Directors Specialising in Experimental Film
David Keith Lynch was on 20th January 1946 in the small American town of Missoula, Montana. Lynch uses and is fascinated by the same kind of ‘small town’ that he was born in. Signature Lynch features include vibrant colours and the use of montage and dreams to connect thought and emotions in to one sequence. He also continually defies cinematic convention and ‘Hollywood curse’ in both his feature films and shorts.
He has directed many feature-length films including ‘Mulholland Drive’ (2001), ‘Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me’ (1992) and ‘Blue Velvet’ (1986); all of which have been described as visually stunning. He also directed ‘The Elephant Man’ (1980) which starred screen legend Anthony Hopkins. As well as feature-length films, Lynch has also directed short films such as ‘Rabbits’, ‘The Grandmother’ and ‘Lady Blue Shanghai’.
His films continually represent his ideal; that films representing life, should be complicated, and in some cases be unexplainable (like life). Lynch’s interpretation of life is that it is a series of random events that have little purpose. People are supposed to interpret the events individually, giving them personal purpose. Lynch knows why he puts the shots, props, effects, lights, colours, actors and music in the scenes, but he'll never tell anyone else.
David Lynch’s short film titled ‘Rabbits’ is about a family of people with the body of a human and the head of a rabbit. The film depicts the mundane activities of everyday life and is told in the style of a ‘sit-com’. The short is filmed in one long, continuous eleven minute shot. This emphasises the feeling of life being very boring. David Lynch is mocking ‘sit-coms’ in this short film by using extremely random dialogue and events, implying that the goings on of sit-com’s are random and unimportant. The setting of film is a living room; again boring and an everyday sight. For a large majority of the film, the lighting used to illuminate the set comes from a couple of lamps around the set.
Lady Blue Shanghai
‘Lady Blue Shanghai’ is a sixteen minute short film starring Marion Cotillard as a woman who experiences some bizarre events upon returning to the room of her Shanghai hotel. The nameless woman enters her room and finds a small purse on a small table in the centre of the room. She calls security and when they arrive, they ask what she did during the day. This then triggers a long flashback, in which suppressed memories of her lover resurface.
Due to the flashbacks, the film can be a little bit confusing at times. David Lynch could be trying to make the audience feel as confused as the protagonist is feeling. Also, during the flashbacks, a blurry/choppy effect has been added to allow the audience to distinguish between the two. The camera angles used vary from low-angle shots to tracking shots; Lynch has done well not to use too many of shot, there is an even mix throughout. As for the music, it only occurs during and after the flashback. Lynch has used slow romantic music. The speed of the music represents the protagonist coming to terms with what is happening. The romantic side of the music is show that she is remembering her lover. Finally, the lighting used is very everyday, until the flashback finishes and she opens the purse. When she does, a spotlight brings the attention of the audience to the purse.
Lars Von Trier
Lars von Trier studied film at the Danish Film School. He first attracted international attention with his very first feature, ‘The Element of Crime’ (1984), a blend of film noir and German Expressionism. It’s combination of yellow-tinted monochrome cinematography (pierced by blue light) and doom-haunted atmosphere made it an unforgettable visual experience. His subsequent features ‘Epidemic’ (1987) and ‘Europa’ (1991) have been equally ambitious both thematically and visually, though his international fame is most likely to be based on ‘The Kingdom’ (1994), a TV soap opera blending hospital drama and surrealism. The series was so successful in Denmark, that it was released internationally as a 280 minute theatrical feature. Signature Von Trier features include the frequent casting of Udo Kier and Jean-Marc Barr.
Looking at the ending of Lars Von Trier’s Sci-Fi drama ‘Melancholia’, we see three characters (two women and a young boy) sitting cross-legged in a circle, all holding hands. They are not speaking and they look like they are waiting for something to happen. The lighting is a cold shade of blue; this use of pathetic fallacy means that something bad is about to happen. The shots used are mainly close ups of the characters’ faces, until the film cuts to an extreme wide shot of the trio. At this point the audience sees a huge, unknown planet colliding with Earth. The film ends with a large flash of light from the impact of the two planets hitting each other.
During the beginning of ‘Epidemic’, two men are in a car when the driver fails to drive away. He tries again, and fails again. They both look at each other and burst into laughter. The lighting used is normal daylight. The shots used are midshots from each side of the car.