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David Lynch's Coffee Commercial Is Damn Fine (And Damn Disturbing)

Who even knew David Lynch had a Vimeo page? But he does, and he’s just put this commercial up on it for David Lynch branded coffee. A soothing dreamy scene is set, compounded by Lynch’s mellow tone of voice and the serene fairytale music, as we witness the paradoxically unnerving spectacle of Lynch conversing, about coffee, with a decapitated Barbie doll head. He voices this too in a sticky, babyish tone—the pink lips and blonde hair of the doll mocking that all American beauty ideal seen commonly in advertisements. The premise is some mock behind-the-scenes footage of what he potentially does backstage in his dressing room before he makes his entrance and hits the screaming crowds of an autograph stage. (A stage, we’re told by the shrill, cartoonish voice of a stage hand, with an audience of a staggering 2 million people.)

Using minimal props (his hand and the head) and just the one shot of his hand grasping the doll’s head, subtly coming in and out of focus, Lynch manages to create a sense of disembodiment in the viewer. As he talks inanely to this automaton, he successfully creates his customary sense of the uncanny. Watching it, you feel a sense of calm familiarity, like you could float away with the sweetness and the slow trickle of the tinkling music, but then the disturbing fact that Lynch is talking to himself while holding the disembodied head of a child’s toy comes nagging and the common Lynchian duality of being nurtured and abused is back to haunt you. All this in the span of four minutes, in an advert for coffee. This is what auteurs are made of.

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