Lynch, David (1946—)

Few directors have ever parlayed their unique style and vision into as much respect and success as David Lynch has earned since the late 1970s.

Best known for his highly complex and ambiguous cinema, Lynch’s most famous film is the now classic Blue Velvet (1986). This coming-of-age story of the naive but endlessly curious Jeffrey Beaumont (Lynch mainstay Kyle MacLachlan) chronicles the protagonist’s nightmarish descent into the underworld of the fictional town of Lumberton, which is run by villain Frank Booth (the menacing Dennis Hopper in a role which resuscitated his career). Although Lynch’s previous film (The Elephant Man (1980)) had been nominated for a number of Academy Awards, including Best Picture, it was the quirky, independent Blue Velvet that paved the way for the iconoclastic director’s influence on generations of filmmakers to come—including the American directors Quentin Tarantino, Jim Jarmusch, and the Coen Brothers, and international auteurs like Jean-Phillipe Jeunet and Marc Caro.

Lynch’s style became his signature, to the point where reviewers, unable to comprehend the assortment of bizarre characters and dialogue of either Wild at Heart (1990) or Lost Highway (1996), simply claimed that Lynch was being Lynch.