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Industrial Symphony No. 1: The Dream of the Broken Hearted (rewatch)

Posted by martinteller on May 15, 2013

The film opens with Nicolas Cage and Laura Dern — perhaps as Sailor and Lulu from Wild at Heart, perhaps not — talking to each other on the phone.  Cage is leaving Dern, she pleads with him to stay.  The remaining 40-ish minutes of the film are Dern’s (as “Heartbroken Woman”) dream.  Julee Cruise (billed as “The Dreamself of the Heartbroken Woman”) sings a number of the songs written for her by David Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti in a dark warehouse environment.  A pair of dancers (Lisa Giobbi, Félix Blaska) writhe around the scattered scaffoldings.  Michael J. Anderson (the little person from “Twin Peaks”) appears as something like a foreman or ringleader… later he repeats the entire opening dialogue.  A demonlike creature — John Bell in a disturbing costume with stilts, billed as “The Tall Skinned Deer” — is brought to life and appears either menacing or tormented.

Lynch is known for dream imagery in his films, but this is a little too much non-sequitur even for a fan like me.  Or maybe not enough non-sequitur… there’s way too many shots of Cruise on wires, hovering above the stage.  That’s only interesting for so long, no matter many angles you shoot it from.  Visually there’s not a lot of intriguing elements and they’re a bit too disconnected and “random”.

But a huge part of Lynch’s work is the soundtrack, and being a fan of this music helps the immersion process.  Badalamenti’s music and production is deeply hypnotic, a sea of reverb-drenched guitars, lush keyboards, droning rhythms.  Lynch’s lyrics are almost moronically simple, the kind of thing an 8th grade girl might scribble in the back of her notebook… but they have the quality of a heart laid so bare that there is no room for artifice, a haunting sincerity.  And Cruise is a most enigmatic presence.  There’s an unreality to her, like a doll come to life.  Her breathy singing gives voice to Lynch’s childlike sincerity.

Still, the movie (or perhaps more accurately, long-form music video) does try my patience at times.  It really gets cooking about halfway through, with the amazing “Rockin’ Back Inside My Heart”.  The song and the presentation literally gives me goosebumps.  Cruise serenading from the back of a Volkswagen, a dancing chorus line, a pair of prom-dressed backup singers accompanying Cruise via television.  It segues into the strangest segment, with air raid sirens, bombers in the sky, and baby dolls dangling from the ceiling.

Inconsistent, but with occasional moments of that Lynchian brilliance.  A must for fans of Cruise, probably a pass for most others.  Since it’s hard to get a hold of, here is the aforementioned “Rockin’ Back Inside My Heart” part of it.  If you like it, you may want to track down the whole thing.  Rating: Good (76)


One Response to “Industrial Symphony No. 1: The Dream of the Broken Hearted (rewatch)”

  1. […] art. Some viewers may find the almost total lack of narrative sense off-putting, but this is “a must for fans of Cruise,” who delivers some powerfully affecting […]

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