“For me, the number of film directors who get national distribution in this country who are truly interesting as artists as very, very small and Lynch was one of them for me,” said David Foster Wallace in a March 1997 interview with Charlie Rose. “Blue Velvet came at a time for me when I really needed to see it. It helped me a lot in my own work.”
The interview came just after writing, what I’ve personally always held as one of my favorite pieces of observational film writing—David Lynch Keeps His Head for Premiere —DFW and Rose continue to unpack just what made Lynch such a fascinating subject and the true meaning of “Lynchian.” The Premiere essay takes a look at DFW’s time spent on the set of the haunting and heartbreaking nightmare drama Lost Highway—not interviewing Lynch but rather capturing the smaller moments like seeing Lynch pee on a tree, or what the myriad crew members thought of what they were shooting.
The first time I lay actual eyes on the real David Lynch on the set of his movie, he’s peeing on a tree. This is on 8 January in L.A.’s Griffith Park, where some of Lost Highway’s exteriors and driving scenes are being shot. He is standing in the bristly underbrush off the dirt road between the base camp’s trailers and the set, peeing on a stunted pine. Mr. David Lynch, a prodigious coffee drinker, apparently pees hard and often, and neither he nor the production can afford the time it’d take to run down the base camp’s long line of trailers to the trailer where the bathrooms are every time he needs to pee. So my first (and generally representative) sight of Lynch is from the back, and (understandably) from a distance. Lost Highway’s cast and crew pretty much ignore Lynch’s urinating in public, (though I never did see anybody else relieving themselves on the set again, Lynch really was exponentially busier than everybody else.) and they ignore it in a relaxed rather than a tense or uncomfortable way, sort of the way you’d ignore a child’s alfresco peeing.
The essay in itself evokes its own Lynchian spirit—and in the true absurd essence of the term, not all the saccharin pies and kitsch sartorial choices that so many have boiled Lynch’s work down to. Check out the interview below starting around the five-minute mark and read DFW’s full essay HERE.