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David Lynch picks his favourite Stanley Kubrick film


If there are two filmmakers that helped to define the landscape of American cinema in the late 20th century, it’s Stanley Kubrick and David Lynch, directors operating on either side of the same cinematic spectrum. 

For David Lynch, experimentation was his predominant focus, with Eraserhead, Wild at Heart and Blue Velvet each developing a distinct interest in the dreamworld that the filmmaker so fondly enjoys exploring. Analysing the workings of the human mind and its separation of facts from fiction, Lynch has gained a loyal following of supporters who revels in his obscure approach to modern cinema. 

Stanley Kubrick shares many similarities to Lynch, though prefers to dabble less with experimentation, instead imbuing each of his films with intricate narrative puzzles that reveal a far deeper, existential truth than first conceived. Such can be experienced throughout Kubrick’s filmography, from his study on free will in his 1971 film A Clockwork Orange to his science-fiction epic 2001: A Space Odyssey in 1968. 

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Enjoying each other’s films, dialogue between the two directors often crossed over, with Kubrick being heavily inspired by Lynch’s momentous debut feature film Eraserhead in 1977. Noting the film as one of his favourites, in conversation with Mario Orsatti in 2020, David Lynch elaborates on this, commenting: “It wasn’t one of his favourites, it was his favourite”. 

Inspired so much by Lynch’s film, Stanley Kubrick even imbued the same sense of style into his own 1980s horror, The Shining, starring Jack Nicholson. Eager to capture the same sense of ethereal dread as Eraserhead, Kubrick mimicked the use of sound and lingering shots in his own film, particularly during the bathroom scene in room 237 that recalls Henry Spencer’s own visit to his neighbour’s room 27 in Lynch’s film. 

The appreciation was reciprocated by David Lynch too with the filmmaker revealing in his book, Catching the Big Fish, “Stanley Kubrick is one of my all-time favourite filmmakers”. Going on to discuss the influence of the director, Lynch picks out his all-time favourite, avoiding the obvious choices of 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange or Dr. Strangelove.

“I like all of Kubrick’s films but my favourite may be Lolita,” Lynch states in the book, adding: “I just like the world, I like the characters, I love the performances, James Manson is phenomenal beyond the beyond in this film”. 

Released in 1962, the controversial film is based on the 1955 novel of the same title by Vladimir Nabokov who also wrote the film’s screenplay, and follows a middle-aged college professor who becomes infatuated with a fourteen-year-old girl. Featuring the likes of Shelley Winters, Sue Lyon and Gary Cockrell, Lolita is known as one of Kubrick’s most controversial films, making it no surprise that David Lynch picked it as his unconventional favourite.

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