Lodges, Empires and Lost Highways: The Grand Unification Theory of the Lynchian Universe (Part 1)

Written by Eden H Roquelaire for Twin Peaks Freaks.

Warning!: Contains spoilers for all of Lynch’s movies and the TV series Twin Peaks. Don’t read if you don’t want to know!

Now entering the Lodge.

Now entering the Lodge.

We all know that David Lynch’s films share many motifs, such as red curtains, telephones, black and white/good vs. evil, singers in night clubs granting obscure epiphanies, flashing lights, non-linear time, prostitutes, and other dimensions. But could there be a deeper connection? Let me blow your mind with a fun fact, if you didn’t know already: David Lynch has told us that his movie Lost Highway takes place in “the same universe” as Twin Peaks.

[A brief explanation for any who don’t understand that statement, think of it this way: Superman has never met Mickey Mouse, because they don’t occupy the same “universe.” HOWEVER, Superman can team up with Batman, because they both occupy the same universe (The DC Comics Universe). Just like you can’t meet Dorothy Gale because she’s from a different, fictional universe, but you can go visit your aunt in the next town over, because you both live in this universe.]

So this means, the characters of Twin Peaks could interact with the characters from Lost Highway. Theoretically, if Fred Mason traveled up to Washington State, he could get cherry pie at the Double R, served to him by Norma, who might have heard about a woman who was mutilated down in LA, killer at large. And if Bobby pulled any delinquency in Los Angeles, Henry Rollins might be his prison guard. (OK, maybe not REALLY Henry Rollins…)

With today’s reports of Balthazar Getty (Lost Highway‘s Pete Dayton) being cast for Twin Peaks Season 3, the possibilities are… intriguing, to say the least.

“Balthazar? It’s David. We might finally be able to get you out of that weird dimension I trapped you in back in ’97…”

How else are these two works connected? Let’s look at Lost Highway: What does it have in common with Twin Peaks? Some see the Mystery Man as a sort of BOB figure; a manifestation of the evil inside of Fred Madison (Bill Pullman), just as BOB was, on one level, a representation of “the evil that men do.” Both movies have to do with the darker side of humanity (prostitution, drugs, murder, etc…), and the mask of “normalcy” that people wear to disguise it.

Let’s look at one scene in particular: Fred goes in to check the house after seeing a bright light flashing upstairs. He goes down the hallway, past some red curtains, and the phone rings. It is most likely the Mystery Man calling him. He doesn’t see anything, so he goes back outside, gets Renee, and they re-enter the house. While Renee is in the bathroom, Fred is staring into the hallway he went down earlier. It looks like a black void. He walks back down the hall (presumably passing the red curtains on the way). He comes to a mirror, and looks at his reflection in the darkness.

Fred disappears towards some red curtains.

Fred disappears towards some red curtains.

Just in this scene, we can find some strong ties to Twin Peaks: The red curtains in the Black Lodge, and the mirror that Cooper looks into in the final episode of Season 2, when he sees himself possessed by BOB (Who, of course, parallels the Mystery Man). I feel that this is an indication that Fred is symbolically entering the Black Lodge, while “The Mystery Man” (the evil inside of him) controls his body and kills Renee.

Now, how about this scene: Where Pete goes to a cabin (lodge) in the middle of the desert. The flame effect used on the cabin is the exact same that is used in Twin Peaks, when BOB captures Windom Earle. Inside this lodge is the Mystery Man, who is waiting for Pete, just as BOB is in the Lodge, waiting for Cooper. Fire is, of course, an all-important symbol in Twin Peaks: It represents the spirit of destruction, and symbolizes BOB himself. So the Mystery Man being so closely associated with fire here lends credence to the idea that he is either a being like BOB, or he is BOB himself in another form. Fire is also focused on earlier in the movie, when Fred is, quite probably “possessed” by the Mystery Man.

losthighwaylist

There are many other parallels littered throughout the film: The Mystery Man shouting at Fred, “And your name — What the fuck is your name?” is similar to Philip Jeffries’ question “Who do you think that is there?” (Speaking to Gordon Cole, referring to Agent Cooper). The blond femme fatale (Alice/Laura) involved with the criminal business man (Mr Eddy/Ben Horne). Bright, flashing lights during essential scenes (Cooper in the Black Lodge, Pete venturing down the long hallway to find Alice). Video tapes play important roles in both (the video tapes received by Fred and Renee, and the video of Laura and Donna at the picnic). And of course, doppelgangers aplenty (Renee/Alice, Mr Eddy/Dick Laurent, Fred Madison/Pete Dayton…).

Fred looking up into a bright light, not unlike the kind that appears in Twin Peaks, and later Mulholland Drive and Inland Empire.

Fred looking up into a bright light, not unlike the kind that appears in Twin Peaks, and later, Mulholland Drive and Inland Empire.

Everyone knows that each David Lynch film exists within a strange world so similar yet so different from our own world, that is ruled by broken laws of physics, and that is as likely to send you to Hell as to take you to Heaven. There are strange creatures that dwell here, and they may help or harm us; they speak in riddles that will reveal the secrets of the universe if only we are astute enough to fathom them. Each film has its own “rabbit hole” where the hero moves from the normal world into this other place. Agent Cooper and Laura enter the Black Lodge, Nikki Grace gets trapped within the film set and become Susan Blue, Fred Madison turns into Pete Dayton and enters a sort of parallel world, Betty and Rita open the Blue Box and are sucked in…

Here’s the bombshell: What if I told you that the Black Lodge, the Lost Highway, inside the Radiator, the Inland Empire, and Club Silencio were all the same place?

If you’re familiar with the Lynchian Universe at all, you are most likely also familiar with this recurring motif: The Red Curtains. They appear in virtually every Lynch work, most famously Twin Peaks where their familiar presence has led to the coining of the name “The Red Room.” But these curtains aren’t limited to the Black Lodge:1430778-red_room

– In Eraserhead, there are curtains on the stage, behind the Lady in the Radiator. The film is black and white, but I think it is a safe assumption to say they are red.

– In Blue Velvet, Dorothy Valens performs onstage in front of red curtains.

– In Lost Highway, there are red curtains in Fred and Renee’s house.

– In Mulholland Drive, there are red curtains in Club Silencio and Mr. Roque’s office.

– In Inland Empire, Sue enters a mysterious hallway that is decked in red curtains.

So what does this mean? It is my belief that the red curtains are a sign post to let viewers know You’re entering another dimension. And this dimension is the same one in every film: However, it changes based on its visitor’s psyche (but I’ll get back to that at a later date).

Slow_Club

Let’s take a look at more of the shared traits of these places: They are dreamlike places, which use heavy symbolism. Everything is shrouded and disorienting. Often they are occupied by magical and strange beings, such as The Man from Another Place, or the Rabbits. There is almost always music in the air; singers such as Little Jimmy Scott and Rebekah Del Rio appear. Revelatory messages are imparted in code.

I believe that these worlds aren’t just similar; they are THE SAME. The Lady in the Radiator could be an agent of the White Lodge, the Rabbits may have been watching Cooper from a distance all the time, and Nikki Grace may have entered Club Silencio to watch that footage of herself at the end of the film.

But how can we be sure of this? How can we be sure of anything, in a world that is so symbolic and convoluted?

I believe the movie Inland Empire is the key.

axxon-n

A doorway to the Inland Empire.

Inland Empire seems to be a film completely dedicated to the exploration of this other dimension, its power, the beings that live there, the people who fight to control it, and its possibilities. In fact, I think that this other dimension IS the “Inland Empire” referred to in the title: A dimension within dimensions (“inland”), a veritable empire of other worlds, all connected. The film shows us many motifs from earlier films, and contextualizes them. Using the symbols, events, and images from Inland Empire, one can crack the code of the entire Lynchian Universe.

In the next part, we will examine the symbols of Inland Empire, and use them as a Rosetta Stone to deciphering the rest of Lynch’s Universe, and produce evidence that all of Lynch’s films are connected.

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Beyond Life and Death, Part 1: Cooper’s Voyage Through the Black Lodge, and What It Means

BeyondLife&Death

Written by Eden H. Roquelaire for Twin Peaks Freaks.

Warning: Contains massive spoilers for the final episode of Twin Peaks Season 2.

“The shadow-self of the White Lodge. The legend says that every spirit must pass through there on the way to perfection. There, you will meet your own shadow self. My people call it ‘The Dweller on the Threshold’ … But it is said, if you confront the Black Lodge with imperfect courage, it will utterly annihilate your soul.”

-Deputy Hawk

We all know that the final episode of Twin Peaks Season 2 revolves around Agent Cooper and his exploration of the other dimension known as the Black Lodge. What you may not know, however, is what, exactly, it means. In this first segment, we will do a scene-by-scene analysis of Cooper’s pilgrimage through the Black Lodge, and attempt to shed some light on the mysteries that lie beyond life and death.

Evil Doppelgangers of Cooper and Leland.

Evil Doppelgangers of Cooper and Leland.

The journey through the Black Lodge is, ultimately, a test of one’s true character. Cooper must face his “Shadow,” or, in Lynch-Frost language, his “Doppelganger,” or “the Dweller on the Threshold.” He must confront everything he feels guilty for, particularly all the deaths he could not prevent: Laura, Maddy, Leland, and Caroline. He also encounters a specter of Annie, whose death he fears he will not be able to stop. He also faces one of (if not the) most traumatic events of his life: The murder of Caroline Earle, his illicit love, and the attempted murder of Cooper himself. This is similar to many accounts of NDE’s (Near-Death Experiences), wherein people say that they go through a “Life Review.” In this Life Review, they experience everything that has happened to them in their lives, and not only feel all their own emotions again, but feel the emotions of the people whom their actions affected, making them aware of the consequences to their choices in life. With this in mind, let us proceed with our scene-by-scene analysis of Cooper’s journey through the Black Lodge.

The entrance to the Black Lodge, surrounded by Sycamore Trees.

The entrance to the Black Lodge, surrounded by Sycamore Trees.

First, Cooper enters the Lodge, and the lights begin to flicker in a strobe effect, mirroring the black and white/dark and light pattern on the Lodge floor. Cooper stares, wide-eyed, as the Man From Another Place dances by, and seats himself in the black chair. Jimmy Scott sings the final lines of “Sycamore Trees,” then vanishes.

Let’s talk about this song for a moment. It is given prominence, as it is playing when Cooper first enters the Lodge, but what is its significance? Of course sycamores are the kind of trees that encircle the portal to the Lodges in Twin Peaks’ woods, and these trees have an intriguing symbolism in the lore of Ancient Egypt:

“In Egypt the Holy Sycamore is said to stand on the threshold of life and death, connecting the worlds.”

(Source: Ancient Wisdom Foundation: Tree Lore)

That’s a bit on the nose, I would say, and most likely why Mark Frost chose to use them. However, with David Lynch, it might be another story. Lynch has always been inspired by music, as most famously seen with Blue Velvet, and music is most likely a source of inspiration for him here, as well. There is a classic standard from the 1930s, entitled Dream a Little Dream of Me. Here are the lyrics:

Stars shining bright above you, night breezes seem to whisper, “I love you”.
Birds singing in the sycamore tree, “Dream a little dream of me”.
Say “nighty-night” and kiss me. Just hold me tight and tell me you’ll miss me.
While I’m alone and blue as can be, dream a little dream of me.

Stars fading, but I linger on, dear.
Still craving your kiss, I’m longing to linger till dawn, dear.
Just saying this: Sweet dreams till sunbeams find you.
Sweet dreams that leave all worries behind you.
But in your dreams whatever they be, dream a little dream of me.

Stars fading, but I linger on, dear.
Still craving your kiss, I’m longing to linger till dawn, dear.
Just saying this: Sweet dreams till sunbeams find you.
Sweet dreams that leave all worries behind you.
But in your dreams whatever they be, dream a little dream of me.

This classic has similar lyrics to the Lynch/Badalamenti penned song, Sycamore Trees. Notice also certain elements that coincide with imagery from Twin Peaks: Sycamore trees, dreams (The Lodge is seen in the dreams of Cooper and Laura), kisses (Laura kisses Cooper before she tells him the identity of her killer), the stars (celestial events are connected with the Lodges), and birdsong (“Where we’re from, the birds sing a pretty song.”) Have a listen to this version by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, because this sounds like it could be the version that inspired David Lynch to create the first scene where Laura meets Cooper in the Black Lodge:

Returning to our analysis, let’s take a moment to examine the Waiting Room decor:

There is an oddly specific lamp sitting on a small table in this room: A 1939 World’s Fair Saturn Lamp. Saturn is the Roman God of the harvest, and, as such, was considered to reign over the cycles of time as well. Time is shown to be non-linear in the Lodge, and the presence of this lamp could be referring to this fact. Perhaps a more important point, however, is the identity of Saturn as the lord of the harvest, as the Dugpas harvest pain and suffering to feed on. In mythology, Saturn was also known to have devoured his children, which is similar in the way that Leland murdered his daughter Laura and niece Maddy, and BOB devoured their pain and suffering. Also consider that the people BOB inhabited were “his children.”

Notice the Grecian-style statue in the background: It is called the Venus Pudica and I shall return to it later.

Cooper sits in a black chair, across from the Man From Another Place. The Man From Another Place tells him, “When you see me again, it won’t be me,” a foreshadow of the later appearance of the Man From Another Place’s Doppelganger. He asks, “Would you like some coffee?” (which doesn’t come right away) and informs Cooper that some of his friends are there. This indicates that Cooper will have to meet the spirits or representations of important people in his life. Cooper looks up and watches as Laura walks in and sits down in the black chair next to the Man From Another Place. She winks at Coop, and snaps her fingers, leaving her middle and index fingers pointing sharply downward. In Lynch’s later film, Inland Empire, snapping is used almost as a magical gesture by Laura Dern’s characters, and her sex worker friends. (I will cover magical gestures in a later article.) Laura then tells Cooper, “I’ll see you in 25 years,” referencing the eventuality of Cooper being trapped in the Black Lodge for 25 years. She then says “Meanwhile…” (remember this for later) and holds her hands up in a cryptic pose.

“Meanwhile…”

Meanwhile: Also seen during the waiting room sequence, and accompanied by the words “meanwhile”. The gesture is later mirrored by the “doppelganger Laura” during Cooper’s Black Lodge test, before she starts to scream hysterically. The exact meaning of the sign is controversial, but allegedly refers to a vedic mudra meaning “do not fear”. Other theories suggest that she is holding an imaginary object, like a picture, a vase, or (my interpretation) perhaps a pillow. The pose looks similar to that of a person asleep holding their pillow, but upright. It is interesting that Laura makes the sign after saying “I’ll see you in 25 years“. It has been suggested that the sign foreshadows what Cooper will experience in between, that is, being trapped inside the Red Room, or as Jeffries puts it: “[living] inside a dream“.

-From the Twin Peaks Gazette

Laura’s hand gesture is similar, though not identical, to the vedic abhaya mudra, or “Do Not Fear” hand gesture. This fits so well with the circumstances and symbols of Twin Peaks that I feel we should overlook the slight variation of the pose and consider them to have the same meaning. Laura’s spirit is appearing to Cooper to remind him not to fear the Black Lodge, as that would ensure his demise. Laura’s expression in this scene also seems to be blissful, or aloof; much like depictions of the Buddha. Notice also that this is actually Laura, not her Doppelganger.

The vedic abhaya mudra, or

The vedic abhaya mudra, or “Fear Not” pose: One palm facing forward, and the other facing upward.

Laura disappears, and a moment later, the Elderly Bellhop is sitting in her place, holding a cup of coffee. The Bellhop makes the “Indian Whooping Call.” The significance of the whooping call may be one of two things: 1) It has to do with interactions between the Dugpas and the Native Americans in the past, since, based on what Hawk tells Cooper, the Native Americans had knowledge of the Black and White Lodges, or 2) it represents the wind whistling in the trees; Considering the statement in The Missing Pieces, “We have descended from pure air,” spoken by the Man from Another Place during the meeting above the convenience store, as well as other references to air and wind in the series, such as the repeated imagery of the wind blowing through the trees, we can associate the Dugpas with this element.

The Bellhop says, “Hallelujah,” and the Man From Another Place says “Hallelujah” back. “Hallelujah” originated as a command to a congregation of people to praise the God Yahweh. Its significance here, I cannot say, except that it is yet another example of ritualistic behavior exhibited by the Dugpas (For more analysis on this subject, review my article “With This Ring, I Thee Wed”). It may, however, play into the theory that the Giant and the Man From Another Place have been wanting to put a stop to BOB’s antics, and Cooper may be the savior they’ve been waiting for: The one who can reign in the rogue agent who has the fury of his own momentum.

The Elderly Bellhop serves Cooper coffee, then turns into the Giant. The Giant sits down in the chair next to the Man From Another Place and says with a smirk, “One and the same.” This is to say, the Giant was most likely possessing the Bellhop in the same way that BOB possessed Leland, and the spirit MIKE was possessing Philip Gerard. Similar antics are most likely also in play in the cases of Mrs Tremond/Chalfont and her grandson. It is also possible that the Log Lady’s husband is similarly possessing and speaking through her log; we see these similarities again with Josie being trapped in the wood of the Great Northern Hotel. The famous line, “The owls are not what they seem,” may allude to the owls being used in this same manner, being possessed by Lodge spirits in order to watch the human world. The Giant is finally letting Cooper in on his secret.

BOB with an Owl overlaying his face, suggesting that he might be possessing the owls to disguise himself.

BOB with an Owl overlaying his face, suggesting that he might be possessing the owls to disguise himself.

The Giant then disappears, and the Man From Another Place begins rubbing his hands together. This may mean that he is satisfied with the way things are going, or it may be one of the mysterious “magical hand gestures” that I have noticed occur in many of David Lynch’s works. Cooper looks at the steaming cup of coffee left by the Elderly Bellhop. He attempts to drink the coffee, only to find it solidified. He shows it to the Man From Another Place, who looks pleased. Cooper looks at his coffee again, and tips the glass. This time the coffee spills like normal. Cooper is confused, and looks to the Man From Another Place for answers, only to have him look off in another direction, seemingly angry. Finally, Cooper tips the mug again, and it pours out slowly: It seems to have transformed into something like tar (perhaps oil?). The Man From Another Place looks unhappy, and, looking off at some unseen thing or person, says, “Wow, Bob, wow,” and “Fire walk with me.”

There is an interesting theory about this scene, and it goes as follows: The coffee is a sort of fortune telling device that the Dugpas are using to predict how Cooper will fare in his test. At first it is solid and unmoving, and the Man From Another Place looks satisfied. This means that Cooper, at first, will be steadfast and brave, and potentially defeat BOB. Then, it takes a darker turn, when it transmutes into the motor oil, suggesting the presence of BOB. Then, finally, the coffee runs, predicting that, ultimately, when Cooper faces BOB and his evil Doppelganger, he will run. The Man From Another Place then looks angrily at perhaps an invisible BOB and says to him, “Wow, Bob, wow,” as in, “Impressive, BOB: Looks like you win, again.” Other theories related to this scene are that the changes in the coffee represent the manipulation of time — slowing down, or freezing entirely, and that the hand rubbing motion made by the Man From Another Place represents the conjuring of heat or fire by use of friction. Another interesting thing of note: Both the words “Bob” and “Wow” are the same backwards and forwards. This could suggest the mutability of time, and linear events.

Nobody likes stiff coffee.

That coffee might be a little stale…

The idea of the coffee being an important fortune telling device is not as far-fetched as you might initially think, especially considering David Lynch’s (and Cooper’s) obvious adoration of the beverage. It actually reminds me quite a bit of the concept of reading tea leaves.

When the Man From Another Place says “Fire walk with me,” it is almost as if he is resigned, as if to say that BOB is on his way, and the ritual is about to begin, whether Cooper is destined to persevere, or not.

Flames explode in the darkness, announcing the approach of BOB and the Doppelgangers. The light begins to flicker. This strobe effect, I believe, is a variation on the Black Lodge carpet – the black-and-white chevron pattern. Hence, I believe they both represent the duality of light and dark within everyone, as well as referencing the Black and White Lodges. We also hear Laura’s dying scream in the distance, as if it is “moving through time” to reach Agent Cooper. Cooper gets up and walks out of the room. The Man From Another Place has disappeared. Cooper enters the hallway and walks toward the Venus DeMilo statue, parts the curtains next to it, and walks into another room, identical to the first.

Let me break here and talk about the two statues in the Lodge. There are a few points to make. First let’s note that these are both depictions of the Goddess Venus, and thus are another planetary reference (along with Saturn) within the Black Lodge. Another thing to note is that this is another example of Doppelgangers in Twin Peaks.

The first is the Venus DeMilo, which has a couple of connections to Lynch: Gordon Cole refers to it as “the babe with no arms” when comparing Shelly to the statue. Incidentally, shortly after Twin Peaks ended, David Lynch’s daughter, Jennifer, put out the movie Boxing Helena, which was built entirely around the symbolic connotations of the Venus DeMilo. The film also starred Sherilyn Fenn, a.k.a. Audrey Horne, as the Venus figure.

The Venus DeMilo as seen in the Black Lodge.

The Venus DeMilo as seen in the Black Lodge.

The other is Venus Pudica (meaning “modest Venus”). This represents the “Virgin” archetype, the dual half of the more sensuous Venus DeMilo.

The Venus Pudica seen in the background of the Black Lodge.

The Venus Pudica seen in the background of the Black Lodge.

It’s probably my imagination playing tricks on me, but from a certain angle, it almost looks as if she looks like she is pointing with her right hand into the empty space of the room, perhaps at the same unseen thing that the Man From Another Place is gazing at when he says “Wow, Bob, wow.” Or, as seen above, she may be pointing to Laura, who is, in a way, the “Venus” of the Black Lodge.

These statues are another reference to duality, being two different depictions of the same Goddess. On the one hand, Venus brings loving couples together, but on the other hand, the word “venereal” (as in “venereal disease”) is derived from her name. Through Venus, we can be shown both the light and dark sides of love and lust. Being a Goddess of sex, Venus could be thought to represent Laura and her own struggles with the contrasting personality traits, particularly her sexual relationships. Another way of looking at it is that the DeMilo represents Laura, and the Pudica represents Maddy, her more timid lookalike cousin.

Venus Pudica could also be related to the story of Eve and the apple in the garden on Eden, as she is covering her nudity as if in shame. This could tie back to those feelings of disgust and shame that Laura felt when she prostituted herself and did drugs. In The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer, Laura wonders if it was her discovery of her own sexuality that brought BOB to her, as a form of punishment.

Returning to the narrative… Cooper enters another room, which looks just like the first, except it is devoid of life. He leaves, goes back down the hallway, and enters what may be the first room, again. The Man From Another Place is there. He points toward Cooper (or in the direction he should be going) and says “Wrong way.” Cooper turns, goes back down the hall, and enters what should be the room he left earlier. It looks the same, only empty of any occupants, but we soon hear the Man From Another Place laughing maniacally. He appears out of nowhere, and dances in reverse to his chair and sits down. This is not the normal Man From Another Place, this is his Doppelganger, and this is what the Man From Another Place means when he tells Cooper, “When you see me again, it won’t be me.” The Doppelganger says, “Another friend.” This relates to the Man From Another Place’s earlier statement to Cooper, “Some of your friends are here.” The Doppelganger then laughs and hides behind the chair he was sitting in, right as Maddy walks in.

Maddy tilts her head coquettishly and says, “I’m Maddy. Watch out for my cousin.” Of course it refers to Laura, but not the Laura we’re thinking of: Her evil Doppelganger. I think this indicates that this Maddy is also a Doppelganger, and not her actual spirit. However, as we do not get a close look at her eyes, we cannot tell for sure where she is or isn’t. Cooper turns away and Maddy vanishes.

Cooper returns to the other room. This time, the room appears completely devoid of any people, spirits, or furniture. Then Cooper sees something out of the corner of his eye and turns his head to the left, where he sees the Man From Another Place’s Doppelganger, who says, “Doppelganger.” This can be construed as a warning, or an announcement: We are here, and we’re coming for you.

Doppelganger.

Doppelganger.

Cooper then looks to the right, where he see Laura’s Doppelganger (this is the cousin Doppelganger Maddy was warning Cooper about), holding the “Meanwhile…” pose. Only now, instead of an expression of aloofness or bliss, she looks angry.Her hands shake with rage, and her lips curl into a sneer as she says, “Meanwhile…,” then begins to scream. Of course this is Laura’s death scream. She backs up and steps behind a new chair, one that is particularly unique: It is red, with two conjoined seats, both facing opposite directions. This of course is another representation of duality.

A unique chair in the Black Lodge.

A unique chair in the Black Lodge.

She then runs up and screams in Cooper’s face, as if mocking him with her death, as he will never be able to save her. Cooper, frightened, turns and runs. Note that after Cooper leaves, we see a shot of Doppelganger Laura’s screaming face. This particular shot is not a continuous one, using the strobe light; it is actually two different shots of Laura’s face, interchanging. Another example of duality.

Cooper enters the other room, but begins to stagger. Confused, he looks down to see blood running from his torso. This is because the Doppelgangers have succeeded in frightening him, and now he is slowly being drained by them. Of course, this wound also mirrors the one dealt to him by Windom Earle in Pittsburgh, when Caroline Earle was murdered. Cooper looks at the trail of blood he has left, and follows it back out into the hallway. Judging by the trail, he has been bleeding since he left the room with Laura’s Doppelganger: Notice that that was also the first instance he showed obvious fear.

Cooper peers into the room, clutching his injury, and sees himself, lying wounded on the floor, holding the murdered Caroline Earle. When she sits up, however, we see that she is actually Annie in Caroline’s dress.

Annie replacing Caroline in her murder scene.

Annie replacing Caroline in her murder scene.

Annie looks confused, scared, and seems to be unable to speak. The strobe light begins again. The next few seconds are actually a continuous shot of the Lodge’s chevron floor lit by the strobe light. This shot fades into a view of the red curtains as Cooper walks through the hallway again. I believe this indicates a time lapse: He’s been wandering around for a while. Things get a bit more confusing here. Cooper looks into the room and sees Annie, wearing her black dress from earlier, standing there. She walks up to him and says, “Dale. I saw the face of the man who killed me.” Of course, this is referring to Windom Earle. Cooper does not understand this. She tells him, “It was my husband.” Again, this means Windom, but it could be a foreshadow to something we may see in the new season. I’ll get back to that in the second part of this article. Everything here has a dual meaning: Some of it just relates to Caroline’s past, but it is also playing on Cooper’s anxieties over Annie’s potential death.

Confused, Cooper says Annie’s name again, only to have her respond with, “Who’s Annie? It’s me.” She then turns into Caroline, who continues to say, “It’s me.” However, notice the appearance of Caroline’s eyes: They are the same as the Doppelgangers of Laura, Maddy, Leland, and the Man From Another Place. To me, this suggests that Caroline herself is not trapped in the Black Lodge. We are only seeing a sort of “puppet” of her, created by the Black Lodge to test Cooper.

Caroline Earle in the Black Lodge, with eyes similar to those of a Doppelganger.

Caroline Earle in the Black Lodge, with the eyes of a Doppelganger.

She then turns back into Annie, but wearing Caroline’s dress. She touches Cooper’s face lovingly and says, “You must be mistaken. I’m alive.” This is actually Annie responding to Cooper earlier, when he asked, “The face of the man who killed you?” Suddenly Annie’s hand is gone from Cooper’s face, and she has turned into angry Doppelganger Laura, who continues to scream, before stopping abruptly and standing, staring angrily at Cooper. Cooper then flinches as she turns into Windom Earle.

Now, it must be noted that this scene has played a large part in shaping people’s interpretation of Cooper’s journey through the Black Lodge. Many people take this scene as an indication that the interchanging Annie, Caroline and Laura were all just Windom Earle using the power of the Black Lodge to shape-shift, and scare the wits out of Cooper. Some even believe that all the spirits that we see in the Lodge are Windom in disguise. I don’t believe this for several reasons. First of all, there are too many bits of hidden wisdom spoken for me for think that Windom could pull off imitating the Lodge spirits all this time. Windom, no matter how evil he may be, is just an arrogant human who went insane. He’s too weak to control to Black Lodge’s magic to this extent. Also, Windom has not made any sacrifice yet, thus has harvested no garmonbozia, and so has most likely not received any power from the Lodge. And finally, everything thus far has gone according to Hawk’s descriptions of the Black Lodge, and what one must go through within. Therefore, it is my opinion that Windom had nothing to do with any of the events, between him taking Annie and entering the Lodge, and his reappearance in front of Cooper. I even believe that Windom was not aware of Cooper’s presence until that moment, and has no idea that the Black Lodge is also playing tricks.

Windom addresses Cooper, and then Annie, wearing her own black dress, materializes. She is breathing heavily, as suggested by her movements. She looks from Cooper to Windom, then disappears again. This implies to me that Windom is holding her captive, in a sort of psychic cell, and he is only showing her to Cooper to prove that he has her. She is his bargaining chip.

In the corner of this room, we in fact see the table from Fire Walk With Me (The one in the Lodge, when the Man From Another Place shows Cooper the ring). This table has golden wings holding it up, perhaps connecting it to the Angels of the White Lodge. However, because the Owl Ring is seen on it in Fire Walk With Me, it is also connected to the sacrificial rituals the Dugpas of the Black Lodge perform.

Windom laughs maniacally and says, “If you give me your soul, I’ll let Annie live.” Of course Cooper consents unflinchingly. Here’s where things start to get even more confusing.

Windom stabs Cooper, right where he stabbed him in Pittsburgh, and Cooper falls. However, the wound is bloodless: It is actually a psychic attack, and Windom is taking Cooper’s soul. Then everything explodes into fire, announcing the arrival of BOB. The scene where Windom stabs Cooper is played in reverse, suggesting that it has been undone (this would mean Cooper got his soul back). The strobe begins again, and Windom cries out for help as BOB gets a hold of him and begins torturing him. BOB says “Be quiet,” which mutes Windom’s screams. BOB then tells Cooper, “You go. He’s wrong. He can’t ask for your soul. I will take his.” This indicates again to me how powerless Windom really is.

BOB takes Windom Earle's soul.

BOB takes Windom Earle’s soul.

Windom begins to scream again, and we see fire go into his head, seemingly at BOB’s beckoning. Windom then goes still and quiet. BOB has presumably taken his soul. Cooper walks slowly out of the room. As he does, however, another figure comes running up behind the red curtains. It is Cooper’s Doppelganger. Even if BOB told him to go, it isn’t that simple: There is still another trial that Cooper must pass. The Doppelganger laughs with BOB, who still has Windom.

(This is the last we see of Windom Earle.)

Leland's Doppelganger tells Cooper,

Leland’s Doppelganger tells Cooper, “I did not kill anyone.”

Back in the hall, Cooper is about to enter another room when Leland Palmer’s Doppelganger steps out, laughing, from an area where there should be nothing. His hair is its original brown shade. Doppelganger Leland tells Cooper “I did not kill anybody,” which is a reference to Leland’s role as a pawn in BOB’s murders, and Cooper’s guilt that he could not save Leland. He steps toward Cooper, seemingly trying to intimidate him, but Cooper avoids him and parts to curtains to enter the other room. However, he steals one last look backward at Leland’s Doppelganger, and sees his own emerge from the other end of the hall. This is a continuation of his mistake of not facing his Doppelganger, but instead continuing to search for Annie. Cooper steps into the other room, and the Doppelganger enters the hallway. He and Leland’s Doppelganger smile and laugh.

The appearance of Leland’s Doppelganger is significant because of what is about to happen to Cooper: He is about to be a vessel for BOB. The only other vessel for BOB that we have met is Leland, hence his Doppelganger’s appearance at the end of the Black Lodge sequence.

Now, instead of going back and forth down the hallway, Cooper is running consistently through the rooms of the Lodge, most of which are empty. Doppelganger Cooper laughs as he pursues Cooper, and as he finally catches his quarry, the strobe light once again begins to flash, and we see BOB’s face smiling into the camera. The scene in the Lodge fades into the scene of the entrance – red curtains hanging in the circle of Sycamore trees. There is a spotlight on the curtains, and it become brighter right as two bodies suddenly materialize outside…

Cooper made the fatal mistake when he ran from his Doppelganger: He had already shown fear, but I believe that, if he had ultimately faced his Doppelganger, the “Dweller on the Threshold,” he could had succeeded. The fact that he ran at that crucial moment is what spelled demise for Cooper, and why he ended up trapped there for 25 years, while his Doppelganger and BOB run amok.

So that is the sum of what, exactly, happened to Cooper inside the Lodge. So what does that mean for the future of Agent Cooper and Twin Peaks? We will explore that in the second part of this article; Beyond Life and Death, Part 2: The Rebirth of Agent Cooper.

To Be continued.

To be continued.

Sacred Clown Time

Written by Eden H Roquelaire for Twin Peaks Freaks.

DISCLAIMER: Spoilers for Twin Peaks within the article.

"Trickster Parade" by Kelly Moore

“Trickster Parade” by Kelly Moore

The words of the Heyoka are like a lightning bolt which can pierce the heart, for the Heyoka’s words can have a “sharp edge.”

– Wambli Sina Win

Every Twin Peaks fan is familiar with the Native American imagery that appears throughout the series, but it turns out that the tribal influence may go deeper than just inspiring the look of the show: In fact, it may be the source for the central story-line.

The Black Lodge and the Dugpas.

Sacred Clowns are often depicted as painted in black and white.

Sacred Clowns are often depicted as painted in black and white, like the carpet on the floor of the Black Lodge.

There are many correlations between the Dugpas and the beings known as the Heyoka, or Sacred Clowns of Native American culture, that suggest they may have been the source of inspiration for the Black Lodge’s denizens. Some connections include their backwards-speak and use of cryptic words:

Heyókȟa are thought of as being backwards-forwards, upside-down, or contrary in nature. It was manifest by doing things backwards or unconventionally — riding a horse backwards, wearing clothes inside-out, or speaking in a backwards language. For example, if food were scarce, a heyókȟa would sit around and complain about how full he was; during a baking hot heat wave a heyókȟa would shiver with cold and put on gloves and cover himself with a thick blanket.

(Source: Wikipedia – Heyoka)

The Heyoka never tell you something straight out; they make you use your own mental power to learn the meaning behind the words. They use a lack of logic to mock the conventions of our world, and challenge the minds of their disciples. It is interesting to note that the main source of our information on the Dugpas and the Black Lodge is Deputy Tommy “Hawk” Hill, a Native American of an unspecified tribe (it is implied that he may be Blackfoot). This again suggests that they have an origin in Native American lore. Plus, we have seen the Man From Another Place make what is referred to as an “Indian whooping call.” Also take a look at this image of a Heyoka Medicine Man:

“Stanley Good Voice Elk, a heyoka, burns sage to ritually purify his surroundings. In Oglala spirituality, heyokas are recipients of sacred visions who employ clownish speech and behavior to provoke spiritual awareness and “keep balance,” says Good Voice Elk. Through his mask, he channels the power of an inherited spirit, which transforms him into Spider Respects Nothing.” —National Geographic

“Stanley Good Voice Elk, a heyoka, burns sage to ritually purify his surroundings. In Oglala spirituality, heyokas are recipients of sacred visions who employ clownish speech and behavior to provoke spiritual awareness and “keep balance,” says Good Voice Elk. Through his mask, he channels the power of an inherited spirit, which transforms him into Spider Respects Nothing.” —National Geographic

Does it look familiar?

The Jumping Man, seen in Fire Walk With Me.

The Jumping Man, seen in Fire Walk With Me.

That is the so-called “Jumping Man,” who appears in Fire Walk With Me, most notably dancing at the meeting above the convenience store. He carries a stick, perhaps a dowsing rod, and hops around. He is speculated to be a magician or priest. Perhaps he is a Heyoka?

Various Native American tribes have versions of these beings: the Cherokee have the Boogers, the Zuni have the Ne’wekwe, and the Lakota call them the Heyoka.

“The Spirit of perversity and chaos, considered both as a divine entity in its own right, and the effects of that spirit upon humans. The entity is double-faced, showing joy on one side and grief on the other. He is said to be the source of meteors, and in other ways exhibits most of the characteristic heyoka attributes. Mortals who dream of Wakinyan often become heyokas.”

(Source: Obsidian’s Lair “A Lakota Pantheon“)

A person who becomes a Heyoka is one who is inspired by a visit from a Wakinyan or Thunderbird, a powerful spiritual being who is always cloaked in storm clouds. The Thunderbird usually appears to them in a dream, which is considered to be a communication from the Wakan Tanka, the Great Spirit (or Great Mystery) of the Lakota.

The Sacred Clowns are known to do bizarre things that are contrary to our logic, including speak and walking backwards, saying the opposite of what they mean, wearing cold weather clothes in hot climates, laughing when sad, and crying when happy. They are said to be able to interpret dreams. They also have a connection to celestial bodies and electricity, as they are associated with lightning, and the legendary Thunderbird.

“The heyoka were different in three primary ways from the other sorts of clowns. They were truly unpredictable, and could do the unexpected or tasteless even during the most solemn of occasions. Moreso than other clowns, they really seemed to be insane. Also, they were thought to be more inspired by trans-human supernatural forces (as individuals driven by spirits rather than group conventions), and to have a closer link to wakan or power than other clowns. Not surprisingly, these unique differences were seen as the result of their having visions of Thunderbird, a unique and transforming experience.”

Steve Mizrach, Thunderbird and Trickster

The rites of sacred clowning are also practiced in Tibetan Buddhism, which, as we know, has a powerful influence on Coop. A clown in Tibetan Buddhism would be to do absurd things – wear shoes on one’s head, call a stone soft, wear rags to meet a prince and expensive clothes to meet a pauper. The method behind this is to teach disciples of Buddhism to think outside the bonds of the reality we are familiar with, to consider less orthodox explanations, and encourage a sense of wonder and curiosity. When one assumes they know everything there is to know, then the mind is not open to learn.

The Laughing Buddha

The Laughing Buddha

“The clown does not fit in, indeed refuses to fit into, the patterns and constructions of the conventional world, representing some other order of being. The clown gets everything wrong: dress, decorum, logic, speech, gestures, and movements; yet in this wrongness is a rightness of another sort. Out of this foolishness rises another level of wisdom.”

(Source: The Laughing Buddha: Zen and the Comic Spirit by Conrad Hyers

In its own way, David Lynch’s work itself does this, by way of his absurdist humor, which sometimes occurs at the most inappropriate of times. It makes us laugh amidst the horror and tragedy going on around us. This act of unsettling our minds and giving rise to doubt causes us to reconsider what we believe is happening, and what it means. In a sense, it forces us to search for new meaning in the familiar.

Let us consider also some of David Lynch’s music. Here’s the cover for his album The Big Dream:

David Lynch's "The Big Dream"

David Lynch’s “The Big Dream”

It’s a man being struck by a lightning bolt, and of course, the title of the album is “The Big Dream.” This implies it is a dream of some importance, perhaps a “divine revelation” of sorts. Could this cover be a representation of a revelation from the Thunderbird, in the form of a dream?

Now you might be saying, “But the Dugpas aren’t good beings; they aren’t teachers or benefactors to humanity.” I would argue that the Dugpas are neither good nor bad; some go rogue, as BOB did, but the Man From Another Place has been shown helping Cooper, as has the Giant. I would say that this is because they had a common interest, and therefore could be compelled to help Cooper. BOB is the only one, I would venture to say, who evokes evil. The others who dwell in the Lodge are amoral, and only act in their own self-interest. This in and of itself ties in with the sporadic nature of the Sacred Clown teachers, who work with opposites and contrast. Both the Dugpas and Sacred Clowns fit into the Trickster category of deities and spirits, along with characters such as Loki, Anansi, Crow, and Prometheus. Often these beings are shown as acting dangerously and amorally, but sometimes these actions also benefit humans, as shown in the tale of Prometheus stealing fire. Other times, the character may start out doing more harmless fun, but eventually graduate to all-out chaos and evil, such as Loki and his plot to murder the light god Balder. Trickster spirits are never easy to pin down; as soon as you think you have them figured out, they change their nature.

That brings us to another David Lynch album, “Crazy Clown Time”:

David Lynch's "Crazy Clown Time"

David Lynch’s “Crazy Clown Time”

The lyrics to this song portray an animalistic party, full of drinking, spitting and stripping. This ties into our second definition of clowns in Lynchian symbolism. It is important to note that David Lynch has connected his Clown symbolism with base and degrading behavior, rather than the “Sacred Clown” archetype, which is about spiritual evolution. Lynch talks about how negative behavior, such as irresponsible drinking, drugs and partying, throws the soul off-balance and causes spiritual disintegration: Deep down, you become depressed and angry, though you continue to suppress these feelings with the negative actions that are causing them in the first place. It is a vicious cycle, or, as Lynch calls it, a “Suffocating Rubber Clown Suit.”

“I call that depression and anger the Suffocating Rubber Clown Suit of Negativity. It’ssuffocating, and that rubber stinks. But once you start meditating and diving within, the clown suit starts to dissolve. You finally realize how putrid was the stink when it starts to go. Then, when it dissolves, you have freedom.”

(Source: The Utne Reader, “Deep Thoughts by David Lynch“)

A good example of Lynch’s use of this negative clown archetype would be its association with Jacques Renault and Leo Johnson, two of the most notorious party people in Twin Peaks:

Leo isn't clowning around... well, maybe a little, actually.

Leo isn’t clowning around… well, maybe a little, actually.

The clown painting found in Jacques Renault's apartment.

The clown painting found in Jacques Renault’s apartment.

And this symbolism isn’t limited to Twin Peaks. Remember Ben singing about the Candy Colored Clown in Frank Booth’s favorite song?

Dean Stockwell ("Ben") sings Roy Orbison's "In Dreams" to Frank Booth in Blue Velvet

Dean Stockwell (“Ben”) sings Roy Orbison’s “In Dreams” to Frank Booth in Blue Velvet

And the way Frank paints his lips when he listens to the same song later?

Frank Booth

Frank Booth smears his lips with red lipstick while listening to a song about a “candy colored clown”

These characters are both associated with drugs, violence, and all-around debased behavior, just as Jacques and Leo are. This is their “Suffocating Rubber Clown Suit of Negativity” that they bury themselves in rather than facing their demons and evolving as people.

Both Frank and Killer BOB are used in their respective stories as representations of “the evil that men do,” as Jeffrey asks Sandy in a philosophical moment, “Why are there people like Frank in the world?” Sandy tells him that love and light is the only thing that can and will destroy the darkness in the hearts of humanity. In this way, we can associate the characters of Frank and BOB with each other, and thus connect the clown imagery this way. BOB is also always depicted as smiling and laughing, and is described as “eager for fun” in this poem:

He is BOB, eager for fun. He wears a smile, everybody run!”

-MIKE the One-Armed Man

Of course, BOB’s idea of fun is one of evil and debauchery, spreading the suffocating negativity everywhere he goes.

So it’s inarguable that Lynch has used this negative clown symbol before, but does that invalidate the possibility that he has also used the Sacred Clown symbol? I will leave conclusions up to you, but I personally think that the evidence points to uses of both meanings. After all, Lynch has a well-known infatuation with duality and double-edged meanings, and the connections between the Dugpas and the Sacred Clowns are notable enough not to be ignored. Take another look at the scene “Above the Convenience Store”:

The meeting "Above the Convenience Store"

The meeting “Above the Convenience Store”

Definitely looks like it could be the Black Lodge’s idea of a party, where they gather to feed on the Garmonbozia that BOB has collected. There is the Jumping Man in the corner, who, as we discussed, may be a Heyoka. Perhaps he is leading the feeding ceremony. BOB is sitting at the table, throwing his head back in uproarious laughter.

As a final point, let us discuss the Greek God Dionysus. He is the God of wine, revelry, feasting, ecstasy, and is the all-around life of the party. He and his parties are dual-natured: They can bring about both horrible violence and beautiful knowledge. Many of the parties end with his followers, the Bacchantes, ripping apart uninitiated passersby, as was the case with Orpheus. However, this was also a cult of the secrets of the Earth, where one could learn Nature Magick and arcane wisdom. There was obvious risk in being involved in this cult, but there were benefits that could make those risks justifiable. Similarly, Cooper is taking a sizable risk in entering the Black Lodge; however, if he succeeds, the benefits could be worth it. If he loses, he will be ripped apart, spiritually.

Trickster Spirits are beings of both chaos and wisdom: There are some things that you can only learn from these beings, and yet to learn from them takes tremendous risk. However, it is often in our times of darkness, strife, and chaos that we have our revelations, and realize important things about ourselves. It is through trial that we evolve, and through constant questioning that we learn. The Sacred Clowns and Tricksters of various cultures embody that chaotic path to wisdom.

“Just Like a Movie Star”: The Evolution of Lynch’s “Judy”

The Many Faces of Judy?

The many faces of Judy?

Written by Eden Roquelaire for Twin Peaks Freaks.

 

Judy is an enigmatic character, and a point of extreme interest for some die-hard Twin Peaks fans. Researchers have managed to uncover her original identity as Josie Packard’s sister and Phillip Jeffries’ informant, but is Judy more than just a character cut out of Fire Walk With Me for time? There are still many unanswered questions about her: For one, why does the monkey whisper her name? And how does she know about the existence of the Black Lodge? I have a theory that may explain this, and reveal the true face, or faces, of Judy. This theory also indicates that we have actually seen Judy much more than we originally thought. Let’s start with this quote from Inland Empire:

My friend Nico, who lives in Pomona has a blonde wig. She wears it at parties. But she’s on hard drugs and turning tricks now. She looks very good in her blonde wig just like a movie star. Even girls fall in love with her when she’s looking so good in her blonde star wig. She blows kisses and waves. But she has got a hole in her vagina wall. She has torn a hole into her intestine from her vagina. She has seen a doctor, but it is too expensive. And now she knows her time has run out. She [will] score a few more times, and then, like that, she will stay at home, with her monkey. She has a pet monkey. This monkey shits everywhere, but she doesn’t care! This monkey can scream. It screams like it in a horror movie. But there are those who are good with animals; who have a way with animals.

-“Street Person #2” (Nae), Inland Empire

Right off the bat, we can say that Judy and Nico have two things in common: 1) We know very little about them, but 2) we know they are both associated with monkeys, for whatever reason. That may not be much to go on, but the monkey connection is a strange enough one to merit some further rumination.

Nico has "a way with animals," one could say.

Nico has “a way with animals,” one could say.

So, who is Nico? According to her friend, she is a woman who turned to prostitution and drugs, but because of a perforation in her vagina wall, she will now live at home, with her pet monkey. Oh, and she wears a blonde wig, which makes her look “just like a movie star.” She is so beautiful, both men and women fall in love with her. It’s difficult to tell from the only shot we get of Nico, but the actress who plays her, Masuimi Max, is of Korean descent, which makes both Nico and Judy Asian.

Monkey

The monkey that mysteriously whispers the name “Judy” in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me.

But who is Judy? Thanks to some very loyal Twin Peaks fans, we have more info on Judy: She’s allegedly Josie Packard’s sister, an informant and possible love interest to Phillip Jeffries, and she seems to know something about a portal to the Black Lodge that exists in Buenos Aires. Through Josie, she may also be linked to prostitution. And a monkey mysteriously whispers her name in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me.

But what, if anything, does this mean?

Judy was meant to be a character in Fire Walk With Me, but when the script ran long, certain parts had to be taken out. And thus, poor Judy ended up on the cutting room floor… mostly. She’s mentioned, but never seen in the film, and never discussed at length. There are many theories about Judy, and whether or not the Judy mentioned in the final film product is still meant to be Josie’s sister, or a symbol for something else. According to my theory, it’s a little bit of both. Let’s look at another character, seen briefly in Inland Empire.

Although it’s Nico who’s described as blowing kisses and laughing, she does neither when we see her in the end credits. But someone does: Laura Harring, a.k.a. Camilla Rhodes, a.k.a. Rita, from Mulholland Drive. At first this may seem meaningless… until you realize that the character of Rita looks just like movie star Rita Hayworth, and wears a blonde wig. Even women have been known to fall in love with Rita when she’s looking so good in her blonde star wig. Now, because of the manner of storytelling utilized in Mulholland Drive, analysis gets a little tricky, but Rita may also be associated with the character of Diane Selwyn; a would-be movie starlet who had to resort to prostitution and maybe even drugs when her career fails. Many fans have debated about the film, its meaning, and the story behind its characters, and there are too many theories to recount in one place, but there is one I’d like to bring up at this point, and that is the theory that Camilla Rhodes was inspired by Lynch’s former girlfriend, actress Isabella Rossellini. Both Rossellini and Camilla are “exotic” actresses with dark hair, and they both dated well-known directors (Adam Kesher, played by Justin Theroux in Mulholland Drive, seems almost like a self-written parody of Lynch). Oh and as for the blonde wig…

isabella-rossellini-blonde

That’s Rossellini in Lynch’s film Wild At Heart, which he was working on concurrent to the second season of Twin Peaks. And if this isn’t building a clear enough pattern, it is known that Rossellini was originally going to play Josie Packard.

Before Josie Packard was played by Joan Chen, Lynch had written the part, originally named Giovanna, for Rossellini. She was, of course, Italian-American as opposed to Asian-American. But when Rossellini backed out of the project, Lynch re-worked the part and cast Chen instead. And Josie, of course, according to early drafts of the Fire Walk With Me script, is Judy’s sister, and is thought to have worked as a prostitute in Hong Kong.

But what does this all mean? Where is this going? To finally complete the picture, we need to look at another Judy…

Garland?

Garland?

Lynch’s fascination for the story of The Wizard of Oz is well-known among his fans, and it has been made evident again and again in his works. The motif of a girl traveling to a strange world, full of both magic and horror, is one that Lynch emulates in almost every one of his films. Sometimes the symbolism is even more blatant, such as having a character named Dorothy wear red shoes (Blue Velvet), or having Major Garland Briggs mention Judy Garland’s name in relation to his own (Twin Peaks). Women filling the role of “Dorothy Gale” in Lynch’s works include Laura Palmer, Nikki Grace, and Diane Selwyn: But the woman who most famously portrayed the original Dorothy Gale was Judy Garland.

Judy Garland, despite her tragic life, was forever immortalized as the hopeful and naive Dorothy Gale in the Wizard of Oz.

Judy Garland, despite her tragic life, was forever immortalized as the hopeful and naive Dorothy Gale in the Wizard of Oz.

Garland is, in many ways, the perfect symbol of the wonder and tragedy of Hollywood, a subject that Lynch is passionate about: Born Frances Ethel Gumm, “Judy” was signed to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer when she was only thirteen, and played the famous role of Dorothy Gale three years later. She was originally supposed to wear a blond wig for the part, but ultimately the producers decided against it. Her many years in show business were plagued with woe: She suffered various heartbreaks, including a time when MGM forced her into a divorce, and potentially pressured her into having an abortion for the sake of her career. She eventually married director Vincente Minelli, with whom she had her daughter, Liza Minelli. The stress of living always in the public eye ate away at Garland, driving her to multiple suicide attempts, stays at mental wards, and addiction to morphine, alcohol and barbiturates. “All I could see ahead was more confusion,” Garland was quoted as saying, after one of her many career disasters. At the age of 59, Garland was found dead of a barbiturate overdose. According to doctors who examined her, she was already dying of cirrhosis, and only had a matter of time, anyway.

This dark, tragic life, full of turmoil and a sense of hopelessness, is such a jarring juxtaposition to the roles she was most famous for: Happy, bright young girls, always singing and dancing and full of cheer. This telling vision of Hollywood struck a chords with Lynch, and “Judy” has been a part of his films ever since.

Let’s look at the evolution of the character: Lynch, inspired by the story of Judy Garland, creates the character Dorothy Vallens, played by Isabella Rossellini, who notably wears red shoes. He writes the role of Italian-American “Giovanna” for Rossellini, but she decides to pass up the role. The role is rewritten as Chinese-American “Josie” and goes to Joan Chen. When Rossellini is cast in Wild At Heart, a movie filled with Wizard of Oz references, Lynch consciously or subconsciously dresses her in a blonde wig, a reference to the early wardrobe plans for Garland’s Dorothy. The early drafts of Fire Walk With Me are written, featuring a character named Judy; Josie’s sister, who seems to know the secrets of other worlds, and may even know how to get into them. After multiple drafts, Judy is mostly cut from the script, but in the film we still see the blue-lit face of a monkey whispering “Judy.” After a period of tempestuous reinvention, Mulholland Drive is released as a feature film, with Laura Elena Harring playing the exotic and seductive actress Camilla Rhodes, whose alter-ego “Rita” disguises her Hayworth-esque appearance with a short blonde wig. She is so beautiful, she both men and women fall head-over-heels in love with her. Naomi Watts plays Diane Selwyn, a failed actress who resorts to prostitution and possibly drugs just to survive in Hollywood. Years later, Inland Empire tells the story of Nikki Grace, a Hollywood actress, apparently past her prime and hoping for a comeback. She eventually slips into another world, where we meet her alter-ego Sue, who is a prostitute in Hollywood, and at one time opines “All I can see from here is blue tomorrows,” a possible reference to the Judy Garland quote. She is stabbed on the corner of Hollywood and Vine, where she staggers past a partially-obscured star on the Walk of Fame: Only the name “Dorothy” is visible. She collapses next to some homeless people and hears an Asian woman (played by Japanese actress Nae) talk about her friend Nico, a drug-addicted prostitute who wears a blonde wig, so she looks “just like a movie star,” and owns a pet monkey.

After initially being inspired by the story of Judy Garland, who was born Ethel, became Dorothy on the screen, and was Judy to the public, Lynch carried the character of “Judy” with him, and, as with any character that is destined to be, she took on a life of her own: Showing the dark, seedy truth covered up by the glamor of Hollywood and its promise of fame and fortune. It is a place where magic and beauty can be made, but it is at the expense of millions who try and fail to become a part of it, and often fall into the underground world of drugs and prostitution, and those who do make it have taken hold of a double-edged sword. It is a stark balance between light and dark, horror and beauty, power and poverty, fame and obscurity, painful truths and attractive lies. “Judy” represents the glory and tragedy of life and death, and a desire to enter another world: Through death, through magic, or through movies.