A David Lynch film is deliberately amorphous and mystically beautiful. His films work in generous amount of abstraction that allows open interprations from the perceiver; which is only what art should be–atypical, expressive and subconsciously engaging.
His debut film, the hallucogenic “Eraserhead,” a marvellously cinematic and startling look at human fraught and loneliness, has earned Lynch the recognition that he so deserves. It’s a disturbing picture, his “Eraserhead,” but it’s also a film with so much power.
This, from a broad spectrum of, is a reason why I chose to cover it in Mark and Chris’ brilliant blogathon focused on directorial debuts. Most are expecting for an in-depth discussion about David Lynch and his films (particularly this debut), but as aforementioned, a Lynchian film is to be contemplated personally; therefore, I can only ramble my thoughts about it and, perhaps, some analysis on its technical gravitas, if not much else. A piece that tries to decipher his films would be pointless. To those disappointed by this news: rest assured, I will talk about Lynch’s filmography soon in a different post.
I’m immersed to the nightmarish vividness of “Eraserhead.” It’s true that repeat viewings make you understand films better, but from the start, Lynch’s accurate depiction of fear is already beaming with startling clarity. The film finds an everyday-man named Henry Spencer (Jack Nance) who gets tangled with his child’s awfully quick procreation. We assume his and his lover’s fornication in a powerful opening sequence that shows Henry gagging out sperm-like creatures; while a laborer (Jack Fisk), presumably from that sphere-shaped rock (a planet?), seems to watch Henry from behind his window. Henry and his lover gets ultimately encapsulated in fear–of uncertainty, of the responsibility of being a parent, and of adulthood itself.
Their child is deformed in physique. It’s horrid-looking and gross. Despite this, while only after a fashion, we see sincerity in Henry’s care for his child. His lover Mary X (Charlotte Stewart), meanwhile, starts to breakdown. Parents, at some point, must have wondered whatever happened to their lives; to their time, to their liberties as an individual. The child is heavily symbolic, as with other elements in the film; and it changes Henry in ways that are compelling both for him and for us.
Jack Nance did a solid portrayal of Henry. He employs an indiscernibly innocuous look that plays through the first three quarters of the film, which, after the film hits its peak, abruptly changes when Henry decides to do the unspeakably terrifying. We take Henry as a persona (a fatalist one, too) who feels the inescapable torture of fear and loneliness in Lynch’s hellish landscape. His windows are there, and he frequently gazes at them, only they’re brick-walled; and he constantly indulges himself on the mysterious gross-looking lady in his radiator, who, in the film’s evanescence he finally embraces–a strangely beautiful if chilling act of submission.
The film’s suggestive nature adds to its bizarre depiction of adult life. It makes sense, too; as adulthood is filled with risk and fear. The mild noise in the background suggest that something awful is bound to happen; and that it’s inevitable. There’s also the terrifically-framed elavator scene which obviously influenced the great Stanley Kubrick in his screen adaptation of Stephen King’s novel “The Shining.” Lynch’s script, too, is terrific; his non-linear narrative feels personal, intimate and spiritual. His twisted mind doesn’t seem to excite many, but for the patient perceiver, it does, and more.
Like all art that’s new to the perceiver’s senses, “Eraserhead” is a difficult thing to comprehend. And perhaps aplenty of viewers have already been taken aback by it. But like all art, too the beauty of it is that it grows more powerful the closer you look at it.
RATING: 3.5 stars (out of 4)
NOTE ON THE TEXT:
I’ve had great fun in participating at the blogathon; and have rediscovered my love for Lynch’s films. I’ll explore his entire filmography in the following days, so I hope you’ll give that a see. In the meantime, you can view the entries from other bloggers, in this post.
This version of the review is different from what is posted in Chris’ blog; I found (shamefully) an awful lot of grammatical issues so I had to polish this version through. I hope this one is better-read, and flows smoother in your senses. Cheers!