(One) follows cult director David Lynch as he embarks upon filming his most recent cinematic offering, 2006’s Inland Empire. Although, as you might expect, this isn’t your usual documentary.
It takes a while for things to get going: we have snippets of dialogue that don’t quite seem to be connected to anything, and an unfortunate amount of time spent following David as he wanders in and out of old factories to photograph them. It has to be said, the first ten minutes or so here aren’t particularly enthralling, and as you watch people swoon over the photographs taken, commenting on the light and such, it does come off as a little bit self-indulgent, the kind of thing that is far more interesting to the creator than the viewer.
Luckily, things do pick up, and once the show gets going, it’s a very entertaining and often funny one. Lynch shows himself not only to be a visionary dedicated to his craft, but also a humorous, well-read and intelligent individual with lots of stories to tell. And tell them he does. We hear of his time spent in Philadelphia, his experiences of police brutality, his attempts at popping a bloated cow with a pick-axe, various Bible stories and old films that have inspired him, and a few other bits and pieces.
As things progress to the actual filming of Inland Empire, we get to see that Lynch is a very hands-on director, not afraid to help build sets (and demolish them), scrub the floors, and anything else that needs taking care of. He talks a fair bit about his use of transcendental meditation, and how he views the creative process. “It’s long been thought that you must suffer to create,” he says, “but the exact opposite is true. When you’re happy and energetic, it’s easier for those ideas to come through, and more of them.”
Things are kept lively and interesting by the constant switching of camera angles and quirky treatment of the footage: one minute things will be in black and white, then lurid colour, then blurred, then shrunk down to a little box in the corner, and so on. The whole documentary is also intersected with strange, abstract images of beetles, circuses, countryside rolling past a train window and, at one point, Lynch wearing a monkey mask, while the soundtrack proves to be a mix of country twang and that dark, brooding, discordant noise so associated with Lynch’s films.
So, although there are no extras to speak of, this in itself is an extended extra, a fascinating look into the life and working process of one of the film industry’s most innovative and original creators. Absorbing, witty and entertaining, fans of Lynch especially will love this slice of insight.