StealThisCorn wrote:So then, in the final version of the film where Teresa's ring has been seemingly elevated to cosmic significance, what does the Ring have to do with representing Laura's recognition that she is a person with agency and her attainment of a higher level of consciousness? The significance of the ring is hard to parse out because of all it's various appearances and references. At some times it seems to represent knowledge or truth which, in Laura's mind, links Teresa's murder to Mike's warning about her father to the Little Man's offer in her dreams to Cooper's warning not to take it and, finally, to her acceptance of it in the train car, her decision to put it on.
But at other times it seems to be "the blue rose", or the supernatural element or some artifact that originates within the world of the Lodge entities and is somehow involved with their operations, which some people think has to do with marking someone or their garmonbozia as property (of Mike?) or that Mike is trying to marry Laura to himself or perhaps Cooper (very cool because in my head canon Cooper and Laura *are* soul mates) or that it marks those who Bob is supposed to kill (but I don't think so because as we've said, Teresa isn't shown with the ring on her hand when Leland kills her).
Yeah, the ring in FWWM is doing more than any other Lynch motif/icon I can think of. I guess the best and simplest way to put it is, "Teresa's green ring is linked to the discovery of Leland's crimes, and associated with the spirit world (specifically Mike)." Which leaves out so much stuff but those seems to be its core functions.
StealThisCorn wrote:Re: "Because Lynch often operates as if the screen is a canvas and what exists/is important is simply what he shows us. I don't think he is really into backstory so much" This is so true that I notice it the more I watch his films. His characters have very little backstory given. They exist at singular moments in time consisting of their story arc from first appearance to last. So much so that characters can literally disappear when their importance to the story is over, like Chester Desmond, or Pete Dayton or Rita or even that shot in Blue Velvet where Frank is leaving Ben's place and says, "LET'S FUCK!" and suddenly literally disappears from the room with the sound of a roaring engine. You could almost look at it as cinematographic pragmatism in that he knows these characters aren't real people but characters in service to a "story" (sometimes without much emphasis on linear narrative though) and so the story/film (what we see) itself treats them like the characters they are rather than people. David Lynch is a master at creating some truly interesting and fascinating side characters, like half the cast of Wild At Heart or everybody from the first half of Mulholland Drive (especially the Hit Man) but then just has them do small bit parts or be in the frame or end up being dream/fugue characters who represent something else.
This is a really great way of putting it. Perfectly described, in fact. It's not something I really noticed/thought about too much until recently. Even in true-life stories like The Elephant Man and The Straight Story there is something mysterous/unspoken about the characters' histories. It's an especially strong contrast with Mark Frost, who is ALL about backstory. Just in the few works I've seen/read by him - a few episodes of Hill Street Blues, The List of 7, Storyville - it's clear that his characters carry (and often discuss) a distinct personal history. The purpose of the narrative is often to unearth that very history. What we experience onscreen/on-the-page is very much tip of the iceberg, the dramatic focus point of a much larger story.
In that sense even the idea of Twin Peaks having these intricate, hidden webs of intrigue - which people often associate with Lynch - feels much more like a Frost contribution. The moody, fleeting suggestiveness of it feels like Lynch (your point about him being perfectly suited for pilots, which set up without delivering, is right-on) but the working-out of what actually does lie under the surface seems to be Frost's ken (note the title and subject of his upcoming book). The irony being, of course, that when Lynch is FORCED into revelation (episode 14, FWWM, Mulholland Drive's conversion into a feature) he's really, really
good at it. But that's also something that has developed over time, and something that is tied to how psychological/personal the revelations of "what's going on" are.
By contrast, look at the crime syndicate in Blue Velvet. It's almost laughably vague/generic/archetypal: Um, hey there's drugs and a corrupt police detective and look someone's hanging out a window. Time for a machine gun fight with cops! It works perfectly in that film because a) the crime story is SO not the point that it could be anything, b) Lynch is working with so many archetypes in the film that it works for the crime stuff to be really half-baked, and c) it's so broadly drawn that it can be suggestive in a way a more specific, detailed noir plotline could not be, and obviously Lynch is all about suggestion.
Yet again this makes me wonder when/how Lynch & Frost charted out their ideas for season 1, and decided who Laura's killer would be. I just have trouble envisioning how Lynch went about it. Speaking of which...
That's why I think he is so good at crafting TV pilots like Twin Peaks and what could have been Mulholland Drive because they have really interesting casts of characters that I would watch. But maybe he does need a writer like Mark Frost to flesh those out and insert them into a larger narrative and make them more than just interesting to look at.
I always liked Mulholland Drive so much as a movie that I couldn't really shed tears over it not being a series, and with Twin Peaks it's always been clear that Lynch had Wild at Heart to distract him during the first season and then lost interest when Laura's story ended, so that seems to explain his extensive absences from that show.
Yet this latest brouhaha with Showtime has really focused my attention on something - perhaps David Lynch is just congentially NOT a showrunner. As you say, television requires precisely that sort of detailed plotting, weaving an ongoing story/planning ahead, and Lynch has never demonstrated this as something he is interested in doing.
I do think he is very underrated as a writer. He's written almost all of his films, half of which are credited only to him (although apparently he had help with early drafts of Dune & Mulholland Drive). Even putting aside adaptations of books and the largely improvised Inland Empire you still have Blue Velvet, Eraserhead, Mulholland Drive which - albeit in unconventional fashion - tell lucid narratives with a beginning, middle, and end, feature psychologically-compelling character arcs, and move with a sense of dramatic cohesion and flow. But films are complete units in design and execution.
Managing a TV show is something else. Had Twin Peaks gone on, if it had not revealed Laura's killer so soon, if On the Air had continued, if Mulholland Drive had been picked up, I suspect we still would have seen Lynch drift away. I also can't imagine him playing the overseer role (while Frost was really well-suited for) if he isn't actually in the director's chair. Lynch being the producer onset, letting the director call the shots but making sure it's all "up to code"...that just doesn't seem to be how he works. I think for him to actually put his stamp on a series and keep it under control, he would have to be directing it himself.
And if Lynch were ever to direct an entire series I'd think the best scenario would be for it to be like a movie, written/character ahead of time with a starting point and ending point, but with room to experiment (and even change the ending point if necessary). Which is exactly what 2016 is intended to be. So if everything works out with Showtime and Lynch comes back what we are going to see is frankly unlike ANYTHING Lynch has ever done before. A serialized, sprawling multipart story guided by him every step of the way. I'm really curious to see what that will be like/feel like.
Incidentally, if these episodes are each an hour long we can expect it will amount to a little less than half his feature film output over the past nearly 40 years (about a third if we throw in TV episodes and maybe a quarter if we include short films?). That's a pretty remarkable expansion of his filmography. We all knew this effort would be significant no matter what but placed in this light, it's going to be REALLY significant.