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Favorites: Rings in the Films of Lynch

Here at 25YLSite, we handle a lot of heavy lifting. Analysis, interpretation, deep discussion, introspective interviews… you name it, we’ve got it. “Favorites” is our new series that takes a lighter approach to the material we normally cover. Each week, one of our writers will take you through their list of favorites – whether it’s moments, scenes, episodes, characters, lines of dialogue, whatever! – in bite-sized articles perfect for your lunch break, a dull commute, or anywhere you need to take a Moment of Zen. So, sit back and enjoy this week’s offering: Rob King’s top 5 Rings in the Films of Lynch.

Surprising and obvious, in this brief write-up, I present to you five pertinent rings in the filmography of David Lynch. They are symbols of circularity, recurrence, power, and the inescapable. Enjoy!

5) Cooper’s Ring taken and returned by The Fireman.


For Twin Peaks, the imagery of recurrence begins with Cooper’s ring, which The Giant returns once Cooper has put all of his clues together to oust Leland. At least, that is where it is most blatantly defined. Looking a little closer, we see the circuitry of donuts. We see the circled container for coffee in its comforting mug. We see this ring’s doppelgänger later engraved with love from Janey-E to Dougie Jones in Major Briggs’s stomach. Make no mistake, this ring has traveled from the grandeur of The Great Northern and through the mysteries of The Fireman’s mansion lounge before coming back to F.B.I. Special Agent Dale Cooper. This well-traveled standard gold band lands at number five on my countdown.

4) The Ducal Signet Ring stolen from Leto Atriedes and later returned to Paul Atriedes.


It would be easy to jump from one Twin Peaks ring to another, but we delve deeper, looking to the significance of Leto Artiedes Ducal Ring. The Ducal ring would pass from one wise Woodsman (Jürgen Prochnow) into the hands of one of Blue Velvet’s most capable Orbison karaoke performers (Dean Stockwell) before landing back into the rightful hands of Kyle McLachlan. With a provenance like that, who could argue its place at number four in my countdown? Admit it. Coveted by Harkonnen and royal courier alike, when your mail’s wax comes stamped by this one, it’s a stamp of excellence.

3) The Owl Cave Ring


“With this ring, I thee wed,” says The Arm pre-evolution. It intrigues, foils BOB, binds one to the purgatorial Red Room, and runs one around $150 at Rock Love Jewelry. This stunning piece of mythology is jaded in every way. Annie likely lost a good nurse to it. Mike showed us that the proper way to wear it is on the pinkie finger. Dougie, Ray, and Dale carried it through The Return, but given Mark Frost’s handle on it, we fans watched it travel from Merriweather Lewis’s satchel to Nixon from Doug and Lana to the ring finger of “a notorious resident of a certain eponymous tower on Fifth Avenue.” This truly damned annular auger of evil lands a shining position at number three. You can’t land number one when you disappear F.B.I. Special Agent Chester Desmond.

2) The Circle of Sycamore Trees


The gate to the mysterious Red Room. No Twin Peaks fan could deny it, this ring of sapling terror is significant. There is a feeling that all roads and highways, lost or evident, in Lynch’s filmography lead here. Robins die here, and the owls are not what they seem. In an imagery of circles within circles, it encloses the rocks surrounding the pool of scorched engine oil. Our very own Sheriff Harry S. Truman watched it, unable to fathom, for hours. This is a ring that binds, weds, and breaks its seekers. With this ring, the Dweller on the Threshold takes their soul to the brink. Make no mistake, Johnny Cash’s ring of fire has nothing on this one. So when you look to the Owl Cave Map, you’ll want to make special note of this treacherous destination.

1) The phone rings for Diane—Mulholland Drive.


Phone rings are a powerful harbinger in David Lynch’s works.  Mr. C is pulled from The Dutchman’s by answering a telephone as surely as Sheriff Cable mocks Agent Desmond “We have a phone. It’s got a little ring.” To this day I wonder what would have happened if Richard/Cooper had answered the ringing phone in Carrie Page’s house. But in Mulholland Drive, the ring tolls for Diane, introducing us to the true Diane Selwyn world, where the chauffeurs are less ominous hitmen than transport to her dreaded reality with Camilla Rhodes. The tintinnabulation of this particular ring is a piercing one, one that reverberates through all falsehoods, forcing the dreamer to awake. Once awake, the fantasy is over, the glamour gone. This particular ring lands my number one spot because it is so unexpected. It is perhaps the most “Lynchian” ring of all his films. This particular ring un-weds. It divorces a dreamer from their dream. Once awakened, the cradle in hand, there is only one world left to contend with, one stark reality. The price for this ring must be paid in full.

Written by Rob E. King

I am a librarian, writer, and proud member of Twin Peaks and Robert E. Howard fandom. I've also somehow become the go-to writer for MTV's 90s animation series.

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