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David Lynch & roland Kermarec (c) D.R. ROLAND KERMAREC
On The… Lost Higway
Interview conducted
June 25th 2000 in Paris
By Bernard PAYEN
Traduction : Frédéric HUETTE

Roland Kermarec is a young French professor and aspiring director. He’s been a columnist for the site "Objectif Cinéma" since its creation and is the author of two university essays on David Lynch. The two essays gave him the incredible opportunity to be part of the crew on "Lost Highway" for three-and-a-half months of shooting in 1995-1996.

Tale of an adventure...

Objectif Cinema : Where did this adventure all start from ?

Roland Kermarec : I chose David Lynch as the theme for my Master’s in Modern Literature when I was studying in Brest (Brittany). At first I had planned to only concentrate on his two first films, Eraserhead and The Elephant Man, but my research professors suggested I tighten the subject around a more precise theme for they themselves were not sure of being able to guide me correctly. It wasn't easy for them to accept the choice, for the film department of the university is in Rennes and not Brest. And there is no obvious link between Eraserhead and Literature ! If only yet I had chosen Dune or even Wild at Heart !

Lynch has a very difficult relationship with words. As he shows us in his first short film, The Alphabet, he rejects them. And if he repeats himself often in interviews, it's because he doesn't trust words and he prefers to protect himself by using the same speech over and over again, one that he masters perfectly (his thoughts on ideas floating in the air and his attraction to mysteries, etc.). Therefore, writing an essay in modern literature on Lynch could easily have seemed off the mark at first.

  Elephant Man (c) D.R.

Objectif Cinema : And your professors trusted you ?

Roland Kermarec : I had met a professor who was into theatre and another who taught a course in film criticism. They decided to cooperate/work together, so as to give me better guidance in my research. Contrary to the usual method, I could not give them any kind of framework to start off with. I didn't really know in which direction I was going, and only had a vague idea of where it was going to lead me. Furthermore, giving this theme a precise frame to follow all year long might have killed all of my desire to dive into Lynch's mysterious world.

Often, essays like this have pompous titles filled with pseudo-intellectual theories... But since Lynch has a naive vision of the world, a child-like hunger to discover the universe without the slightest preconception, I wanted to stay true to this idea in my essay and not over-intellectualize my statements, to see his films as objectively and as open-minded as I could.

My master’s essay finally concentrated itself on Eraserhead and on Lynch's short films (Six Men Getting Sick, The Alphabet and The Grandmother). In my next year I immediately decided to do an essay on The Elephant Man, this time with more of a literary base, involving all the adaptations of Merrick’s life, namely the work by Frederick Treves, the surgeon played by Anthony Hopkins in the film, as well as the deep research done on Merrick’s life by two English documentarists, Michael Howell and Peter Ford.

On one hand, I touched on the details of the character's life, comparing it to David Lynch's adaptation, and on the other, I made personal interpretations based on Lynch's theory that there are as many interpretations as there are spectators. Insisting in this manner on my own subjectivity and never trying to make a definite interpretation of the film.