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Alfred Hitchcock

Twin Peaks / The Art Life

Twin Peaks, 1990, dir. David Lynch (still)

Possibly because my initial viewing of Twin Peaks: The Return (2017) coincided with my watching David Lynch: The Art Life (2016), I couldn’t help but be aware of the veiled allusions to creativity that occur throughout the wider series (including Seasons 1 & 2). It seems to me that much of the series’ imagery and symbolism relates closely to Lynch’s experience of making art, rather than necessarily to a bespoke mythology (though I don’t of course discount the theological significance of the “Lodge Lore” debated by countless fans). I also wonder whether the creative collaboration of David Lynch/Mark Frost derives from two contrasting views of the medium and form of television, one view emanating from painting (Lynch’s view), the other from literary fiction (Frost). In view of Lynch’s continued activity as a painter I am struck by the possibility that Twin Peaks may be referring to art history in addition to cinematic/ televisual references. (<<< SPOILERS AHEAD >>>). Read more →

About ‘The Great Macguffin’

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Laurence Figgis, The Great Macguffin (detail), 2005-12, ink, crayon, watercolour on paper, 160 x 350 cm

I first stumbled on the (great) MacGuffin in 2005, when I was searching for a title for a piece of work that was then in production, a large scale ink and watercolour drawing that had occupied my attention for some months. I was still in the throes of making this work when I read Alfred Hitchcock’s account of the term in his seminal interview with François Truffaut. And I knew straight away that I had found not only the title for the work but also the name for its protagonist, the imaginary character (part human, part animal, part machine) with whose fortunes the drawing is principally concerned. The word itself struck me with its amusing lyric – or rather non-lyric -quality; I liked the heavy, cumbersome, down-to-earth sound. But the explanation behind the word was just as captivating.

‘MacGuffin’ is Hitchcock’s term for a pretext or plot device that in its typical and most intellectually satisfying form must always be radically under-explained within the diegetic narrative.  In many cases it would not hold up to rational scrutiny if the audience subjected it to any attention.  Thus in Hitchcock’s film Notorious (1946) we are led to assume  that particles of uranium (viable for atomic capability) can be stored in wine bottles in the form of a crystalline black dust, hidden in the chief antagonist’s cellar. Read more →