Eraserhead

Review No. 500

In “Eraserhead”, everything is fine.

eraserhead_ver2

B

WRITTEN, PRODUCED & DIRECTED BY DAVID LYNCH. STARRING JOHN NANCE (HENRY SPENCER), CHARLOTTE STEWART (MARY X), ALLEN JOSEPH (MR. X), AND JEANNE BATES (MRS. X). ALSO STARRING JACK FISK, JUDITH ANNA ROBERTS, AND LAUREL NEAR. DISTRIBUTED BY LIBRA FILMS INTERNATIONAL ON MARCH 19, 1977. PRODUCED IN ENGLISH BY THE UNITED STATES. RUNS 1 HOUR, 29 MINUTES. NOT FOR CHILDREN, DUE TO GRAPHIC IMAGERY.

ERASERHEAD WAS WATCHED ON MAY 17, 2013.

“In Heaven, everything is fine.
In Heaven, everything is fine.
In Heaven, everything is fine.
You’ve got your good things, and I’ve got mine.
In Heaven, everything is fine.
In Heaven, everything is fine.
In Heaven, everything is fine.
You’ve got your good things, and you’ve got mine.
In Heaven, everything…is fine.”
–“In Heaven” by Peter Ivers

Almost every great director’s oeuvre is composed of films that are structurally similar, yet completely different. Almost every Woody Allen film, for example, is a comedic drama with heavy focus on the beauty of cities and the obnoxiousness of humanity; yet they all feel new and surprising. Martin Scorsese loves crime genre, graphic violence, fast pacing, and the city of New York; his films never get old. Mel Brooks began his career with genre spoofs, paused it on single-film spoofs, and apparently plans to resume with even more genre spoofs; his humor is something you can’t get enough of.

Perhaps David Lynch elevates our tolerance of a great director. His style is incredibly specific, and he uses it as a formula for every film, but it’s never boring. I’ve theorized that I know I’m watching a David Lynch film if the story is bizarre (understatement?), yet centered on everyday happenings; if there is an entr’acte or two that introduces a seemingly unrelated character so that he or she may perform onstage; if there is an object that is curious to the any human, and thus used as symbolism; if there are two universes, each one representing the other in its characters (and often times, the line is blurred to a mind-boggling “Who’s who?”)…I could go on, but I’m probably not making one bit of sense.

If I were to boil it down to something simple, Lynch has spent every hour since 1977 doused in his dreamlike atmosphere. It’s what makes his films both cinematic and realistic. As far as full-length features, Eraserhead marks his debut. If you can appreciate a filmmaker who is anything but mainstream, then please be my guest to this historically significant film. It tells a story with three, maybe four total events. It paces itself at a consistent speed that, for any other film, would feel hypnotically slow. The first word is not spoken until more than ten minutes have gone by. We don’t learn our main character’s name until almost twenty minutes through. And all the while, Lynch demands our undivided attention.

6441-eraserhead

Mesmerizing…

Eraserhead scopes in on a couple who comes in contact with extraterrestrial life and ends up delivering a baby that isn’t theirs. At first, the situation’s simply awful. They’re kept up all night, which prompts her to leave his apartment. While tending to the baby, as he suffers several hopeless hours of insomnia, he finds that the baby’s body temperature is about ten degrees below normal. He believes this explains why its eyes are where the ears are supposed to be, and why there are hives on its face. But it’s not until several more strange occurrences strike him that he realizes there’s a reason the baby wasn’t delivered stillborn.

Eraserhead is a tense “body horror” film. While it succeeds in its primary attempt–to disgust with sudden scenes of mutilation and the like–its quiet atmosphere builds up tension quite effectively. Perhaps the only difference between dreams/nightmares is this film won’t “erase” itself from one’s mind so swiftly. Although not any time too soon, I do think I’d enjoy revisiting the film. Stylistically, Eraserhead is brilliant, and substantially, it’s well written, original, and transfixing.

Eraserhead does fail miserably in one key aspect. The characters do nothing to move the story along. It just rides along with the story. There’s one true action taken by these lazy characters, but all in all, they’re just lazy. There’s not much that happens in this film, either. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. This is a good movie, but it’s nothing dynamic. With so many cult followers discussing this film around the clock, I have to wonder what about it they’re discussing, or if the discussions are ever recycled.

The Impossible

Enjoy my review? Please share it using one of the buttons below!
Advertisements

6 thoughts on “Eraserhead

Comments are closed.