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Thursday, February 23, 2006

Review: Eraserhead

David Lynch is Rainman with a movie camera and a large vocabulary. He's nucking futs but seemingly quite harmless - plus he's a great filmmaker. For years he was the only source for a Eraserhead DVD, and it sold for $40! Damn you Capitalism!! For some reason probably not fully understood even by Lynch himself you can now walk into (your local retailer here) and buy it for $20. Sure it doesn't come in the 8"x8" box with a 20 page booklet, but life is about choices.

Eraserhead came out in 1977. I saw it a number of times as a midnight show at the Mini Cinema on Long Island. I always managed to stay awake somehow, and at the time it made little sense because I never dared consider it might have an actual plot. It was just a series of weird events I experienced at the face value of its strangeness. Looking at it now it's really a very simple story expressed weirdly. After decades of watching strange and senseless movies the WTF factor is gone and the symbolism of Eraserhead is easy to figure to the extent that any simple Freudian theory is pretty much as good as another. Lynch claims nobody has interpreted the film exactly as he envisioned it, but the guy's so out there if he did explain it you'd think he was lying.

The feature length video of Lynch talking about Eraserhead is a treat. A slight wind sound blows the whole time. Lynch wanders from thought to thought and I finally understood why he's never recorded a commentary track. You might as well have Edith Massey discussing Desperate Living. Hearing Lynch explain his fascination with dissecting a dead cat I can fully believe the internet rumor that the baby was a puppeteered cow fetus. The baby is great.

Eraserhead was shortened 20 minutes after a test screening and it really did need it. Why he didn't keep most of the extra film is a mystery even to Lynch. His mother's reaction to the film was "Oh, I wouldn't want to have a dream like that." In Eraserhead, everything is fine.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Ishabaka said...

Eraserhead is my all time favorite movie. I saw it at a midnight showing when I was 20. I walked home about 10 miles and I thought I was living on another planet. Obsessed about it for weeks. My favorite thing is when they check Henry's head and say "It's the real thing!". Also the gradually mutating woman singing "In heaven, everything is fine, you've got your good thing - and I've got mine"
Rented it when I met my wife Grace. She sat through the whole thing and at the end her whole comment was "It had no plot". She's still a keeper.
The other thing was, if you bought the first Shonen Knife CD released in the U.S. - "Pretty Little Baka Guy/Live in Japan" and sent in $10 you got a t-shirt of them all talking on the phone. Grace wouldn't let me wear it cause she thought it showed oriental women looking silly (she's oriental, which has morphed into asian due to political correctlness) and wouldn't let me wear the t-shirt. This was actually a real help as this is THE rarest S.K. t-shirt and mine is near-mint. I guess this is because when it was available almost nobody in the western hemisphere had heard of them and it way only available for a year. The last time I wore it is when I drove 3,200 miles round trip to see them play live in Montreal. I have every S.K. t-shirt ever made, including 3 signed ones, except for one that is only available in size medium ( I take an XL ).
Em- did you know David Lynch took 10 years to finish Eraserhead? I like all his other movies, Blue Velvet being my number 2, but nothing compares to Eraserhead.
Oh yeah, another classic line is when Henry's girlfriend's father says "So, Henry, whaddaya know?" an Henry is speechless.

12:33 AM

 
Blogger Robert G. said...

You could hear the sound of the wind blowing all the way through Dune, as well.

8:34 AM

 
Blogger Emerson said...

According to Lynch it took 5 years to make the film.

It's hard to watch it and not move around yourself very slowly yourself when you do things.

10:25 AM

 

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