Lynch/Oz begins in an empty theatre. A man steps forth from a green curtain in an opening that combines iconic imagery from David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive and Victor Fleming’s The Wizard of Oz. Like the magician in Club Silencio, this figure invites viewers to take a peek behind the curtain into the possible inner workings of Lynch’s mind. Specifically, how his filmography, from his first short film (The Alphabet) all the way up to Twin Peaks: The Return, draws heavily upon The Wizard of Oz. Exploring this connection is a collection of filmmakers and critics including John Waters, David Lowry and Amy Nicholson, who give insightful video essays on the subject, each of which approaches the topic from fascinating new angles.
As Judy Garland’s Dorothy travels from her home in Kansas to the fantastical and simultaneously terrifying land of Oz, so too do Lynch’s characters often find themselves venturing into alternate worlds. Twin Peaks has the Red Room, Mulholland Drive depicts both the dreamlike and nightmarish versions of Hollywood and the lovers in Wild at Heart just want to find their way home. Each of these essays unpicks possible interpretations of the dualities of fantasy and reality, dream and nightmare and the space that lies between to decipher meaning from Lynch’s body of work, as well as what made Oz a cultural landmark.
One of the draws to Lynch’s work is the ambiguity and mystery that surrounds it. The filmmaker famously never reveals the meaning behind his wild imagery and surrealist worlds. The chance to dig into a possible interpretation of his genius will therefore be an irresistible topic to Lynch fans. However, the documentary goes further than discussing the similarities in the imagery and storytelling. The essayists reach deeper into their own experiences with both Lynch and Oz. One recounts the strange happenings after watching the atomic bomb episode from Twin Peaks: The Return. Another discusses combing through every frame of The Wizard of Oz in pursuit of an urban legend. And all of them talk lovingly about how the 30s classic has impacted their own work. In this regard, Lynch/Oz is more a grand love letter to cinema as much as it is to Lynch.
While an almost two-hour-long symposium on Lynch and Oz won’t appeal to everyone, those who are drawn to the topic will be enthralled by every second.
Lynch/Oz is released in select cinemas on 2nd December 2022.
Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2022 coverage here.
For further information about the festival visit the official BFI website here.