David Lynch on creativity and Ed’s Co-ed from The Bioscope

I just had a transcendentally enjoyable afternoon watching two videos: the first one I’ll discuss (actually the one I viewed second) was an (at times) insightful, and always highly engaging, free online recording of David Lynch‘s beatific guest lecture at the University of Oregon on November 8th, 2005, which I can thoroughly recommend to Film Studies For Free‘s (small but growing) ‘bliss-seeking’ readership. The link is HERE; there are various viewing options but I found the RealPlayer one to be the most straightforward on this occasion (and it also allows you to record the video, if you want). There’s also a podcast version HERE.

Following a lovely introduction by Associate Professor Kathleen Rowe Karlyn, the video shows Lynch amiably and very capably addressing a large gathering of fans and sceptics on the subject of “Consciousness, Creativity and the Brain,” with shorter speaking turns taken for part of the (nearly) two-hour long session by his fellow promoters of Transcendental Meditation, Drs. John Hagelin and Fred Travis.

Much of what Lynch has to say, of course, treats the topic of TM. Lynch is also widely-known now (as well as for his films) for his eponymous Foundation which promotes this practice in the declared interests of ‘world peace’. But there is plenty in the Lecture about his films and filmmaking practice more generally, too, thankfully, hence FSFF‘s recommendation. If you want to skip the ‘science’, Lynch answers great questions from the audience for the first fifty minutes and then returns for some more questions one hour and thirty-two minutes in.

A particular highlight for me was Lynch’s response to a question (about 28 minutes in) about Mulholland Dr. (USA, 2001): ‘What the hell is the box and the key?’. Lynch continues with an anecdote about the turning of the TV pilot version of his script into the full-length movie version. This, in turn, is immediately followed by a nice story I hadn’t heard before about Lynch meeting Federico Fellini just before the latter’s death in 1993.

It turns out, though, that Lynch has done this same gig numerous times, including at other universities. So, if you are a true believer, or you just really want an overload of “Consciousness, Creativity and the Brain,” or if, like me, (for a [meagre] living) you study what directors repeatedly say about their work, you could try out the Google Video of the talk as given on the day after the UOregon lecture at UC Berkeley, click HERE. Or, there’s a Google search page HERE giving a list of all the other, online and free video versions of this talk out there in cyberspace.

I came across the Lynch video at the University of Oregon Scholars’ Bank link because of a recommendation to check out another film stored in that online archive by Luke McKernan over at The Bioscope (see my earlier post about this fabulous blog HERE). The Bioscope is currently posting reports from the 27th Annual Pordenone Silent Film Festival/Giornate del Cinema Muto. In the report from Day 4, McKernan discussed, inter alia, a silent film made at the University of Oregon in 1929: Ed’s Co-ed. He warmly recommends it thus:

There is not a trace of amateurism about Ed’s Co-ed. The story is that of every college movie you ever saw – country boy Ed comes to college, is picked on by other students, he falls for the girl but is rejected by all after he admits to a crime to cover up for someone else who actually committed it, his talents are recognised (he plays the violin, he’s top in all his grades), he wins through at last. It’s so like every college film made that you could be fooled by its ordinariness, but this is a college film that actually came from a college, and it is a treasure trove of period attitudes, codes, fashions and language.

McKernan gives the great link to the streamed and downloadable versions of the film in the UOregon website. I thoroughly enjoyed this film (before Film Studies For Free‘s Lynch marathon) though would have loved to have seen it at Pordenone with the live accompaniment from Neil Brand (piano) and Günter Buchwald (violin).

The Bioscope’s ‘Lost sites’ posting

Over on Luke McKernan’s supreme, early and silent cinema blog The Bioscope there’s an essential posting of links to ‘Lost sites’, a list of vital web resources on the subject of silent cinema that are no more. Although the seeming impermanence of the Web can be a problem for scholarly activities on it, such as archiving, many such ‘lost sites’ can still be found via the Internet Archive and its ‘Wayback Machine‘. But one needs to know what to look for, and this is where The Bioscope‘s posting comes in. McKernan lists nine such sites as an initial guide to lost early and silent cinema resources (including sites on Italian early cinema, the Lumière brothers, and Muybridge). He adds that,

Archiving the Internet is becoming a subject of increasing concern. The Internet Archive leads the field, of course, but the UK Web Archiving Consortium is building up to the day when every UK website will be archived as a matter of legal deposit. For those intrigued by dead sites in general, take a look at Ghost Sites of the Web (these are sites that still exist on the Web, but which have been abandoned).

While I’m on the subject of The Bioscope, I should mention that this blog is also very deservedly celebrating surpassing 150,000 visits since 2007, a remarkable achievement, but unsurprising considering the truly unrivalled wealth of scholarly and other resources that The Bioscope opens up for its readership. Dr Luke McKernan is Curator, Moving Image at the British Library, and has written on early cinema, newsreels, film propaganda and Shakespearean cinema. His current areas of research include early colour cinematography and children’s cinema-going before the First World War. What is particularly wonderful about his contribution to online film scholarship is that he exhibits a so-far unparalleled enthusiasm (I would say) for making a very large part of his scholarly work available to anyone who wishes to access it electronically, at the same time as being in a great position to do this, as a national library curator. He runs two further, excellent scholarly websites on early and silent cinema: Who’s Who of Victorian Cinema and, on the subject of his PhD thesis, Charles Urban, Motion Picture Pioneer.

I enjoyed reading a summary posted on the British Film Institute website, a while back, of McKernan’s contribution to a series of talks at the BFI entitled ‘Researchers’ Tales’, in which he spoke about setting up The Bioscope. You can read the full talk he gave in a pdf download available HERE. Or, read a nice (html) summary of the talk HERE. Here’s the conclusion he reaches, about the value of web scholarship, in the summary version:

The web is not only an unmatched research tool, but an outstanding means to publish research, to engage with not only one’s established research community but to reach out to other disciplines and new audiences. The tools that now exist, such as blogs, enable us to ask new questions of cinema history and to construct revitalised means of conveying understanding. If you know something, there is no excuse for not publishing it, sharing it, and collectively contributing to a greater body of knowledge.

Film Studies For Free takes its film scholarly-blogger’s hat off to the inspirational Luke McKernan.