The City of Absurdity   Lost Highway  
About the Film

  David Lynch | Barry Gifford | Patricia Arquette | Bill Pullman

Robert Blake | Robert Loggia | Natasha Gregson Wagner

Balthazar Getty | Patricia Norris | Mary Sweeney | Peter Deming


"You're sitting quietly, and something unfolds in your mind..."
David Lynch (Director/Writer/Sound Designer)

" It's about a man in trouble...a psychogenic fugue is the type of trouble."
"And it's maybe beautifully uneasy."

"It's about a condition, a human sort of condition. How people can become in trouble, mentally."

"The film deals with time; it starts at one place and moves forward or backwards, or stands still, relatively speaking. But, time marches on and films compact time, or prolong time in different ways. There are sequences built with time in mind, as is the music."

"Lost Highway is not really a film about dreams. The film is a product of two years of work, and it has to be a certain way. It took a long time to be correct. It's a depressing thought to even try to put that into a sentence."

"Barry Gifford, wrote a book, called Night People. Two characters mention going down the lost highway, and when I read those words; lost, and highway, um, it made me dream, and it suggested possibilities and I told that to Barry and he said, "Well, let's write something." And, uh, that started the ball rolling."

"...and I said to Barry, "I love those two words together we should make something called Lost Highway. The phrase had a lot of potential for me. The unknown was suddenly pulling me in and I was ready to go into another world. It became about mood and those kinds of things that can only happen at night. It held promise and intrigue and mystery."

"Sometime during the shooting, the unit publicist was reading up on different types of mental illness, and she hit upon this thing called "psychogenic fugue." The person suffering from it creates in their mind a completely new identity, new friends, new home, new everything - they forget their past identity. This has reverberations with Lost Highway, and it's also a musical term. A fugue starts off one way, takes up on another direction, and then comes back to the original, so it [relates] to the form of the film.

"The unit publicist was reading up on certain mental disorders during production, and she came upon this true condition called 'psychogenic fugue,' which is where a person gives up himself, his world, his family - everything about himself - and takes on another identity. That's Fred Madison completely. I love the term psychogenic fugue. In a way, the musical term fugue fits perfectly, because the film has one theme, and then another theme takes over. To me, jazz is the closest thing to insanity that there is in music."

"You can say that a lot of Lost Highway is internal. It's Fred's story. It's not a dream: It's realistic, though according to Fred's logic. But I don't want to say too much. The reason is: I love mysteries. To fall into a mystery and its danger ... everything becomes so intense in those moments. When most mysteries are solved, I feel tremendously let down. So I want things to feel solved up to a point, but there's got to be a certain percentage left over to keep the dream going. It's like at the end of Chinatown: The guy says, 'Forget it, Jake, it's Chinatown.' You understand it, but you don't understand it, and it keeps that mystery alive. That's the most beautiful thing."

Because of this line ["I like to remember things my own way"] in there, I've been forced to think about this and realized that it's not just me, it's all of us...ah...brings so much to an experience ...ahm... an encounter ..ah beyond of the surface of the... there's... when you meet something or someone says something, you're sensing, you know, many things in the air coming from that person besides those words.

"There are explanations for a billion things in life that aren't so understandable, and yet inside - somewhere - they are understandable. There are things that happen to people that can be understood in terms of jealousy, or fear, or love. Maybe not in a rational, intellectual way."

"It's like when you are sitting alone, you sometimes have the feeling that there are different parts of you. There are certain things that you can do and there are certain things that you would never do unless there was a part of you that took over. So, in a way, it's kind of logical."

"There's a beguiling and magnetic mood. There's so much darkness, and there's so much room to dream. They're mysteries and there are people in trouble, and uneasiness."

"Barry may have his idea of what the film means and I may have my own idea, and they may be two different things. And yet, we worked together on the same film. The beauty of a film that is more abstract is everybody has a different take. Nobody agrees on anything in the world today. When you are spoon-fed a film, more people instantly know what it is. I love things that leave room to dream and are open to various interpretations. It's a beautiful thing. It doesn't do any good for Barry to say 'This is what it means.' Film is what it means. If Barry or anyone else could capture what the film is in words, then that's poetry."

"There is a key in the film as to its meaning. But keys are weird. There are surface keys, and there are deeper keys. Intellectual thinking leaves you high and dry sometimes. Intuitive thinking where you get a marriage of feelings and intellect lets you feel the answers where you may not be able to articulate them. Those kinds of things are used in life a lot, but we don't use them too much in cinema. There are films that stay more on the surface, and there's no problem interpreting their meaning."

"The Mystery Man came from an old idea I had. I told Barry a version of what ended up in the film. I was halfway through the story, and it looked like he wasn't listening to me. He just said, 'That's it!' and started writing stuff down. The character came out of a feeling of a man who, whether real or not, gave the impression that he was supernatural."

"There's a human condition there - people in trouble, people led into situations that become increasingly dangerous. And it's also about mood and those kind of things that can only happen at night. You can just take that and run with it your own way."

"They're [Fred Madison and Pete Dayton] living the same relationship but they're living it in two different ways. They're victims in different ways, in both worlds."

"I always like to have the people stand out, so the furnishings have got to be as minimal as possible so you can see the people. There were many things that had to be built for the story to work."

"Half of the film is picture, the other half is sound. They've got to work together. I keep saying that there are ten sounds that will be correct and if you get one of them, you're there. But there are thousands that are incorrect, so you just have to keep on letting it talk to you and feel it. It's not an intellectual sort of thing."

"Death Valley is so beautiful. It just goes on forever. I like the idea of shooting in Death Valley - just the name. It made perfect sense for Lost Highway."

"Well, there's a scene in the film that has something to do with rules of the road. And it just strikes me that we could talk about what's happening in Los Angeles and maybe many places in the world: People are going through red lights.
It's a big problem. And I understand the frustration of the light turning yellow and the cars in front are going ahead. But it's extremely important to stop at a red light."

"Now why should I want to make fun of Richard Pryor? And why shouldn't he be in the film? Richard Pryor is a great guy. He's in a wheelchair, and he can't play a huge role, but I really wanted to work with him. I saw him in a show, and I fell in love with him. He was just talking about himself and his life, and I said I really wanted to work with this guy. He did the scripted scenes, and then I put him on the phone in the office of the garage, introduced a mental concept, and let him go for nine minutes. He was amazing. A fragment of that is in the film. That's the kind of thinking... it's really sick and twisted. It's really them that are imagining these things, so they're the sick and twisted ones just to come up with that concept."

also see Lost Highway Soundtrack page

Here you can order "Lynch on Lynch", the ticket into the world of David Lynch edited by Chris Rodley.

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© Mike Hartmann