“The trick is to find your way home.” — David Lynch, via David Lowery

Alexandre O. Philippe‘s Lynch/Oz (2022) is an intelligent, impeccable essay film which reaches far beyond discussing fascinating aspects connecting the work of David Lynch to Victor Fleming‘s timeless wonder, Wizard Of Oz, although the area of convergence is still a lavish treasure chest of pure, unprocessed Americana.

The secret to the success of such endeavours is always in the curation. One needs to know who to invite, which bits to choose, and what to lose. Philippe already exhibited great taste in his previous cinematic explorations, analysing the infamous & iconic shower scene in Hitchcock’s Psycho in 78/52 (2017), and its cultural impact. It made for a riveting viewing. I am yet to see his other work, such as Leap of Faith: William Friedkin on The Exorcist (2019), and Memory: The Origins of Alien (2019), but from what I have seen thus far, Philippe is turning out to be a virtuoso in translating cinematic sorcery into cultural code, firmly positioned on those ever-so-potent crossroads of zeitgeist and cinema.

In Lynch/Oz, setting his sights equally high, through the juxtapose of Lynch’s œuvre and the intricate, often obscured aspects of the beloved technicolour masterpiece, Philippe summons the art of storytelling in moving pictures through the narrations of seven film workers (critics, writers, directors) — and in six chapters, Wind (Amy Nicholson), Membranes (Rodney Ascher) , Kindred (John Waters), Multitudes (Karyn Kusama), Judy (Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead), and Dig (David Lowery).

Enchanted and inspired by both Oz and Lynch, talking dreamscapes, portals, time travel, puzzles, bad juju, the 1950s, doppelgängers, the mystery of Judy Garland, the power of home, the narrators soothingly lead us down the yellow brick road of filmmaking, conjuring ways movies themselves helped shape the myth of America.

Delving into the liminality of the medium of film through the work Lynch and Fleming’s Oz, and the transportive power of the audiovisual narrative, when charged with complex subtext and deeply resonant meaning, Lynch/Oz is a smoothly stated love letter to filmmaking, and the place cinema holds in our lives.

Although it might be thoroughly connoisseur fare, aimed at film historians, filmmakers, film lovers, and cultural enthusiasts, it does make our kind ecstatically happy for about two hours straight, high on top-shelf film theory and pitch perfect storytelling.

Author: ©Milana Vujkov

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