Through a body of work that has included films, sculptures, television soap opera,
documentaries, paintings, symphonies, pop albums and comedy shows David Lynch has
developed an instantly recognisable, idiosyncratic style which has permeated
everything he has touched. His themes and consistencies have been explored in a
wide variety of formats, narratives and contexts but it is in his films that they
are most prevalent, and perhaps, most personal.
His films defy description, necessitating a new classification; "Lynchian".
But, even with what may seem a very strong authorial signature such as his,
the consistency of style, theme and motif across his work may be more tenuous
than first perceived. Lynch's position as "Auteur" does not sit comfortably
with his use of genre; historical drama in The Elephant Man(1980), sci-fi in Dune(1984),
film noir in Blue Velvet(1986) and the road movie in Wild At Heart(1990).
Also, much of his work could be argued to fall under the wide banner of post-modernism,
a concept that seems initially to be incompatible with the idea of the single author as
the source of meaning in a text. There is also the paradox that a work who's mode of
production seems to defy the emphasis of the single author, the television soap opera
Twin Peaks(1989-90), still apparently bears the unique Lynch signature.
In the chapters that follow I analyse the films of David Lynch and discuss
the authorship issues they raise. In the first chapter I extensively analyse
Eraserhead(1976), using this as a template to sketch out Lynch's authorial signature.
From this I attempt a definition of the word "Lynchian".
In the subsequent chapters I take individual films from Lynch's oeuvre,
examine them and discuss some of the authorship issues they raise. In Chapter 2,
The Elephant Man and Dune form the basis for discussion on the Hollywood auteur,
the star system, genre and structuralism. Chapter 3 takes Blue Velvet as an example of
"post-modern" cinema and sees how this conflicts with the auteur theory. Finally, in
Chapter 4 I deal with the commerce of authorship using Wild At Heart as my example.
When time permits I would like to add further chapters covering
Twin Peaks, On The Air(1991), Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me(1992),
Lost Highway(1997), The Straight Story(1999) and Mulholland Drive(2002).