Frank Meyer, Feb. 1997
Lost Highway Report

Report on LOST HIGHWAY (dir. David Lynch) - 1996/97 - U.S. release date: 02/27/97


Hitchhiking can be of automatic nature - inevitable so to say. Dick Laurent is dead! - via Intercom in a white neighborhood, Spanish-style, L. A. house. Fred Madison (ID4`s U.S. President Bill Pullman) is being taped with his Betty Page-wife Renée (incredible Patricia Arquette).

Sound, dream, white smoke, Arriflex-only images, off-center shots with sudden close-ups and cuts, and then: the zone - Fred is in between the house.

This is clearly another progress in Lynch`s career - the ultimate experience. Lost Highway mixes elements of former Lynch attractions: The basic setting is Eraserhead-like, the limited characters (in number, not at all in intensity) are similar to Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks-sarcasm is there too like Elephant Man-darkness.

Lost Highway goes far beyond former movies; it combines their most intense parts and finds its climax in the abnormal metamorphosis scene inside the prison cell under guidance of Mr. Hank Rollins himself. This transformation is the crux of the whole movie, it is so out-the-way and weird that even the frame of the plot is cleaner, though very allusive. But this is only one of countless important and fantastic quotes that you have to accept - they can`t be ex-plained away.

I got vision - I`m goin` nuts soon (Mindfield l `89) could be the leitmotif here - the visions are of intense nature and very real. This is an ambivalent and odd story which is interlinked by the modern vampire / devil / death (shocking Robert Blake) - sounds and visions fade when he appears, pretty much like in Twin Peaks. Especially the last Twin Peaks parts after the Laura Palmer story reveal the real Lynch presenting characters such as the giant, the dwarf - the whole scene with the red curtains - the zone.  There`s no solution to this story here - Fred is trapped inside of Pete Dayton`s (Balthazar Getty) body - Pete and his affair with the twisted sister, the alter ego of Renée named Alice Wakefield (a blonde Patricia Arquette) and the story concerning his client Mr. Eddy / Dick Laurent (Robert Loggia - don`t  you ever tailgate again!) is mysterious. As well as the re-transformation into Fred. However, this has something to do with the frame dealing with faith and betrayal blurred by imagination, dream and vision on a lost highway.

But who cares for the plot - it`s the imagery and sound effects we adore and we feel ultimate fear when sitting there, pain crops up and intensity does the rest.

Red curtains, matches burning, black and white, vampire, Kyle MacLachlan-types, strange dialogues (e.g.: We don`t have a video camera, Fred hates them. - I like to remember things my own way! - What is that supposed to mean? - That`s, how I remember them, not necessarily the way they happened! or What do you do tonight? - Read a book! - Read? Read? Read? What read? You laugh, that`s why I love you. or Thanks for helpin` us out guys. - That`s what we do!) - this movie is strictly ultra and not very funny, except for the police officers (see sample dialogues 1 and 3). Lynch once again offers a great cast, good old Jack Nance has another special appearance. In the end, there`s the highway again - the end (or the second coming?) of a Kafka nightmare filled with classical film noir motifs and reminiscence.

The tones are grouped in clusters! (PAVEMENT - Blue Hawaiian l `97) - the score lies in the hands of Angelo Badalamenti; together with Lynch`s sounds, he weaves a carpet of mystic atmosphere. The soundtrack was coordinated by Trent Reznor and Barry Adamson - the intro / outro DAVID BOWIE fits the car / highway sequence, another highlight is the THIS MORTAL COIL 1984 Song of the Siren, sung by Liz Fraser (of COCTEAU TWINS fame), functioning as the love (resp. and above all sex) theme. But there`s no greater power achieved than with the RAMMSTEIN (named after the famous U.S. Airbase - here with a double "m" like in German "rammen" meaning "to ram" - in Germany`s Rhineland-Palatinate where an airshow disaster happened about 10 years ago with lots of people killed) explosion during Pete`s hotel dream experience. This rather disputed German band from East-Berlin set the tone here. A little bit on the same level as the Slovenian artists LAIBACH, they use standart Electro-Industrial Power Rock riffs (the ones we like about PANTERA, DIE KRUPPS, MINISTRY or NINE INCH NAILS) to convey a sort of Teutonic energy. RAMMSTEIN are bad as they wanna be, but they are quite cool and funny (especially live), they mock being Germans by citing Richard Wagner and by rolling thei r`s. Lynch mede their acquaintance via Reznor to observe this fact and so presents their songs (or rather the most useful parts of them) right at another climax of his movie - just for effect`s sake (remember POWERMAD`S Slaughterhouse in Wild at Heart?).

This climax is in the form of a classical literature initiation quest experienced by Pete / Fred: From innocence through experience (via rain, thunder, storm, night, wind, desert) to maturity or clarity. The setting isn`t that familiar Lynch-type small town, but L.A.: The place, the light and feel - all these things come with the knowledge that you are looking for things to flesh out your ideas, make them more right. For me, L.A. was the right place, says Lynch in an interview. Nobody gives explanations - a 21st-century noir, that`s what it is / so don`t hitchhike, if you do - buckle up - it`s the law! You have been warned!

- starts Feb. 27th (started exclusively in France and Luxembourg in January before its worldwide release because of a French distribution company - a novelty!)

Report writen by:
Chris Marmann
Eberhardstr. 44
d-54290 TRIER
tel.+fax: ++49-(0)651-48821

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