From black into light, a road inching through the summer countryside, the image threatened slightly by white scarring, probably because the tape has lain for years without a case and dust has settled upon the film. The scene is England. You can tell from the road signs.
The rear of a grey mini Metro shows in the medium distance. A white van flashes past in the opposite lane. The orange bonnet of the car stretches from the windscreen, underlined, at the bottom, by the scruffy interior: a cigarette lighter, a ragged pack of fruit gums. The car is Mona’s old Allegro, her pride, her joy. The camera shakes in my hand with the road surface. I would never learn the necessary touch.
‘Are you filming?’ Mona said.
‘I just want to, you know, get used to it. Handling it.’ My voice sounds thick from being so close to the microphone. I had been struck by my accent, the slight slur of speech. It has disappeared now, standardised into a generic English, utilitarian in that it reveals no place.
I zoom in and zoom back. A monument approaches along the road, something tall, of sandstone, and I try to capture it as a relic that Mona will appreciate. It slants by like a scene from an earthquake. (Later, again off-camera, Mona would scold me about using the zoom: it is, apparently, the sign of an amateur.)
‘David Lynch will now…’ I am talking for the benefit of the camera now. You can tell from the little laugh that punctuates this opening that I wish, I really wish, I could think of something very witty to say, but this is real life, distracted and imperfect. ‘David Lynch will now start shooting his road movie.’
‘Don’t use up the battery. I’ve only got one spare. And I don’t… What’s this little bastard doing?…’
Mona doesn’t finish. The little bastard does something to arrest her attention.
I move the camera to take in Mona, bent over the steering wheel. She wears a red T shirt, sunglasses pushed up against her hair. Her skin is pale. A pixelatedfigment, a trick of the light. She glances back at me, half-smiles. Another white van flashes past.
This is the end of the first scene.
Words © Daniel Bennett