David Lynch began his artistic career as a painter. Before long his paintings became animations, of a kind, as exemplified by 1967’s Six Men Getting Sick (Six Times) and 1968’s The Alphabet. By 1977, when the years-in-the-making Eraserhead finally saw the light of day, Lynch’s transformation into a live-action filmmaker must have seemed complete. But his imagination has never accepted confinement to one medium: even while working on ever higher-profile projects — The Elephant Man, Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks — he continued to paint, to draw, to take photographs. Lynch’s completely static comic strip The Angriest Dog in the World was a compelling fixture in the LA Reader during the 1980s, but apart from the online series Dumbland and the Interpol collaboration I Touch a Red Button Man, little Lynchian in the way of animation has appeared over the past few decades.
This past Monday, however, Lynch announced the release of one such rarity free to watch on Youtube. Like I Touch a Red Button Man, Fire (Pozar) is a joint effort between filmmaker and musician, in this case composer Marek Zebrowski. “The whole point of our experiment was that I would say nothing about my intentions and Marek would interpret the visuals in his own way,” said Lynch in a USC School of Music interview.
As collaborators, Lynch and Zebrowski go back to Inland Empire, the 2006 feature Lynch shot partially in Poland. This necessitated a translator, and the Polish-American Zebrowski stepped up to the job. In 2007 the two continued down that cultural avenue, recording an album called Polish Night Music. Fire (Pozar)‘s bilingual title also honors Zebrowski’s ancestral homeland, though the film itself may lack any direct reference to Poland — or to any real place, for that matter.
Lynch is credited with having “written, drawn, and directed” the short (its animator, Noriko Miyakawa, was an editor on 2017’s Twin Peaks: The Return), and on the visual level it plays out like a journey through what will feel, to many of us, like the familiar realm of the Lynchian imagination. The titular fire — or rather, pozar — starts early on. Then we’re transported to a silhouette landscape that brings to mind David Foster Wallace’s description of one of Lynch’s painting’s, “the sort of diagnostic House-Tree-Person drawing that gets a patient institutionalized in a hurry.” But there are no people here, or at least no whole people: the first even faintly humanoid figure to emerge brings to mind the menacing baby in Eraserhead, and by the end the scene will have been overtaken by creatures neither properly animal nor man. Zebrowski’s score gets thoroughly enough into this stark but frenetic spirit to make Lynch fans believe that further collaborations must surely be on the way.
This short film will be added to our collection, 1,150 Free Movies Online: Great Classics, Indies, Noir, Westerns, etc..
Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall, on Facebook, or on Instagram.