The BFI is hosting a celebration of David Lynch’s films with a retrospective of his work.
Lynch has been responsible for some of the most innovative, daring and talked-about films in the last 40 years of American cinema.
Throughout February all the filmmaker’s work, including his early shorts and feature films, will be screened at the BFI Southbank.
Tickets and full details are available from bfi.org.uk/southbank
Study Day: David Lynch: In Dreams
An afternoon of exploration and discussion of the dream worlds of David Lynch, tracing their genesis in the surrealism of the early European avant-gardes and the New American Cinema, considering frameworks for their interpretation through psychoanalysis and neuroscience, and exploring their legacy for artists and popular culture. Includes a rare screening of the Arena documentary Ruth Roses and Revolver (BBC 1987, dir Helen Gallacher, 47min), in which Lynch discusses the work of the surrealists.
Sat 11 Feb 13:00 – 17:00 NFT3
Season Introduction: David Lynch – The First Coming
His films are testament to his status as a nonconformist. But Lynch found his niche within the system rather than independently of it. As such he was obligated to come forward as a public figure. Taking the period between Eraserhead and Blue Velvet (1977-1986), season curator Antony Todd discusses Lynch’s passage from cult anonymity to the status of true auteur, and in doing so explores the emergence of ‘Lynch as personality’.
Wed 1 Feb 18:10 NFT3 Tickets £5
Eraserhead + Early Shorts
USA 1976. With Jack Nance. 88min. 15 + The Grandmother (1970, 34min), + The Amputee (1973, 5min) + The Alphabet (1968, 4min) Lynch’s early films owe more to the traditions of the European avant-gardes than to the guerrilla style adopted by the American underground filmmakers of the 1960s. Having impressed with The Grandmother, Lynch joined the Centre for Advanced Film Studies in LA where he took five years to produce his legendary cult horror about an anxious young man struggling with his crushing industrial environment and the premature birth of his mutant child. As MFB put it, an ‘absurdist, surrealist treat of repulsive beauty’.
Wed 1 Feb 20:10 NFT1 Introduced by Antony Todd, Tue 7 Feb 20:30 NFT1
The Elephant Man
USA 1980. With John Hurt, Anthony Hopkins, Anne Bancroft, John Gielgud. 123min. PG
The true story of John Merrick – a man with a congenital disease that covered his body with deforming tumors – is approached here with great respect for the subject matter. It is indeed the humanist element that triumphs, but Lynch again showed his skill for creating contained, expressionistic worlds. Through the black and white cinematography of Freddie Francis, the film superbly invokes the bleak mood of an industrial Victorian England.
Thu 2 Feb 18:15 NFT2, Sun 5 Feb 18:10 NFT3
USA 1984. With Kyle MacLachlan, Francesca Annis, Sting, Jurgen Prochnow. 136min. 70mm. PG
Given the producers’ demands that he stay true to the spirit of Frank Herbert’s 1960s million-selling novel, Lynch has all but disowned this medieval science fiction blockbuster. Yet the film retains something that is conspicuously Lynchian. Fans of the novel would agree that the story suffers from the need for compression, but the look of the film is like nothing seen before or since in the science fiction genre. Sat 4 Feb 17:40 NFT1, Fri 17 Feb 20:20 NFT1
USA 1986. With Kyle MacLachlan, Isabella Rossellini, Dennis Hopper, Dean Stockwell, Laura Dern. 120min
Kyle MacLachlan’s discovery of an ant-infested human ear in the Lumberton undergrowth initiates the teenage sleuth’s journey into the perilous unconscious of the suburban American dream – and 80s cinema is redefined. Lynch’s ambiguous moral stance on murder, mutilation and sadomasochism would not meet with everyone’s approval, but Blue Velvet was a bona fide cultural event and mainstream American cinema had a new auteur to celebrate.
Thu 2 Feb 20:40 NFT2, Sat 4 Feb 20:40 NFT1, Fri 24 Feb 20:40 NFT1
Wild at Heart
USA 1990. With Nicolas Cage, Laura Dern, Willem Dafoe, Diane Ladd, Harry Dean Stanton. 124min Wild at Heart, adapted from Barry Gifford’s book, stars Cage (Sailor Ripley) and Dern (Lula) as lovers on the run from a hit man enlisted to kill Sailor by Lula’s ‘wicked witch’ mother. With liberal references to The Wizard of Oz and Elvis, and an iconic role for Sailor’s treasured snakeskin jacket – which he believes symbolises his ‘individuality and belief in personal freedom’ – the film won the Palme d’Or for best film at the 1990 Cannes Film Festival.
Sun 5 Feb 20:30 NFT1, Sat 11 Feb 17:30 NFT1
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me
USA 1992. With Kyle MacLachlan, Sheryl Lee, Kiefer Sutherland, Harry Dean Stanton, Chris Isaak. 134min
The prequel to the 1990s television event depicted the seven days leading up to the murder of homecoming queen Laura Palmer and, as an even more menacing affair than the TV show, divided critics over its alleged unpleasantness and self-indulgence. There is little doubt amongst his supporters, though, that Fire Walk with Me is an indispensable Lynch text.
Sat 11 Feb 20:00 NFT1 With illustrated introduction by Antony Todd, Sun 26 Feb 20:20 NFT1
USA 1996. With Bill Pullman, Patricia Arquette, Balthazar Getty, Gary Busey. 134min Lost Highway tells the story of jazz saxophonist Fred Madison (Pullman) who is found guilty of murdering his wife Renee (Arquette). On death row, Fred inexplicably morphs into a younger man, a car mechanic named Pete Dayton (Getty) and becomes involved with a gangster’s moll, Alice Wakefield (also played by Arquette). Lynch’s remarkable multi-faceted LA noir experiments with a narrative structure without obvious entry or exit points.
Sun 12 Feb 18:00 NFT2, Sat 18 Feb 20:20 NFT1
The Straight Story
USA 1999. With Richard Farnsworth, Sissy Spacek, Harry Dean Stanton. 111min. U No one was surprised when word, reached the media that Lynch was planning to adapt the true story of a 73 year-old man, Alvin Straight (Farnsworth), who travelled across America on a lawnmower, in search of his estranged brother. Yet Lynch’s slow, ‘straight’ treatment of this material wrong-footed most, even as it marked a return to the humanist qualities that had distinguished his handling of The Elephant Man.
Mon 6 Feb 17:40 NFT2, Wed 22 Feb 20:40 NFT2. Mon 27 Feb 20:45 NFT2
USA-France 2001. With Naomi Watts, Laura Elena Harring, Justin Theroux, Dan Hedaya. 146min. 15 After The Straight Story, Lynch returned to more familiar subject matter. Betty (Watts), a plucky aspiring actress, and Rita (Harring), a mysterious amnesiac who has stumbled from a car crash with several thousand dollars in her purse, search LA for clues to Rita’s identity. Dense with his customary doppelgangers, dream imagery and loose ends, Lynch’s film has an extra melancholic fascination with the destructive power of erotic desire.
Fri 10 Feb 20:10 NFT3, Sun 26 Feb 17:20 NFT1, Wed 29 Feb 20:10 NFT1
France-USA-Poland 2006. With Laura Dern, Jeremy Irons, Justin Theroux, Diane Ladd. 180min. 15 Lynch’s three-hour digital opus – composed on his ‘unified force’ principle, whereby ‘the ocean is the unity’ on which scenes ‘float’ – stars Dern as actress Nikki Grace, working on a remake of an unfinished Polish film called 47. Real and film worlds intersect and Lynch’s audience is left to wonder if Nikki has succumbed to the curse that is thought to have stopped production of the original film.
Tue 21 Feb 19:40 NFT1, Sat 25 Feb 19:30 NFT1