Book review: The Film Paintings of David Lynch is reviewed by Cercles

'For much of his career, David Lynch’s reputation as a filmmaker outpaced the scholarly attention that he received. While there were a few popular introductions to his work, the only sustained scholarly analyses of his films were Michel Chion’s outstanding David Lynch and Martha Nochimson’s The Passion of David Lynch: Wild at Heart in Hollywood. As Lynch’s own filmic output has become more sporadic (two films in the last ten years), the number of books devoted to him has greatly multiplied. One new and welcome entrant into the canon of Lynch scholarship is Allister Mactaggart’s The Film Paintings of David Lynch, which offers an impressionistic account of the encounter with Lynch that views his films in relation to painting.

As Mactaggart himself helpfully summarises in a footnote to the introduction [21-22], there are more or less five distinct approaches to Lynch. The first stresses his formal innovations and classifies him as a Modernist or Postmodernist filmmaker, while the second points out the conservative or even reactionary tendencies present in his films (including racist and sexist tropes, nostalgia for the 1950s, and so on). The third perspective, embodied best by Nochimson, sees a balanced and holistic universe in Lynch’s films. A fourth position directly takes on those who view Lynch as a conservative and sees feminism or leftist politics implicit in his vision. The final theoretical perspective is perhaps the most widespread: championed by theorists such as Michel Chion and Slavoj Žižek, it takes a psychoanalytic—most often Lacanian—approach to understanding Lynch.'

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