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With Blue Velvet, David Lynch (below)
proves he is still this country's most origi-
nal-and most disturbing-director. The
film takes two young lovers played by Kyle
MacLachlan and Laura Dern (left) on a
strange odyssey through a world of sadism
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ting up in the morning, so he had a bell installed
in my apartment.'"
An exciting life, but Lynch eventually left to
attend the Philadelphia Academy. "That's when
Michael Angelo pulled the gun on me. When I
went back to pick up my paintings. He was just
Shoehorned in here also was a trip to Europe.
Where he lasted fifteen days. "I went to Salz-
burg, Austria, to study art. It's one of the clean-
est cities in the world, where everybody wears
leather shorts and knee socks, and the air is so
clean you almost pass out. There I could wake up
early. I mean, I was up like a shot But that was
the only advantage; Salzburg wasn't my scene.
"So, I left for Athens because I was really in
love with this girl who was supposed to be there
in a couple of weeks. But I couldn't handle the
filth. In the marketplace, they served this kind of
hamburger rigatoni stuff that would be covered
with a coat of flies. So I went back to the United
States and got a job working in an art store on
commission, which averaged 15 cents a day."
Then it was off to the Pennsylvania Academy
of Fine Arts, where he became interested in ani-
mation. He spent $200 on a film short starting a
cast of his own head and figures that, according
to Cinefantastique magazine, "caught fire, got
headaches, their bodies and stomachs grew,
and they all got sick.'"
From there he was off and running. A much
more sophisticated piece of animation called
TheAphabet earned him a position at the Ameri-
can Film Institute, where he eventually made Era-
serhead That project took five years to com-
plete, during which time Lynch made ends meet
pulling down $48.50 a week as a paperboy for
The Wall Street Journa.
Here was the first true ''punk'" film and a story
of young love unlike any other. Jack Nance
starred as ''Henry.' Black suit. Black shoes.
Short hair on the sides, but shooting straight up
on top. He romances Mary X. They give birth to a
creature. ''Henry,'' frustrated, cuts the creature
open and it dies. You had to be there.
Initially, Eraserheadgot terrible reviews, and it
took several years for it to establish itself as a
true film classic. Mel Brooks liked it the first time
he saw it, however, and Lynch wound up direct-
ing Brooks' The Elephant Man. The project near-
y ended in disaster when Lynch failed to create a
satisfactory guise for the Elephant Man himself.
"'I really thought seriously of committing suicide.
It was my whole chance. It's called The E/ephant
Man, and we don't have an Elephant Man, and
it's five and a half million dollars with Sir John
Gielgud, Anthony Hopkins and John Hurt, and I
screw up the makeup. It was very heavy until Mel
said it was okay."
He then spent nearly half a decade stitching
together the film version of the Frank Herbert
science fiction classic Dune, a near $40-million
extravaganza that Lynch reasons now, ''was
fantastic! If you just chalk it up to experience.'"
The film was cut against his wishes and was not,
to say the least, a big moneymaker.
Which brings us to B/ue Ve/vet. Like Eraser-
head, Lynch puts a lot of stuff on the screen
that's open to interpretation. Yet he is reluctant
to offer much in the way of explanation himself
other than to say, in the case of Blue Velvet, that
"I like extremes!lI see it sort of like Norman Rock-
well meets Hieronymous Bosch . . . It doesn't
do a lot of good to talk about what something
means. There are a lot of guys who have wrirten
books who are dead, and you can't dig them up,
prop them up in a chair and say, 'Well, what's it
all mean?' I think the work pretty much has to
stand on its own.''
What about future projects?
"I think I'm going to get Ronnie Rocket into
production pretty soon.'"
What's it about?
Can you elaborate?
"Alternating current. 60-cycle."
"It's about a three-foot-tall guy with physical
problems and red hair."
Catch B/ue Velvet. It's a lovely piece of work.*
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