The idea tells you everything. Lots of times I get ideas, I fall in love with them. Those ones you fall in love with are really special ideas. And, in some ways, I always say, when something’s abstract, the abstractions are hard to put into words unless you’re a poet. These ideas you somehow know. And cinema is a language that can say abstractions. I love stories, but I love stories that hold abstractions—that can hold abstractions. And cinema can say these difficult-to-say-in-words things. A lot of times, I don’t know the meaning of the idea, and it drives me crazy. I think we should know the meaning of the idea. I think about them, and I tell this story about my first feature Eraserhead. I did not know what these things meant to me—really meant. And on that particular film, I started reading the Bible. And I’m reading the Bible, going along, and suddenly—there was a sentence. And I said, forget it! That’s it. That’s this thing. And so, I should know the meaning for me, but when things get abstract, it does me no good to say what it is. All viewers on the surface are all different. And we see something, and that’s another place where intuition kicks in: an inner-knowingness. And so, you see a thing, you think about it, and you feel it, and you go and you sort of know something inside. And you can rely on that. Another thing I say is, if you go—after a film, withholding abstractions—to a coffee place—having coffee with your friends, someone will say something, and immediately you’ll say, “No, no, no, no, that’s not what that was about.” You know? “This is what it was about.” And so many things come out, it’s surprising. So you do know. For yourself. And what you know is valid.
For the last number of years, Lynch consistently reestablished himself and his place in film beyond the confines of his own aesthetic. At least, to those who think of his aesthetic as quirky and weird. The advent of digital technology and his appropriation of it greatly redefined his expectations of and approach to his work, leading not to feature films—he hasn’t made one since 2006’s Inland Empire—but to a post-cinema, enviable by any standard.
It’s so freeing, it’s beautiful in a way, to have a great failure. There’s nowhere to go but up.
If for many, Inland Empire was a failure, personally, it was nothing of the sort. Lynch’s grand experiment may or may not be his best, but its tendrils open a world to viewers. This Lynch is a truly great chronicler of not only creativity, but of the human spirit, committed to narrative as testament.
Amidst all the important things that can happen in a 24 hour period, Lynch has released a short documentary about the facility that produces his limited edition prints. Processed in high-contrast black and white, the film is simple. It presents a moment in time and allows facts to become truths.
This is not out of nowhere. Years ago, Lynch started Interview Project, which is still one of the greatest gifts to culture I have ever witnessed. With it, Lynch presented short documentaries of people found on travels across the country, their voices telling their stories simply and succinctly.
I thought he couldn’t do anything better, but he’s proven me incorrect again. Restricted to the simplest attributes of image and sound, Lynch forged a place among the greatest documentary filmmakers. Idem Paris bodes well for what he may still achieve in the medium. It’s one of the most beautiful films I have ever seen and easily one of my favorite products of the Lynch process. We may never see another feature, but Lynch still has ideas.
We’re all like detectives in life. There’s something at the end of the trail that we’re all looking for.