Tuesday, August 25, 2015

David Lynch's "The Alphabet"


I have already established what a fan I am of Night Flight.

Thank God it lives on through the pure grace of the interwebs. I considered for a moment blogging about one of its recent articles profiling sex star Traci Lords and how New Wave Hookers changed porn forever. It was going to be undertaken with the same motivation as my "Page Three Girl" experiments: shamelessly drive more traffic to ESE. Fortunately, another Night Flight article caught my eye and I have decided to dedicate my time to it instead, thus sparing us all the skeevy (if fun) feeling of appealing to the lowest common denominator.

Fear not, prudes everywhere.  An article on David Lynch has come to the rescue. 

Just let those sentences sink in for a moment.

Lynch is one of my favorite film directors and like his other fans, I was quite happy to hear that he is returning to direct a re-boot of his phenomenal Twin Peaks for Showtime. There were a few hiccups in the process. Lynch left the production at one point but has sense returned to the helm, the miniseries expanding now from nine to 18 episodes. The downside being that Twin Peaks will not debut until 2017. In the meantime, Night Flight has taken a moment to examine the earliest entries in Lynch's portfolio.

He is best known for mindbending but groundbreaking films such as Eraserhead and Blue Velvet, all fun stuff if you really want to freak out the more mundane in your social circles. Before either of those, Lynch was of course a film and art student at the Pennsylvanian Academy of Fine Arts. It was during his time there that he shot his first live-action film, The Alphabet, which you can see a segment of at the above link.

The film stars Peggy Lynch, David Lynch's wife at the time. She sits before the camera and chants the letters of the alphabet to a series of images of horses. At the end she dies, hemorrhaging blood all over white bed sheets. Lynch also added in a distorted tape recording of his baby daughter crying for effect. What was the inspiration for this opus? Well, it is David Lynch and I caution you against questioning genius. Just because you don't understand it doesn't mean it's not art or that the motives behind the piece are meant to be understood.

Pretentiousness aside, here's what Lynch said about it:

"Peggy’s niece was having a bad dream one night and was saying the alphabet in her sleep in a tormented way. So that’s sort of what started The Alphabet going. The rest of it was just subconscious."

Interestingly enough, we see the same sorts of themes, a crying baby, a woman at home, et. al. present in Eraserhead. The overlaying of other images upon a primary image is also something quintessentially Lynch, as beautifully seen in his directing of Duran Duran's "Unstaged" concert. Sure, many other Durannies scratched their head at the wallpapered images of spinning bicycle wheels, bouncing stuffed animals, and grilling hot dogs, but I rolled about with glee, holding my stomach and squealing, "Wonderful! Wonderful!"

All right, maybe I wasn't that undignified, but I certainly take delight in weirdness.

Twin Peaks can't get here soon enough for me.


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