Often hailed as “the greatest student film ever made,” this avant-garde classic introduced David Lynch to the world of feature films. He started the picture while still studying at the American Film Institute, which provided some of the $100,000 budget. With funds low, however, it took him five years to finish the picture, during which time leading man Jack Nance (a Lynch regular) kept his hair in the frizzed style featured on the picture’s poster. The final product was a total immersion into Lynch’s darkest imaginings, a dreamlike black-and-white tale of a dedicated loner (Nance) who discovers his girlfriend has borne him a child…if that’s what it is. He moves mother and child into his bleak oneroom apartment, and then things get really strange. Originally met with indifference, the film took off on the midnight movie circuit. It also became popular in private screenings in Hollywood, inspiring Mel Brooks to hire Lynch to direct The Elephant Man (1980). Lynch still refuses to discuss the picture, wanting viewers to draw their own conclusions about its meanings.
Dir. David Lynch
In attendance: Patton Oswalt