Critiques and comments

Eraserhead (1977)

Lynch's debut feature film, one which started his rise to being a well-known and influential director, was the 1977 Eraserhead.

It's a highly repulsive, bleak, disfigured set of pictures instilled with the fears and fixations of the director, and yet it's maybe his masterpiece. I'm a big fan of Lynch so naturally I love Eraserhead, but at the same time I pretty much dislike everything in the film. It disgusts me, it shows me everything I don't want to see and it frightens me with Lynch's fears which I can easily identify with. Eraserhead puts me in a place that I don't want to go; it's something no one can enjoy, but in a way you manage to enjoy it in some weird way.

Nonetheless, Eraserhead is so unique in both style and content that it's hard to find anything to compare it with. The cinematography of Eraserhead is alone something to admire in the film; the surrealistic atmosphere is perfectly erected thanks to Lynch's detailed style of direction. The sound design is perhaps the biggest gem in the film (and continues to be one of the most important elements of his subsequent films), and the use of black and white is utterly wonderful to see.

The plot and general style of the film is quite different from other Lynch films, so I very much like to keep Eraserhead in a separate category than his other films. However, it was this film that set the stage for his surrealist style. It's a very surrealist film that depicts a world quite like our own but with just the disgusting things. You'll see dead potted plants in this movie without a pot (just a bunch of earth on a bedside table), a heap of god knows what under the radiator that the main character (Henry) imagines things in, oversized spermatozoon-like creatures which are thoroughly disgusting and you'll constantly hear the whining and whirring of industrial machinery. A film so unhealthy, you'll almost fall ill watching it. Eraserhead depicts extremely disgusting things which are presented as being completely ordinary. I learned recently that Eraserhead was inspired partly by Kafka's "Metamorphosis", which came as little surprise because that's exactly the work that I associate it with.

And then there's the baby. Oh dear Lord, the baby. The baby in Eraserhead is something to be studied by itself, but it's possibly more disturbing than anything else in the movie. It doesn't look human at all, which possibly takes away the horror element, but adds a deep uneasiness. I think that every single Lynch movie has a scene in it that thoroughly makes you uneasy (the man behind Winkie's in "Mulholland Dr." comes to mind) but with Eraserhead it's like one scene turned into an object. The baby is pretty disturbing to look at even when Lynch isn't making you not know how to feel by destroying it, or having you watch a sequence of the baby's head appear in random places in the air. This film has everything in it that I don't ever want to think about, and yet it does everything so well that I can't not like it.

Here's the verdict: Eraserhead isn't a movie for everyone. I think the way this movie is made is the counterbalance to everything that it actually shows you (which is very unlikable). Despite that, if you think you might like it, you should definitely watch it. Even though it's a brilliant movie, it's not one to be watched time and time again - simply because the whole thing is so awful. I just can't bring myself to give it a full rating because the aesthetics are completely the opposite of my own.

Rating: 4.5 / 5
Posted at: Sep 01, 2012 @ 20:24:26
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