Ranking Every David Lynch Film - A Surrealist's Dream

Ranking Every David Lynch Film - A Surrealist's Dream

Open your heart to some of the most mind-melting films ever produced.

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Quick cuts of color and close ups are superimposed upon black and white images. A droning soundtrack from Angelo Badalamenti, complete with low hums and an ever looming sense of dread. Uncomfortably long takes. Harry Dean Stanton shows up for a couple minutes. If any of these are present in the film you are screening, then you're probably watching something from the mind of David Lynch.

Let's just get this out of the way - I am a huge David Lynch fan; his films are partially what gave me the drive and motivation to pursue filmmaking as a career. There is just something mystical and thought provoking about his films that I cannot find anywhere else. I have seen all of his works multiple times now, and with each viewing I always discover something new or appreciate things that I never gave much thought before.

Ranking his cinema portfolio was not an easy thing to do. I restructured this list four times and re-watched a handful of his movies just for this list. On any given day of the week I could still probably change this list up. But as of now, this is how I rank his films.

ALSO! This list has to be published with an ascending order (1-10) as opposed to descending order (10-1). In other words, number one is the worst and number ten is the best. With that being said, on to the list!

1. "Dune" (1984)

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This is the only film I believe that Lynch has done that is truly bad. Why he was hired on to do a science fiction epic will forever be a mystery to me. Dune is a wonderfully hot, surreal mess of a film. While I have not read the book, I have heard this film strays so far away from the original source material it's laughable. It just never flows well as a narrative. Nothing feels as though it has any impact in the story.

Despite actor Kyle MacLachlan doing an excellent job in the main role, he couldn't salvage this mess of a film. To be fair though, Lynch never had final cut privileges. Supposedly, the studio massacred what he had shot originally to make it all more "consumable" for a general audience. While that may be true, it doesn't make the movie any more worth a watch.

2. "The Straight Story" (1999)

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Don't get me wrong, I really do enjoy The Straight Story. Like if you told me it was your favorite Lynch film, I'd be happy! The reason why this is so high on my list is because of how safe and conventional it is as a whole.

It's the most straight and easily digestible film Lynch has directed, which is fine! It's just missing everything that I love and adore in a Lynch film. It's a well executed and emotional movie - it's just not something I come back to often.

3. "Wild at Heart" (1990)

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Wild at Heart might be the film you are most familiar with if you have never heard of Lynch before because it has Nicholas Cage in it. Again, I think this is a great movie. Hell, it won the Palm d;Or at Cannes in 1990. It's just one of the movies I find myself not wanting to re-watch as frequently as others.

The film is almost like a dark comedy, if I were to place into a sub-genre. It's a beautifully shot film with plenty of bizarre imagery to keep you thinking about it. This would be a good starting off point for entering into Lynch's filmography, if I'm being honest.

4. "The Elephant Man" (1980)

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One of Lynch's most emotionally driven films, The Elephant Man is a biopic about John Merrick, a man with a severely deformed face and the struggles he faced in the Victorian era.

It's a movie about a guy who just wants to be treated as an equal. It feels like an incredibly sincere movie. Like, you really feel the pain and misery that the protagonist is experiencing. Definitely one you should watch at least once in your life.

5. "Lost Highway" (1997)

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Here we go. Now we are getting into territory where I could go either way on this ranking. Number six goes to the surrealist-horror cult classic Lost Highway. This film demands multiple viewings to have a full understanding of what the hell is happening. I dare you to watch this film once and come to me with a clear and concise plot synopsis. I don't think you could do it.

It's a neo-noir surrealist horror classic that is about a man convicted of murdering his wife as he is transforming into another person in a parallel reality. That's the only way I could sum it up into one sentence. If you like feeling dread, paranoia, and a sense of existentialism, Lost Highway might be the perfect film for a lonely Friday night.

6. "Blue Velvet "(1986)

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You HAVE to have heard of Blue Velvet. Regarded by many to be one of the best films of the 80's, Blue Velvet is a mesmerizing, dreamy, neo-noir film that will stick with you long after the credits roll. Without giving away much of the plot, the films main focus is one small-town innocence and how it may not all be sunshine and roses.

The thing that disturbs me the most about Blue Velvet is the lack of morality. It makes you feel angry and disgusted at the antagonist and some of the things that he does. The haunting, terrifying, emotionless things he does in this film. It's as if he crawls into your mind and tears you apart. And I love every second of it.

7. "Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me"

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This is an insanely divisive film; you either love it, or you hate it. I'm on the side of loving it (almost). Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me is a prequel (but also sequel) to the hit early 90's television show Twin Peaks. Fans who were coming into this movie thinking it would have the same campy and cozy vibes of the show were understandably disappointed.

FWWM explores the more dark and complex side to the show that was never fully realized because of studio restrictions. I honestly think this is the most horrifying Lynch film because of the context. If you have seen the original show (which you NEED to watch before this) and The Return, this film is one-thousand percent better in terms of horror.

I'm hesitant to say it's his best work, but I think it is far better than what some critics and fans think. It's a darker, more rich take on Twin Peaks. And I love it.

8. "Inland Empire" (2006)

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A woman in trouble. Lynch's description is the best you're going to get out of me in terms of plot regarding Inland Empire. Because frankly? I still have no idea what it's truly about. As of now, this is his last feature length directorial outing. But my God, did he go out with a bang. This is a three hour experimental horror film that feels like a nightmare.

Many people think it's too much for them to handle, and in some areas I could see where they are coming from with that. You really have to be in a certain mood to really sit down and take this onslaught of cinema in. It's as if Lynch is slowly guiding you from rabbit hole to rabbit hole, until he suddenly disappears and you are left alone to try and figure out the exit. This is truly an experience to be had. Lock your door, shut the blinds, crank the sound, and open your mind.

9. "Mulholland Drive" (2001)

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Confession time! I wasn't too hot on Mulholland Drive the first time I watched it. After hearing from so many people how good and bizarre it was, I had my expectations high. Maybe a little too high. I thought it was simply okay. However, it wasn't until I watched it twice more recently that I realized it's brilliance.

You see, the main thing that is supposed to make you lose your mind is the puzzle throughout the film. There are hundreds of articles and fan-theories online about what actually happened that are all excellent and interesting to read. I have my own dumb interpretation of the plot, as I'm sure you do if you watch the film.

Thinking about it more though, the puzzle isn't the most interesting thing to me. You see, it's the manipulation that Lynch implements.

Lynch manipulates the audience (and main characters) in such a unique and emotional way that I haven't seen it done in any other film or artistic medium. He really got me thinking about art and the concept of cinema itself - we are so emotionally invested in make-believe characters and scenarios.

We know they don't exist, we know what's happening on screen isn't really happening, we know that everything will be fine for the people involved with the film. But why do we get so invested? Why? Well, that's what art is.

And in turn, that's what cinema is. The artist (or director) taps into their audiences most primal and emotional feelings and plays with them, bending them to their will.

Then all of a sudden, poof! Something happens and we, the audience, are left with our mouths agape and hearts hollowed out. This film is an emotional and psychological roller-coaster that I will gladly get in line for again and again. I agree with the people that say this is going to go down as one of the most important films of the 21st century. What a phenomenal experience. Please, watch this movie. You owe it to yourself.

10. "Eraserhead" (1977)

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The one that began it all. Eraserhead. This film helped to usher in the modern aesthetic usage of surrealism in film, and it's impossible to say just how influential this has been on the industry as a whole. This is David Lynch's debut as a feature filmmaker. He wrote, directed, and produced this film all under a scholarship he received from the American Film Institute. I do not want to give ANYTHING away regarding plot for this film. Go in as blind as possible.

Saying Eraserhead is a technical marvel is an understatement. The horrific imagery combined with the innovative and elaborate sound design builds an atmosphere full of dread and desolation that I have never felt with another film. It's a truly visceral and draining experience, and I love every second of this.

While I do think that Mulholland Drive is Lynch's magnum opus, I have a special connection with Eraserhead. It's difficult for me to exactly describe why though. Find a way to watch this with the best sound setup you can afford. This is truly a life-changing film for me, and I will forever be grateful for it.

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11 Things Psychology Majors Hear That Drive Them Crazy

No pun intended.
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We've all been there. You're talking to a new acquaintance, or a friend of your parents, or whoever. And then, you get the dreaded question.

"So what are you studying in school?"

Cue the instant regret of picking Psychology as your major, solely for the fact that you are 99.9% likely to receive one of the slightly comical, slightly cliche, slightly annoying phrases listed below. Don't worry though, I've included some responses for you to use next time this comes up in conversation. Because it will.

Quick side note, these are all real-life remarks that I've gotten when I told people I was a psych major.

Here we go.

1. So are you, like, analyzing me right now?


Well, I wasn't. But yeah. Now I am.

2. Ugh so jealous! You picked the easy major.


"Lol" is all I have to say to this one. I'm gonna go write my 15-page paper on cognitive impairment. You have fun with your five college algebra problems, though!

3. So can you tell me what you think is wrong with me? *Shares entire life story*


Don't get me wrong; I love listening and helping people get through hard times. But we can save the story about how one time that one friend said that one slightly rude comment to you for later.

4. Well, s**t, I have to be careful what I say around you.


Relax, pal. I couldn't diagnose and/or institutionalize you even if I wanted to.

5. OMG! I have the perfect first client for you! *Proceeds to vent about ex-boyfriend or girlfriend*


Possible good response: simply nod your head the entire time, while actually secretly thinking about the Ben and Jerry's carton you're going to go home and demolish after this conversation ends.

6. So you must kind of be like, secretly insane or something to be into Psychology.


Option one: try and hide that you're offended. Option two: just go with it, throw a full-blown tantrum, and scare off this individual, thereby ending this painful conversation.

7. Oh. So you want to be a shrink?


First off, please. Stop. Calling. Therapists. Shrinks. Second, that's not a psych major's one and only job option.

8. You know you have to go to grad school if you ever want a job in Psychology.


Not completely true, for the record. But I am fully aware that I may have to spend up to seven more years of my life in school. Thanks for the friendly reminder.

9. So you... want to work with like... psychopaths?


Let's get serious and completely not-sarcastic for a second. First off, I take personal offense to this one. Having a mental illness does not classify you as a psycho, or not normal, or not deserving of being treated just like anyone else on the planet. Please stop using a handful of umbrella terms to label millions of wonderful individuals. It's not cool and not appreciated.

10. So can you, like, read my mind?


It actually might be fun to say yes to this one. Try it out and see what happens. Get back to me.

11. You must be a really emotional person to want to work in Psychology.


Psychology is more than about feeling happy, or sad, or angry. Psychology is about understanding the most complex thing to ever happen to us: our brain. How it works the way it does, why it works the way it does, and how we can better understand and communicate with this incredibly mysterious, incredibly vast organ in our tiny little skull. That's what psychology is.

So keep your head up, psychology majors, and don't let anyone discourage you about choosing, what is in my opinion, the coolest career field out there. The world needs more people like us.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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Short Stories On Odyssey: Roses

What's worth more than red roses?

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Five years old and a bouquet of roses rested in her hands. The audience-- clapped away her performance, giving her a standing ovation. She's smiling then because everything made sense, her happiness as bright as the roses she held in her hands.

Fifteen now, and a pile of papers rested on her desk. The teachers all smiled when she walked down the aisle and gave them her presentation. She was content then but oh so stressed, but her parents happy she had an A as a grade, not red on her chest.

Eighteen now and a trail of tears followed her to the door. Partying, and doing some wild things, she just didn't know who she was. She's crying now, doesn't know anymore, slamming her fists into walls, pricking her fingers on roses' thorns.

Twenty-one and a bundle of bills were grasped in her hands. All the men-- clapped and roared as she sold her soul, to the pole, for a dance. She's frowning now because everything went wrong, but she has to stay strong, for rich green money, is worth more than red roses.

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