Lost Highway on the Wheel

The Journey of Disintegration

#DavidLynch #structure #LostHighway


The art of loving, Erich Fromm

"Man is gifted with reason; he is life being aware of itself; he has awareness of himself, of his fellow man, of his past, and of the possibilities of his future. This awareness of himself as a separate entity, the awareness of his own life span, of the fact that without his will he is born and against his will he dies, that he will die before those whom he loves, or they before him, the awareness of his aloneness and separateness, of his helplessness before the forces of nature and of society, all this makes his separate, disunited existence an unbearable prison. He would become insane could he not liberate himself from this prison and reach out, unite himself in some form or other with men, with the world outside.

The experience of separateness arouses anxiety; it is, indeed, the source of all anxiety. Being separate means being cut off, without any capacity to use my human powers. Hence to be separate means to be helpless, unable to grasp the world-things and people--actively; it means that the world can invade me without my ability to react. Thus, separateness is the source of intense anxiety. Beyond that, it arouses shame and the feeling of guilt. This experience of guilt and shame in separateness is expressed in the Biblical story of Adam and Eve.

After Adam and Eve have eaten of the "tree of knowledge of good and evil," after they have disobeyed (there is no good and evil unless there is freedom to disobey), after they have become human by having emancipated themselves from the original animal harmony with nature, i.e., after their birth as human beings-they saw "that they were naked and they were ashamed."

… after man and woman have become aware of themselves and of each other, they are aware of their separateness, and of their difference, inasmuch as they belong to different sexes. But while recognizing their separateness they remain, strangers, because they have not yet learned to love each other (as is also made very clear by the fact that Adam defends himself by blaming Eve, rather than by trying to defend her). The awareness of human separation, without reunion by love-is the source of shame. It is at the same time the source of guilt and anxiety.

The deepest need of man, then, is the need to overcome his separateness, to leave the prison of his aloneness. The absolute failure to achieve this aim means insanity because the panic of complete isolation can be overcome only by such a radical withdrawal from the world outside that the feeling of separation disappears-because the world outside, from which one is separated, has disappeared."



Lost Highway (1997) by David Lynch: Structural Analysis


1. Warrior →Fool (The exposition of a wound — ego) BATTLEFIELD

Pain caused by the wrong identity vs. all possible identities. The main conflict is introduced.


Fred Madison is a saxophone player who is trapped inside the ‘wrong half’ of his personality. The truth is, any half of us is wrong, simply because it is not whole, and therefore the personality is considered broken, split, torn, disintegrated and fractured. It is through this crack in between these broken parts that pain usually enters, since, from a fractured point of view, a character is seeing a fractured world. The main conflict here is separation.


As Erich Fromm said in the quote below:

“The absolute failure to achieve this aim (to overcome the separateness) means insanity because the panic of complete isolation can be overcome only by such a radical withdrawal from the world outside that the feeling of separation disappears-because the world outside, from which one is separated, has disappeared.”


For those who have seen this movie, they know when Fred (the one who listens/doesn’t know) answers the intercom, the voice that informs him that Dick Laurent is dead is the voice of himself (the one who talks/knows) from the end of the movie.


The whole movie is a journey of integration or rather disintegration since the journey of integration is a never-ending story. We’ll see soon what triggers the disintegration of or madness in Fred.



2. Creator →Orphan (A ray of hope) HEART’S DESIRE

Hero’s heart vs. non-authentic relationships.


Fred is married to Renee whom he loves but doesn’t trust. He feels alone and betrayed, but he still doesn’t know what is wrong with his relationship. He is obsessed with her, intrigued by where she is secretly going.

They make love and instead of feeling connected to her, he feels emotionally dominated by her. Also, his dream reveals his fear of not being able to trust her: “It was you, but it wasn’t you.”


He would like to find some answers. His subconscious comes out in the form of a cassette – someone (his subconscious) has broken into their bedroom while they were asleep. The police come.

3. Explorer →Magician (The hero decides to go on a quest) A BETTER LIFE IS POSSIBLE

Wrong belief vs. new vision.


Fred and Renee are at a party with a friend Renee’s named Andy. Fred begins to put the pieces together about different men Renee is involved with. The Mystery Man appears for the first time, he claims that they’ve met before. He is going to be Fred’s mentor, a brave but hidden part of Fred, who can see the truth. He claims he is in their home at the very same moment when they are speaking in person at the party. He says Fred invited him.


From that point on, Fred is pushed to go even deeper into his subconscious – going into some dark parts of their apartment/himself. He is ready to go on a journey to find out the whole truth.

The next morning a new tape arrives and, on the tape, Fred sees himself as a murderer. Renee’s body is cut into two pieces. He is sentenced to death. But the life of discovery can begin.



4. Lover →Caregiver (Wish storyline) LOVE (B STORY) INTRODUCED

Love triggers fear (overprotectiveness).


It is at this point that the B storyline is introduced. It appears that we are entering into an entirely new story. “Some spooky shit” – a strange metamorphosis happens and Fred Madison is “transformed” into another man. Instead of Fred, who is gone (to where we don’t know), the police find Pete, a young auto mechanic in Fred’s jail cell. Pete’s parents (caregivers) come to pick Pete up. They bring him home.

Pete has friends back home and he also has a girlfriend who obviously loves him and asks him what is going on since he’s been acting strange lately.



5. Sage →Destroyer (Healing is possible) REASONS BEHIND SUFFERING

Healing provokes self-destructiveness.


Pete comes back to the garage where he works. Mr. Eddy asks Pete to fix his car. He takes Pete for a drive and while on this drive, Pete learns that Mr. Eddy is a dangerous man, who can kill whoever he doesn’t like. On top of that, Mr. Eddy is Dick Laurent – who is going to die (detectives who are following Pete know this).