Monday, January 6, 2014

Eraserhead [USA, 1977]

Nine Things about Eraserhead

1. This surrealist masterpiece by David Lynch is in my Top 10 List of Strange Films. It could be considered an early example of the “body horror” film genre. It also has strong absurdist elements that are sort of funny. Sort of. This is not a comedy.

2. It fills me with a sense of awkwardness, hopelessness, and an undefinable dread every time I watch it. I have to be in just the right mood for it.

3. Visually and sonically, it’s about a man who lives in an industrial dreamscape where it is never sunny and where nothing nice ever happens.

4. The plot has something to do with this man, Henry, who may have gotten his girlfriend pregnant. He ends up raising a deformed child-thing in his tiny apartment and being distracted by a lady that lives inside his radiator.

5. What I just described above doesn’t even come close to explaining what happens in the movie. The less said about it, the better.

6. Even though this is Lynch’s first movie, he has always refused to explain it. One of the consequences of being so unforgivingly surreal is that the movie has about as many interpretations as viewers.

7. One obvious interpretation of the movie is that it is a metaphor for the fears that come with being a responsible father. I used to agree with this interpretation. But there are too many elements that don’t fit.

8. Now, I think it’s about a man who is so alienated and isolated from others that he feels powerless to create the life he wants for himself. Any efforts he makes are either rejected, or are so deformed and shameful, that he doesn’t even understand what he did.

9. Despite being in my personal Hall of Fame, this is a movie that I don’t really recommend to anyone. Like all of Lynch's movies, people need to decide for themselves if they should watch it and what they think of it.