LostInTheMovies wrote:This is all one reason I find the "angry, bitter Lynch has lost his faith in the world and made this work to express his fury" readings a bit wild. In a sense, except for the late 80s (when Twin Peaks was first conceived) Lynch has never had it better.
It did seem like Lynch was on a trajectory away from naturalism in his narratives, and towards increasingly bleak conclusions, for a period of time.
Blue Velvet, despite its unusual characters and heavy doses of Lynchian style and themes, might actually be his third most conventional narrative aside from The Elephant Man and The Straight Story. There's no use of supernatural or science fiction elements, nothing happens that couldn't happen in the real world, and the more sympathetic characters (Jeffrey, Sandy, and Dorothy) end up in an OK place at the end. (My own view, incidentally, is that Lynch is rarely if ever being ironic or satirical, so I don't think the "happy ending" aspect of BV is meant to be tongue-in-cheek in any way.)
Wild At Heart can also be read mostly literally, but Sailor and Lula were apparently headed for a split before the Sheryl Lee angel intervenes to get them back together. It's less clear that they could solve their own problems compared to the Blue Velvet protagonists.
Twin Peaks can be thought of as a sort of PG-13, TV version of Blue Velvet with the supernatural involved, and even some of the supernatural elements are more complicated and inscrutable than just "spirits / ghosts / demons did it" - the whole situation with the Tremonds, the nature of MIKE and LMFAP. To the extent that Episode 29 is an ending, it's not a very upbeat one - at the very least, it's a major setback for Cooper albeit not a final defeat.
FWWM leans more heavily into the supernatural, and into the more inscrutable aspects of it, and ends with Laura only really finding peace after death.
Lost Highway pretty much defies a naturalistic reading, and to the extent that we can tell what's really happening to Fred/Pete, he's clearly not in a good place at the end. I don't necessarily buy the idea that he's literally imagining all this while waiting to be executed and that the final scene represents him being electrocuted, but even so, he still seems to be locked into denial and revenge instead of owning up to what he's done.
The Straight Story admittedly doesn't fit this pattern, but given that he didn't write or co-write the screenplay and that it's based on a true story, that's perhaps to be expected.
Mulholland Drive also defies naturalistic interpretation and, like LH, doesn't supply an obvious supernatural presence to explain the more unusual twists either. We're just in a reality that doesn't work quite like ours (and IMO, trying to parse out exactly which scenes are "real" and which ones are "imagined" - whether by Betty/Diane or someone else - actually diminishes its effectiveness). Once again, the protagonist is in a very unpleasant place at the end, whether you think Betty/Diane really does shoot herself or not.
I haven't seen Inland Empire, though all these discussions have sent it back to the top of my to-do list. To the extent that TPTR can be placed alongside these other works, it's actually perhaps less pessimistic in its conclusion than MD or LH - Cooper is confused and perhaps struggling to maintain his sense of self, but he's alive, free from the Black Lodge and the catatonic/Dougie state, and presumably not ready to give up on whatever he's trying to accomplish. Laura's scream also doesn't have to represent the final word on her character. But it does end on a darker note than BV, WAH, or even FWWM in some ways.