How Lost Highway Exploits Noir Conventions

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David Lynch's "The Lost Highway"

David Lynch directed and wrote the French-American film The Lost Highway. The story told in the film is about an American guy who killed both his wife and her lover. After being arrested, the man spends the rest of the film disputing what he did. There is a claim that nothing in Lost Highway's fanciful, convoluted, and circular tale should be taken lightly (The crime image 12). The film carriers the not-knowing film noirs features to another step with the audience having no clue whether what they see in the movie is fiction or truth (The crime image 9).

The Complex Narrative of "The Lost Highway"

Primarily, a simple argument about the film would be that Fred Madison who is a saxophone player was in unhappy marriage. He murders his wife and starts to fantasize being another person with different lifestyle and job (Caldwell). However, from this, a surface and vague level description because looking at the movie closely one can notice that nothing is labeled as fiction or reality. Moreover, the unpredictable transformation of Fred to Pete and the glory scenes does not make the movie unsettling. The lack of the border between fiction and reality makes the viewer start doubting every image on the screen.

The Meta-Noir Elements in "The Lost Highway"

Importantly, from the beginning of the film as Renee starts to look for the VHS tapes the tape the interior and exterior of Madison household the film shaping into a meta-noir (The crime image 12). Lost Highway extends the questioning of peoples objective knowledge to ask if it is reasonable and possible to know anything (Schroeder). It shifts the viewer's epistemology and the film Lost Highway questions if there is any difference between facts and opinion and if anything can become wholly known. The use of a dark road and the mystery man show the version of the human condition in Lost Highway. It shows what humanly is and the thinking of face of uncertainty.

Noir Conventions and Constructions in "The Lost Highway"

Similarly, the phenomenon of noir conventions is portrayed by the mystery man with his video recorder. This shows that the life that people are living is equivalent to a narrative, a film, or a story remembered or captured, constructed and aligned in a certain way that is based on how people perceive life (The crime image 12). The importance of the Lost Highway is that it comes in exposing that constructions are only that and that there is no truth to what one could grab lies on or behind them (Caldwell). Additionally, Renee's traditional noir appearance mainly shows her to be femme fatale. It is also visible with the film position on independent women as becoming a threat to the male rule.

The Exploration of Masculinity and Autonomy in "The Lost Highway"

Moreover, the film is aware that of the independent women autonomy outside the male sexuality. The movie does not have the same judgment, and the danger of the image of Renne-Mistery Man is not separate towards Fred but the Fred projection of the American Man. The threat from the movies tries to interpret the world by trying to master the unordered nature and subconscious of life (Schroeder). Similarly, the film shows the noir conventions when it challenges masculinity through following the destruction of Fred's identity. Noir conventions bring out the possible structure of the society as the movie tries to show how men tend to be superior of the other gender but the same can be averted through law and other means.

Work cited

Caldwell, Thomas. "Lost In Darkness And Confusion: Lost Highway, Lacan, And Film Noir." Cinema Autopsy, 2017,

Schroeder, Alexander. "Lost Highway – Film Noir: Deconstructing American Utopia." Sites.Tufts.Edu, 2017,

The crime image. 1-20

April 06, 2023

Movies Communication

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Film Analysis Murder Audience

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