Masters Thesis

A Lynchiannoir: film noir as the language of trauma

The aim of this thesis is to explore and analyze David Lynch’s films noir through a psychoanalytic lens, predominantly employing Freudian and Lacanian psychoanalytic theories to dissect and explicate these films. This thesis defines and explores what I call “Lynchian noir”; that is, I make the case that Lynch’s films noir carve out a distinct and idiosyncratic niche in the film noir canon and aesthetic. I make the claim that Lynch’s films noir are a particular offshoot of what some scholars have termed postmodern neo-noir and meta-noir, and that the Lynchian manifestations of postmodern neo- and meta-noir deftly translate the psychological processes of the unconscious mind into powerfully unsettling cinematic experiences. In particular, Lynch’s films noir are cinematic reflections of the unconscious as it attempts to fantasmatically cope with psychic trauma, the distressing enigma of human desire, and the alienating illusion of identity.