David Lynch and the Surreal Eraserhead.
It is hard to believe that I have waited so long to watch David Lynch’s student film, Eraserhead. I am a fan of his later work like the eerie, macabre Twin Peaks or the psychological film noir of Blue Velvet. I sit in front of the television in anticipation of what I will experience.
Pressing play, I enter a surreal world of dark shadows and industrial sounds. David Lynch describes the film as “A dream of dark and troubling things.” The world he creates in Eraserhead has little to do with our reality. It is the disturbing world of the title character, Henry. A man whose hair mimics that of a pencil top. Our unlikely hero lives a gloomy existence. A dream world painted with sparseness and black and white. The industrial sounds help to emphasize the cold, loneliness of Henry’s life.
He must deal with the ramifications of unexpected procreation. A sense of duty which results in a loveless marriage. A premature mutant child in which he questions the paternity. Abandoned by his wife, he is left to deal with the continually screaming sperm shaped child. He lusts for the woman across the hall, but the antagonist creature prevents him from having an affair. The child mocks Henry for wanting a better life. Also, He has visits from a small woman who lives in the radiator. In my favorite scene, she sings to Henry the Fat Waller song “In Heaven.”
An hour and 49 minutes later the credits roll. I sit staring at the screen trying my best to absorb what I saw. No, what I experienced is more accurate. The film is a relentless mind-fuck. There is no real downtime. Lynch keeps the images rolling. I feel the comfort of a living room is the wrong place for Eraserhead. The midnight cult classic should project on the wall of a deserted warehouse. There must be dark and quiet to appreciate the masterpiece of movie making.
While filming, Lynch was expecting a child. Many say his fears and apprehension inspired the movie. However, Lynch consistently denies it. Regardless of the inspiration, the film immediately placed him with such surreal filmmakers as Luis Buñuel, Jean Cocteau, and Stephen Sayadian. If you love the bizarre or a fan of cult movies, Eraserhead is a must see.