level is closed, as a pure inside without an outside, a weightless, closed interiority, its walls hung with spontaneous folds that are now only those of a soul or a mind. Martha Nochimson has asserted that:. Lynch has directly stated that not only does everything look and sound different in the Red Room than it would in ordinary reality but also that the Red Room is a different place for everyone who enters it.
Thus the room changes properties whether it is agent Cooper or Laura who enters. In the series, scenes in the room with agent Cooper, were acted and spoken backward and then projected in reverse, which gave them that strange forwardness. Don't have an account? Rights and Permissions.
This chapter examines in the broad context Clouzot and his cinema, situating him in the wider context of French history and cinema in the mid-twentieth century. The chapter explores the forces, personal, political and social, that shaped his career as a filmmaker. It also highlights the extent to which his films propose a consistent, personal vision, and the way they reflect the important social and aesthetic changes of his time. Furthermore, it explores the question of whether Clouzot qualifies as an auteur , as an original and innovative creator, or whether he was essentially a technically brilliant craftsman, a skilled manipulator of audiences, who produced a series of arresting genre films.
Finally, it asks if his films were influenced in any way by the rise of the New Wave of French directors and critics from the late s, or was it that they remained rooted in what some hostile commentators saw as a conventional and stultifying classicism. User Account Individual sign in Create Profile. More Sign In via Institution. Search Close. Advanced Search Help. Christopher Lloyd. Clouzot and the cinema in Henri-Georges Clouzot.