The Film Paintings of David Lynch (Book)

Challenging Film Theory

One of the most distinguished filmmakers working today, David Lynch is a director whose vision of cinema is firmly rooted in fine art. He was motivated to make his first film as a student because he wanted a painting that 'would really be able to move.' Most existing studies of Lynch, however, fail to engage fully with the complexities of his films’ relationship to other art forms. The Film Paintings of David Lynch fills this void, arguing that Lynch’s cinematic output needs to be considered within a broad range of cultural references. Aimed at both Lynch fans and film studies specialists, Allister Mactaggart addresses Lynch’s films from the perspective of the relationship between commercial film, avant-garde art and cultural theory. Individual Lynch works – The Elephant ManBlue VelvetTwin PeaksLost HighwayThe Straight StoryMulholland Drive, Inland Empire – are discussed in relation to other films and directors, illustrating that the solitary, or seemingly isolated, experience of film is itself socially, culturally and politically important. 

The Film Paintings of David Lynch offers a unique perspective on an influential director, weaving together a range of theoretical approaches to Lynch’s films to make exciting new connections among film theory, art history, psychoanalysis and cinema.


Allister Mactaggart is a senior lecturer at the Directorate of Art and Design, Chesterfield College and an associate lecturer of Leeds Metropolitan University. He teaches film studies and art history, specializing in David Lynch, psychoanalysis, and visual culture.

Introduction: Towards a Palimpsest 

Chapter One: Ever Died? Ever Failed? No Matter. Die Again. Fail Better. Immanence and Transcendence In Twin Peaks (With Apologies To Samuel Beckett) 

Chapter Two: Reasons to be Tearful: Snapshots of Lynchian Excess 

Chapter Three: Driven to Distraction: Hitching a Ride along the Lynchian Highway 

Chapter Four: Pierced by the Past: Filmic Trauma; Remembering and Forgetting 

Chapter Five: ‘It is Happening Again’: Experiencing the Lynchian Uncanny 

Chapter Six: The Return of the Repressed: INLAND EMPIRE, DavidLynch.Com, and the Re-emergence of Film Painting 

Conclusion: Stitching up Lynch

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