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David Lynch: 70 years at the top of his game

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Credit: Thiago Piccoli

David Lynch is 70 today, and the director can look back over those years with a sense of pride at the career he’s carved out for himself. From Eraserhead to The Elephant Man, to Mulholland Drive and even Dune in all its disastrous glory, he has made some of the most arresting films in cinema history.

Even more so than his name becoming an adjective, though, Lynch can be proud of something else. Something more affecting than even Blue Velvet. I’m talking, of course, about his hair game, which for 70 years has been so steadfastly reliable that it’s used as a foreign currency reserve. If David Lynch started to lose his hair it would bankrupt Japan. Recession is so far away from being a reality to David Lynch that the only place he hears about it is in Bloomberg Businessweek. His hair game is so strong that bald billionaires take his picture into hair transplant surgeons and are told they simply don’t have enough money for it. And even if they did, they certainly don’t have the class. (Some of them proceed anyway, and that’s how we got Donald Trump.)

I mean, just look at it. If ever there’s been a director whose hair has been more closely associated with his films, or at least the persona that powers those films, I’ve yet to see it. Steven Spielberg’s ‘Gaddafi Phase’ betrayed the mind of a man who had become far too powerful on his home turf, sure. Francis Coppola’s thinning, wild rug which needed constant attention spoke of a man who was slowly coming undone in the jungle, yes. And Clint Eastwood’s stern combover is just the thing you’d associate with a mad old Republican. But these are byproducts of age and fashion, not extensions of personalities, and are easily changed.

Not so Lynch. Outlandish yet controlled, his hair seems to adhere to its own steady rhythms at its roots before shooting off in all directions towards the top, changing each time you look at it, a magic eye puzzle where if you look hard enough you see your own mortality. It has more texture and intrigue to it than The Godfather. It wouldn’t surprise if his hair is a Thing-esque alien lifeform which he ended up assimilating and using for his own ends, such is his power to make it take on whatever form it wants.

Sometimes this frightening power hasn’t always been used for good. Sometimes, in his attempt to look normal, he’s taken the wrong approach and depending on the angle, ended up variously looking like Kenneth Branagh and Richard Madeley. It’s no surprise that he had a very Madeley ‘do when making Dune, as if his hair was reacting to something it knew wasn’t going to end well, an early warning system which just happened to be on his head.

These days, however, it’s a different story, and Lynch knows the power of his hair game. During an interview with Shortlist he was told his hair was incredible, and responded “We all have our blessings and our curses”. OF COURSE he said that. Not “thanks”, not “yeah, I’ve got a pretty good hairdresser”, but “blessings and curses”. He talks about his hair as if it’s something you could find in Dark Souls.

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Gabriel Marchi

These days, Lynch’s hair is being brought into disrepute by many, many idiots who claim that they want the same style as him. Some even have the balls to take it on. You know the one: clippered sides, long on top. But instead of having the hair of a maverick filmmaker who will go down as one of surrealism’s brightest talents, they look like those fucking Troll pencil toppers you used to have when you were at school. There’s a thread on Reddit about getting hair like Lynch: it has one response and it’s not even an answer to the question, instead a correction to the originally posed question, because David Lynch’s hair isn’t something you just get, in the same way you don’t go into the gym and just ask for an arm like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s. It takes years to get it that way, and your puny locks are in no shape to even attempt it. The only person who ever got away with doing anything like it was Kyle MacLachlan, and that’s because the master was there on set to purposely supervise him. His hair is so powerful that it even managed to get Nicholas Cage’s looking respectable, in Wild At Heart.

Perhaps the best thing about Lynch and his hair is that he knows that it does so much of the talking for him that he doesn’t even need to make bold statements with the way he dresses. Combined with monochromes, black suits and ties with white shirts, he’s got a uniform, and like most uniforms it serves a purpose. It says: take a look at this fucking hair.

Just look at it.


Homepage image credit: Thiago Piccoli

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