The Mysterious Mr. Lynch27 Oct, 2008 By: Billy Gil
David Lynch’s work means many things to many people, whether it’s the industrial night terror of Eraserhead or Mulholland Dr.'s Hollywood dream projected as a rotting corpse. One thing his work usually isn’t is easy, or direct.
Perhaps fittingly Lynch is startlingly straightforward in person. Lynch spoke with Home Media Magazine about his upcoming David Lynch: The Lime Green Set, debuting Nov. 18 from Ryko/Absurda at $179.99. The 10-disc set comes loaded with extras Lynch fans now know to expect from his releases, after an extensive release of his Inland Empire last year. The Green set includes a remastered version of Eraserhead; the Eraserhead soundtrack; The Short Films of David Lynch; The Elephant Man; the home video debuts of The Elephant Man Extras and Industrial Symphony No. 1; Wild at Heart; Blue Velvet, with a new, Lynch-approved 5.1 sound mix; Dumbland, a collection of animated shorts from his Web site; a booklet featuring imagery from Lynch; and a mystery disc.
HM: How was it decided upon what would be included in the Lime Green Set?
Lynch: Well I think it was kind of like what was available. No. 1, it was kind of a wish list kind of thing. … But it’s a 10-disc set, so it’s got a lot of stuff.
HM: Can you tell us anything about what’s on the mystery disc?
Lynch: I can. Screeners are going out so people are going to know. But it’s got some very important things in my book. One of the things it has is 32 scenes never seen before from Wild at Heart. Partial scenes, extended scenes and complete scenes from a work print that was found, so it’s funky quality, but all of them have been edited as much as I could edit them with what was available and all of them have been mixed. Also on that disc is, I had a foot locker, and this foot locker hadn’t been opened, well it was opened I guess in ’86, and but it hadn’t been open since the ’60s. It has 16mm experiments I did in Philadelphia in the late ’60s. One of the things is a fictitious Anacin commercial. Do you know what Anacin is?
Lynch: Anacin is like Aspirin. I don’t know what happened to Anacin. And then it’s got a thing called “Absurd Encounter with Fear.” And then a kind of montage of these 16mm experimental things with a few pieces from [short films] “The Alphabet” and “The Grandmother.”
HM: There are a few things you’ve done I know fans have been asking for on disc for a while — cancelled ’90s comedy TV series “On the Air,” Web series “Rabbits” and anything from the original “Mullholland Dr.” TV pilot, for instance. If not included on the new set, are there plans to bring any of that material to DVD?
Lych: The original episodes of “Rabbits” are on the mystery disc. “On the Air” is not on there, nor is “Hotel Room,” but we’re working on those things. It’s always rights issues.
HM: Can you describe the extras for The Elephant Man and the booklet of rare imagery?
Lynch: Well, it’s not so rare. It’s a 40-page booklet. The Elephant Man Extras is the story of the Elephant Man and the story of The Elephant Man film itself.
HM: Inland Empire was the first time you allowed chapter stops on a DVD of your work. Will there be chapter stops on any of the discs in this release?
Lynch: I think there are chapter stops, I’m not positive. You know, I was against them because I wanted the film to be seen in purity. And then I changed because I think most people see it in its purity. But even in the theater, if in the middle of a film, you have to take a leak, during the time you’re leaking, you’re missing that part of the film. Correct? So this is even more assurance that you’re gonna see the whole thing and get back to the point you left. I think it’s not so bad.
HM: Speaking of Inland Empire, it seemed a project that was more focused on a DVD release than a theatrical release. Do you find that having a limited theatrical run and focusing on DVD allows for more creative freedom?
Lynch: No it wasn’t, not a bit. What I learned is that theatrical is really — except for big blockbusters — theatrical is on the decline. It’s more often an advertisement for the DVD. It’s not a moneymaking thing for me. But it’s very sad because that’s the big screen experience. I wish it was different, but it’s not really happening right now. We did the biggest theatrical release we could afford to do, but I don’t think it generated much money. Inland Empire was three hours long, and no one understood it, so it had a couple of things going against it. Some people understood it.
Creative freedom is something everyone should have, no matter where the film is going to go. Creative freedom. Why would you want to do anything without creative freedom? It’s absurd. … The film is the thing. Make the film so that it feels correct to you with total freedom.
HM: What are your thoughts on Blu-ray Disc? Do you want to release any of your films on the format?
Lynch: Blu-ray is just high-def, right? I’m all for the quality of digital. It is getting better and better and better and will continue to get better. So all these formats, I’m totally for it. … But I think it’s gonna all pretty soon end up on the Internet, super high-quality. DVD and hardware things are gonna kinda go.
HM: To me, Blu-ray Disc seems ideal for your work, in that, barring BD Live, it's all about presenting a film in its most pristine version, visually and soundwise. But at the same time, there can be issues with grain, and you can lose some of the grittiness of film. Do you think Blu-ray and high-definition go too far in cleaning up sound and picture quality?
Lynch: Eraserhead was cleaned and remastered in digital and it looks better than it ever did on film, and it sounds great. In film, even though we love the qualty of film, no two prints are the same, all kinds of horrible things can go wrong — tearing, dirt, hairs. You can break the film, and they splice it back wrong. ... It’s a nightmare. Ancient technology. … You can clean digital and perfect it and make it the way you wanted it. It’s very, very good.
HM: I have to say that one of the funniest things I saw all year was a YouTube PSA that was made with you speaking against watching films on the iPhone. Do you still feel that way, and how do you feel about other forms of film and TV watching through digital means, such as downloading or streaming movies online?
Lynch: Well I think a feature film, it really wants to be on a giant screen with killer sound so that person has … an experience in another world. … On a little tiny phone screen, it’s very different. It’s very different to have that experience. So it’s to me a bit of a sadness. Now some things go on a small screen, and they’re not hurt — not at all — and it’s fine. And if those earphones are good, you can get a good feeling from the sound, and if you hold the things close, it’s somewhat the same ratio if you were in the back row of a theater, know what I mean? … It’s not quite the same experience, and I think people who see films like that … they don’t necessarily have that deep experience, and it’s a sadness. Now, home systems are getting better and better, you’ve got great sound … and you have a chance to go into that world.
HM: I would say you have a dynamic view toward technology as it relates to film. Where do you see people watching movies down the line? Do you think they’ll still go to the theaters and buy DVDs?
Lynch: Well some people will do that, for sure. There’s a thing I’ve heard, that a lot of people are getting into 3-D movies to activate the theatrical experience. … That could be cool. Like I said, I think Blu-rays could rejuvinate a failing DVD thing, and people would like to have a hard copy of things they love. … It would be great if the screens got bigger and keep up with the quality and sound, get really great sound at home. And then it would be a great thing.
HM: Something else I've noticed is that you seem to have come around to allowing people insight into your creative process with the books Lynch on Lynch and Catching the Big Fish, as well as documentary Lynch (One) and some of the special features on Inland Empire. What's your take on that now, and do you still feel that people should come to their own conclusions when it comes to interpreting your work?
Lynch: I don’t talk about those things (what the films mean). You can tell stories and do certain things, but I believe you should be very careful not to putrefy the experience of film. … I think director commentaries, once you’ve seen those, you’ll never see a film again in its purity.
HM: Inland Empire was just loaded with special features. How do you approach extras on a DVD? Would you ever include bloopers on one of your DVDs?
Lynch; If they were cool bloopers, maybe. I dunno. I changed my mind a little bit about extras because I think as long as it doesn’t hurt the film, deleted scenes of some of these films are really great to see on their own, not back in the film, but on their own. I’m kind of for that.
HM: What's next?
Lynch: I don’t know, Billy. I’m working on a painting right now.