The City of Absurdity David Lynch
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Close Up on James Stewart: David Lynch

Broadcast on 22 December 1997, BBC2.
with many thanks to Gary Clarke for the transcript


Lynch was sat in a chair with two blank grey stone walls behind him, he was wearing a black wool V-neck lapel-less jacket and of course a black shirt. What you are going to unfortunately loose in this transcription is the wonderful enthusiasm with which Lynch was giving his thoughts. His hands (with a cigarette in one) never ceased waving about, frantically orchestrating his excitement, as if his elbows might have been pivoted to the chairs arms and (like his hair perhaps) were desperate to become airborne.

Lynch's thoughts were inter-cut and separated with the sections of the film he was speaking about, creating the loose paragraphs I've kept with. I've reproduced what he said exactly as he said it, which doesn't make it very coherent reading, but does keep the Lynchy charm.

gary clarke

David Lynch:

"My favorite, for a film and for, you know, Jimmy Stewart, is Rear Window. I think it's almost like a perfect film. Just the way a word is said. The way a look is. Jimmy Stewart is looking one place and Hitchcock can put, you know, any image there that's for a cut-away. There's so many things that he sees and his reactions to those, er ... the newly wed couple. His face is translating that, you know, for us, and um, everybody's right there! It's pretty amazing, you know, the little subtle details that he, you know, er, gives us."

"And I guess everybody's thought about 'how come that is so compelling?', that ... that film? Um, but it's, er, again discovering a mystery, you know, right in your-your, you know, immediate environment, and er, just by seeing and hearing, you know, selected, you know, bits of things, and seeing it go through his face and mind, is um, kinda, uh, one of the most magical things."

"The most interesting scene really, er, for me is, er, is when he just starts to piece together, er, that something is very wrong in one apartment, with Raymond Burr, and, er, that a murder has been, er, committed. To see his face, you know, putting the pieces together, and having hit him, er, but there's no ... no proof of it, er, is-is, er, a great thing!"

"And I don't think, er, too many people, er, could have done that, and had it be so compelling, er, there's something about Jimmy Stewart in that place, er, made it work."

"Who you have as, er, the leads - are critical, and they've been a hundred examples or thousand where you get the wrong people in there, and it's a great script but somehow it just never clicks, it doesn't really work, and, er, when it works, um, it's magic, and you know it's still, it's ... it's definitely Hitchcock and Grace Kelly and ... and Jimmy Stewart and everybody, er, all just right in the groove."

"He's an intelligent, um, feeling person, um, with nowhere to go. There's this vulnerability and yet an inner strength at this, er, all, you know, er, the same time. What he feels is reflected in his face, and, um, but it's not ever over the top, er, even when he's screaming it's – Jimmy Stewart's screaming – and it's ... it's ... it's um, like someone said, it's-it's not really, um, it's ... it's a masculine scream in a strange way, but it's um, not the kind of masculine scream you would, you know, er, er, you would give if you knew you was gonna be recorded, and he just lets it loose – it just comes out! And-and people just 'Uh-uh?!?!'"

"He's thinking, he's feeling, he's being true to himself, and, um, there's enough of a fear in him so you worry for him, but you always are...feel assured that he'll rise to any occasion, and, er, that's kind of a magical combination.

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