David Lynch, often labeled as the ‘renaissance man of modern American filmmaking’, is considered by many as one of the most creative directors in cinema today. For Lynch, finding a relatable source of inspiration has always been a task he hasn’t taken lightly. In his youth, Lynch left the School of the Museum of Fine Arts after only a year, stating: “I was not inspired AT ALL in that place” and instead opted for a prolonged period of traveling.
When it comes to cinema, Lynch has studied the greats of years gone by when honing his craft. His favorite directors include the likes of Stanley Kubrick, Federico Fellini, Billy Wilder, Werner Herzog, and Jacques Tati who have all directly or indirectly made an impact on his life.
Here, Lynch breaks down a selection of his all-time favorite filmmakers.
“The first would be 8½, for the way Federico Fellini manages to accomplish with film what mostly abstract painters do – namely, to communicate emotion without ever saying or showing anything in a direct manner, without ever explaining anything, just by a sort of sheer magic. For similar reasons, I would also show Sunset Boulevard.
“Even though Billy Wilder’s style is very different from Fellini’s, he manages to accomplish pretty much the same abstract atmosphere, less by magic than through all sorts of stylistic and technical tricks. The Hollywood he describes in the film probably never existed, but he makes us believe it did, and he immerses us in it, like a dream.
“After that, I would show Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday for the amazing point of view that Jacques Tati casts at society through it. When you watch his films, you realize how much he knows about – and loved – human nature, and it can only be an inspiration to do the same.
“And finally, I would show Rear Window, for the brilliant way in which Alfred Hitchcock manages to create – or rather, re-create – a whole world with in confined parameters. James Steward never leaves his wheelchair during the film, and yet, through his point of view, we follow a very complex murder scheme. In the film, Hitchcock manages to take something huge and condense it into something really small. And he achieves that through complete control of film making technique.”