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Viktoriia Vanina

The Roots of Surrealism in the Works of David Lynch

Viktoriia Vanina


Surrealism as a cultural movement began to take shape in the early 1920s in France alongside a number of avant-garde artistic movements. Very soon, cinema, which was only an emerging art at the time, drew attention of the surrealists, who saw its expressive potential. Since then Surrealist ideas have been infiltrating film industry – at first only in Europe, and later in the United States of America, where they were brought and developed by a number of artists and filmmakers, who made them look so engaging on screen to the the public, that Surrealism, initially being an avant-garde art stream, became a part of American mass culture.

This paper explores the influence of the Surrealist movement on modern American cinema, focusing on several works of two American film directors – David Lynch and Tim Burton, who are known to have their own peculiar author styles and, nevertheless, produce commercially successful films.

The purpose of this work is to study directing styles of the above mentioned directors, analyzing different types of their productions – feature films, TV series and music videos – and find out in what ways they correspond with creative concepts and techniques used by early Surrealist filmmakers, basing findings of this research on various sources dedicated to art theory and history.

It is hoped that this paper will provide the reader with comprehensive knowledge of Surrealist creative ideology and expressive methods, and let them trace those in the works of David Lynch and Tim Burton to demonstrate that Surrealist tropes are still in use in mainstream American cinema.