This weekend I had the rare opportunity of seeing an early screening of Richard Beymer’s new but still-in-the-works-documentary A Film of David Lynch Following His Master’s Footsteps.
The documentary consists of Richard following the iconic director/writer/painter/musician David Lynch as he journeyed through India in December 2009 while looking for inspiration for his own documentary on the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, founder of Transcendental Meditation (TM).
After a clip from the Maharishi’s visit to the Merv Griffin show during the 70’s, the film begins in Fairfield, Iowa as David speaks with a local radio station about his upcoming trip and his adoration for TM. As noted in David’s book Catching the Big Fish, TM plays a huge part in his life and has for the last 40 years or so.
After arriving in India, David humorously settles into his hotel room while the hotel staff asks him an endless list of questions, including his home address which he can barely remember. Desperate to find a match to light his smoke and clearly annoyed with these inconveniences, the journey starts with a private look into what David’s life might be like behind closed doors.
Visiting a small hut in the Himalayas where the Maharishi sat in silence for two years, David is clearly in awe with his bright eyes and “golly gee whiz” attitude. The crew moves on through India for the next 15 days seeing sights such as a new temple built by the TM movement and the sight of the Maharishi’s first public speech on TM.
Visually the film is quite stimulating as David and crew trek through crowded Indian communities, helicopter over the Himalayas and marvel at so many breathtaking sights- all the while savoring precious sleep, Coca-Colas and cookies.
While this was an early screening, Richard asked for feedback from the audience afterwards in a Q+A session. Some of the crowd wanted more of a background story or explanation on the fundamentals of TM, but I felt that the film is basically about David’s pilgrimage and should remain that way. I also feel that this film is going to appeal to a small niche audience which will consist of hardcore Lynch devotees or perhaps TM enthusiasts, or even those looking for more information on either matter.
I felt like the film ran ten minutes too long, and would benefit by more Lynch voice overs. I also thought that this documentary could be a good companion piece to Lynch’s Catching the Big Fish. Perhaps even melding some of the audio book into the film would connect a few missing links.
Overall an entertaining and insightful look into a unique pilgrimage, and definitely more personable than the prior Lynch documentary Lynch: One.
It was definitely an honor to stay after the film and chat with Richard about this film, his time on Twin Peaks and his prior short film/documentary Here We Are One More Time. Many thanks to Richard and Producer Rob Wilson for sharing the film and entertaining my feedback and questions, it was sincerely appreciated.
The survey says…3 stars out of 5 (atleast the cut I saw)