Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Lost Highway Analysis - Renegade Cut

We continue our presentation of YouTuber Renegade Cut's video essay series on David Lynch films with his analysis of Lost Highway (1997). For whatever reason, he opted to skip an analysis on David Lynch's co-created TV series Twin Peaks (1990-91) and its prequel film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992). To be fair, Twin Peaks would be a tough nut to crack in just one or two relatively brief video essays. I am guessing it would be a little much to analyze so much material when he is accustomed to limiting his analysis to 90 to 150 minute films.
But Lost Highway (1997) exists in a strange nether zone for many film viewers since much of what it does structurally would later be done better later by David Lynch's most praised cinematic achievement to date: Mulholland Dr. (2001). But the raw cinematic technique on display here sets Lost Highway apart and makes it one of Lynch's most expressionistic and surreal films, nestling itself comfortably next to Eraserhead (1977) and Inland Empire (2006).
The narrative analysis and interpretations of Lost Highway out there always seem deceptively simple, at first, but the more you really examine the film's plot and characters, the more it all melts away into a pure cinematic nightmare. The film truly does seem like the perspective of a fractured, delusional mind of a murderer. In this respect Lynch succeeds in spades.
If asked for a genre to place it in, Lost Highway could easily find a home among modern film noir collections. But it is also a rough and tumble exploration of a man possessing a deranged mind incapable of taking responsibility for his own actions. The main character literally becomes another man, exploring the same set of circumstances but from a completely limited point of view.
With Bill Pullman literally transforming into Balthazar Getty, the film takes very intuitive leaps of dream logic to fully follow. Every character takes on a new quality. But the film does not let us arrive at any easy answers. And that enigma drives us deeper and deeper into the Lynchian rabbit hole again and again to experience the film in very different ways each time you watch it. For more of my own analysis of Lost Highway, check out Volume III of my book series: 40 Years of David Lynch.

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