Wild at Heart is one of David Lynch's less known films, despite winning the Palme d'Or at Cannes... you can't even get it on VHS anymore... but it is my favorite film of all time. I first saw it when I was a freshman at KU, with a gaggle of girlfriends from my dorm floor, many of whom will always be vibrant characters in my memory. As with many of David Lynch's works, it's a love story that depicts a cheesy smooth-surfaced 'real world' facade as nothing but a thin permeable layer to the pure weirdness that lies beneath... As Lula puts it, 'the whole world is wild and heart at weird on top...'

"The thing that is so great about Sailor and Lula is that it´s sooo sexy because of the love. And that´s the thing that´s so beautiful about David. Here´s this guy who´s so weird and does things that are so terrifying to the psyche. And yet there´s this purity in him and this belief in love that is almost cartoonlike and childlike."
Laura Dern

Only two of my other girlfriends managed to stay through it, and they found it to be terribly offensive and disturbing. I loved it... from the raging fire in the opening credits surging to Strauss to the hoaky Elvis-panavision screen at the end, I just loved it. The raw, twisted macabre humor surrounding death and dismemberment, the heart-pounding sex scenes, the world's sickening underbelly served up with a dash of kitsch, the idealized simplicity and brevity of true love; they all did something to me... When Lula's body betrays her in Bobby Peru's violent clutches it made my stomach lurch and I felt her self-loathing. Juana, Reggie and Dropshadow's ritualized sex-killing of poor Johnny Ferragut scared the shit out of me. Sailor and Powermad serenading Lula in the pit with 'Love Me' after they had been churning out speed metal was more embarrassing than any Potsy sappy love song. Jingle Dale with his aliens and sandwiches and the dog running off with the feed store clerk's hand made me die laughing... much to the shock of more than a couple of people in the audience as they rubber-necked to see who was laughing so hysterically. And the sex scenes... let's just say that Mr. Lynch is rather adept at portraying some very realistic intimacy, and accomplishes the most perfect screen presentation of a woman's orgasm that I've ever seen, hands-down. (For those of you who've seen the film, sorry I couldn't resist!)

"Sex is central to 'Wild at Heart' in the same way it was in Blue Velvet. Sex is a doorway to something so powerful and mystical, but movies usually depict it in a completely flat way. Being explicit doesn't tap into the mystical aspect of it either in fact, that usually kills it because people don't want to see sex so much as they want to experience the emotions that go along with it. These things are hard to convey in film because sex is such a mystery."
David Lynch
Essentially, this movie was the most disturbing thing I'd ever encountered, and ellicited a strong response in me that was unparallelled. I've always been able to get lost in films. This one was no different, right down to it's homage to one of my favorites, The Wizard of Oz. When I was a kid my mom loathed taking me to the movies because I'd cry hopelessly when they were over as I'd plod up the aisle. I never wanted them to end, I guess I've always been way too susceptible to fantasy. Wild at Heart was so disconcerting that it forced me to examine what aspects of Lynch's imagination offended me so and why... I was shocked to find that I saw humor in that graphic violence, such intrigue in that searing sexuality...

The movie is based on the book Sailor and Lula by Barry Gifford. Lynch wrote the screenplay. Another remarkable aspect of this film is the partnership between him and Badalamenti that is positively amazing. They put together a score that takes the edge off or intensifies immaculately wherever necessary. David Lynch is obviously a cinematic genius, whether you like his stuff or not. You simply can't deny the impact he's had on modern film.


Here are some of my favorite quotes...

Sailor
'The way your mind works is god's own private mystery...'

Marietta Pace Fortune
'No tongue, my lipstick...' and 'Buffalo hunting? What the fuck does that mean buffalo huntin'?'

Lula
'Sail, sometimes, when we're makin' love, you just about send me right over than rainbow... I mean it, you pay attention. And baby, you got the sweetest cock, it's like it's talkin' to me when you're inside, like it's got a voice all its own...Oooh you just get right on me.' to which Sailor replies 'You really are dangerously cute, Peanut, I gotta admit it...'

Bobby Peru
'Just say fuck me, then I'll leave.'

Santos
'No, it's best to blow a hole from the back of the head, right... through... to the bridge of the nose... lots of irreparable brain damage.'

Wild At Heart is a fairy tale darker than anything the Brothers Grimm ever concocted. It takes place in a world where incest and murder are part of daily life, and most people you meet are probably outlaws or sickos of some description. David Lynch doesn't have any great love for the everyman, as evidenced by what befalls poor old Harry Dean Stanton. Until you've been through the fire, you haven't earned the right to trust.

Lula and Sailor survive balanced in the eye of the firestorm. They've come through Hell to find each other and they're the closest thing the story has to angels. They are tethered by the story's central mystery, and trying to escape their pasts and the things they know. Forgetting is their Garden of Eden and their Emerald City.

What they're running from is the specter of Lula's daddy and the fire that killed him. Sailor was the driver for the gang of thugs hired to arrange the arson. They were employed by Lula's crazy mother and Lula, on some level, has always known this. Watch carefully and you might get the impression that this retribution wasn't because Lula's mama is psychotic and evil (she is), but to avenge her baby. You might even conclude that Marietta is not taking for revenge for what Daddy's partner, Uncle Pooch, did, but what Daddy himself did.

What the lovers discover in trying to make their escape is that the evil they're running from is a disease that's infected the whole world. Beyond Marietta's attempts to silence Sailor, evil pursues them indirectly, taking the form of a fatal car crash or a bar fight.

Marietta is unsettlingly human, following a road paved with silver dollars that were only meant to buy back her daughter's love. A wicked witch only wicked for trying to bend evil's will to her own. Santos is the real Devil, pulling the strings of the lesser demons in New Orleans and the desert. Marietta only provides the idle hands.

In the end, they don't escape. Sailor goes to prison again.

The fairy tale only ends when Sailor is released. At the point of giving up, he finally knows the magic words, and he sings them. The world doesn't change, but he and Lula do. Instead of forgetting, they get to start over, knowing everything.

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