David Lynch Lists His Favorite Films & Directors, Including Fellini, Wilder, Tati & Hitchcock

At least a few of you — more than a few, I’d wager — think of David Lynch as your favorite film­mak­er. Back when we post­ed about the great­est films of all time as named by Stan­ley KubrickMar­tin Scors­eseWoody Allen, and Quentin Taran­ti­no, you prob­a­bly won­dered what selec­tions the Eraser­head auteur would make. You can get an idea from the inter­view clip above, in which Lynch con­sid­ers the ques­tions “Whose work do you admire?” and “What movies have you watched over and over and could still watch a hun­dred times more?” Well-asked, since the movies we actu­al­ly watch most often reveal more about us than the movies we hap­pen to call “favorites.” “I love Stan­ley Kubrick,” he replies. “I can watch his movies over and over. I love Bil­ly Wilder, Sun­set Boule­vard in par­tic­u­lar, and I’ve watched it over and over. I loved the world Bil­ly Wilder cre­at­ed.”

“I love Felli­ni,” Lynch con­tin­ues. “Watched ’em over and over. If you want to see some great come­dies, check out Jacques Tati’s Mr. Hulot’s Hol­i­day. I like W.C. Fields. I like the movie It’s a Gift. I like Hitch­cock, par­tic­u­lar­ly Rear Win­dow.” And after a moment of reflec­tion: “I like a lot of dif­fer­ent film­mak­ers, but those are… some of them.” MUBI.com also offers a post on Lynch’s favorite films, drawn from Lynch on Lynch, Chris Rod­ley’s book-length inter­view with the direc­tor, and Catch­ing the Big Fish, Lynch’s own vol­ume on med­i­tat­ing your way to inter­est­ing ideas.

Here he pro­vides more details on his fel­low film­mak­ers of choice:

  • In , “Felli­ni man­ages to accom­plish with film what most­ly abstract painters do – name­ly, to com­mu­ni­cate an emo­tion with­out ever say­ing or show­ing any­thing in a direct man­ner, with­out ever explain­ing any­thing, just by a sort of sheer mag­ic.”
  • In Sun­set Boule­vard, Wilder “man­ages to accom­plish pret­ty much the same abstract atmos­phere, less by mag­ic than through all sorts of styl­is­tic and tech­ni­cal tricks. The Hol­ly­wood he describes in the film prob­a­bly nev­er exist­ed, but he makes us believe it did, and he immers­es us in it, like a dream.”
  • Mon­sieur Hulot’s Hol­i­day wins his favor “for the amaz­ing point of view that Jacques Tati casts at soci­ety through it. When you watch his films, you real­ize how much he knows about – and loved – human nature, and it can only be an inspi­ra­tion to do the same.”
  • Rear Win­dow does the same “for the bril­liant way in which Alfred Hitch­cock man­ages to cre­ate – or rather, re-cre­ate – a whole world with­in con­fined para­me­ters. James Stew­art nev­er leaves his wheel­chair dur­ing the film, and yet, through his point of view, we fol­low a very com­plex mur­der scheme. Hitch­cock man­ages to take some­thing huge and con­dense it into some­thing real­ly small. And he achieves that through a com­plete con­trol of film mak­ing tech­nique.”

Com­mu­ni­cat­ing with­out direct­ly say­ing, show­ing, or explain­ing? Craft­ing abstract atmos­phere? Evok­ing a dream­like ver­sion of Hol­ly­wood? Cast­ing an eye on soci­ety that sees things dif­fer­ent­ly? Cre­at­ing worlds in tight con­fines? Seems to me, as some­one who’s expe­ri­enced more than his share of screen­ings of such films as Eraser­headBlue Vel­vetLost High­way, and Mul­hol­land Dri­ve, that you could ascribe new ver­sions of not one but all of these cin­e­mat­ic ten­den­cies to Lynch him­self. We call imi­ta­tion the sin­cer­est form of flat­tery, but sure­ly it counts as a whole oth­er order of com­pli­ment to take the accom­plish­ments of the cre­ators who inspire you and some­how make them com­plete­ly your own. It takes, as the man says, a sort of sheer mag­ic.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The 10 Great­est Films of All Time Accord­ing to 846 Film Crit­ics

David Lynch Talks About His 99 Favorite Pho­tographs at Paris Pho­to 2012

David Lynch Explains How Med­i­ta­tion Enhances Our Cre­ativ­i­ty

David Lynch’s Sur­re­al Com­mer­cials

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture and writes essays on lit­er­a­ture, film, cities, Asia, and aes­thet­ics. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­lesA Los Ange­les PrimerFol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall.

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