A Quick Thought on Lynch and Film Violence

I watched nearly all of David Lynch’s shorts, films, and television episodes this year, many of them for the first time. After being ambivalent about him for the longest time, I’m now a full-fledged convert. My Damascus experience came midway through the first season of Twin Peaks, when I found myself suddenly and unexpectedly overwhelmed by the deep sorrow that pervades the Laura Palmer story. While watching Inland Empire again last night, it occurred to me that one reason I’m completely unconvinced by all of the critical praise being heaped on the Coens’ treatment of evil and violence in No Country for Old Men is because violence — real, non-metaphoric violence — is always sorrowful and tragic. Lynch seems to have been born with a peculiar sensitivity to that fact, and has spent his career perfecting the formal means of articulating it.