Take a look at the first five minutes of any of Alfred Hitchcock’s major films, and you’ll find that not a lot happens. Contradicting the filmmaking philosophy of the current era, Hitchcock believed – correctly – that the best way to achieve a lasting, resonant emotional effect in an audience was to build to moments of action, not relentlessly bombard an audience with them. Think about it, what’s scarier? A litany of in-your-face violence, or a slow, lingering, almost-predatory period of inertia before the violence explodes out of stillness?
This is, of course, a rhetorical question, what I’m describing is the difference between Rosemary’s Baby and Child’s Play, or Alien and Alien vs Predator. Suspense makes for more bombastic action, more shocking thrills, and more effective chills, and silence and stillness make for top-notch suspense.
No one knows this better, perhaps, than David Lynch, and nowhere else in his filmography has he more employed silence and stillness as precursors to action, violence, or revelation like he has in Twin Peaks. The series, old and new, is riddled with uncomfortably long moments in which characters say nothing, do nothing, rather they’re caught in mental spirals of consideration, contemplation, recollection, deliberation, or abdication of morality, civility, and even sanity.
Specifically focusing on the new season of Twin Peaks as well as the series’ prequel film Fire Walk With Me, editor Dominick Nero for Fandor has compiled the below video of Lynchian Stillness, analyzing the many ways the director uses inactivity to enhance his stories and the distinct characters who inhabit them.