The straight story, the movie, math and musings.

I watched the movie “The Straight Story” by David Lynch and enjoyed it very much. Richard Farnsworth played a beautiful part in this film.

For those who don’t know the film, 73 year old Alvin Straight drove a 66’ John Deere lawnmower from Laurens Iowa to Mt. Zion Wisconsin. The trip was about 300 miles. He drove a lawnmower because his brother suffered a stroke and he was compelled to see him after many years (they were fighting). Alvin couln’t drive a vehicle due to age and physical health.

His lawnmower broke down on him 60 miles from his destination, and he told people that were helping him that he has been on the road for 5 weeks. I could not believe that he has been on the road that long. If the lawnmower was traveling at 3 MPH and ol’ Alvin drove six hours a day, he could of made the trip within three weeks, not five weeks and 60 miles out.

Was Alvin extremely lazy in his travel? It seems to me in the film that he wanted to get to his brothers house as soon as possible on the fastest thing smoking he could operate. He was an old man on a mission.

Whats the Straight Dope on the Straight Story?


I do not have an actual answer (I think) but an additional question.

After seeing Mulholland Drive (thought it was a great movie), I checked a lot of discussion boards for other views. At one time I read a post of someone claiming that all of Lynch’s movies have a more disturbing reality below it, even the Straight Story. For TSS it was claimed that

it was not Alvin’s daughter that let her kids burn, but that it was somehow Alvin’s own fault.

On this interpretation it is a journey for penance.

I do not remember the exact ‘proof’; it was somehow deduced from scenes such as

the ‘Deer Lady’,

and from comparisons to other Lynch movies (the one with Bill Pullman etc.). I read this before I saw the movie. After seeing it recently I unfortunately couldn’t find the message again.
One thing that makes me wonder whether this interpretation is wrong, is that the credits mention a book on which the movie was based, which (presumably) does not have any indication of this.

Does anyone else remember reading this claim on the true story of TSS? Or maybe it is just a figment of my imagination (the things I manage to dream up…)

This reply is not intended as a hijack, rather as a tie-in (just as the difference between plagiarism and a homage? :D).