David Lynch Interview with French film magazine Positif
Conversation with David Lynch
on November 21, in L.A.
by Michael Henry
Did Lost Highway arise from one of your dreams?
That's much more complicated! There are several episodes, to start with one story that had occured to me: A stranger rang my doorbell, pushed the button of the intercom and asked: "David?" I answered yes. Then he told me:"Dick Laurent is dead." Just like in the movie. I walked to the window but didn't see anybody out there. That troubled me for quite a long time. Then, during the last night of filming Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, I had a brief vision which relates to the first third of the movie. It shocked me but had no effect for four years. Then I read the book "Nightpeople" by Barry Gifford. At the end of the first chapter, there are two women talking about a lost highway. Since I know Barry well, I called up to tell him that I really love those two words "lost highway." He suggested to write something together. I agreed, but one year passed by until we met again. I went to Berkeley and we exchanged our ideas. We didn't like each other's ideas. Then I eventually told him about this nocturnal vision by the time of "Fire Walk With Me". That gave us a new push. We started again at high speed. Sometimes we had to change our way, but within a month we had written the script.
Can you describe the vision you've had that night?
It did happen at night, but I wasn't fallen asleep. It had to do with videotapes and a couple in crisis. They received a video that showed the front of their house, then another one where someone comes into the house while they were sleeping. Except for a couple of scenes does this correspond to the part that became the story of Fred until the punch.
How did Pete's story join into this vision?
We realized very soon that there had to occur a transformation and that another story should develop which should have many connections to the first one, but which might also differ widely.
That joining together of two stories evokes the engravings of Maurits Escher. Your production company is named Asymmetrical, but it seems as if the idea of symmetry would be essential here. Everything happens in pairs.
DL: In pairs yet from a different angle. As if you were on a hill to look down, then down to look up.
You created Fred (Bill Pullman) as a jazzman and Pete (Balthazar Getty) as a mechanic.
Fred was thought as a jazz musician right away but we're sure about the story of Pete for quite some time. It developed and it only took shape after we passed some sidings.
Is Pete the double, only young, more "blue collar", of Fred?
Here I have to stop talking! As the saying goes, the film is what the film is. You can interpret it in different ways. It didn't attempt to bewilder you intentionally. There are situations, mentally, that are beyond any doubt abstract, but in which we can still recognize everything. That's what it's all about.
The sound is an essential dimension of the film. That's why Fred's a sax player which implicates, in his music, that he can only get an orgasm if he plays. There's a significant connection, isn't there?
I see there many connections. Sometimes you think you know someone and then you hear him play sax or see him paint and all of a sudden you see a completely different aspect of that person. Some activities reveal that we do our utmost to conceal these things. Here, Fred was able to show through his music what was happening to him.
To come back to the idea of doubling, did you consider right from the start, that Renee and Alice are two facets of the same person?
Yes, it's the same actress who plays both roles. It couldn't be any other way.
In "Blue Velvet" was the good girl the blonde and the brunette the perverse one. Here, it's rather the opposite.
Not necessarily. Neither is one of them is completely good nor is the other completely bad. It all depends on your alchemy with men.
Both, Fred and Pete have Patricia Arquette in common, but they meet also the same Mystery Man, face the same enemies, the one like the other is tailed by a couple of detectives ect. Not only the two stories reflect one another, but they also end so that they combine or complete each another.
The story melts prior to the beginning to arrive at the end. More than a circle it is a spiral or a Moebius Strip which is twisted around itself.
In the cell one gets the impression that Fred is reborn or reincarnated in Pete. Do you give him a second chance but Pete is going to repeat the same mistakes.
He repeats them, but in a different way.
One experiences that like a birth, very painful. The headache suggest a birth of a ...order
Yes, mentally. Exactly. That will be a delivery, an impact.
Have you ever solved this message regarding the death of "Dick Laurent"?
In reality? My house is right next to one of an actor named David Landers. Since we have the same first name I said to myself the stranger must have been wrong about the house. Back then I didn't think of asking David Landers whether he's familiar with a Dick Laurent. Now he moved away.
At which point have you determined the visual approach? As early as in the script?
There are less elements determined if you're going to film the script yourself. That's why there aren't many descriptions. Only what was essential for the story, though I'm sure Barry had certain images in his mind. For my part, I have always imagined the topography of my house.
How did the design for the movie evolve?
Everything evolves all the time. Certain elements imposed themselves like the corridor that leads to the bedroom. We filmed on the street into the house from a side angle and we had to build there the corridor for the requirements of the movie. Then we had to install smaller windows in the living room so that Fred's point of view was limited . We had to make certain changes but there are things we haven't touched at all. Sometimes you have to draw inspiration from what the place is offering to you.
Fred's apartment is even more disquieting since it is virtually empty. And the surroundings remain mysterious.
All that is based on mood. And I won't cease to repeat that you always have to go back to your original idea. Check your way. All the time. When you're about to deviate you realize it instantly.
The house of Pete and his parents evokes Blue Velvet with its image of a faked peace. You're suddenly off into the direction of Norman Rockwell. Besides that does the suffering of Pete evoke those of the young innocence in Blue Velvet.
Pete is a guy who leaves his own safe world voluntarily for a universe full of jeopardy.
...to be continued