Director: David Lynch
Stars: Jack Nance, Charlotte Stewart, Allen Joseph
Off your head!
Note: This review was written before I saw Blue Velvet
Eraserhead finished at 12 ‘O clock last night for me. It was my first time experiencing the film and being a huge fan of David Lynch (my new favourite director) you can only imagine how excited I was. It’s now half past eleven in the morning and Eraserhead is still whirling around in my very own head. The film is extraordinary. I’ve seen my fair share of weird films, from Jan Svankmajer’s Conspirators of Pleasure to Lynch’s very own Inland Empire, but somehow Eraserhead manages to surpass them both in the weirdness department. Indeed, Eraserhead is probably the weirdest film I have ever seen. It’s pure Lynch and pure art. It’s a film which you could not put into words; it’s something you have to experience for yourself.
When the film was over, my sister and I sat there in silence as the credits rolled up. My heart was thumping quickly and loudly. I felt utterly horrified by what I had just watched. I was drained and could hardly walk in a straight line afterwards. I don’t get scared very often at all, but Eraserhead actually did frighten me. Its atmosphere is choking, unsettling and disturbing. The images are stuff you wouldn’t even be able to find in nightmares.
Your enjoyment of Eraserhead is partly down to how you view it. If you watch it in broad daylight with kids running around and not paying too much attention to it, then you’re not going to like it. You’re going to think it’s the biggest pile of shitake you’ve ever seen and I wouldn’t blame you for saying that! To fully experience Eraserhead (and with every other David Lynch film) you must immerse yourself in it. Watch it alone, in the dark, with the sound turned up and an open mind then you will experience something truly unique.
The film is virtually plot-less. Or at least it seems that way when you first see it, but I’m convinced that if you dig underneath all the bizarre symbolism then you will find something quite rich and astonishing. It resembles a feature length version of one of David’s shorts, especially The Grandmother and it’s all the more better for it. I didn’t feel like I was watching a film at all, rather I felt like I was having a nightmare. It didn’t even feel like I was watching a nightmare. It felt like I was literally having a nightmare! Eraserhead is scene after scene of bizarre and incredibly frightening imagery. It’s enough to make a person go insane.
David Lynch’s directing here is as amazing as it has ever been. He creates a chilling atmosphere with the use of a droning industrial soundtrack which is excruciating to listen to at times. He also makes incredible use of a slow pace and startling black and white photography which has an eerie beauty about it. It’s a seriously depressing atmosphere and it’s one which will stay with you for a long time after seeing it. The dream-like quality of the film is astonishing. When the lady in the radiator started singing I felt disturbed, bewildered and transfixed all at the same time. I could not take my eyes off the screen for the duration of the film.
It also feels like it’s on for an eternity when you’re watching it and I don’t mean that in a bad way. It enhances the nightmarish quality as when you have a dream it feels like you’re there forever, but when you wake up you can only remember bits. Eraserhead is exactly like this. It’s a nightmare captured on film and confirms David Lynch as a master of cinema. His films are unlike any other and they manage to affect me in such a deep manner. I was shaken when Eraserhead had finished and it brought back memories of when I saw Inland Empire for the first time.
Having said all this, Eraserhead is not a film for a mainstream audience. Not everyone will ‘get it’ and I wouldn’t blame you if you hated it. Strange doesn’t even begin to describe Eraserhead. All I know is that it’s a masterpiece. It’s a piece of timeless art that was way ahead of its time and still very much is. You’ll see the world in a different way when you’ve finished watching it and every other film will seem dull and conventional. Eraserhead will stay with me for an extremely long time and is an experience I will never ever forget. Roll on Blue Velvet!