Get Surreal at Music Box’s Massive David Lynch Retrospective

The Elephant Man / Photograph courtesy of Paramount Pictures

With the much-anticipated relaunch of “Twin Peaks” coming to Showtime next month (May 21), the Music Box Theatre is embarking on what might be its most ambitious film series ever. Featuring everything from films to shorts to music videos, David Lynch: A Complete Retrospective starts tonight with a 35mm screening of Mulholland Drive at 7:30pm and runs through May 4.

The retrospective also includes a preview screening of the new documentary David Lynch: The Art Life, which takes a focused look at the filmmaker’s art, music and early works. Directors Jon Nguyen and Rick Barnes were given private views from Lynch’s compound and painting studio in the hills high above Hollywood, as he told personal stories that unfold like scenes from his films. The film officially opens May 5 at the Music Box (with a full review to come then), but this special screening happens Friday, April 28 at 7:15pm.

Said to be the most immersive and thorough collection of Lynch’s work ever presented in one venue, this retrospective was programmed by Lynch expert, local composer and musician Daniel Knox. In addition to the films themselves, he has cut together 20-minute pre-shows for each feature that will include rare clips, interviews, bonus footage and more. Knox will also be present a celebration of “Twin Peaks” with a screening of Fire Walk With Me on April 29 at 7pm. Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits will be at the Fire Walk screening selling fresh slices of pie because of course they are.

Other rare screenings include Industrial Symphony No. 1, which might be the closest thing to a David Lynch musical, showing Friday, April 28 at 9:30pm. This will be followed by a program celebrating David Lynch’s work in music, advertising, and television, and will contain material you won’t be able to see anywhere else.

David Lynch: A Complete Retrospective covers the entirety of Lynch’s incredible career. Other notable events include 40th anniversary screenings of his breakthrough feature Eraserhead, 20th anniversary screenings of Lost Highway, and his tender drama The Straight Story. Rounding out the program will be showing of Blue Velvet, The Elephant Man, Wild at Heart, Inland Empire, and Dune. Also featured is Blue Velvet Revisited from German filmmaker Peter Baatz, who was invited by Lynch to Wilmington, North Carolina, in 1985 to document the making of Blue Velvet. The resulting film offers intimate insight into this early masterpiece from those who witnessed it. This one-time-only screening happens Wednesday, May 3 at 7:30pm.

A complete list of showtimes, a detailed description of every feature and program in the retrospective, and links to buy advance tickets can be found at the Music Box Theatre’s events page.

David Lynch Retrospective

Steve Prokopy
Steve Prokopy

Steve Prokopy is chief film critic for the Chicago-based arts outlet
Third Coast Review. For nearly 20 years, he was the Chicago editor for
Ain’t It Cool News, where he contributed film reviews and
filmmaker/actor interviews under the name “Capone.” Currently, he’s a
frequent contributor at /Film ( and Backstory Magazine.
He is also the public relations director for Chicago's independently
owned Music Box Theatre, and holds the position of Vice President for
the Chicago Film Critics Association. In addition, he is a programmer
for the Chicago Critics Film Festival, which has been one of the
city's most anticipated festivals since 2013.

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