Debuts Blogathon: David Lynch – Eraserhead (1977)

debuts collage 2

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…


Eraserhead (1977)

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.

Over at Three Rows Back today, you can read Cindy Bruchman’s piece on Clint Eastwood’s directorial debut Play Misty For Me. Head over there right now if you haven’t already checked it out.

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.

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15 thoughts on “Debuts Blogathon: David Lynch – Eraserhead (1977)

  1. Brilliant piece Armando, thanks so much for getting involved!

  2. Great review. I saw this again yesterday and am still amazed by the whole industrial atmosphere it takes place in.

  3. Wonderful review describing the indescribable David Lynch.

  4. Naomi says:

    I have yet to to see a Lynch film. Hmm. Time to re-organize my priorities.

  5. Brilliant work Armando. A difficult film to pin down and your thoughts were very interesting.

  6. armanddc says:

    Thanks for all the love, friends!

  7. table9mutant says:

    Great review. But I still don’t understand this film. 🙂

  8. This is a strange one for sure, nice write up

  9. ruth says:

    Great job Fernando! Nice to see films that I didn’t know they’re directorial debuts, so great job once again Mark & Chris.

    @Chris – I know you’re probably swamped w/ this blogathon, but hope you’d stop by for Five for the Fifth 😉

  10. ckckred says:

    Nice review. Love this film, one of Lynch’s finest.

  11. Mark Walker says:

    Good job Armando! I think you’ve taken on the most difficult task by tackling Lynch. Still, you have aquitted yourself well here.

  12. Great review. I always enjoy watching this film.

  13. “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.”

    Now that’s absolutely correct, unfortunately. I haven’t seen this, but they’re having a midnight showing of this in October, so I’m determined to catch it.

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