It begins with a phone conversation - a guy breaks up with his girl (both played by Nicholas Cage and Laura Dern who were making Wild At Heart at the time), then we are transported to a space filled with various detritus, where a floating angel (Julee Cruise) sings a lament, and below her a girl, naked save for black panties writhes about on a wrecked car...
Eccentric even by Lynchian standards, Industrial Symphony No. 1, subtitled The Dream of the Broken Hearted is a 50 minute piece of experimental theatre featuring songs from Julee Cruise's first two albums and various soundscapes by long time Lynch collaborator Angelo Badalamenti. The action filmed on stage features plenty of familiar Lynch iconography - pipes, bits of discarded metal, sinister light bulbs, and as a nod to Blue Velvet and Twin Peaks, a log that is sawed by none other than Michael J. Anderson who played The Man from Another Place in Twin Peaks. The songs are mostly exquisite - with Cruise's ethereal vocals given a dark power by Badalamenti's subtle post-rockish guitar licks. The songs are separated by short interludes of dark ambient washes of sound, and the atonal noise of machine guns and wailing sirens.
Industrial Symphony No. 1 premiered at the Brooklyn Academy of Music as a part of the New Music America Festival on November 10th 1989. As a piece of performance art Industrial Symphony No. 1 would have been quite an experience to see - there are at least two startling scenes - a 12ft skinless deer appears onstage, and towards the conclusion of the piece, dozens of naked baby dolls are eerily lowered from the ceiling. As a piece of film, its less successful, with its minimal lighting (mostly lit by spotlights) the visuals are often obscure and difficult to make out. It’s probably best to see the film in a darkened room to savor the various color filters and strobe effects.
Industrial Symphony No. 1 briefly made an appearance on VHS and laserdisc in the early 90's, before going out of print. The film is now once again available as part of the mammoth 10-DVD David Lynch retrospective The Lime Green Set.