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David Lynch: American surrealist

David Lynch: American surrealist

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David Lynch is heading the panel of judges at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival, which awarded him the best director prize last year. BBC News Online looks back at his long career.

David Lynch is one of the most challenging and original directors to have come out of America.

His Oscar-nominated film Mulholland Drive is typical of much of his work, sharply dividing many critics and film-goers who have been alienated by what seems to be an impenetrable narrative.

Mulholland Drive confounds the critics

Mulholland Drive confounds the critics

Surrealism, semiotics and strong Freudian themes of sexual identity permeate through his work, creating complex tales of lust and desire.

Objects, sights and sounds take on wide and complex significance in Lynch films, and he often seems to be toying with the very film analysts who would deconstruct his work.

But his strong sense of visual style and powerful story-telling skills have won over just as many fans.

Strange terms

If his films are odd, it is a reflection of his inner life and upbringing.

Born in 1946, he has described his childhood in strange terms.

"My father was a scientist for the forest service. He would drive me through the woods... then drop me in the woods and go off.

"It was a weird comforting feeling being in the woods. There were odd, mysterious things.

"That's the kind of world I grew up in."

His films have always been about characters on the fringe of society, or seemingly "ordinary Joes" who stumble across the underbelly of their perfect world.

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