Q4 BM - Godzilla as a David Lynch Film - Pablo & Harry

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David Lynch has a highly recognizable style, that couldn’t be mistaken for many other directors. In almost every way Lynch is an auteur, he will write his films, direct his films, act in his films, edit his films, and even edit music for his films. Most of his films deal with the shadows inside of the collective unconscious in a conceptual way, and almost all have a dreamlike feeling that quickly follows into the sense of a nightmare. The evil forces that raid in his films cause reality to feel bent around them, making them feel all the more real. These evil forces are often spirits or highly unusual, supernatural individuals. Their mere presence will slow the screen down, distort the other character’s faces, cause the dialogue to become clipped or not understandable, and the lights of the film to behave erratically (often focusing in on one spot). This bending of reality causes the forces of evil to feel more real than if they were to just be presented normally, or as very powerful monsters or humans. One example of this is Killer Bob from Twin Peaks, who flickers in and out of existence, appears in mirrors, and is associated with electrical buzzing and time slowing down on screen. In this way the characters become the hyper-truth associated with archetypal representations of humanity, they are more real than reality.

With our Lynchian adaptation of Godzilla we focused on one scene where Godzilla attacks. While David Lynch would undoubtedly have the characters in the build up to the monster’s appearance speak in strange, melodramatic manners, punctuated by eerie or smooth music, the main element of his style’s impact on such a film would be seen in the film’s point. Lynch would make Godzilla more than a giant lizard emerging from the sea, he would use the elements of cinema at his disposal to flesh the monster out into the archetypal representation of the nuclear bomb that it is meant to be. To achieve this we caused Godzilla to completely warp and distort reality around him, causing the color to bleach out (partly an homage to the original film, but also a way to accentuate the monster’s capacity for destruction) while simultaneously causing a flickering of the reality the viewer’s can see at all. There is no hope with the new representation of Godzilla, there is never a point where it seems the power lines or the tanks might stop it, in fact it never even gets hurt. The defenses go from feeling like walls that were broken into being things that only serve to show how useless it is to try and stop Godzilla.

The point of adapting such a scene is to capture the Lynchian feeling. We did this by making Godzilla simultaneously feel immaterial and unstoppable. The strobe effect of reality bending, the purple unearthly lighting of his approach, the spotlight directly from the sky, and the frequent cuts to black punctuated with shots of light where only pieces of the immense monster are seen. Notice with the spotlight from the sky that the direction from which it comes makes no sense, as while there are spotlights being used, there is no such spotlight that points from the sky. This is reminiscent of scenes where Lynch will walk characters with a flashlight through a forest. While the characters walk with the flashlight pointing ahead, he will intercut with footage of the flashlight desperately looking through the trees. This cross section of light makes the audience understand that there is something evil to be looked for, and the unsettling disconnect between it and the actual light tells the viewer that what should be looked for won’t be seen. Here the use is slightly different, the unsettling origination of the light will instead be used to accentuate the uselessness of the defenses in comparison to the divine nature of the monster. The primary adaptation though is the sound design, as the scene is not accompanied by the military-esque music associated with Godzilla. Instead it is accompanied by a near constant unearthly crackling, alive with an energy that seems somehow related to the power lines but primarily emerges from Godzilla itself. This kind of sound is extremely characteristic of Lynch, due to his obsession with electricity and the unnatural things made by man. Which is what Godzilla is meant to be, the archetypal representation of the unnatural evils mankind can produce, functioning as a kind of mass Japanese psychotherapy after the horrors of World War II.


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