Sailor and Lula: The Bloody and Mysterious Fairy Tale of David Lynch

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Sailor and Lula
Premiere / The Samuel Goldwyn Company

A look back at the creation of this unforgettable film with Nicolas Cage, Laura Dern and Willem Dafoe.

On May 21, 1990, applause was heard unanimously at the Cannes Film Festival when Bernardo Bertolucci announced the Palme d’Or awarded to Sailor and Lula. A love story with wild characters where burlesque meets horror and passionate love. One of the most iconic couples in cinema had been on the cover 31 years ago of First and journalist Christine Haas had collected the impressions of her director, David Lynch. On the occasion of its rebroadcast on Arte, this Thursday at 11:50 pm, we wanted to come back to the most zany love story of Cannes.

What interests me is what we see on the screen, the events that occur there and the, if possible, not trivial way in which they occur.“, confided David Lynch when asked about the meaning of his film. The director consciously scrambles the tracks, shakes up genres to push back the boundaries of the known. The explosive couple Laura Dern / Nicolas cage carries a passion both intrepid and unique in a nightmarish world where violence is certainly raging. We can only be under the spell of Sailor proudly wearing her “Snake Jacket” echoing Marlon Brandon in The Snakeskin Man, interpreting “Love me“from Elvis Presley. Screaming, a dark vibe and a romantic cliché. Therein lies all the power of Sailor and Lula, horror becomes funny and the draft of a musical can end in a bloodbath.

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Yet David Lynch has a fairly firm idea about the genre of his film, he claims to have directed “a fairy tale“. A fairy tale quite anticlassical at first glance but it is true that Sailor and Lula approaches it through specific elements. We no longer count the references to Wizard of Oz with the appearances of the pink fairy then the magician or even in more detail with Lula’s red pumps, reminiscent of Dorothy’s patent shoes of the same color. By adapting the book of Wild at heart by Barry Gifford, David Lynch appropriated the story by insisting on the freedom of images and the contemporary dimension of the film: “I’m like a detective on the lookout for the things we usually hide. The contemporary world may not be exactly the brightest place we could dream of living. The suffering, the darkness, confusion is everywhere.It’s a kind of strange carnival where there is a lot of pain but which can be quite funny too.“The result is overwhelming and leads us with frenzy into paranoia, that of the jealous love of a mother but also of a lover constantly on the edge of a razor. An ode to freedom in the bizarre or in loving passion, it remains intact. Actress Laura Dern confided: “What I love about David Lynch is that he is very strange and tells terrifying stories. Yet he is an innocent who believes in love, he is even a true idealist.”

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More than thirty years later, the Palme d’Or of David Lynch still marks the spirits by its singularity and makes us want to see Nicolas Cage again stepping over the hoods of cars to find Lula and interpret him “Love me Tender “ in brilliant light.

Trailer :

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