Festivus Insider’s Guide: David Wants to Fly
By guest writer Richard Karpala from the Aurora Sentinel
Fans of David Lynch have always wondered where his strange, unique ideas come from. It’s not enough
to call Lynch’ s films scary, haunting, or dream-like. “Mulholland Drive”, “Blue Velvet”, and “Twin
Peaks” are great examples of all those things–but they are something else, too. They are “Lynchian”. His
worlds are pleasant and idyllic on the surface, with much darker, more sinister secrets lurking below.
Documentary filmmaker David Sieveking steps into Lynch’s world with “David Wants To Fly”, playing
this weekend at Festivus Film Festival.
He begins his documentary much like a character in one of Lynch’s films, innocently curious, until the
truth is less appetizing than he expected. As a recently graduated film student, German-born Sieveking
wants to know where Lynch gets his creativity and how he can tap into it.
Sieveking sets out to meet Lynch. He travels to America for a seminar on creativity. Its website declares, “Your Brain Needs This”. Lynch is one of its guest lecturers. Sieveking leaves his girlfriend behind, and his home of Germany, for the rural Midwestern landscapes of Fairfield, Iowa. It’ s an idyllic town…like in one of Lynch’ s movies, harboring something dark.
The seminar is held at Maharishi University. Lynch gives a speech about Transcendental Meditation (TM), and how it’s “money in the bank” for artists and creative minded people. He speaks to a rapt, engaged crowd that’s probably more interested in hearing the filmmaker, rather than the TM spokesperson. As he talks he wiggles his fingers in the air as if they’re his antennae, a quirk that could be described as…well, Lynchian.
In order to understand what TM is, and how it works, Sieveking isn’t satisfied with the cursory introduction. He dives deeper.
After interviewing Lynch in person, and learning about TM’s founder Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Sieveking
decides to try it. He purchases his own mantra (yes, you have to buy your way into enlightenment—and it isn’t cheap), which he can chant silently to himself twice a day, for the rest of his life.
At first he is cynical about it. He asks what he’ s gotten himself into. But then it seems to work. Sieveking feels like his quality of life is improving.
When the Maharishi dies, Sieveking visits India. He reunites with Lynch again, who seems out of place in his ceremonial attire. They’re here to witness his public cremation, and later bathe in his ashes. The trip to India gives us a new perspective on TM: the community is loyal, fervent, but also intimidating.
Sieveking is granted permission to interview some high officials in the TM hierarchy. He discovers that the more of it he explores, the less of it he likes.
The movement requires a lot of money to operate. Building “heaven on earth” in India comes with a price tag of about $400,000,000 dollars. The new successor to Yogi even drives around in a golden limo.
Sieveking’ s skepticism reaches its peak when he visits a German university to watch Lynch and a German “Raja” (leader) of the TM movement try to convince the nearly empty auditorium about the benefits of building a new school called the “University of Invincibility”. The goal is to make Germany “invincible,” which the audience laughs off. Someone jokingly asks why Hitler couldn’ t do it. The Raja says it’s because he didn’t use “the right technique.”
The audience revolts in anger. One woman stands up and yells, “ Charlatan!” Lynch tries to calm everyone down and perform damage control.
Sievesking’s exploration into TM is calamitous. Officials begin to turn against him, and Lynch himself
stops accommodating interviews. Eventually he has nowhere left to turn except former TM members, and its former financiers, including one of its biggest, who lives in Colorado.
“After more than a year of daily meditation, my life is a complete disaster. My girlfriend dumped me, David wants to lynch me, and TM is threatening to sue. Are these the blissful effects of TM?”
The documentary offers a revealing look at David Lynch, the TM spokesperson. Much is revealed about the movement, its practices, its supporters and its skeptics. At the end of the documentary, there is the sense that Sievesking has pulled back the skin of an entire underworld he didn’t realize was fueling the ideas and images of his favorite movies.
Very Lynchian indeed.
“David Wants To Fly” will be screening at 8:00PM on Saturday at the Oriental Theater for Festivus Film Festival. To buy tickets, and find a complete schedule, visit www.festivusfilmfestival.com.