For today’s entry in the Debuts Blogathon, we have a piece from Armando at Film Police, who has a wonderful way with words, as you’ll read below. Armando is looking at the utterly mind-melting Eraserhead by cult favourite David Lynch. Take it away…
A DAVID LYNCH FILM is deliberately amorphous and mystically beautiful. His films work in generous amount of abstraction that allows open interpretations from the perceiver; which is only what art should be–atypical, expressive and subconsciously engaging.
His debut film, the hallucinogenic “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 that is very much powerful.
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. After all, 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 in my blog.
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 everydayman named Henry Spencer (Jack Nance) who gets tangled to 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 labourer (Jack Fisk), from a different place, presumably from the sphere-shaped rock, presumably 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 too. Despite this, while only after a fashion, we see sincerity in Henry’s care for his child. His lover Mary X (Charlotte Stewart), on the other hand, starts to breakdown. After all, parents must have wondered whatever happened to their lives; to their time, to their liberty as an individual. The child is heavily symbolic, as with other elements in the film; and it changes Henry in ways that are compelling if not haunting.
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, only it’s 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 sound in the background suggest that something awful is bound to happen; and that it’s inevitable. There’s also the terrifically-framed elevator 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.
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. But like all art, the beauty in it is that it grows more powerful the closer you look at it.
Tomorrow you will be treated to a post on Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Amores Perros by Fernando at the excellent Committed to Celluloid.
You can also check out all the other entries from the Debuts Blogathon here.