Lush life

I recently started watching Twin Peaks on streaming Netflix. I hadn’t seen it at all in the nearly twenty five years since it went off the air, and somewhere in the back of my mind I wondered why I’d started to rewatch it now.

I should mention that I am thoroughly enjoying the experience. When Twin Peaks first came out, I didn’t appreciate the full extent of what David Lynch was up to. It’s completely unlike anything that had ever been on television before.

For one thing, every shot is gorgeous. The colors and tones are excruciatingly lovely, the framing perfect, the play of light upon the faces of the actors luminous and haunting, and the music that flows in and around the story is unearthly yet mournful.

There are countless visual moments that simply take my breath away. The very possibility that you could do something like this on TV, this kind of lavish chiaroscuro in a muted technicolor palette, was not even part of the conversation back in 1990. Until David Lynch and his team did it.

Just yesterday I realized why I had sought out this particular TV viewing experience: Because last week I had watched The Tales of Hoffmann (in a gorgeous Technicolor print at the Film Forum). I had found myself immersed in the take-no-prisoners hyper-romanticism of Michael Powell and Emetic Pressburger, and I had wanted more.

Lynch is clearly the direct aesthetic descendent of Powell and Pressburger, a fellow worshiper of the lush yet artfully overripe as pure visual opera.

These are not the grand but visually cold offerings of a James Cameron or a Christopher Nolan, nor the slightly coy toy box aesthetic of a Tim Burton or a Wes Anderson. No, these are full-blown romantic visions, dark, dangerous to the touch, bursting with heat and erotic suggestion.

I’ll take that over an Avatar or an Interstellar any day.

One thought on “Lush life”

  1. Maybe it’s apples and oranges, but how would you compare Lynch to Joss Whedon? I’ve never seem Twin Peaks. Perhaps I need to add it to my Netflix queue.

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