September is a pretty amazing month for David Lynch fans in Philly. There are countless Lynch related events happening over at PhilaMOCA (including an incredible Lynch themed art show, open now), and over the next couple weeks his films will be screened at the Prince Theatre, Bryn Mawr Film Institute, and even at the PHS pop-up garden over on 14th and South. Most importantly, Lynch himself will be spending a bit of time in the Philly area giving some Q&As and introducing his art exhibit, The Unified Field, which will be at PAFA from September 13th until January 11th, 2015. So, as an insanely excited Lynch fanatic, I’m pretty stoked September has finally arrived, and I figured now is a good a time as any to compile a Lynch related list. Something I’ve always loved about his work is how he uses music and songs to complement the visual surrealism, and to me the following five moments stand out as the best.
5) “Llorando” from Mulholland Dr. (2001)
I could watch this scene a million times. It’s so weirdly affecting and bizarre. First there’s the trumpet player who emphatically plays then lifts his arms in the air while the recording continues to play. But then watching Naomi Watts and Laura Harring welling with emotion and eventually sobbing during the “singer’s” performance (which of course keeps going even after she passes out and is carried off stage) is at once disturbing and confusing.
4) “In Dreams” from Blue Velvet (1986)
Isabella Rossellini’s performance of the title track was certainly a strong contender from this film, but between the weird snake-holding dancing happening in the background and Dennis Hopper’s intense reaction to the lip-synced performance, this scene is incredibly surreal and wonderful.
3) “Get Happy” from Twin Peaks (1991)
This might be a personal favorite moment that comes from the first (and arguably best) episode of the second season, when Lynch was still involved. In an effort to cheer up his family, Leland Palmer breaks out into song in the middle of dinner. It works at first, but then he spirals out of control, and starts singing the song way too emphatically and faints. He comes to and reassures everyone that he “feels happy.” To top it all off, a very young Alicia Witts supplies the impressive piano playing.
2) “Sinnerman” from Inland Empire (2006)
After three intense and messed up hours, Lynch decided to close this nightmarish (and amazing) film with Nina Simone performing her iconic song “Sinnerman” as the credits roll. There’s not much to say about this other than the fact that I cannot imagine a better way to end this movie.
1) “In Heaven” from Eraserhead (1977)
This is an obvious choice, but a wholly necessary one. I was tempted to just list the entire film given that the soundscape is so detailed and impressive, but I couldn’t resist the caked cheeks and bashful movements from The Lady in the Radiator. Apparently even if you’re living in the dark, horrifying depths of someone’s radiator, “everything will be fine” in heaven.
Author: Catherine Haas
Catherine Haas is a native Philadelphian who received her master’s in film history from Columbia University. She is a freelance film programmer, writer, and an avid pug enthusiast.