David Lynch, Lord of the Dance: How the Director Conveys Meaning by Cutting a Rug

By  · Published on November 30th, 2016

A new video explores the emotional versatility of moving to music.

David Lynch loves to dance. Actually, I don’t know if that’s true or not, but watch enough of his films and you’ll think it is, because the director certainly has a penchant for making his characters get out on the floor and shake their tail feathers. From Wild at Heart to Mulholland Drive, Lynch has often used dance as an emotional signifier, a way of manifesting characters’ internal states in exposition-free fashion and letting their bodies do the talking. And oh, the things those bodies say.

In the realm of the Lynchian, dance can be a release of aggression, an expression of sexuality, a reveal of vulnerability, or it can be the punchline to a very off-putting, disturbing joke. The effects of these uses on an audience are just as diverse. A dance with Lynch can elicit confusion, curiosity, discomfort, nostalgia, and even (especially) fear.

Lynch – as concluded by Philip Brubaker in the below video essay for Fandor – is fascinated by the choreography of life and deconstructs dance to the point it is a parody of itself. In essence then, it isn’t dance Lynch is using in his films, it is this parody, this broken-down social construct now reflecting darker parts of interpersonal connectivity.

The act of subverting of something sweet into something unsuspected, more insidious, or more sinister? It just doesn’t get any more Lynchian than that.

Novelist, Screenwriter, Video Essayist