David Lynch has made unforgettable cinematic creations that have penetrated the souls of audiences on a global scale. Through masterpieces such as Eraserhead and Blue Velvet, Lynch managed to become an extremely popular representative of the surrealist movement while cementing his status as an icon.
Although his feature films get most of the attention, Lynch has created a simultaneous cinematic universe through his numerous short films. With shorts like The Alphabet and The Grandmother under his belt, many scholars and critics have claimed that Lynch’s short films are much more transgressive than his longer works.
For this week’s edition of the Short of the Week, we have chosen the first film Lynch ever made as a student project. Before he set out to become a filmmaker, Lynch was actually interested in painting and the influence of pioneering figures such as Francis Bacon is clearly evident throughout his body of work.
In an interview, he elaborated on the origin of the experimental 1967 short: “That was the very first one, Six Men Getting Sick. It was actually untitled and I’ve since then titled it.” It is an enigmatic work which presents an unsettling vision of six figures who are characterised by a terrible sickness that has gripped them.
Refusing to elaborate on the film’s message, Lynch replied in his typical fashion: “There’s some fire involved and then they become sick.” Of course, it’s much more than. Operating through a subliminal network of messaging and psychological conditioning, Six Men Getting Sick is a bleak portrait of the catastrophic dysfunction of our organic machinery.
When asked about where he got the idea in those early days, Lynch could only identify one source of inspiration which continued to guide him in later years: “It’s a mystery. One minute they’re not there and the next minute they’re there. But certain things trigger these things…they must. My greatest influence was the city of Philadelphia.”
Watch the short film below.