Universal finally got around to releasing Lynch's "Lost Highway" on DVD! Most of you are already well aware that there was never a proper domestic release of the film. It was available from Canada in a hideous pan and scan version complete with terrible color and brightness levels that made the film difficult to watch.
Before discussing this particular DVD, I'd like to include a few comments on the film itself. There are a lot of people that will say this film makes no sense, that it's meaningless, or even pointless. I would like to counter that by saying, the film is full of meaning, but it's like a puzzle and you can't expect to figure it out on one or two viewings alone. There are so many fascinating details and connections that present themselves upon subsequent viewings that I really believe it's worth it to spend some time with "Lost Highway".
I don't want to give away plot information or even present some common interpretations of the film. At least 30% of the fun comes from post-viewing discussions where you and your friends attempt to make sense of the pieces. If you are just dying to get some easy answers, they're already covered in Lynch discussion boards all around the web. I'm much more interested in helping new viewers approach the film to get the most out of it on the first viewing.
I think the first viewing should be a purely sensual experience where you can take in the atmosphere and react to the film on a gut level. It's going to make you scratch your head, but it's such a wild ride that I think it's fun without even understanding everything. The second time you watch it, look for details - themes, motives, repetition - there are clues all over the place.
In interviews, Lynch admitted that he and Barry Gifford (the writer) included certain elements so that the film would *not* ever completely resolve, no matter how you put it together. Think of the blue box in "Mulholland Drive" - it's a fantastic element that probably exists only symbolically. If you separate certain features of "Mulholland Drive", the film eventually makes sense. The same goes for "Lost Highway" - there are real events, symbolic events, and imaginary events. A great first step is deciding in which category specific events fall.
Now onto this particular DVD release:
The film received a brand new 5.1 mix with the top-quality video work Lynch is known for. However, while this DVD is a big step up in terms of quality and availability, I'm disappointed that Universal didn't do more. "Blade Runner" fans waited years for a proper DVD release, but they were eventually rewarded with a total of NINE different editions (including both HDDVD and Bluray) - why couldn't they at very least give "Lost Highway" fans a special edition?
Actually, this DVD has no extras, and that is totally inexcusable. A while ago, I gave up on a domestic release of "Lost Highway" and put down some money for an all-region DVD player with a PAL converter. Among my first purchases from Amazon.co.uk were the double-disc Region 2 editions of "Mulholland Drive" and "Lost Highway." There ARE great extras out there - interviews, featurettes, everything you could want. Why not just throw them on a separate disc? There was even a rumored hour-long Lynch self-interview as we got with the remastered Eraserhead DVD. What happened?
If you're looking for extras, my advice is to either get an all-region player, or check out one of the many fine books on Lynch and "Lost Highway." The issue with books on "Lost Highway" is that you'll need to have a working knowledge of Lacanian psychoanalytic theory. Slavoj Zizek's "The Art of the Ridiculous Sublime" received a lot of bad reviews, but in almost every case, the reviewer was unable to overcome the terminology. Todd McGowan's "The Impossible David Lynch" offers a great reading of the film as well, but again, McGowan uses Lacanian theory, which will turn some people off right away.
"Lost Highway" is such a puzzling, but engaging film. I highly recommend it to any fan of Lynch's. It's not the best Lynch film to start with if you haven't seen any yet. It's not as straightforward as "Blue Velvet" and it's trickier than "Mulholland Drive", but it's got a wonderfully dark atmosphere that fills the screen with Lynchian dread. It's an experience.
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