mercoledì 22 gennaio 2020

Ed's Corner: Beyond the image, journey through the hidden meaning of movies - Lost Highway

Tornano le dissertazioni in inglese di Edoardo! Questa volta tocca a Strade perdute di David Lynch, che avevo già indegnamente "recensito" QUI senza capirci una mazza (ma apprezzando la colonna sonora, a differenza di Edoardo) quindi lo ringrazio doppiamente! ENJOY!

After Eraserhead is the turn of Lost Highway by David Lynch. Writing down the plot is basically pointless, here deconstruction and symbolism start to become quite serious (the culmination will be reached by INLAND EMPIRE). I’ll write some small bit of it anyway, then the explanation will follow, even if some can be found on the internet, nothing detailed though as far as I’ve seen.
As a reminder, this article is for whom has already seen the film, because reading the meaning of every single scene without having watched it would mean spoiling a great masterpiece. Only imperfection in my opinion, if I got to find one, is the soundtrack: Rammstein and Marilyn Manson cannot be compared to Angelo Badalamenti for these kind of films.
Fred Madison (Bill Pulman) is a good and successful jazz player, unhappy with his love life with his wife Renee (Patricia Arquette). One day he hears a strange voice at the intercom: “Dick Laurent is dead”. Times go by, his paranoia increases and he starts thinking that the woman is cheating on him.

So, let’s begin with describing the events in the right order: Fred Madison, as said before, is a jazz musician married with Renee, woman that he can’t sexually satisfy. One day he finds out that the woman is cheating on him with the suspicious Dick Laurent (Robert Loggia) and with the porno movie maker Andy (that she already knew because she had probably shot some film with him in the past). So, full of anger, he first kills the men, than the wife; gets caught by the police, arrested, sentenced to death on the electric chair, and during the execution, while he’s dying, he dreams to be someone else: Pete Dayton (Balthazar Getty).
What I just described is related to the “real” events, now let’s analyse the dream.
Pete (who is found inside the jail instead of Fred) represents what the jazz player would want to be: first of all he’s not going to die, he is a good lover (while Fred is impotent), he’s good with DIY (he is a mechanic), leads the relationship with Renee (who inside Fred’s unconscious is called Alice, married with Dick Laurent: here comes the association of names and images), and he is the one who “steals” the wife from Dick Laurent (in reality is the opposite).

Dick Laurent (Eddie in the dream) represents his rational part, the side of the unconscious that practices self control, reason that regulates instinct. On the internet there is the trend to quote Freud in order to explain Lynch’s films, and the reason becomes the superego, but basically it’s the same thing.
The fact that Eddie/Dick Laurent is the reason can be deduced from different factors: he tells Pete to stay away from other men’s women, or he’ll get only problems; he doesn’t go over the speed limit while driving his car, but only when he has to follow the inconsiderate driver, and beats him to educate him on the rules of the road; even when he calls Pete it’s not him to directly threaten the man, because he hands the phone over to the mysterious man with the white face (Robert Blake), who represents the pure instinct, the Instinct that in this case personify anger, the answer to what happened in the real life. It’s him that killed everybody.

When Fred meets him for the first time at Andy’s party, the man tells him that they know each other, and that now he’s home: here we understand that the party is only fictitious, it’s inside Fred’s mind (probably a memory). At that point the jazz player has already killed Dick and Andy, and now he’s home to kill his wife.
Fred hates cameras, because he prefers to remember things his own way, and not as they really happened; so the two first videos shot with the hand camera that the police finds were made by him as the Instinct, in a semi-unconsciousness state, whilst the third video is just his own mental projection (only he sees it).

At the beginning of the film Fred has a double personality: he imagines to speak with himself at the intercom, and when it happens he has just killed Dick Laurent. “Dick Laurent is dead”, the reason is dead, the superego is dead, now there’s just instinct.

Also frequent are the references to the reality; after Pete says: “We killed him”,  the wife at Andy’s house answers: “You killed him”; then in another flashback the wife appears in a bedroom of the same house and says: “Did you want to ask me why?”, referring to the reason of her cheating; then again the strange lightning that every now and then appears out of the blue and the frequent Pete’s nose bleeding, sign of the fact that the electric chair is on.

Fred, as Pete, is completely unaware of what happened before the police found him in jail and released him.
His parents know everything though, but when he asks them for explanation, they say that they can’t answer. If they’d answer the sand castle that our protagonist built would fall down, and he’ll get back to reality, and so back to fear, because in reality he is dying.
Finally we’ll come to the ending, with Pete back as Fred and on the run from the police, which is also unreal: we’re inside the dream again, and to his escape follows what seems to be another transformation, with him wiggling while driving the car and smoke coming out of his head right before the credits.
But it’s not: it represents his end, the electric chair made his job.


Special thanks to Alessandro Cardena and Glenda Fontana for the translation.

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