Thursday, November 20, 2008

Currently Watching: Industrial Symphony No. 1 (1990)

I feel terribly out of it since I haven't been up to my writing speed lately, but it's been one of those weeks.  I've been in development hell trying to get the USC Film Club off the ground for the spring semester, trying to work on a paper for the Pop Culture Conference of America, and a large term paper for a class.

I've screened a couple of great things this week, but I just wanted to talk briefly about David Lynch's Industrial Symphony.  I started working my way through some of short films earlier this week after watching "Eraserhead" (1976) for the first time a few nights ago (a film I should by all rights be writing about right now instead of this) and being completely floored by it.  As freakish as Lynch is, his short/early stuff is so much more harrowing and nightmarish than anything in his films.  I thought "Twin Peaks" was haunting.

"Industrial Symphony No. 1" is essentially a filmed version of a play Lynch developed; a 50 minute dream of a woman after she is dumped by her lover.  The film takes place on a stage and features the music of Julee Cruise (who sang many of the songs from Twin Peaks); much of the film's underscore would later form up a central chunk of the TP music.  Essentially a glorified effects show of bizarre sounds and images, I was nevertheless completely enthralled by this for the same reason I'm enthralled by everything Lynch does.  There's no one out there who is as willing to confront us with the visual medium.  So much of how edits both image and sound makes him the middle-man between dreams and nightmares and our precious reality.

Symphony is artsy and indecipherable, but it's also kind of trance-inducing.  It's going to be available for the first time in the Lynch box set coming out next week (but I'm not shelling out 180 bucks for all that!), and I wish they'd sell it separately because I really love it both as a mood piece, as a musical, and as a portal into dreams.  What I think is really the key to it is that he literally puts dreams on stage, he finds a way to navigate the constantly-evolving space of our minds by putting it within a moving frame, a set mise-en-scene that develops based on other actions and effects.

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