Review by Camden Ferrell
David Lynch is one of the most unique and enigmatic filmmakers in history. However, a lot of his work can be tied back to many inspirations. Once such inspiration that is hard to miss in his movies and shows is the 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz. Alexandre O. Philippe’s newest documentary, Lynch/Oz, aims to analyze how this American classic influenced the work of Lynch as well as his contemporaries throughout film history. An absolute treat for David Lynch fans as well as general cinephiles, this movie can still be a bit repetitive and not particularly accessible for film novices.
Told through six chapters, each narrated by a different person, this movie explores the ways in which The Wizard of Oz shaped the mythos in Lynch’s films. All the way from his first short films to his ambitious 17 episodes of Twin Peaks: The Return, his work is undoubtedly inspired by the American classic, but this movie dives deeper to understand how this affects his work as a storyteller and director. This is an interesting subject for a documentary, but it might not be the most entertaining for those unfamiliar with Lynch and his puzzling body of work.
The movie assembled an accomplished group of narrators, and they each have a unique perspective on Lynch’s work even if there is some overlap that can make the movie feel a bit redundant at times. I was particularly impressed with the insight of John Waters, Karyn Kusama, and David Lowery who all had impressively thought-provoking insight into Lynch as well as contemporary cinema as a whole. Visually, the movie consists entirely of film clips, so the audience really must solely rely on the speaker’s voice as a means for analysis, but it works very well without feeling monotone or boring.
One of the more impressive feats of this movie as mentioned before is its extensive use of film clips to tell its story. It features countless scenes from The Wizard of Oz, Lynch’s body of work, and a vast number of other films. Since they’re the main focus of the movie, the Oz and Lynch scenes can get a bit repetitive at times, but other than that, the movie maintains a brisk pace with an engaging assortment of media that helps the film’s thesis immensely.
The biggest flaw of this movie is its limited appeal to general audiences. It doesn’t really give the audience a reason to care about the work being discussed, so it relies heavily on the audience already caring. Fans of Lynch and contemporary cinema in general will most certainly find something to enjoy in this movie and its commentary. Unfortunately, this movie will not create any new cinephiles but only entertain those who already were. It’s a shame too since Lynch is a great gateway into a vast world of ambitious storytelling that film has to offer.
Lynch/Oz is a delight for fans of David Lynch as well as movie fans in general. It can be a bit repetitive at times and feels slightly long, nearing two hours. However, the movie has some great narrators who provide valuable and profound analysis into the work being discussed. As mentioned before, the mileage will definitely vary for viewers, but it’s definitely worth checking out if you have a preexisting interest in film.
Lynch/Oz is in theaters June 2.