ERASERHEAD Eraserhead

two_chalfonts

Sparkwood & 21
Mar 22, 2023
15
20
I notice a distinct lack of threads tagged with Eraserhead, so thought I'd start one!

I'd be interested in whether there are people here who flat out don't like it? It wasn't the first Lynch film I saw, and when I first saw it, I really found it a very hard watch, and didn't get through it. I found the whole thing very disturbing!

However, my view of the film has now totally changed. I actually find the film quite amusing now - it's obviously a hideous post apocalyptic nightmare, but I also see it as a kind of absurdist nightmare. I think the trick is to not take it literally nor seriously. I do think it's his funniest film. It's certainly an incredible debut feature.

What I love the most about the film is the way Lynch build an alternative universe that is uniquely his own, is not tied to any particular time or place, and contains no cultural reference at all. It's interesting how a director can sometimes find real life locations and transform them into something utterly different / otherwordly.

From the extensive interview, you can tell that Lynch and his tiny crew just had the best time making the movie. Him getting into the AFI clearly got him everything he needed to make the movie - it's not really clear whether he even really graduated (?) but his determination to raise funds and complete the movie demonstrates the huge dedication to his art. The baby effects are also pretty impressive considering his experience and the budget. I think Lynch is totally right to not talk about how it was done - I don't think I want to know!
 

two_chalfonts

Sparkwood & 21
Mar 22, 2023
15
20
Also, this is a great piece of Lynch history.

I can confidently say I've still never seen a film like Eraserhead in a cinema. I think that says something about either my cinema-going, or the state of arthouse cinema in the modern age.

 

Mr. Reindeer

White Lodge
Apr 13, 2022
819
1,854
It’s not precisely true that the film contains no cultural reference: there are four Fats Waller records heard playing throughout the film. I love this little touch, that seemingly, whatever apocalyptic event occurred has left Fats Waller music and only Fats Waller music as the dominant form of entertainment (and specifically, only his solo pipe organ recordings). One gets the sense that these records are prize possessions: Henry seemingly only has the one (“Lenox Avenue Blues”), which he reverently plays in his apartment at two different points in the film. Eraserhead is one of the most immersive, fully-realized film universes ever put on screen. It’s such a thing of beauty. I agree with you about the comedy: Nance’s “Oh, you are sick!” lives rent-free in my head. But there’s obviously also a brutally oppressive feeling to the whole thing which is probably off-putting to many people, but I’ve always loved it. It’s like anxiety and paranoia brought to life and manifested in a way that no one since Kafka has been able to do…but even better than Kafka, because the film medium gives Lynch more tools than Franz had. To me, the whole thing is a meditation on creation and destruction, and on Lynch’s anxiety about becoming a parent while also struggling to complete a feature film and live the Art Life. I’ll just link to this old post from the dugpa forum for those who are interested in reading a little more on my thoughts/theories on the film: Creation vs. Destruction - World of Blue - Archived Forum 2007-2022

For those who want to learn more about the making of the film, I highly recommend Kenneth George Godwin’s book on the subject. Godwin wrote the first major analysis of the film (which is included in the book), which Lynch approved of (not that he necessarily endorses its viewpoint, but years later he still called it the best analysis of the film), and that gave Godwin an entrée to interview Lynch very extensively over several sessions in 1981, as well as most everyone else involved in the film. The book contains both the making-of article as edited and published, as well as all the unexpurgated interviews.

I have always been curious about the film’s place in Lynch’s canon and in fans’ perceptions of his work. Many posters on both dugpa and tulpa over the years have expressed dissatisfaction with Lynch’s later works, such as The Return, INLAND EMPIRE, and even Mulholland Drive, implicitly (or sometimes explicitly) expressing that Lynch has gotten too pretentious or impenetrable, and that he should have stuck to more traditional narratives like the original TP and Blue Velvet. It’s interesting that I never see people who express this viewpoint mention Eraserhead. To me, Eraserhead is Lynch at his most artistically pure, and everything that came afterward was him compromising to one degree or another due to commercial realities. Not to demean any of his works, because I love them all (even Dune…maybe not so much On the Air), but I feel like his post-Eraserhead career has been him slowly working back to the purest version of his artistic vision as embodied in that first feature.
 
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David Lynch's Khaki Pants

Sparkwood & 21
Aug 31, 2023
12
11
It’s not precisely true that the film contains no cultural reference: there are four Fats Waller records heard playing throughout the film. I love this little touch, that seemingly, whatever apocalyptic event occurred has left Fats Waller music and only Fats Waller music as the dominant form of entertainment (and specifically, only his solo pipe organ recordings). One gets the sense that these records are prize possessions: Henry seemingly only has the one (“Lenox Avenue Blues”), which he reverently plays in his apartment at two different points in the film. Eraserhead is one of the most immersive, fully-realized film universes ever put on screen. It’s such a thing of beauty. I agree with you about the comedy: Nance’s “Oh, you are sick!” lives rent-free in my head. But there’s obviously also a brutally oppressive feeling to the whole thing which is probably off-putting to many people, but I’ve always loved it. It’s like anxiety and paranoia brought to life and manifested in a way that no one since Kafka has been able to do…but even better than Kafka, because the film medium gives Lynch more tools than Franz had. To me, the whole thing is a meditation on creation and destruction, and on Lynch’s anxiety about becoming a parent while also struggling to complete a feature film and live the Art Life. I’ll just link to this old post from the dugpa forum for those who are interested in reading a little more on my thoughts/theories on the film: Creation vs. Destruction - World of Blue - Archived Forum 2007-2022

For those who want to learn more about the making of the film, I highly recommend Kenneth George Godwin’s book on the subject. Godwin wrote the first major analysis of the film (which is included in the book), which Lynch approved of (not that he necessarily endorses its viewpoint, but years later he still called it the best analysis of the film), and that gave Godwin an entrée to interview Lynch very extensively over several sessions in 1981, as well as most everyone else involved in the film. The book contains both the making-of article as edited and published, as well as all the unexpurgated interviews.

I have always been curious about the film’s place in Lynch’s canon and in fans’ perceptions of his work. Many posters on both dugpa and tulpa over the years have expressed dissatisfaction with Lynch’s later works, such as The Return, INLAND EMPIRE, and even Mulholland Drive, implicitly (or sometimes explicitly) expressing that Lynch has gotten too pretentious or impenetrable, and that he should have stuck to more traditional narratives like the original TP and Blue Velvet. It’s interesting that I never see people who express this viewpoint mention Eraserhead. To me, Eraserhead is Lynch at his most artistically pure, and everything that came afterward was him compromising to one degree or another due to commercial realities. Not to demean any of his works, because I love them all (even Dune…maybe not so much On the Air), but I feel like his post-Eraserhead career has been him slowly working back to the purest version of his artistic vision as embodied in that first feature.
Thank you for the book rec. Looks really good.

I'm going to re-watch Eraserhead and revisit this thread.
 
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