Directed by David Lynch / Polygram (Through Image Ent) / 2-Disc CLV (side 3 CAV) NTSC LD / 2.35:1 / DD 5.1 and PCM Stereo Surround / Rel. 1996 / MSRP $39.99





Fred Madison (Bill Pulllman) seems like he has everything in life: a great job playing sax at the local club, a beautiful wife (Patricia Aqruette) and a nice house on the hill which looks like something out of Maya Deren's surrealistic short film Meshes of the Afternoon. But for Fred, something is missing. He keeps finding strange videotapes on his front door which are full of grainy black and white footage of their bedroom. A pale ghost-like figure (Robert Blake) approaches him at a party and plays an impossible trick on him. His whole life crashes down when he's suddenly charged with the supposed murder of his wife and sentenced to death. Only the thing is, after a few horrible days in the holding cell one big change occurs to Fred: he ceases to exist. In his cell is a long-lost dilinquent kid,Pete (Balthazar Getty). Having no real way to hold the kid, they release him to his parents (Gary Busey and Lucy Butler) and Getty returns to his old home and old haunts, where he meets up with his old friend, the rich and sadistic Mr. Eddie (Robert Loggia) and his girlfriend, a woman who bears a startling resemblance to jack's old wife.

Fashioned from the shattered remains of noir processed through the unique vision of auteur Lynch, Lost Highway turned out to be one of the most misunderstood films of Lynch's career and continues to confound even its most astute viewers. The explanation to all these events on seems relatively simple: Max, who admits to "remembering things the way he wants to" found out that his wife and murders her. Unsatisfied by this reality, he re-imagines his life as a young man with his wife as dorothy lemay-type siren. Unfortunately nothing changes, the relationship with this new woman falls apart and he remains unfulfilled somewhere on a lost highway somewhere between Mulholland and the Twilight Zone.





But what does Robert Blake's Ghost represent exactly? And if the second part of the film exists as a kind of extended dream sequence, what about the policemen who seem to be firmly-entrenched in present time? One explanation could be that Fred's Journey is one which happens in some kind of alternate reality, in co-writer Barry Gifford's words a "fugue state." The concept is a favorite of Lynch's, a further exploration of the powers of film in general, the idea that through audio and camera effects one can place two characters together on the screen yet isolate them in different temporal states.

Classic movie iconography is littered throughout Lost Highway but it never really seems like an homage, for through Lynch's eyes old is new; a vintage automobile might as well be a spacecraft when examined through the foreign eyes of David Lynch. Sound design is everything, with Angelo Badalementi's score sinking deep into the dense mix of whirring roomtones and hushed voices which populate the film. Lynch's approach to actors is also unique to his work; It's as if he never grew out of the eerily simplistic dialog and detached performances which he perfected in Eraserhead, but with good reason since it perfectly suits his overall scheme. Characters seem almost like pilots drifting through a sea of the underexposed regions of the mind with sudden unforseen bursts of action which give Lynch's work its signature intensity. Lynch might not always be the most coherent of filmmakers but he's often one of the most effective.



During some of the last days of the Laserdisc format, Polygram (through Image Entertainment) managed to distribute an excellent widescreen release which nicely complimented the widescreen VHS issue. Though Polygram has since been liquidated and gone the way of LD, this excellent disc still stands as a testament to the possibilities of a once-great video format.

Though the package describes the film's aspect ratio as 2.35:1, it seems as if the laserdisc has been over-matted to around 2.50:1. The image faithfully translates the incredible blacks and hues of Peter Deming's rich cinematography with little chroma smearing. The films audio is presented in DD 5.1 (it's barely mentioned on the cover) and a Dolby Surround PCM track which has to be one of the most incredible mixes to ever hit LD, allowing Lynch's dense sound mix to properly assault the viewer. No extras or theatrical trailers are included in the set.

The one big flaw to be found on the laserdisc is the poor Sony LDAC plant pressing which many copies recieved; disc 1 of my copy is slowly being infested with laser rot!